EDITOR’S NOTE: The viewpoints in this article do not represent the opinions of The Writer’s Bloc.
People have no tolerance for the offensive these days.
Look, everything is offensive. Humor is subjective by its very nature, and that means the effect it has on people varies. Someone will probably be offended by a joke about cat-owners.
Where do we draw the line? Which is worse to joke about, Ebola or heart disease? How come jokes about the Holocaust are awful, but no one gives a crap about the Crusades? Can you think of a reason that isn’t as arbitrary as, “Because enough time has passed?”
Whose standard are we using? Why is your threshold for offensive humor any more right than mine?
And what’s the solution? Do we censor everything that might leave a mental boo-boo? C’mon, be realistic about this.
“Some things are clearly wrong, though!” you yell, perched atop your pedestal. “You can’t joke about ____! Nothing’s funny about ____!”
If you can’t laugh about taboo subjects, walk away.
It’s not your place to judge someone’s sense of humor. You might be gravely offended, and that’s really unfortunate, but that’s all it is – unfortunate. Nothing more. It’s not a violation of your well-being, it’s not an attack on your psyche, it’s just unfortunate that you were in a place expecting humor and left offended. That doesn’t give you or anyone else the right to take away that humor, which is giving joy to so many others.
If you’re the kind of person that wants Saturday morning cartoon humor, maybe do some research and go in knowing what you’ll be seeing. No one goes to watch a movie and leaves pissed-off because they weren’t expecting a horror flick.
And some people cope using humor. Who’s to say there aren’t people personally affected in that audience using comedy to confront their issues? There are studies on this very subject – people re-contextualizing their past traumas. It’s known to be effective and healthy to use laughter as a means of therapy.
That’s the beauty of offensive humor – it uses obscenity to challenge our ideas. It’s funny because it juxtaposes the crude against a sobering clarity. It’s shows us a different perspective on an otherwise dark world.
But okay, sure, not all of it is so refined. Admittedly, some offensive humor is purely shock-value. Sometimes, the jokes are clearly just belittling people.
And really, that’s okay. It’s okay to laugh at jokes that belittle people. It’s not okay to belittle people, but it is okay to laugh at the jokes. Those two things are fundamentally different.
When I hear a joke about my race, it’s funny not because it’s true but because the idea if humorous. The fact that people are laughing doesn’t translate into some conclusive evidence that they condone racism.
And this is something everyone who goes to see a comedian should realize. Audience members aren’t laughing and joking because they support those ideas – they just find it funny.
Jin Kim is a senior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.