Wednesday, March 23, 2016

CAP Tries To Be Funny, and Dies

One thing you can say about the Center for American Progress. Well, two things. One is that John Podesta's little hobby lobby advocacy group has been a great holding pen for Clintonian staffers during the interregnum. The other is that they have emerged as the most devotedly pro-Common Core group on the planet. Here at this blog, I have literally run out of headline versions of "CAP says something dumb in an attempt to sell Common Core." (See here, here, here, here and here. For just a few.)

Now CAP has teamed up with Funny or Die in order to promote a whacky new video that hilariously makes fun of a bunch of criticisms of Common Core that nobody has ever made.

In the video, Meredith from the Office (true story-- I once saw her in a Barnes and Noble in LA. Closest I ever came to a celebrity sighting.) and a guy who looks vaguely familiar, sending their daughter off to school, where she will "be starting a new program called Common Core."

They then proceed to throw all her books in the trash and throw away her math computer, because she won't need those. Because with Common Core, math is not important, and all day she'll be filling out standardized tests, and she'll have to wear a disguise and an assumed name, and wear a tin foil hat, and goggles so they won't put a microchip in her eye, and get the chance to join a mutant army, and they give her a disintegrator (which looks rather like a Despicable Me fart gun).

Cue her sister who "went through Common Core years ago" and is now completely normal and carrying textbooks as she headed off to college (so, not actually a "new" program?) for her first day, although her parents don't know that. She has the money line--

No. No. Common Core is just some standards my teachers use, so, you know, we can get into college and get a job and hopefully move out of our cray parents' house.

Which is certainly one of the shortest explanations of the Core. The kicker-- as she leaves, increasingly panicked Dad asks, "What's two plus two? Is it a hundred??!!Is it a hundred??!!!!"

You will be unsurprised to learn that the comment section is currently closed, even though the clip went up just a few hours ago. But if the comments were open, people might be inclined to fill it with actual criticism of Common Core-- you know, the kind of criticism leveled by actual intelligent human beings on both the right and the left.

But no-- the message here is literally that Common Core critics are the tin foil hat crowd. Sigh.

I mean, who is this for? Satire is only effective for an audience that is familiar with what you are satirizing, but anyone who is familiar with Common Core or the criticism of it knows that CAP isn't just taking shots at a straw man, but a picture of a straw man pinned to the straw lapel of a straw suit being worn by a straw man. I mean, I consider myself fairly familiar with the art of mockery, and you can't mock somebody if your mockery doesn't have some sort of root in reality. A good caricature has to be recognizable as the thing being caricatured. And, not to get all wonky, but it doesn't even establish an internally consistent world-- the Core is new, but their college age daughter went through it, although the parents who fear the Core never noticed what was happening with their older daughter, and all of these family members relate to each other as if they're strangers?And what are we to make of the message that parents are dopes?

This simply sidesteps every legitimate criticism ever leveled against Common Core and leaves it untouched, though it certainly does zero right in on all those people who say that Common Core requires you to throw out books or ignore math or has something to do with mutant armies. Really stuck it to those guys, let me tell you. I can't imagine how they failed to lampoon all those people who say Common Core will make your houseplants die.

In a way, it makes sense that CAP and Clinton are so closely tied. Here they are, continuing to spend millions of dollars trying to sell people something they don't want with a sales pitch that is repeatedly tone deaf, patronizing, and unconvincing. And this isn't even funny. This is more like that awkward person who tries to join your joking conversation with your friends by blurting out, "OH yeah, and you have genital wart cancer and are dying! Ha!! Am I funny now??" I'll embed it here so you can check my work, but I suggest you go over to Funny or Die (a site I cannot access from work on my lunch hour) and vote the piece up or down. Well, mostly down.

PS Ha!! No, I won't because "embedding is disabled by request." Now I'm even more curious about what purpose this video is supposed to serve. In the meantime, you'll have to settle for a link.


  1. You couldn't link to them, but the comments are open again so I left your link there!

  2. When I clicked on the link, the video was preceded by an ad about erectile dysfunction. Now that was funny!

  3. Comment away on their FB page. I did!

  4. I tried to find even a link to the video on the CAP's own web site with no success. Imagine that -- they create this thing but may not want to actually "own" it. Perhaps that is the only smart decision they made regarding this silly video.

    BTW, I don't see any links to the Bluegrass Institute's blog, We are in Kentucky, which has more experience with Common Core than any other state. You might find what is happening in the state with the most CCSS experience very enlightening.

  5. It is a good thing we live in a country where open dialogue and dissenting opinions are welcomed.