Lee Camp is an American comedian who’s been bringing his own brand of political humour to inform and inspire club audiences for more than twenty years. He also writes and hosts ‘Redacted Tonight’, a weekly satirical alternative news show on the Russia Today network.
As the name of his TV show would suggest, he tries to bring us stories or angles that are redacted or ignored by corporate and popular media. Every chapter in this book is meticulously researched and referenced, so it’s not just a witty read, but is a great springboard for further information.
His work often takes some dry research from independent outlets like MintPress, The Intercept and Grayzone, and manages to wrap them in accessible silliness to highlight the issues. In his chapter “How to create a US government-backed coup for fun and profit” he rips apart American media hacks who were trying to convince the Venezuelan people that it was their president’s fault they didn’t have loo paper – rather than the fault of US sanctions. Camp lampoons their lies with “He’s hoarding all the toilet paper. He’s sitting up there on a throne of Angel Soft triple-ply! His anus is singing ‘Joy to the World’ right now.”
Camp often undermines the normalisation that our ruling elites rely on to fool us. While our media endlessly measures the success of our society by economic output and GDP – Camp observes that ‘Judging our society by looking at stock prices is like judging the health of a dying man by looking at the leeches on his skin. “Wow those leeches are very happy. This man is in peak condition.”’ and that “GDP doesn’t measure how many animals were extinct, only how many we ate or sold.”
A lot of Camp’s writings expose the collusion of the media describing them as ‘stenographers to the ruling elite’ – an extreme example being that they’ve virtually ignored the story of how the Pentagon is unable to account for 21 trillion dollars of spending – an unfathomable amount of psychotic military spending apparently put down to “a failure to correct system deficiencies”. ‘That’s like me saying I had sex with 100 thousand wild hairless aardvarks, because I wasn’t looking where I was walking’ jokes Camp.
And on what is probably the media’s largest elephant in the room, climate breakdown, Camp suggests that the sixth mass extinction, impending food shortages, mass migration and societal collapse might deserve to be a major factor in all our media, conversations and decisions. “Humans have no business going about our day-to-day activities…It’s equivalent to working on your model train set while your kitchen is burning down, your spouse is in the bathroom battling an alligator that’s taken up residence in the bathtub, and your 12-year-old daughter is in the living room, having just been offered heroin for the first time. Right now, humanity is still focused on the model train.”
If this kind of subject matter, along with electoral fraud, racism in our society, and massive inequality in our economic systems, isn’t your idea of good lockdown reading, then take heart in some of the celebration and hope which you can also find in these writings.
In a chapter on our planet’s wonders, Camp delights in scientists’ discovery of a faceless fish – ‘isn’t spaceship Earth awe-inspiring.’ In a celebration of the courage of whistleblowers he describes them as conscientious objectors, and adds – ‘If we all objected we could change the world in an instant.’
As we emerge from the pandemic into a world where much has changed and opportunities might arise, Camp’s analysis and observation might just be something of a wake-up call and an inspiration. ‘The ruling elite will let us die and then charge us for the coffins. We need to organise on the local level – change things in our states and cities…Don’t wait for their permission to make a better world.’
This collection was written and published before Corona virus spread across the world, and we’re facing a future of great change, but the informed reminders of how crazy a system we’ve been living in, along with the witty analysis of what really needs changing, might just help us focus on the kind of world we want to see develop, and steer us away from a return to the ‘normality’ which our media and elites have constructed around us. This is recommended reading for some lockdown stimulation.
We interviewed Lee Camp last year when he performed a stand-up show in London.