Comedy and satire have the uncanny ability to tell stories in a nonthreatening manner. Done correctly they can be heard palatably. Bill Maher takes America’s obsession with Malaysia Flight MH370 as a proxy for many of America’s dysfunctions.
Many will only see the humor in the piece. Subsequently the observed absurdities in the piece of what we do politically and otherwise are bound to self-reveal. That is why both Jon Stewart and Bill Maher are so effective.
Maher illustrates how America’s obsession with Malaysia is ill-placed given the reality of flight travel. He notes that Americans are uninterested in knowing much about genetically modified foods, the content of impactful legislation, the extent of polluters’ misbehavior, and many other issues. These issues have much more impact on their daily lives. Yet these issues get very little scrutiny from the media.
Granted, there are reasons for a continuous effort to find MH370. We should want to know if there is some flaw in the plane that could affect the entire fleet. However, given that these planes have been flying for years, empirically one can assume they are safe in the aggregate.
Ultimately Maher gets to the core of the American psychology. We have the need for complete closure. Is that a mental disorder, intrinsically human, or the need to be all-knowing? It is likely all of the above. The side effects are palpable as Maher clearly states.
“That’s why we have wars that last a decade or more,” Bill Maher said. “And farm subsidies for millionaires. And military bases in countries we fought in 75 years ago. And a senseless 50 year embargo on Cuba. Some of the best decisions in my life involved quitting.”
Many would view quitting as leaving loose ends. Sometimes it is simply the best decision to cut one’s losses. When we learn that as a country, just maybe we will fight the battles we can win. And with that we win the war of not following the fate of every empire that ever existed.