Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why So Serious?: The Problem With Political Correctness in Comedy


Now I'm by no means a pro when it comes to comedy, or being funny. Hell, I'm still learning as I go. But pretty much anyone can tell a joke. It just all depends on execution, timing, and a clever or funny idea behind it. However nowadays, that seems to be getting a lot harder as time goes on. Because you never can know ahead of time whether or not your joke is going to offend some people. And that seems to be a bit of an ongoing problem these days. People getting offended.

You see the problem is that you got these groups like modern feminism, SJWs (Social Justice Warriors), various religious organizations, and so on, who just can't seem to take a joke without finding something offensive about it. Nowadays there seems to be this trending narrative that you shouldn't offend anyone, because the feelings of others matter and we should be more attentive to those feelings so as not to hurt them. Many of you might know this (for better or worse) as "political correctness".

Me personally, I have nothing but utter contempt for the word. 

Now I know what you're thinking; "What, do like to offend people? Are you that much of an asshole that you'll go around offending folks just for shits and giggles?"

Well first off: no. Now granted I have a tendency to be sarcastic and dry when it comes to my humor, and I'm not afraid to make the occasional risque quip when the timing is perfect for it. And I'm not going to go around poking fun at folks just to get a reaction out of it... okay actually that's only half true. I will do that, but only if I have a good enough of an idea in which to pull it off. But in all seriousness though, I may be a cynical asshole, but I'm not heartless. I mean if I'm being a dick just for the sake of being a dick, I'll apologize for it, but other then that, go fuck yourself.

Apologies to anyone who might have been offended by that last statement... but not really.

Look, my main issue with this whole 'political correctness" garbage is simply that in this day in age, people have an overtly insane tendency to say "I find that offensive!" or "I'm rather offended by that!" And the majority of the people saying these things, are the kind of folks that quite honestly have little to no sense of humor - or taste for that matter. And more often then not, it's usually the numskulls over on social media that are the literal cause of all this nonsense (specifically sites like Twitter and Tumblr).

These are the kind of people who get so easily offended by even the most miserly joke, wisecrack, or quip regarding or pertaining towards gender, race, religion, or anything even remotely a smidge controversial. It's all basically just a classic case of people getting all up in arms over the silliest of things. Which when dealing with SJWs, that's pretty much a common occurrence. Especially in recent years. And because of all this, it's seems as though everyone is being forced to walk on eggshells so as to avoid even the slight possibility of causing offence.

Look at the outrage these people had over a joke Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans made regarding Black Widow's relationship with Bruce Banner/The Hulk during an interview for Avengers: Age of Ultron. I mean for gods sake, they make a joke about Widow being a slut, and then all of a sudden the SJW lynch mob on Twitter went full on seek and destroy, simply because they found the joke offensive and demeaning to women. Hell, you watch the interview and you can clearly tell that they're only saying it in jest, so it's not like they're seriously calling Scarlet Johanson herself a slut. Plus Black Widow herself is fictional a character - i.e. she's not real. So what's she gonna care if Chris and Jeremy jokingly call her a slut? But try telling that to an angry feminist on Twitter.

It's a new age of puritanical authoritarianism in where anything you say, do, or think, can for one reason or another be considered offensive to someone else.

NOTE: While Chris did back-peddle on the joke and apologize, Jeremy on the other hand refused to back down to the SJW hate mob, and even went a little further with the joke on Conan O'Brien's show. Kudos.

Of course I'm not the only one who's gotten tired of all this PC crap. Great comedians such as Chris Rock, Bill Maher, and even more recently Jerry Seinfeld, have all commented on the fact that folks generally nowadays are way too PC for comedy. Now why would they think that you might wonder?

And what makes this even more apparent, is that not only did Salon.com's Katla McGlynn completely miss the irony of calling out Jerry Seinfeld on his comments regarding colleges being too PC for stand up comedy by telling him to "grow a thicker skin", we also got the Huffington Post's Anthony Berteaux parroting a similar sentiment. Only in this case, Anthony has the balls to educate Jerry on the subject of comedy literally by saying that comedy "can no longer afford to be crass, or provocative for the sake of being offensive" Course what Anthony failed to realize was that one does not simply educate a comedian on the subject of comedy.

If Jerry Seinfeld, practically the most vanilla comedian out there, is the one saying that college students are too politically correct for comedy, then you know you have a problem.

Now this migh
t be hard for some people to grasp, but I don't care who you are, comedy is not meant to protect you from being offended. Because that's not how comedy works. Comedy right down to it's rawest form is based on misery. That's the nature of comedy. Turn on your TV sometime and tune in to any random comedy show, and honestly tell me with straight face that someone isn't in some form of humiliation, misery, or pain, and that you didn't even so much as spurt a chuckle.

Comedy is supposed to incite a reaction out of you. It should challenge whatever preconceptions you have about yourself and the world around you. And yes, comedy should be offensive! Because that's comedy.

Another great comedian by the name of George Carlin once said that “I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." Meaning that it's essentially the job of a comedian to shine a light on some of the more darker aspects of human existence and the world around them, and comment on those aspects by simply making light of them. That's how we're able to move on with our lives. We learn to lighten up and not take things so seriously. Political correctness effectively kills comedy. It restricts what words you can and can't say, what things you can and can't joke about. How can we make light of certain situations if we're forbidden to joke about things that are deemed offensive, or politically incorrect?

Trying to force your political agenda down someone's throat just because they make an offhand comment or quip about you or a group you're affiliated with - and you're in someway offended by it, only goes to show that guys like Jerry Seinfeld are absolutely right in saying that people are too PC for comedy. If one wants to make a joke about subjects such as feminism, religion, race, and so on, there's no law specifically stating that they can't. Why do you think shows like The Simpsons, South Park, or Family Guy are so popular? They satirize literally everyone and everything imaginable. Course that's not to say that they don't get accused of offending the easily offended crowd, but the majority of audiences don't seem to care about getting offended. All they care about is getting a good laugh.

Another thing George Carlin once jived was that "I believe you can joke about anything. It all depends on how you construct the joke." And he's absolutely correct. As I said earlier, anyone can tell a joke. It just all depends on the execution, timing, and a clever or funny idea behind it. Even it's about some of the darkest and most controversial stuff that nobody likes to talk about, you can still joke about it. It just depends on the execution.

Bottom line though: Humor is subjective and open to interpretation. However, when something humorous offends you, it's important to remember that offense is something that is taken, but never given.

And that concludes my thoughts/rant for today. So until I return, I shall leave you with this bit of wisdom courtesy of Stephen Fry: 

“It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what."

Nuff said folks.