Friday, June 17, 2011

Maybe It Just Means What It Means...?

Today I received some very exciting and well-timed news: Pandora now has comedy stations! I was thrilled to death when I saw the promotional email this morning. "Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod," I exclaimed to my coworkers, who responded with their usual "Shut up, S."

The timing is perfect, because I recently decided to actively explore old standup comedians as part of an effort to more specifically define my comedic preferences. What could be better than to have Pandora, the product that finally allowed me to develop actual taste in music instead of vague "I kinda like some of this stuff..." feelings, assist me in this exploration of humor and wit? Pandora with its intellectual rigor and objectivity, with its no-nonsense approach to music, with its clarity and usability and convenient genre stations - what, what the hell is this?

The promotional email includes a sample list of genre comedy stations, one of which is called "Urban Comedy." Um....what is that exactly? Do they mean "black" but don't want to say "black" so they say "urban," kind of like how "articulate" means "doesn't talk black?" Or am I just so used to words not meaning what they mean that I'm assuming "urban" means "black" but actually, in this case, it really means "urban." Like maybe it's jokes about living in a city? Then is there rural comedy?

Lo and behold, next on the list is "Working Class Comedy." Ok, that *has* to secretly mean "comedy for poor white people," no? So then "Urban Comedy" *definitely* means "comedy for poor black people." Which makes this the biggest internet advertising fail ever as I don't belong to either of these groups, not to mention the fact that it's a bunch of PC nonsense and why can't you just say what you fucking mean?

The whole point of labels is to make it easier to talk about the things that fall under those labels as a group, without endless explanation and qualification. But it only works if we all know what the labels mean. I'm certainly not going to stand/sit here and claim there is no poor black comedy and no poor white comedy and no liberal elite comedy and conservative salt-of-the-earth comedy or whatever. The whole reason why we need these labels is because these groups totally exist. But a label needs to be related to the group it's identifying. You don't label the box of Christmas decorations in the attic "Early Winter Objects."

So congratulations, Pandora: your usefulness is that much diminished. I guess I will just have to listen to your "Urban Comedy" to station to figure out what the fuck you mean by "Urban Comedy." Luckily the "articulateness" of the comedians will be a dead giveaway.

Your Urban, Working Customer,

S. Misanthrope

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