Friday, August 02, 2013

Is Being Funny Enough Good Enough?

I've written before about rape jokes and how, similar to racial jokes, they walk a very fine line; even if they're funny, they need to be constructed carefully to make sure they're punching up and not victim shaming/blaming, or they become really shitty really quickly. If they're unfunny, they come across terribly even if they're not really that offensive per se.

Being a comedy nerd, I've had a lot of conversations about this sort of thing. One of my friends I've discussed this at length with maintains that you can really get away with joking about anything, as long as it's funny. I don't know that I completely subscribe to that viewpoint, but I do feel that if you laugh at something you can't simultaneously claim it has offended you, because you don't laugh at things that offend you (well, maybe in some really specific situations, but you know what I'm getting at).

But the longer I think about it, the more I come around to the "if it's funny enough, you can say anything" position (though this is probably my white male privilege showing through). Case in point: I've been sitting on this awhile, but last month when murder charges were announced against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, mock sports fan/terrible human being Pro Football Talk Commenter was on a damn roll.

(To the unfamiliar, Pro Football Talk is terrible sports news website. Its comment section, like on so many sports sites/websites in general, is full of typo-ridden racist, sexist, uninformed garbage. PFTCommenter is a sort of meta parody of these, and often contributes to Kissing Suzy Kolber, a pretty good football-centric blog. Check out his awesome White History Month series to get a taste of his general ouvre.)

Anyway, at this point, all anyone knew was that someone had been murdered and Hernandez was the center of the investigation. And of course, no one is more idiotic nor prone to grandstanding than sports reporters, so PFTCommenter had a bit of a field day taking them on. First, he took down Peter King's always shitty logic:

Not only funny in and of itself, but really pokes a great hole in King's grandstanding logic; either teams somehow magically knew Hernandez would become a murderer (in which case, they probably shouldn't have drafted him), or this is something no one could have predicted and the fact that he fell in the draft because he smoked weed in college is probably irrelevant (especially when you consider somewhere between 30-40% of college students smoke marijuana).

So that one is less offensive funny that just plain funny. But the post that made me laugh heartily and then feel kinda icky about laughing so hard was this one:

(For those unfamiliar with the acronym, MFK stands for "Marry, Fuck, Kill," an game in which three people are named and one has to say which they would prefer to respectively marry, fuck, and kill.)

So this is definitely a tasteless joke somewhat made at the expense of a man who had just been murdered, which if not totally offensive, certainly comes across as somewhat wrong. Yet, at the same time, I almost spit out my coffee when I read it I was laughing so hard.

So I guess I don't really have any greater conclusion on the subject, but I am probably going to hell for laughing at this stuff. But hey, at least I'll be laughing on my way there...

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