I see why you are so tied to the linked video idea, as that is what your site is built upon. I retain my view that because of the nature of the medium, film is good for some political things, but discussion is not one of them. However, let me have a go at them, and perhaps we can get around that.
This video, and the Simpsons one, use humor to make a point. Attempts at humor fall flat is the audience does not see at least some truth in them. Let me make a distinction, though. Satire may rely on the truth to have meaning, and it may illustrate truth, but it never reveals truth. It is dependent on what the audience already believes to be true.
Thus, it can be a pretty dodgey source to use to inform oneself about events. For example, bigots find some pretty terrible things funny, because they believe in the underlying truth. But that doesn’t make them true, and those who don’t share their views won’t see the humor.
It’s not a difficult distinction, but it’s one most of us fail to make when we find something funny.
Example: I find PJ O’Rourke funny. His description of environmental tourists and the “sandalistas” weeping when Danny Ortega lost the election illustrate real idiots in full flower, and I see the truth of it.
If I try to apply that truth to the actual environmentalists and Boomer liberals I meet, however, I find that they aren’t dramatically like the O’Rourke examples. Not that his examples are wrong, necessarily, but they are by definition the most intense of the true believers, far more prone do stupid things. The people one meets everyday who support cause A or cause B are much more reasonable. One might still find them mistaken, or pigheaded about particular points, but they are neither clownish nor demonic.
In the Conan O’Brien video, the game is oversimplified to make a point: the pope presumes too much in speaking for Christianity. Yet a moment’s thought reveals that a good expositor of Catholic doctrine could easily challenge the premise of the video. I am not Catholic, but I could do it myself. The pope’s statement about his authority was not a slip or an arrogation, but founded on a very solid set of doctrines, which have been argued out for centuries: “Not thus, but thus…” The writer of the video gets to bypass that, and pretend it isn’t there. He is playing to an audience that already believes that popes shouldn’t be listened to that much, and he oversimplifies Catholic doctrine in an attempt to claim that this particular pope has made an unsupportable claim. But it’s not particularly funny to people who don’t already share the writer’s view about popes. Once you know the complicated issues behind it, it’s just stupid. Even if you are Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant, or Jewish, once you know more about the issue, it’s just not funny. The add-ins about Jesus behaving like Darth Vader or the priests’ obsession with masturbation fall even flatter for similar reasons.
The send up of Fox news relies on the perception that many people have that it is unfairly slanted to the right. It’s only funny to those people, as a similar sendup of CNN would only be funny to those who believe it leans left. Spoofing Fox news may illustrate well why the writer believes it is slanted, but it provides no evidence for slantedness.
Well, here’s the thing. People seem to like my blog. Nobody makes them come here and look at what I have to say or watch any of the videos or audio that I post. If you like it, great. If you don’t, there are other blogs, other points of view.