Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Comic Right...Negative/Positive

I was taking a stroll today when an interesting thought popped into my head, “are comedians really funny at all when it comes to hot topics?” I guess this thought was mingling somewhere in my subconscious since I was surfing the net and chatting with my friend Sean last night when I came across a clip of this comedian downgrading members on this season of American Idol. Thinking that some of what he was saying was funny, I sent Sean a link to this “YouTube” clip and he found that this comedian had a Myspace page. Sean sent me a link to this guy’s page and I found continuous clips of this guy’s negative connotations towards many different people including Oprah. After seeing the Mother of All Talk Shows’ –Oprah, for all you non Oprah watchers- picture come up –knowing that I would get upset- I immediately closed the page and continued on with my night not giving it much more thought.

So today I thought to myself, how funny are comedians when it comes to today’s sensitive subjects? Is it still a racist comment when a comedian says it? Or is a negative comment, a negative comment no matter who states it? A few months ago Michael Richards (former actor on the hit T.V. show, Seinfeld) blurted out some bigoted comments to some audience members who were haggling him and it made national news. Critics argued that because Richards was actually upset and the remarks weren’t in the context of a joke it was therefore negatively racially motivated. Do you buy that? It seems kind of juvenile to me, let’s make it a little more clear shall we… I can call you a “nigger” as long as I am joking around but if I use the same word in a more serious conversation then the word becomes a negative racist remark? Nope! Still not buying it.

Friends it’s really hard not to laugh at things we think are funny (be they positive or negative) and while comedian intentions when using negative terminology might be pure, it’s still negative. Many of us fall short in this category including myself who is probably one of the most positive people you know. The reality of it all is that our words define who we are no matter our position in society. Look at the mess many of our government officials are in due to their words. We can’t put a cloak on negativity and call it comic right and hope that cloak makes it positive, because it really doesn’t. One of the problems with our society today is that we have too much of it going on. We indulge ourselves in the B.E.T. Network’s program Comic View and double over in laughter at black people making fun of inner-city schools and degrading women when the reality of it is that the drop out rates in inner-city schools are continuously increasing and black women no matter how much you say it are not bitches and hoes. We ache in laughter at Comedy Central programs like The Colbert Report when it makes homophobic comments when the reality of it all is that one out of three kids who commit suicide do so because of being homosexual…still funny? I’m guilty just as you are and am still working on my positive outlooks on life. A friend of mine told me that I have to take it all with a grain of salt but honestly, high blood pressure kills.

Seek Peace

4 comments:

Bryant said...

wow that's deep

Teresa said...

Jamie,

For me, it depends on the intent and the context. When the comic makes the joke, is it clear whether that person is furthering, compounding or endorsing the harmful stereotype, or mocking the idea of the sterotype and trying to get us to see how rediculous it is?

Negative things can be diffused by the right kind of humor, and if we can come together and laugh at how pointless and irrational hurtful things are, maybe it can empower us to change them as well, rather than fear them or just feel alone in our hurt.

Of course, some comedians get this across to their audiences better than others, and some people just aren't the right audience for some comedians...some people shouldn't attempt that kind of humor.

When Steven Colbert makes his jokes, I have always thought that we were laughing at the rediculousness of homophobia, and the ridiculousness of stereotypes and not at gay people. You obviously have a different interpretation, and that is cool.

I just want you to know that few (if any)of the people laughing at Steven's jokes are laughing for the reasons you think they are. He's playing a comic characature of the conservative hyper-masculine blow-hard culture warriors like Bill O'Reily, Rush Linbaugh and Sean Hannity who say the sorts of things he says, with the intent of making them look rediculous.

On the other hand, I find Andrew Dice Clay to be completely unfunny, as well as Dennis Miller. Their humor strikes me as mean-spirited.

*Jamie* said...

Teresa,

I understand what you're saying and can agree with some parts but understand me...

I can decifer when Steven Colbert and others are poking fun at conservative ideas but my main concern lies with the kids who are viewing these comedians and not neccessarily understanding as we are. After all doesn't society raise bigots? There's always censorship but parent's can only do so much.

Teresa said...

Jamie,

I see what you are saying. That IS a valid concern. Even Jonathon Swift had people who actualy thought that he was proposing that the Irish eat their babies to keep from starving.

On the other hand, a parent raising two of the next generation, I can assure you that they and their friends have an uncanny grasp of wordplay, irony and parody. :-)

I'm glad I understand your question better now.