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The nature of comedy and insults in an enlightened society
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:15 pm    Post subject: The nature of comedy and insults in an enlightened society Reply with quote

How about we talk about 'What is Comedy, what insults people(i.e. what crosses the line), and what can we do about it."

Ok, so Samsally posted this:

Samsally wrote:
Oh hey, remember that time the penny arcade guy was a giant dickhead and then apologized and everybody said "boy I hope he means it this time"?

That keeps happening. I don't really think he means it.

I'll get back to this, but for right now:

Comedy. Oh comedy.

In the face of enlightenment, your very nature needs to be examined.

I've come to the conclusion that comedy is dichotomous; either you're willing to offend and hurt and insult people and bear, or you're not. You either do safe comedy or you don't. There simply doesn't exist a middle ground.

But, what is comedy?

Let's look what wiki says:

Quote:
Comedy (from the Greek: κωμῳδία, kōmōidía), in the contemporary meaning of the term, is any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or to amuse by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, television, film and stand-up comedy. This sense of the term must be carefully distinguished from its academic one, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in Ancient Greece. In the Athenian democracy, the public opinion of voters was influenced by the political satire performed by the comic poets at the theaters.[1] The theatrical genre can be simply described as a dramatic performance which pits two societies against each other in an amusing agon or conflict. Northrop Frye famously depicted these two opposing sides as a "Society of Youth" and a "Society of the Old",[2] but this dichotomy is seldom described as an entirely satisfactory explanation. A later view characterizes the essential agon of comedy as a struggle between a relatively powerless youth and the societal conventions that pose obstacles to his hopes. In this struggle, the youth is understood to be constrained by his lack of social authority, and is left with little choice but to take recourse in ruses which engender very dramatic irony which provokes laughter.[3]

Satire and political satire use ironic comedy to portray persons or social institutions as ridiculous or corrupt, thus alienating their audience from the object of humor. Satire is a type of comedy. Parody subverts popular genres and forms, using certain ironic changes to critique those forms from within (though not necessarily in a condemning way). Screwball comedy derives its humor largely from bizarre, surprising (and improbable) situations or characters. Black comedy is defined by dark humor that makes light of so-called dark or evil elements in human nature. Similarly scatological humor, sexual humor, and race humor create comedy by violating social conventions or taboos in comic ways. A comedy of manners typically takes as its subject a particular part of society (usually upper class society) and uses humor to parody or satirize the behavior and mannerisms of its members. Romantic comedy is a popular genre that depicts burgeoning romance in humorous terms and focuses on the foibles of those who are falling in love.


So where does that leave the offending PA strips? Are they actual comedy? Are they just shitty quality? Are they secretly genius? We can go on and on, but here's what I think about the PA strip (it involves asking A LOT of questions):

Quote:
Is it offensive to me? No; I'm jaded and insane and don't get insulted by things attempting (even if they fail horribly) at trying to be humor.

Should other people be offended? Maybe, it's up to the individual.
Are they right or justified in their feelings? Absolutely.

But I am ANGRY. ANGRY AS FUCK. My anger doesn't come from being insulted, it comes from seeing a person I think of as a generally good person
showing some very weak morality.

I've come to the conclusion that comedy is dichotomous; either you're willing to offend and hurt and insult people and bear, or you're not. You either do safe comedy or you don't. There simply doesn't exist a middle ground.

If you did, and are really sorry, don't do it again. And for the love of fuck don't apologize. It's wishy-washy moral weak sauce, and it makes you the worst type of hypocrite.

To further explain: it's not that he can't make those jokes, it that he really shouldn't. He needs to be responsible enough to realize the true nature of his audience and what they can and can't handle. His audience, or at least a large enough portion of it, isn't able to merely laugh at such a strip.

They model upon it, allowing it to color how they look at not only the world at large but their interpersonal relationships and interactions with everyone they meet. It's a giant leap backwards at time geek culture is just starting to wear underwear instead of diapers, and it winds up getting shit everywhere.

No one wants shit everywhere. No one (by 'no one' I mean non-sociopaths) wants people to feel bad because of a joke someone else made. They may say they're fine with it, but chances are they would react differently in a situation where they actually do find themselves offended.

But, really, isn't that what modern comedy has become? Hasn't it become little more than an alibi for the crimes committed by a bullying endorsing culture? C'mon, comedy didn't mean to offend anyone, it's just jokes afterall, right? OR did it? I'm not really sure of an answer on this.

But why do people get insulted? I think examining the nature of our reactions is as important as examining the nature as that which offends us. I'm not saying 'don't be offended' (which I have said in the past, but I'm not saying it now or here) BUT I'm saying before you can comeback at the person who insulted you, you need to understand your own feelings first, you need to look at the nature of the injury; you don't give CPR to a conscious person who's just cut a finger off.


tl;dr I don't think the PA guys were right, but we need to tread lightly, or someday, we won't be allowed to make fun of people for fucking bears because we might offend those who practice bestiality.

**************

Edit: I added insults to the thread title.
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Last edited by Darqcyde on Sun Sep 08, 2013 4:24 pm; edited 2 times in total
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stripeypants



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2013 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hate this subject, because people get up in arms saying, "Omg anyone doing comedy needs to not be called out on it! They discriminate equally!" Which is not true.

Some things are inherently funny. Many people, intellectual or no, can't avoid laughing at even the silliest of fart jokes. So it makes sense that there are many a fart joke out there.

However, the fart itself is not comedy. A fart is a fart. The comedy part is what someone does with it. If a comedian goes on stage and just farts - no jokes or anything, then that is laxiness, lack of talent, maybe political commentary.

It coud be art, but it isn't comedy. It's just using something a lot of people find funny by itself and adding nothing to it. Kind of like quoting funny lines from a film among friends. You all may enjoy it, but would you pay a group of friends you don't know to repeat lines and giggle over them? Not if they didn't add something of their own.


Now I refer you to a Dan Akroyd skit on SNL where he played a transgender woman who was getting surgery. Nothing of value was added. All that happened was Dan Akroyd wandered around in a dress, laid down on a table, was covered up, them arose and said something about tge surgery being complete.

The joke here was "Men in dresses are FUNNY. Gay people are so FREAKY OMG OMG HAHA.". There was nothing else to the skit. And the skit didn't even ring true in any way. The only reason to laugh was if you are ignorant, transphobic, or homophobic.

Jokes about people needing to be raped which add nothing else rely on you thinking this is a funny idea.

Jokes about black people being uncivilized and on welfare which add nothing else require you to think there is some truth to it in order to find it funny - because all that's there on stage is a white person saying, "Black people are on welfare and sure love fried chicken."



Another aspect to this is how often and how varied the jokes about groups are. A common response to accusations of racism and homophobia are, "But they take shots at everyone!" They may indeed make joes about everyone, including their group(s), but the quality of jokes about groups they don't belong to is diffent. A sraight white man making jokes about white men can go a number of different routes, and the comedian expects the audience to know his experience and agree. If he jokes about black people, usually the jokes are the same ones everyone else tells (maye in different packaging).

TLDR: As in any other discriminatory things, a group without knowledge of another group which is given the bigger platform to speak will inevitably tell the story most people hear about that group.

Also, failing to have talent as a comedian can not be fixed by insisting no one should call out your bigoted ass.

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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I need to see that SNL skit before I say anything

Ok, I can't find it, but as I see it, as you described it, the joke could also be political commentary/satire meant to cause people to acknowledge and reflect upon their own prejudices. It could be "Look, I'm the same person I was before surgery" or "Just because a man in a dress gets surgery doesn't automatically mean it's automatically SRS".

Or I could be totally wrong, I can't say more w/o seeing the clip.
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stripeypants



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are totally wrong, but I can't findtye clip either.

There was a recent skit by Craig Ferguson where a character portrayed as his uncouth brother was dressed up in drag to cover a story about trans people. It was like something out of the 1979s, where the joke is that trans people are hairy men in dresses, and isn't that funny? You should be able to find that one.

He talked about it at a recent comedy show (Available on Netflix if you've got it.). His conclusion was that he doesn't hate trans people, which he said over and over again amid several transphobic jokes, and then said that only Canadians get what jokes are.

So on the one hand Craig Ferguson says he supports trans people. The other hand is busy flinging outdated stereotypes and really shitty 'jokes' that are actually tired old things lifted almost in-tact from crusty old ages past.
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stripeypants



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was another transphobic SNL skit recently as well. Here is a link that talks about it.

http://www.care2.com/causes/glaad-slams-transphobic-snl-skit.html
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll take your word for it that I was wrong. It's sad that they wasted an opportunity to do something more.

Also, I've never really like or have I been impressed by Ferguson, I've always thought of him as being derivative, fake, and overall just sort of 'meh'.
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Snorri



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:10 am    Post subject: Re: The nature of comedy in an enlightened society Reply with quote

Darqcyde wrote:


In the face of enlightenment, you're very nature needs to be examined.


Didn't read the rest of the post.
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stripeypants



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Ferguson has some positive things he does, but the more I see of him, the less I like his work. I'm also surprised (though I probably shouldn't be) that he can go on and on about how people get the Scottish accent all wrong - then he does a bunch of really inaccurate stereotyping accents about other cultures.

And then instead of engaging people about it, he says, "My work is shitty, and besides it's comedy - you can't question comedy."
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:23 am    Post subject: Re: The nature of comedy in an enlightened society Reply with quote

Snorri wrote:
Darqcyde wrote:


In the face of enlightenment, you're very nature needs to be examined.


Didn't read the rest of the post.


Yeah, I do that A LOT Embarassed

I'm typing over here -> .


AAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNDDDDDD my brain is thinking way out front over here --------> .

That beginning part I added towards the end when my brain was going "I'm running out of fuel, go eat breakfast"
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Snorri



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also I didn't read the full article because what the fuck is that guy doing to my computer motherfucker??/ but it seems like Nerdlove doesn't get what the actual deal is either.

Like, their response comic should have clued everyone into what the fucking problem was and it didn't because fuck actually rethinking your initial response, just attack and re-attack. (It should be noted that after that comic it was a case of both sides going the wrong way.)

I mean, Darc, you mention people were right and/or justified at feeling offended at this comic and Nerdlove also talks about being "justifiably upset" but the motherfucking truth of the matter is that taking offense at the initial comic was completely and utterly wrong.
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, but unless I'm mistaken, I think you're (I got it right this time) like me in that your threshold for getting insulted is set relatively high when compared to others. If I'm wrong, then whatever, ignore the rest of what I'm about to say.

Anyway, I've come to realize that it's effectively impossible to tell people "don't feel X about Y". The best you can really hope for is trying to get them to view things form a different perspective and hope it causes them to feel differently about things.

I think moreso than comedy, the nature of insults and what is insulting needs to be discussed and established. Afterall, sometimes they can be constructive (this is what comedy should be):

Quote:
Insults are often regarded as a threat to smooth interaction of people from different backgrounds and cultures. However, the act of insulting can also be an expression of, or a contribution to social cohesion. Adopting a dramaturgic perspective, we explore how offending others creates order and cohesion. First of all, we discuss how insults of out-group members are used to affirm the bonds between in-group members. For such insults to be effective, the insulted actor or group does not even have to be aware of the insult. In understanding the meaning and function of insult, audiences are of great importance. We argue that there are at least five standard situations in which audiences play different roles in witnessing insults. For instance, to be impressed and scared off in case an actor is insulted because he violated group norms, or as jury in case insulting is practiced as an art form. The particular meaning and function of insults are also dependent on particular situations: what is an insult in one situation can be an expression of friendship or solidarity in another. Finally, we discuss different types of insults: insults either address ascribed or achieved characteristics of individuals and groups. What type is the most insulting is dependent on who the insulter is, and who the audience.


https://www.inter-disciplinary.net/at-the-interface/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/burgersperpaper.pdf

While at the other end of the spectrum they are cause for legal prosecution:

http://home.wlu.edu/~mayocke/SpeakingFreely/Words%20that%20Wound.pdf

Then the debates become: how do we keep the good from becoming the bad, is there a line, if so should we cross it, etc.
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Snorri



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darqcyde wrote:
Yeah, but unless I'm mistaken, I think you're (I got it right this time) like me in that your threshold for getting insulted is set relatively high when compared to others. If I'm wrong, then whatever, ignore the rest of what I'm about to say.


No no totally I have of course an incredibly high threshold for getting insulted. In fact, where I to use my personal "got offended" standard I would never be able to say anything.

But I'm not saying that because I wasn't offended that noone should be. I'm saying that getting offended here means you either completely missed the joke or just have the wrong "got offended" standard. Taking offense does not mean offense is justified after all.
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stripeypants



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What does 'getting offended' mean to you?
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, it's why some people laugh at this, and others find it horribly insulting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4WoAnty748

I think people often make the assumption that people are drawing their reactions based upon rational and impartial opinions. It may seem insulting calling insulted people irrational, but I think it's true and fair.

If you've experienced or have witnessed suffering because of X behavior, I think that while irrational, it's perfectly normal and justifiable to have a reaction that seems to be 'missing the point'. What that person has internalized versus what another has just can never be fully shared and understood, short of some kind of vulcan mind meld. I mean, we can get really, really close, but 100% is just impossible.
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Snorri



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

stripeypants wrote:
What does 'getting offended' mean to you?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuJzSTNDUGI

For real though getting offended just means you experience displeasure on an emotional level. Just being offended means nothing more than you really really disliking something rather than just merely disliking something. Which does mean that the thing should be more closely examined as offense is quite interesting, but doesn't mean that one should just act like something being offensive to someone is somehow bad.
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