I was writing in a pretty jokey manner in the main post, but I’m genuinely weirded out by when we read fictional torture as enjoyable. It usually is most accessible with some distance – like, what happens to Wile E Coyote always reads as funny, but every time I’ve seen or heard about a more realistic depicted animal in pain, it feels awful. Itchy and Scratchy plays with the boundaries with some ironic layer. And of course, there’s a huge genre of entertainment where humans are put through suffering and it’s made funny either with the tone of the world or how evil they’re supposed to be. In most fictional worlds it still feels sick even when it happens to bad guys (though the directors are often tapping into pleasure centers as well), but sometimes the world is cartoon-ized enough that it doesn’t feel like it’s really happening.
(Anthropomorphized animals seem to be easier game for this than both animal-like animals and full humans. Weird, right? Maybe because they more easily read as not real.)
What I’m saying is, while making a little commentary on politics, I also touched on something weird in our entertainment I don’t understand or really know how to talk about.
As far as the actual “How to Torture Trump” article, my reaction to its actual content was kind of a shrug, because I don’t think obsession with his ego is healthy but fine, it’s an oulet. But it’s when I imagined it as an actual article about torture that I started to chuckle, just because that would be such a dumb thing to run in a newspaper. Hardening “light” jokes by extending the premise into its full darkness is often a funny contrast to me (Norm MacDonald at Bob Saget’s roast is a good example: “Bob, you have a lot of well-wishers here tonight, and a lot of them would like to throw you down one. A well. They want to murder you in a well. Seems a little harsh, but apparently they want to murder you in a well, it says here on this card.”)
Anyway humans are sick and weird, have fun but don’t hurt anybody.