In this day and age, it can sometimes feel like satire is dead. This is doubly true if one turns on a television to watch what passes for it. Yet genuinely sharp, cutting political comedy is enjoying a renaissance on platforms like TikTok, as young comedians who otherwise would not get a shot are stepping up to the plate.
Today, MintPress speaks to James Rehwald. Thanks to his innovative comedy and razor-sharp wit, James has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers across social media platforms, his viral, darkly satirical videos having been seen by tens of millions of people worldwide.
Unlike many partisan satirists, James constantly takes aim at the entire power structure to produce explicitly anti-imperialist, radical shorts that cut deep. A frequent target of his is the CIA. The CIA are basically gangsters for American capitalism,” he told “MintCast” host Alan MacLeod today, referencing their history of gunrunning and drug smuggling. “I love the new CIA ads. They really lean into identity politics. It feels like satire is dead when I watch their videos. It’s like ‘you too can join the imperialist project, toppling governments!’’ he added.
James also spoke about how he got into comedy. Growing up in a conservative household, “The Colbert Report” was a favorite of his. “Just seeing somebody do a satirical mock of the right-wing pundits that I grew up around was genius. But then, of course, it is sad when you see a lot of these guys who don’t point the target at Democrats. There’s no criticism from the left, except from the very obvious ones,” he said.
Liberals and liberalism is another primary target of James’ content. But, he said, he treads a fine line, not wishing to be seen as a partisan hack and wanting to explicitly note that both parties are part of the same war machine.
“I always feel this pressure when I am making fun of liberals or Democrats in my videos that I gotta, in the same sentence, make fun of Republicans, just to let them know that you are [also] part of this problem!” he said.
“[I’m] just trying to make the type of comedy I wish I could see on TV,” he added.
Unfortunately, despite his extraordinary success and growth and his eye-popping viewership numbers, it is unlikely that TV channels will be calling his phone number any time soon. Referencing the handful of conglomerates that control mainstream media, James notes that, “These are big corporations that have their own interests, as well as advertisers that they need to make sure they’re creating a media environment that is conducive to their profits.” That essentially means criticism of the powerful and the structure of society is off limits. This certainly includes the CIA, the U.S. military, or corporate America, James’ primary targets. As he said:
Their whole model is built on ad revenue. They have to maintain relationships, as broadcasters, with advertisers. And the ones that can spend the most are the biggest companies. And you have everybody from fossil fuels, to insurance companies to whatever. The largest corporations keep these channels afloat, and they gotta play a delicate balance and not ruffle their feathers.”Still, that only leaves the lane even more free for comedians like James to make a name for themselves on social media.
Make sure you check out this hilarious new episode of “The MintCast.”
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Also, be sure to check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog.
Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.