The Pun Also Rises: Choosing Sides


With the conventions now finally over, the strip club revenue has gone back down to normal levels in Cleveland and Philadelphia, Scott Baio can return to doing macrame, and the Democrats and Republicans have both officially chosen their nominee -- in spite of our hopes that at either convention, there might be a last-minute upset. With one of these two candidates now poised to be our next president, pretty much all Americans can agree that the worst candidate ever has been nominated and must be stopped.

The only thing they disagree on is whether it is Clinton or Trump.

If I've only learned one thing, then my college career was a waste. But if I've only learned one thing recently, it's that everyone really wants you to pick sides. When you do, you make enemies of one side, but when you don't, you get to make enemies of both sides.

So I tend to irritate a lot of people when I say that Clinton is a hawkish and corrupt career politician beholden to special interest groups and with a spotty record on helping the disenfranchised. And I irritate most other people when I say that Trump is much worse, a thin-skinned narcissist with no political experience or acumen, beholden to foreign nationals, and a very consistent record on hurting the disenfranchised. And everyone hates me when I mention that I might just support a third party candidate, whether it's Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, or Vermin Supreme (the latter of whom warns us to prepare for the coming zombie apocalypse, so at least he and Trump agree on the need for fear).

This is what has become of the American political landscape: If you're not with us, you're against us. And the political landscape has extended a lot further than it used to. Two weeks ago, I went to see a new action/comedy film because it looked like a fun movie. I enjoyed it. End of story, right?

Well, no, because the movie was the new Ghostbusters. Feminists have written articles claiming that women have a moral duty to see the movie in theaters. A moral duty! In order to be an ethically good person, you need to see this silly summer comedy movie! And anti-feminists have written about how the movie is ruining Hollywood by doing a remake. All of Hollywood, ruined! Even though the Magnificent Seven seems to unproblematically be up for its Magnificent Seventh remake.

I wasn't planning to save feminism or destroy Hollywood by watching a funny movie. But like vampire-hunting on stilts, the stakes have been raised for no good reason. I know they say the personal is political, but must every minor decision in life involve choosing sides and making enemies? I'd suggest that people iron out their differences by just sharing a meal, but can conversation be had between two people if one is eating local organic kale and the other is eating factory-farmed Chik-Fil-A?

You can't even buy your kids toys without being political. Everything from Barbie dolls to toy guns to various video games have become big political argument points. Your recreation, what substances you partake of, who you love or marry, whether or not you have children, even what you name your children is now politicized. (Although admittedly "Trump Will Ruin America Jones" is a somewhat political name.)

It's hard to just exist any more without taking sides, even if you don't want to. But comedy could be the last bastion of unity. So I hope Trump-haters, Clinton-haters, pro-Ghostbusters, anti-Ghostbusters, and everyone else can read this column together and agree on one thing:

It would have been funnier if I made fun of the other side more.

— Seth Brown is an award-winning humor columnist, the author of "From God To Verse", and a uniter not a divider. His website is

The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bennington Banner.


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