Monday, July 27, 2009

In Defense of the Darkest of Dark Comedy

A humorless feminist scold spends a lot of time being wrong in the following article a friend shared with me on Google Reader today. This is my response.

Humor is by definition going to offend someone. The "chef" (double-quotes for double-sarcasm) that invested time to create Hot Pockets might well be offended by the Hot Pockets skit. She actually stumbles upon why the darkest of dark comedy is funny here:

Call me a humorless feminist scold (I know you will!) [Edit: I did!], but I find it remarkably pathetic that Herring defends his material with an expectation that people too fucking ignorant to understand the basic concepts of "equality" or "consent" be sophisticated enough to discern the subtle nuances of privileged wankers ostensibly laughing at bigots/rapists because they find bigots'/rapists' expression of their hatred funny, but not bigotry/rape itself.

Basically, mocking bigots/rapists is so dangerous that it should be banned from the comedic lexicon. Certainly we wouldn't want to risk people taking parody and satire literally. I must be some kind of Irish holocaust denier because I don't think any babies actually died as a result of Jonathan Swift's influential pamphlet.


  1. She's not suggesting that it should be banned. Personally I agree with her that so often people claim they're being "edgy" because they think they're shocking people, but they're not really doing anything new. That's what is so annoying to me. Don't act like you're being edgy, when you're just giving the same stupid stereotypes that have been done a hundred times. What's wrong with wishing comedians could be a bit more creative instead of the same crap that's been done to death? If you find rape jokes funny, then good for you. But prove to me there's something original about that rape joke besides "and the passed out whore wanted it all long" (see it's a surprise because you don't think she wants it, but then you're reminded she's a slut. hah hah hah).

  2. Also, you bring up satire. I think people often hide behind the satire label. Oh it's just satire, don't take it so seriously. Well, if it's truly satire, then it's meant to be taken seriosuly on some level. Swift didn't just write "A Modest Proposal" to amuse. He wanted people to think about the issue, and ultimately he wanted people to change.

    If it's a joke, fine. But if you want to give it the label of satire, then it should do something besides amuse college-educated white male hipsters. It needs more to actually be effective. That was the point of the example of Dave Chapelle. He was haunted by the idea that what he was doing was being used as ammunition by racists and wasn't really doing anything.

    Back to the rape joke. Say some dude at a comedy club tells a rape joke. And a frat boy in the audience tells his buddies: "hah hah that's my Saturday night, amirite?" Then he gets a beer and doesn't think anything else about it. And a victim of rape in the audience is in tears.
    And you're in the audience, and you laugh and feel superior because you're so smart that you understood it was a satire of a rapist. What has really been accomplished, except that you get to feel smug?

    I don't want to see humor become totally politically correct. But I'm sick to death of hearing that just becauses something is politically incorrect it's so brilliant. If the point of satire is that college-educated white male libertarians get to feel smug on a regular basis, then I don't think that's satire anymore. That's called mental masturbation. But I'm just a humorless feminist who has laughed at plenty of your jokes over the years.

  3. I didn't have email notification turned on, so I had no idea you placed comments, and I only just now saw them. Sorry for the extreme delay.

    You make all good points. There are ways that extremely dark comedy can be creatively executed. In fact, I've seen quite a bit of well-executed dark comedy. Obviously, old jokes are unfunny regardless of the subject, doubly so for old rape jokes. But I don't want to see a rape joke condemned on its face strictly because it concerned rape.

    Yes, the satire angle is a weak argument, but I wasn't trying to equate rape jokes with satire. Rather, I was trying to convey that writers have used possibly dangerous material with the populous in the past, and I wanted to choose material from an agreed-upon 'good' writer. Obviously, I didn't think it through well enough.

    I equate rape/racism/sexism jokes with mocking the rapist/racist/sexist. They have no power over me if I have no respect for them. I might well laugh at a rape joke, and then make the "that's my saturday night" comment, further extending the mockery not just to rapists, but to those that take the joke literally. Is that smug? Perhaps.

    I consider smugness to be invoking moral superiority when there is a difference of opinion. I would consider mocking those I disagree with to be a couple of levels beyond smug. Their opinion is so baseless that I won't dignify it with a logical response. Thus, mocking rapists/racists/sexists is the deepest insult to them I can muster, and insulting those that I disagree with beyond argument is worth a chuckle.