Punchlines for Progress assembles some of the best American political satirists to highlight the power and importance of the court jester. From the Red Scare through today this tradition continues to inform and speak truth to power. Featuring Amy Goodman, Lenny Bruce, George Carlen, Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, and Marten Luther King Jr. among others.
This is a “Mash Up” documentary, a reflexive art form that allows the artist to create their own ‘meaning’ out of media based cultural artifacts. This video collage technique helps people to surpass passive consumption by becoming active producers of media. Through the act of reappropriating, recontextualizing, and remixing, media awareness becomes less of a bombardment and more of a game. Lawrence Lessig suggests that remix is “the modern day equivalent of quoting authors in papers and books. He argues, “It is a type of literacy… a form of expression that is increasingly defining young generations!” This language of remix is a digital call and response culture where source material is recycled repeatedly to expand on ideas and provoke further social discourse.
Comedians are true remix arts. Through imitation and reinterpretation they allow us to look at the world from their perspective. Weather it be racism or religion, stand-comedians have opened doors for our first amendment rites by reveling in our cultural taboos. In Punchlines For Progress I am merging the art of the satirists in American culture with the experimental stile of Internet remix artists. I’m interested in the rebellious tendencies of both art forms and their attempts at disseminating alternative socio-political commentary to the masses through nontraditional methods. Both have histories of confronting the law very openly. Both push social boundaries and have the ability to inform and transform American culture, and both have been described as symptoms of its decline. What is so frightening about theses methods of self-expression? What positive contributions do they offer and how are they changing the way we communicate?
This film falls under the Copyright act of 1976 that allows people “Fair Use” of any public footage when used for social commentary and criticism. It was created during my studies at university with much forethought into the democratization of media. It is not intended to lessen the importance of copyright laws. Instead it is meant to level the playing field of public discourse by utilizing the worlds largest digital library. This doc is 46min long, cut from 400 hours of footage and around 100 sources with proper credits given to the materials used.