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‘Tis the Season. Or Ho Ho Hate – Break out the Bowl of Bitterness

December 11, 2014

What better time of year to put our frustrations with the world aside and give our cynicism and sarcasm a rest than the holidays. The. Holidays. It’s the one time of year where, for at least a few days, everyone is pretty much in a good mood and no one is talking about celebrity gossip, politics, war and death. I would have added poverty, homelessness and the demise of the printed book to the list but no one seems to care about that stuff anymore. Plus I haven’t give my cynicism and sarcasm a rest just yet.

It’s easy to be a cynic and I try to watch myself. I really do try, but like Michael Corleone in Godfather III, just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

(Or if you prefer The Sopranos over The Godfather)

Anyway, like I said, I try. The more negativity I’m exposed to the more it tends to manifest as cynicism in my everyday life so I try and watch the amount of negativity I take in which means I try to limit one of the largest sources of negativity in my life: the news. I try to not get too caught up in all the distressing stories on the news and for the most part I do OK.

It’s a fine line because on the one hand I don’t want to be uninformed. On the other hand I don’t want to start my day feeling like King Sisyphus pushing a huge boulder up a media-created hill. And on the other hand I defer to Tevye the Milkman – “There is no other hand!”

Good movie.

So back to negativity in the media and my cynicism. This morning I see an article on Huffington Post about cakes and bakery items that are the “perfect gift to give someone you totally hate this holiday season”. The name of the company says it all: “Rude Cakes”. You can buy the Oreo cookie cake with “Eat Shit” stenciled in the frosting or you can buy the green-frosted “Fuck Off!” cookie. If that’s too extreme for you but you still need to unload then there’s the giant “Nobody Loves You” chocolate chip cookie pie.

Sarah Brockett is a graphic designer and the mastermind behind “Rude Cakes”. She told HuffPost the idea came about when she tried to combine her interests in baking and hand lettering. Her website describes her creations as, “. . . not where you want to purchase Grandma’s birthday cake from. It is, however, the perfect place to have a pie created for your cheating husband, or your bratty pre-teen daughter. This establishment simply oozes with sarcasm and sass.”

I get that it’s sarcastic and I get that it’s cynical. I don’t get that it’s funny. Personally, I think labeling this as “sarcasm” and “sass” is, to borrow an overused and tired phrase from the political circus, like putting lipstick on a pig and a pretty lame excuse to justify objectionable or negative speech and behavior. Unless you’re Groucho Marx, Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K. or David Letterman, sarcasm isn’t generally funny, it’s hostility and anger weakly disguised as humor. And in the case of “Rude Cakes”, telling some to “Eat Shit” or to “Fuck Off”, and passing it off as humor, only helps to reinforce negative attitudes and a negative climate. No, “Rude Cakes” isn’t responsible for the world’s problems, but it adds to them. As for sass, well, we don’t reward children who sass and I’m not sure that we should glorify and encourage the behavior as adults.

It may be the season – and while I’m not touting religion here – some of the messages that come with this particular season are, once the religious dressing is removed, universally valid for everyone. It makes me a little sad because I don’t know what happened to those messages over the last couple of decades.


When sarcasm is funny

No, Groucho is not my real name. I am breaking it in for a friend.” – Groucho Marx

I’m always interested in your thoughts and comments so please feel free to leave one or the other or both.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 12, 2014 6:54 am

    The best sarcasm is what we aim at ourselves.


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