An Open Letter To The Comedy Police
WHY WE NEED TO TAKE A HARD LOOK AT CENSORSHIP IN COMEDY ACCORDING TO ME, A WHITE GIRL
Let me start by saying that I respect the opinions of those who believe we should be heavily censoring comedy. You're the majority and in our society the majority rules. Comedy is censored every day on all forms of media TV, Facebook, Radio, Twitter, etc. So, you're clearly winning this battle in the public eye. I’d like to ask you to please listen to the other side with an open mind. I know it might not mean much coming from a halfway decent looking white female because there is a certain amount of “privilege” that comes with that. However, let me just say, my life hasn’t been a cakewalk.
I'll spare you the sob story. Suffice it to say, I've been on the receiving end of just about every form of abuse there is. Nonetheless, my favorite jokes are the ones that make light of all of the horrible things that I’ve experienced. I don’t like to think of myself as a victim. Everybody has their shit that they have to deal with in life and we all deal with it in our own ways. I just choose to deal with my pain through humor instead of living my life in a metaphorical padded room.
curate YOUR Comedic CONTENT
I have a lot of sympathy for those who get triggered by dark jokes. I really do get it. I've expereinced PTSD with flashbacks. When a media outlet consistently shows something that I find triggering or offensive, I just stop consuming media from that source. If you're going to a comedy club or an event that comedians will be performing at, please research who the comedians are before you go. I've been a huge comedy fan for two decades, and I've always done this. You owe it to yourself and the comic on stage.
I mean, if it were 1950 when there were about four channels on TV and no internet, the Comedy Police would be much more needed. But, in a world where there are literally millions of options for media, we can consistently unfollow, unsubscribe, change the channel, and still have no shortage of content to consume.
A lot of the memes I see are just cruel and not funny to me personally, but they don’t offend me. For instance “when your girlfriend doesn’t make you a sandwich,” and it’s a photo of her beaten up. The entire joke is “beating women is funny” It’s not to me, so I just keep scrolling. If a moron is going to see that meme and decide that it’s OK to beat his wife, then he deserves to be in jail and hopefully, he ends up there. Same goes for Rape jokes. Of course, it’s not ok to Rape people. Rape is one of the worst aspects of humanity which is exactly why we need to joke about it. It’s the same reason why rape is a huge porn genre. Humans like to make light of the worst parts of human nature both through laughing at them and masturbating to them.
Sex and Comedy
After experiencing Domestic Violence, I developed a taste for being lightly choked in bed. Maybe it’s my brain’s way of dealing with the trauma and processing it out through my sexuality. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jim Norton, one of the greatest dark comics of all time, is a self-proclaimed sexual deviant. I agree with his thoughts on Rape Jokes in the above video. Jim and I agree on how disgusting the backlash she received as a result of this debate was. She made a lot of good points and Lindy has a right to her opinion as much as Jim and I do.
Everyone has different things that get them off sexually and comedically. Western society doesn’t shame or restrict anything in pornography other than the actual rape of those who cannot or did not consent (adults, children, & animals) However, we simulate those things all day long with Daddy daughter porn, Forced Gangbangs, etc. Nobody is shamed or censored for that because it's only role-playing. We should be extending that same respect and courtesy to Comedians. They stick their necks out to make content for us, and they shouldn’t be punished when their jokes on sensitive subjects don’t land. Art is subjective. Personally, I’m offended by the music of Maroon 5, but I’m not trying to force Adam Levine into retirement because of it.
That's Not Funny To Me
People laugh at absolutely anything until it’s a joke about something that has affected their lives. Everyone has their thing. I’ve seen someone laugh at jokes about molesting children and five minutes later get angry over a Jewish joke. Or, they’ll laugh at a racist joke and then get pissed over a Trump joke. I have a transgender friend who thinks that Dave Chappelle‘s Trans jokes are great. I have seen great black comics laugh at racist jokes told by great white comics. These people are very rare, and I have a lot of respect for them.
The proverbial line is an ever moving target being pushed and pulled by society primarily through media. We don't know where the line is if we don't cross it every once in a while. My Friends and I used to play chicken with trains when we were kids, now we do it on stage. The consensus amongst the Comedy Police seems to be that criticizing a person on the basis of an immutable characteristic is off limits. I'll admit that's a tough one and very few people are able to get away with it. Tosh is one of the greatest examples. Although, Comedy Central may end up paying for some of the things he said about an African tribe.
Rape jokes can be funny
Clearly, it's good that Weinstein was taken down. It's shocking and appalling that he was able to get away with what he was doing for as long as he did. When I was living in L.A. trying to become an actress at 17 years old, a few powerful men in the film industry abused their power to get me to do sexual things that I didn’t want to do. One even flat out raped me. Despite that, I thought everything that James Corden said about Weinstein was funny. I thought Tosh’s rape joke in response to a heckler that he got so much shit for was funny. What I find concerning is when apologies are forced out of comedians. It appears that Tosh and Corden were directed to issue apologies for those jokes when they didn't feel they should have to.
Apologies that don't make me cringe
Dave Chappelle strikes me as the kind of guy who's at a place in his career where he's only going to apologize if he feels that he's made a genuine mistake. That's something that I totally respect and support. I've been there too. I made a bad joke once via Twitter. Fortunately, a friend was quickly able to explain to me why it could potentially be harmful to a specific person. I would never want to cause harm to anyone or any group of people with my comedy. Please note I said harm, not offend. I believe many comedians share the same sentiment. I sincerely apologized, deleted the tweet, and stopped telling that joke. We should all be open to learning when we're wrong and growing from our mistakes. I've even changed the language within this article a few times after friends pointed out blind spots that I had.
Words VS intent and the changing cultural climate
I appreciate Bill Burr's thoughts on Context of Comedic language. I agree that we should primarily judge people on the intent behind the words, not the words themselves. But, I also understand that with each passing year we move into a new cultural climate that dictates what words are acceptable to say in certain contexts. A black comedian friend of mine that I highly respect explained to me recently that the first time he heard Louis C.K. saying the N-Word in a joke he wasn't cool with it at all. It was 2007, Pre-Obama, and he felt Louis was out of line. But, many years later Louis told a different joke with the same word in it and he found it acceptable.
Source: The Green Room with Paul Provenza S02E07 Guests: Bill Burr, Russell Peters, Colin Quinn, Caroline Rhea, Lizz Winstead Original Air Date: August 25, 2011
21 years prior to this Burr clip, George Carlin had a similar sentiment.
Dark jokes save lives
My Aunt was brutally Murdered by my Uncle when I was 11 years old. Their three daughters are some of the most inspirational badass bitches I know, and I love them dearly. They were orphaned in one of the worst possible ways at age 11, 12, and 15. Incredibly, they all came out of that situation and lived their lives to the fullest. They're all Married with beautiful children and successful careers. You know how they survived? The same way I did, through humor.
I was the target of domestic violence that nearly lead to my death. As a result of this I went into a deep depression. I contemplated suicide and started drinking very heavily. I tried every SSRI they make. I went to three different Psychologists. Nothing helped. A comedian friend of mine came to visit me for a few days and made brutal jokes about what I went through incessantly. That did more good for my mental wellbeing than the previous months I had spent in therapy. I credit him with helping me to get out of that depression, off the SSRI's, and begining the process of living my life again.
Laughter can be one of the most powerful tools for processing grief. This is why I’m so concerned about the pushes I've seen towards silencing comedians. Dark can jokes save lives. They did for my Family. I have two precious children who I love more than anything in the world. There's a good chance I wouldn't be here for them if it weren't for Dark Comedy.
Your agenda is the same as mine. You want to push humanity to the next cultural evolutionary level. I get it. We just disagree somewhat on the path we should take to get there. We both want to help people deal with their grief and pain. You through protecting them, and I from helping them laugh. My concern is that the more we try to control and whitewash comedy the less funny it’s going to be. I was in a NYC comedy club the other day and the comics were apologizing for their jokes or giving disclaimers before they came out of their mouths. They were visibly afraid to just tell a joke. It was depressing as hell, and there was very little laughter. It was the first time I ever left a comedy club feeling worse than when I went in. Even Bill Burr talks about having bad experiences in NYC comedy clubs recently the in the below clip. (At the 3 minute mark)
If someone as well established as Burr can't even get through a set in New York without a bunch of moans and groans from the audience, image how hard it is for the new generation of comics starting out.
If we continue to go down this road, comedy as we know it could end up as a lost art form. I think that often we're actually hurting ourselves in more ways than one when we identify as victims and attempt to make the world our safe space. Most clinical psychologists will tell you that the way to create a resilient person is by exposing them to exactly that which makes them uncomforatable. I suggest therapy, dealing with the pain and insecurities that cause you to get triggered and offended by Comedy, unfollow the media sources that cross your boundaries when you need to, turn in your comedy police badge, and please stop fucking up comedy for the rest of us.
This article originally appeared on Buzzfeed.com. But, ironically, it was removed by the Comedy Police.