The court jesters make a comeback...
What if, as individuals, we had the power to "rouse the masses" and effect institutional change beyond our wildest dreams, through a well-timed joke?
The shifting nature of how widely we can distribute information, coupled with the ability to mimic, mock and impersonate others, is something I'm paying close attention to; and so should you!
What is this about court jesters?
In "Ye Olde" days, when speech against authority was limited, the court jester, or funny man, employed by the reigning king or queen was the only person allowed to make fun of the people in authority and the institutions they upheld. While anyone else would risk the death sentence for cracking jokes, most European courts gave their jesters "Freedom from all Constraints", or essentially a free pass to hurl insults left and right. (just not at the queen or her ladies-in-waiting)
Here's the big takeaway: People in that day thought that within all humor and madness, there was always at least a modicum of truth.
In his book, “Madness and Civilization,” French philosopher Michel Foucault wrote that silliness was historically believed to “bring to light the real problem, which can then be truly resolved.”
*Sean Morrow has entered the chat*
Who is Sean Morrow? Nobody, really. He's a 34 year old writer who lives somewhere in America. But, in November of last year, Sean realized he had been given the power to "rouse the masses" when Twitter suddenly allowed anyone to buy one of those coveted blue check marks that verify an accounts identity.
In a matter of minutes, he threw on his own digital court jester outfit and became the $300 Billion dollar drug company, Eli Lilly. *magical lute music starts playing*
His well-timed and well worded parody tweet insinuating the insulin manufacturer would be giving away its' blood sugar drug for free was admittedly funny to everyone*.
*(except Eli Lilly shareholders)
The stock dipped there for a hot minute, but rebounded after it came to light what happened. But as the world had a good chuckle, that little modicum of truth started to take root. (Many people were unaware the drug wasn't already free, and started to ask, "why the heck isn't it?)
Mr. Morrow's "court jester" moment eventually accomplished more than years of advocacy and lobbying efforts. In late February, Eli Lilly announced they were going to cap insulin prices for everyone at $35, not just for medicare patients. A bold move considering the old price could reach over $1,000 at times, forcing some of the over 8 million people in the U.S. who need insulin daily to ration their supply to survive.
Corporations may not have a heart, but they sure do hate to be publicly "court jestered".
This story really stuck with me, especially when thinking about ways I might be able to help Level On Demand, or some of my friends trying to effect change in their respective industries, the right ways to get our own "court jester" moments; somehow poking fun at "the way things are done" to wake others up to the way things could be.
Have you played around with any of the AI voice or deepfake tools? I'm equally apprehensive and excited to see how people use this newfound way of communicating their messages!