No Darkness Without Light

Comedy is important as an art form because it serves to counter tragedy by showing the rise of a normal person, even if their new position doesn’t seem better at first glance. One work that embodies this idea is Raise the Red Lantern. In the movie Raise the Red Lantern, the viewer follows Songlian as she marries into a wealthy family, and eventually falls out of favor. As the story progresses, Songlian begins to exercise more agency, culminating in her being labeled as “mad” before being made into a servant.

In reality, Songlian’s downfall is actually her triumph, as being made into a servant actually gave her more agency than she had as the Fourth Mistress. This was previously seen in the story with Songlian’s servant, Yan’er, who exercised agency by violating traditions at will. The way that she rises above her previous position is by rejecting the power structures she was trapped in by exercising agency.

Raise the Red Lantern is not a comedy because it is about a person being more fulfilled in a materialistic sense, it is a comedy because it is about a person breaking free from the systems of power that they are trapped in through their own actions.

Real World Critiques in Campy Sci-Fi Horror

M3GAN is the surprising 2022 horror hit about the creation of an extremely lifelike artificial intelligence doll as a children’s toy but quickly turns bloody when M3GAN proves too intelligent, even for her creators.

When M3GAN is created by inventor, Gemma, she’s meant to be a children’s toy but the effects that attachment to a robot instead of a human caregiver have on a child’s brain quickly becomes clear when Katie, Gemma’s recently orphaned niece, becomes dangerously attached to M3GAN. She grows increasingly stubborn and attached, eventually refusing to do anything if M3GAN isn’t with her. Though, not only is the level of attachment dangerous but the actual technology itself. To make a long story short, M3GAN becomes a homicidal maniac with industrial strength and must be torn apart piece by piece in the end.

So what’s the reality of M3GAN and does it actually mean anything? Short answer: yes.

While the movie does have its fair share of cheap jumpscares and lines clearly delivered as fan service, the witty comedy actually serves a great point about our usage of technology, as do other similar sci-fi comedies. M3GAN is all good fun when she starts backflipping and dancing before committing a heinous murder (seriously though, I screamed out loud in the theater) but she’s a great critique about how we rely so heavily on technology and give it to children while we don’t even fully understand it or its effects. Technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in our everyday lives and the effects that it has on an underdeveloped are still being discovered. But we know this much: it’s not good.

So what does this say about comedy as a whole? M3GAN falls in line with many other comedy movies; it’s stupid and humorous on the surface but when you actually tap into it’s subtext, it’s quite meaningful and sometimes more than tragedy, for example. I think the ability to entertain an audience with a creepy little girl robot while also conveying a message about our societal culture surrounding technology and parenthood is quite admirable.

But back to the main question: is comedy meaningful? Yeah. Why wouldn’t it be?