In some ways, it’s a wonderful time to be alive. Privacy is dead, sure, but soon all the NSA data collecting, phone tapping, and drone surveillance will prove totally worth it. What am I talking about? Simple:
Very soon, Millennials will start running for office.
That’s right! For the first time ever, candidates with a life’s worth of online history – emails, tweets, Facebook updates, blog posts, Angelfire websites – will enter the political game. Candidates will hire TEAMS of interns to sift through their opponent’s digital past and find the juiciest lapses in judgement. Ask Trevor Noah what that feels like. Things are going to get messy and the winner won’t be the most competent candidate, but the one who better scrubbed their browser history.
The study group’s own dirty laundry is aired in “Basic Email Security” after a computer hacking exposes every horrible thing they’ve said about each other. This storyline is well trodden territory for Community which opens the pressure valve at least once a season to let the gang air their grievances with each other in hilarious fashion (“Cooperative Calligraphy” remains the gold standard of the bunch). Episodes like this serve the dual purpose of letting the gang wipe the slate clean while informing their characters by revealing how they behave when they think no one’s listening. The revelations range from hilarious (the gang tested Annie’s blood for amphetamines after a “jumpy” spring) to questionable (Chang regularly ranks Annie and Britta’s hotness) to downright morose (Frankie writes emails to her dead sister).
The leak is the result of an Anonymous-style attack over Greendale’s decision to book controversial comedian Gupta “Gupti” Gupta (Broken Lizards’ Jay Chandrasekhar). The hackers want the show cancelled, sparking Britta into a patriotic rage over freedom of speech. Her argument is that yeah, Gupta is a horrible, racist butt but it’s his right as an American to be a horrible, racist butt if he wants to be. The show goes on as planned, prompting the hackers to dump the study group’s private emails online for the world to read. Suddenly, the situation is flipped with horrible insults coming from friends instead of some hateful comedian.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what to make of the mess, but the show seems in favor of “judge not lest ye be judged”. It’s a piece of advice becoming more and more relevant as it seems a pubic figure is dragged through the mud every other weekend for increasingly minor indiscretions (she tweeted WHAT?!) Our kneejerk reaction is to reach for our pitchforks but it’s important to recognize the difference between truly heinous acts and lapses in judgement. Is Elroy a bad person for responding to another family’s email chain? No. Is Frankie terrible for accusing Jeff of functional alcoholism? No. Is Jeff a weirdo for gushing to astronauts upon their return to Earth? Only a little… Maybe forgiveness should be our kneejerk reaction instead of condemnation because, truly, we all have stuff that looks “weird” if taken out of context. I for one live in constant fear that comments I wrote on a Hanging With Mr. Cooper message board in the 90s will come back to haunt me.
Maybe Community is reminding us not to think twice before deciding who’s bad and who’s good. Because one day, it could be us in the spotlight defending why we thought Mr. Cooper was a modern day Sidney Poitier.
I was young.
Justin Rawana is recapping Community season 6 in a week-by-week format. He has also recently reviewed Harmontown.
Community airs every Tuesday on Yahoo Screen.