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OT: Simpsons [was: Re: yeah (was Re: Moraic codas)]

From:Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Saturday, July 21, 2001, 7:01
Muke Tever wrote:

> >From: "Thomas R. Wier" <artabanos@...> > >Andreas Johansson wrote: > > > > And as an aside: I respectfully disagree with your implication about the > > show. The satire involved is very American-oriented, like the following lines > > from the episode when Bart and Lisa's school have a history pageant: > > > >[ "|" represents a caesura] > >"We're the mediocre | Presidents / > >You won't find our faces | on dollars or on cents; / > >We're Taylor, we're Tyler, | we're Fillmore and we're Hayes -- / > >I'm William Henry Harrison, | I died in 30 days! -- / > >We're the adequate, | acceptable / > >Occasionally regretable / > >Care-taker Presidents of the USA!!" > > > >(imagine that to a can-can of children on stage) > > > >How can you understand that if you don't have a clue who William > >Henry Harrison is? I doubt one could entirely; it's like an inside-joke. > > The line's its own key, isn't it? The dying in thirty days implies he > couldn't really be known for much else. In fact, isn't the whole idea that > these are supposedly important figures that everyday people don't have a > clue about?
Well, my point was more that "understanding" the humor in based in part on knowing what you should know and what you are not expected to know. I expressed myself poorly. You're right: Americans are also highly unlikely to be able to cite even one important event of Millard Fillmore's administration. But Americans also know that they aren't supposed to know that based on what they experience in their everyday life (even if their history teachers tell them otherwise). For people from outside the US, however, unless they are inexplicably American history buffs, they don't know what is given as important, and what isn't. So, I'd think as a result of that people from outside would more likely find it confusing than funny. Many, perhaps all, genres of humor are based on understood, implicit expectations, and how they contrast with explicit realities. If you don't have any basis on which to determine what ought and ought not to be expected, how can you go on to make the humorous connection? =================================== Thomas Wier | AIM: trwier "Aspidi men Saiôn tis agalletai, hên para thamnôi entos amômêton kallipon ouk ethelôn; autos d' exephugon thanatou telos: aspis ekeinê erretô; exautês ktêsomai ou kakiô" - Arkhilokhos