Thursday, September 01, 2005

Finally, A Funny Terrorist

Is America ready for a sitcom about a terrorist cell in America? That's what a couple of writers are trying to figure out with their script "The Cell" about a group of hapless terrorists who come to blow us up, but are instead blown away by the Food Network, college, bowling leagues, and Jewish flower shop girls. And by "blown away," I don't mean killed:

With the fight against terrorism far from over, the clock may not even have started ticking toward acceptability for a satire like "The Cell," said Mr. Solo, of International Creative Management. "I think we just have to wait on this one," he said, "probably a generation."

While the script's heroes are ostensibly out to kill and paralyze Americans with fear, the running joke of "The Cell" is that they quickly fall in love with Americans and Americana. They order Domino's Pizza and heat up Hot Pockets, and get weak-kneed over super-sizes and double coupons and sexy college women. They become Chicago Cubs fans - these are hapless terrorists, after all - and derive their cultural literacy straight from television and the movies: their secret password is "Kelly Ripa."
As we frequently discuss here, comedy is vastly more powerful than any other narrative form specifically because of it's subversive nature and ability to lull the audience into a state of agreement or at least to slightly open the mind.

Exhibit A remains The Daily Show, naturally.

But think for a few minutes on the goals of this show. Read the article linked above and consider the large story at work. Who learns from this? The real sleeper cells in America? The Americans who fear their Arab neighbors nextdoor? The government paper-pusher tasked with penning anti-terrorist policy? What's the point and how would this show get us there?

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