Mario, Zelda and Free Speech: A Review of “Patriot Act” Episode Seven

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers from episode 7 of Netflix’s “Patriot Act”.

This week’s episode begins with a commentary on the way society has moved on from television to web series and how pretty much Minhaj’s entire audience has grown up with the internet, a stark contrast to last week’s dark and depressing episode. He almost humanizes the internet, recalling the era of dial-up and heavy monitors. Minhaj has finally recovered from a couple of weeks of borderline lacklustre comedy. He’s brought back the humour and enthusiasm that made us return to him week after week.

Image credits via Netflix

“If you’re not laughing, you have HPV.”  The first two minutes act as almost an icebreaker for the audience to get them prepared for the jokes to come. He uses the allegory of HPV to criticize social media’s impact on the lives of those who don’t even use it and it somehow works. It’s the kind of joke that I missed for the past two weeks. He proceeds to call out Facebook and the cigarette industries’ bullsh*t and this week, his jokes don’t fall flat. While the internet is a dark place, Minhaj proves himself as a talented comedian and political commentator, reassuring us that last week and the week before were just falters, not flat-out failures.

And then comes Mr Pickles (that’s his real name, by the way), Twitter’s senior strategist of public policy. Minhaj doesn’t hesitate to drag him, an almost gleeful look on his face as he anticipates the array of possible jokes he could make. It’s almost supernatural how he manages not to laugh at his own jokes. The dark humour which I missed for the past two weeks has also made a timely return, this time a reference to Matt Lauer’s sexual misconduct allegations while joking about NBC’s response to the rise of the internet.

Following this is his commentary on the ‘porn freak-out’, preceded by the realization that “nothing [he] ever writes will beat a cat falling off a desk,” a perfect example of the fluidity in his comedy that bought his viewers back every single week. Minhaj not only redeems himself, he also exceeds his standard of comedy, an even more impressive feat considering he is the first Asian-Muslim to have his own Netflix show. He’s not just a ‘woke’ pawn for Netflix’s revenue, he’s a gifted comedian.

Image credits via Netflix

“[Magazines] are like Instagram that you can hold. Crazy, right?” Somehow, he manages to make a dull Supreme Court ruling into a profound yet funny realization of how times have moved on. However, much like most of the episodes, he uses this collective sense of nostalgia to reveal the truths of content moderation and the people behind it (yes, real people. Not bots) and the truly messed up way in which companies like Facebook exploit explicit content for engagement figures.

He concludes the episode with a hope for the future episodes and perhaps even seasons, going back to his roots of bringing light onto the darker areas of life in a light-hearted and almost flippant way: “social media gets to be platform in the streets and publisher in the sheets and you can’t have it both ways.”

Featured image via Netflix.

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