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Senate Humour, satire and "taboo" subjects

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Katana_Geldar, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 5, 2011
    Everything is subject to humor. There is nothing that cannot be made fun of. These are obvious facts.

    Should everything be subject to humor? Should there be certain subjects that cannot be made fun of? For me, that question is not relevant. Is it relevant to you? If it is, then you need to figure some things out. Is it reasonable for some people to be offended by your words? If so, how much do you care about their feelings? How much do you care about your jokes?

    Should people care about offending others? Sure, if they have any empathy whatsoever. Each person chooses the level of sensitivity they are willing to show others. Each person must decide whether or not offending someone is a personal problem. It's up to each individual to decide when to joke, when something is okay and when it's not. It's up to each individual to make a judgment call on whether or not it will hurt someone's feelings (and whether they care), and to decide to tell the joke or not based on a risk/reward assessment. How likely is the joke to offend, and how much? Do I care? How likely is the joke to amuse, and how much? Do I like the odds? Is the potential reward worth the potential risk? Is it worth bucking the odds for humor's sake?

    Personally, I don't think there's any subject that is actually beyond humor. For me it's almost entirely dependent on the quality of the joke. If it makes me laugh, then obviously the subject is open to humor, even if it makes me feel like a terrible human being at the same time. If it just makes me feel terrible and doesn't inspire even the slightest amusement, then it's probably just a poor attempt at humor, not necessarily something entirely off limits.

    When I'm considering telling a joke, I (very quickly) ask myself the questions above. If the joke is very likely to deeply offend my audience, I mean really hurt them, and I actually care about their feelings, then I'm not likely to tell the joke. I don't go around intentionally hurting feelings guilt free. If the potential offense is questionable, or if I don't really care about the feelings of my audience, then the other questions come into play.


    Example:

    If I'm around someone I know has been raped and I actually care about their feelings, then there's simply no way I'm going to make a rape joke. Ever.

    But if my audience isn't sensitive to rape jokes and I think the joke is likely to amuse, I'm aiming to amuse.

    What if your audience is large and diverse? It's a judgment call.

    I can laugh at anything, but I'm not going to tell others that they should be able to do the same.
     
  2. Jedi Merkurian

    Jedi Merkurian New Films Thread Reaper and Rumor Nay-Sayer star 7 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    May 25, 2000
    But here's the thing: humor is an art, and all art is by nature subjective. One person's "light hearted fun" is another person's "intentionally inflammatory joke." How do we determine where "the line" is, and what crosses it? I think that some things should be off-limits, but that said limits are highly situational.

    Now before you guys write me off as a humorless stick in the mud, lemme be clear on something. I saw a man die once. I saw a car send him flying, and he did not recover. As soon as I could think in words again, the very first thing that came to mind was a reference to a running joke between several of my friends. When my grandfather passed away, I can elaborate on the circumstances if anyone wishes, but amidst the tears, within minutes of his passing, we joked about how he was polite and considerate to the very end. So my definition of what's "off limits" is pretty flexible.
     
  3. darth-calvin

    darth-calvin Jedi Grand Master star 2

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2002
    I am reminded of the recent story about the girl who dressed up as an injured runner from the Boston marathon bombing for Halloween last week. She's now getting a world of hate dumped on her. People have actually tracked down her address and sent threatening mail and she lost her job. She apologized, but it has kept on. I feel for her a bit because I love inappropriate humor. I'm not sure I would have done that, but I actually thought it was a clever idea. I could easily see myself doing something like that, though that specific idea I know I would have thought better of.

    I think Merk has said it best - its more about knowing your audience. However, if you're going to throw out inappropriate humor then I think you should be prepared for others who don't appreciate it. If that response is going to bother you then perhaps you should reconsider. If you don't give a **** then go ahead. Personally, I'm almost impossible to offend with a good joke so I'm always hanging with the inappropriate people.
     
  4. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Five Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    I personally don't find that costume funny but I'm not offended by it either, and I certainly don't think she deserves hate mail. That's absurd.

    Maybe this would be considered "wrong" but I also consider the source of a joke. Example, if someone tells a sexist joke but I know the person isn't really a chauvinist, I'll laugh at the joke, maybe even join in. But if a known chauvinist makes a "joke" about women which I know is an attempt to make his real feelings more politically correct, I don't find it funny.

    On what Merk was (sort of) talking about...when my grandfather died, my cousins and I stood around his casket and talked about what he would say if he knew he were wearing foundation. "Get this stuff off of me!" (If he weren't a good World War II generation Southern Baptist, he would have used the word "****" instead, but I digress.). We left the funeral parlor laughing, which I felt weird about, but my grandfather really loved a good joke and he would have wanted us to laugh.

    Somebody better be telling some damn jokes when they toss my ashes over the side of a mountain. "Do you think that was part of her head that just hit that rock?" "Wouldn't matter, she was hard-headed anyway."

    The YJCC is full of "inappropriate jokes," people picking on each other, etc., and that's what makes it great. That forum reminds me not to take myself or life too seriously. I'd go so far as to say the YJCC has extended people's life expectancies.
     
  5. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 5, 2011
    I think this is probably because the person is using humor to mask their bigotry. They're not laughing with, they're laughing at.

    It's like flat out insulting someone and then dropping "just kidding" to get away with it. They're not really kidding, they're expressing their true opinion and then dropping "just kidding" in a transparent attempt to retract the statement.
     
  6. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    What about those two dudes who dressed up as Travyon Martin and George Zimmerman for Halloween in Florida? If I find that offensive, is it because I have a stick up my ***?
     
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  7. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Five Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    They're in Florida and probably trying to make light of a situation that they're tired of people discussing all the damn time.

    If Martin's relatives or friends were at the party, I'd say the guys are ***holes. As it is, the costume wasn't funny to me and I'd say it was in pretty poor taste, but I'm not spending time getting offended by it.

    Does that mean you have a stick up your ass? No.
     
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  8. Ender Sai

    Ender Sai Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2001
    Yes.

    No, seriously.

    You don't receive offense at something. You take it. You elect to be offended, and it's due to something inherent in you. Not in the act, which is subjective.
     
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  9. timmoishere

    timmoishere Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 2, 2007
    Yes, context is everything. Being able to recognize when and where a joke is appropriate is a vital skill to have. If I make racist or sexist jokes at work, I'd probably get fired. But if I make them on my own time, who the hell cares?
     
  10. SuperWatto

    SuperWatto Manager Emeritus star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 19, 2000
    I've been listening to a lot of comedy lately, and it's starting to annoy me how often African-American stand-up comedians make racist jokes.

    There's a whole world of stereotypes that hangs together from sketches of people like Paul Mooney, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle - going back to Eddie Murphy and even Richard Pryor. The pattern is: "white people be like / black people be like".
    They do the white person voice, they do the black person voice, and both of them have their quirks: white people are uptight, black people are lazy. White people are still imperialists, black people are still slaves. It's strange to look at from a distance. Many of the jokes are funny, but the fact that they've been so consistenly mining the topic for fifty years does reveal a pattern. And that pattern may stand in the way of equality.
     
  11. Saintheart

    Saintheart Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2000
    One might point out that depending on the jurisdiction you're in, making racist/sexist jokes might get you fired not just for being a twit, but also because you're doing something illegal. Making sexist jokes around a member of the target gender has been recognised as sexual harassment, which isn't just gauche like drinking gin before noon or shooting p(h)easants, but subject to civil and/or criminal liability.

    Sexual harassment or anti-vilification laws rest on the very concept of someone taking offence to your particular choice in exercising freedom of speech, or else where is the harassment or vilified party? By saying anything should be open to ridicule or mockery, even putting bounds of doing so "appropriately", whatever that means, are you saying you're against laws preventing sexual harassment or laws similarly preventing incitement of a minority group?

    EDIT: Ender Sai, I'm thinking of loveable old Andrew Bolt and his recent(ish) skirmishes with the Federal Court over Aboriginality (or lack thereof) of people applying for racially-based government benefits...
     
  12. Ender Sai

    Ender Sai Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2001
    I guess I think discrimination is slightly different, Saintheart, in that it is institutionalising an equality hitherto not present in society.
     
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  13. V-2

    V-2 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2012
    You have to find a balance between being opposed to self censorship, and being a ****. Weigh intent against possible consequences. If you have a serious point to make, you can go about as far as you like, but if you're doing it just to be a ****, then that's genuinely not (as) funny. Okay, sometimes it's funny to be a ****, but we should all aim higher. Unless it's REALLY funny.

    Personally, I find men telling rape jokes tasteless. Shameful, in the literal sense. I admit though, that they, like other bigoted jokes, can sometimes be funny. When Jimmy Carr does his offensive stuff I think it's a lot funnier and cleverer than when someone like Sean Lock just lets the horror linger without any attempt at analysis. Carr can do self aware twattishness, while Lock is either playing or being a genuine ****.

    Boyle, meh. I don't know what to make of him... I've seen him live a couple of times it's been pretty average, very predictable stuff. I read a couple of his comics which I didn't rate highly... I can't make up my mind about him. He's kind of semi-aware, I think. I did like his parolympic Twitter jokes, I think people were looking to be offended at that time.

    Once upon a time I decided to check out acts like Chubby Brown and Bernard Manning, as if to test just how self righteously liberal I am. It turns out Manning had the power to make me laugh, while Brown's appeal remains a mystery. Same goes for Jim Davidson - I just don't see the appeal of a racist telling racist jokes to racists. I far prefer liberals telling liberal jokes to liberals, obvs.

    Manning's racist jokes are less offensive than the racism he actually displayed IRL, but he had a Jewish joke that really made me laugh - because it played on expectations and didn't end up making fun of the Jews. That's a trick he played in a few ways... It's a shame he wasted his talents on being such a massive ****. His mother in law jokes were sublime...

    ...As were Bob Monkhouse's, a comedian who got unfairly tarred with the Manning brush when Alternative happened. I see Carr as a modern Monkhouse clone. Bob did the smug self awareness and false sincerity thing so well. I'd say Stewart Lee, my liberal god, has this power too. Anyway, you can't really tell a mother in law joke without any inflection of irony these days. Maybe it's cyclical and those times will come again, but I hope they don't. I hope that other bigot jokes go the same way.

    I do think it's a shame that we're unlikely to get another comic creation like Alf Garnett though. Pub Landlord Al Murray is no substitute at all.

    Ender Sai - I agree with much of what you say, but wouldn't it be more expedient to just link to the relevant Hitchens speech? :p
    SuperWatto - I think what concerns you is a symptom of a greater problem; the cultural segregation of comedy audiences.
     
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  14. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Five Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    I'm certainly not against laws preventing sexual harassment, but only speaking for myself, I would not report someone for sexual harassment for telling a dirty joke in my presence. I think what is considered "harassment" is subjective as well, and I would only draw that line if the comments were far more personal and persisted after I told the person to knock it off.

    V-2 : I dunno, I find Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock's jokes about white people as hilarious as my half-Irish ancestry will allow.

    I also love the Blue Collar Comedy Tour guys, and they make fun of Southerners and women. Jeff Foxworthy's "Totally Committed" routine does nothing but make fun of women, and I laugh until I cry every time I hear it.

    This reminds me of a conversation I had one Christmas with my brother's wife about All in the Family. She thinks the show is immoral; I really enjoy it, Archie Bunker's very un-politically-correct attitude and all.
     
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  15. Heavy Isotope

    Heavy Isotope Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Offensive humor shouldn't be that problematic, obviously if people take it too far then it's simple, don't listen to them, and if others do, don't try to push on why you think that they shouldn't. Unless they ask of course. There's a time and place for everything and just like with any joke it needs good timing. Example; I'm at my friend's, she's Japanese and sometimes I'll throw in some "Engrish," she doesn't care because she knows I'm not racist and she thinks it's quite funny (The story being that when we were just starting to be friends she accidentally started talking to me in Japanese after ordering some food for us at a Japanese restaurant.) Would I talk like that to just anyone? Of course not, not unless I knew them and they knew me, but also can take a joke. I had some very outspoken gay friends that got all riled up when I'd say 'the wrong thing.' Then I'd get mad because I couldn't be my no-filter self around them, humor should be an equalizer really, when you make fun of stereotypes or commonalities in the right light I don't think there's anything wrong with it. If someone wants to make that kind of humor, at least broaden the subject instead of targeting just one group.

    Side note:
    Probably my favorite offensive joke deals with gay rights and racism. But it puts it in a light that you can find humor in the ridiculous old debate that interracial marriages are bad and now recently the same things are being said about homosexuality. I can't find a YouTube clip for it, but it's Aziz Ansari in Burried Alive. I don't think I should quote it verbatim just because of the TOS. :p
     
  16. V-2

    V-2 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2012
    anakinfansince1983
    Archie Bunker is the Americanised Alf Garnett, so in theory you're supposed to laugh at him. IDK how it worked out in the US, but the character got some highbrow criticism because it appealed to actual bigots (perhaps lacking the faculties to recognise irony and satire).
     
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  17. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Five Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    I think most people here understood the satire, but he definitely appealed to some actual bigots, especially at the time the show ran on TV. That was my sister-in-law's issue, but I was willing to overlook it.
     
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  18. Katana_Geldar

    Katana_Geldar Jedi Grand Master star 8

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2003
    Cartman from South Park is the more recent equivalent.
     
  19. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    - Mr. Gambini, when you come into my court dressed the way you are, you do not only insult me. You insult the integriteh of this court!
    - You don't receive insult, your Honor. You take insult.
    - Excuse me?
    - You heard me.
    - I will hold you in contempt of court.
    - I am unable to deliver contempt, your Honor. You may choose to take it.
    - You are in contempt, Mr. Gambini! And this wasn't in the script!
    - I am in no particularly different state than my normal state of mind, your Honor. However, I would like to present this exchange to the ladies and gentlemen in the jury as evidence that your Honor is in the state of having a stick up your ass, sir. And no, this wasn't in the script.

    Cut! Cut! Cut! Joe, what the hell are you doing?
     
  20. darth-calvin

    darth-calvin Jedi Grand Master star 2

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2002
    OK, so let me pose this situation and get some thoughts.

    My partner owned a catering/event venue where he would do weddings and special events. Behind the bar, in plain sight of the patrons, he had one of those signs that read: "Sexual harassment will not be tolerated; it will be graded." He had it forever, long enough to forget it was even up there. Nobody ever said anything about and it didn't bother any of the staff.

    For three winters he hosted a production of the Vagina Monologues. The first year it wasn't a problem. However, the second year there was a group of women in attendance that included some of the ladies who were part of the first class action sexual harassment lawsuit - the suit that the movie North Country was about (with Charlize Theron). These ladies were furious about the sign and angrily demanded it be taken down because it was offensive.

    My partner's initial thought was a big f-you because of their attitude, but we were friends with another woman in the group and he agreed to get rid of it. I was of two minds about it. Obviously it wasn't done intentionally so I think the ladies could have been less aggressive in their initial demands. On the other hand, if you saw the movie you got a glimpse of the horrible things they suffered (truly sick and twisted things). Some of them still suffer pretty severe mental health issues. Plus, they came to a play about female empowerment so I'm sure it surprised them to see that.

    Is there a point where sensitivity is justified and people should respect it as a matter of compassion?
     
  21. Heavy Isotope

    Heavy Isotope Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 10, 2013
    They probably should have been less aggressive but considering what they had been through I think anyone could empathize. I haven't seen the movie, but I wouldn't think the vagina monologues is the best place to have a sign like that up. Nor would a wedding or a corporate type celebration. I think that sign is funny as hell but I can imagine that if there was mixed company, someone might get annoyed if a guy or girl took it as "permission" to harass, bother, or hit on someone. On the other hand that happens naturally at a bar right? :p There's no real way to predict how someone would act and I don't think your partner is in the wrong.

    I think certain situations would justify sensitivity and that's because not everyone has the same mindset as someone like E_S or myself.
     
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  22. V-2

    V-2 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2012
    With my humourless hat on, if you've got a poster that promotes bigotry on public display, then you're being a bit of a **** and you should expect trouble.
     
  23. Ender Sai

    Ender Sai Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2001
    But are you promoting bigotry?

    I think people underestimate just how effective satire is at drawing the spotlight to the ugliest and nastiest facets of human stupidity. When Louis CK does his skit on how good it is to be white, he's actually highlighting how our arbitrary arrogance with respect of race is unsustainable, unjustified and likely to be remembered long term. He doesn't actually feel better for being white, but he taps into, parodies and ultimately undermines that sentiment amongst segments of the Caucasian population in the West who are angry that less lazy, less stupid immigrants than them "steal" their jobs by actually working when employed.

    Words only have affect when you let them. That sign, calvin, sounds like it personifies this. Sexual harassment and discrimination is wrong, but instead of preaching this the sign turns it around and says, no, if you're going to try some cheap and idiotic joke we'll tell you how smart you really are. I love it, and I think it's more powerful than sniffling behind a handkerchief and demanding someone punish someone else.
     
  24. V-2

    V-2 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2012
    Right but sexual harassment is not just defined as telling an offensive joke. There are a number of ways that sign could be read, and many of them seem (to me) to tacitly support rape culture.

    What is the sexual harassment grading criteria? Does an ass-grab score higher than a vagina joke?

    Think how Dawkins and Hitchens argue(d) that moderate/permissive religion makes apologies for, and tacitly justifies extreme/intolerant religion. By saying it's okay to make light of the subjugation of half the species, it creates an environment where sexual inequality can prosper.

    Unless, of course, there's some point to it. Satire gets a free speech permit from me every time, but I'm not sure an ironic pro-rape poster is picking a very sensible fight.
     
  25. wannasee

    wannasee Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 24, 2007
    meh, the sign is ambiguous in meaning, but it is certainly not pro-rape. I mean, the first sentence is "sexual harassment will not be tolerated." :p