Ain't That A Bitch*/IOK?**
2005: Mysteries and Scandals
I was going to do a full review of the past semester but I left my planner where I make notes of all the trife in Providence. However, looking back, I think a major theme was Mysteries and Scandals* (what the hell ever happened to AJ Benza anyways?). So here's my list of the top five mysteries and scandals of 2005:
5. Will we get evicted/fined/arrested for trife?
4. What is Nathan's secret Spring Break plan and where will we end up going?
3. What will happen when Bruno the Bear meets the Penn Quaker?
2. After the SexPowerGod fallout, what changes will the administration make and will there be a StarFuck? If so, will Jesse Watters be there? What about Solo cup guy?
1. Did Rob shit his pants?
Will there be New Year's Resolutions?* (That one was for you Mike - now hurry up and post something!).
Recently I've been trying to do this stand-up thing and I've thought a lot about what is funny and what is not. I'm not that funny (I might be the 5th funniest person in my house) but I'm good at figuring out what people will laugh at.
I've found that humor often comes from exposing breakages in systems, That is, it's funny when the South Park characters cuss because the system of cartoon narrativity dictates that characters do not cuss. Take my wife... please is funny becuase it sets up an expectation (Take my wife, for example) and then breaks with it (Take this bitch away from me!).
This is why it is "funny" to "make fun of" non-normative groups (retards, faggots, midgets, Mexicans, etc.). They break from the "norm" as we understand it. Of course, it is also inappropriate and some would say fucked up. Of course then the question becomes who can be made fun of and why.
I once asked the Hu what he would think if I made fun of Asians in my act. His response was something like "Whatever, do it, they deserve it." My rule for when I can make fun of something is that I have to believe the ideology and assumptions that are behind the joke.
For example, I will make fun of women for being stupid sluts because I think that, for the most part, that's what they are. That's a topic for another post so if you want the full explanation then ask me. Basically, though, I think that women are raised to perform as they perform. I think I owe it to women to call them out on that in joke form so they can realize the hoes they are.
I almost got into a fight a week back with this kid Blake. It's a long stupid story but bottom line, by the end of the night, I realized something about parody. Parody only works when everyone realizes that the performance is not meant to be the comment. The comment is that the performance is exaggerated to point out the absurdity of the underlying social construct. That is it isn't "funny becuase it's true", its "funny because its ridiculous that anyone could think this is true OR it's funny becuase I never questioned that before - that is absurd".
For example, on South Park, the fact that there's one black kid named Token is not a joke at Token's expense but rather of the narrative trope of the token black character. I employ that type of humor when I make fun of Jews for being evil tricksters or Italians by saying that all they say is Spaghetti Linguine Fettucine Pepperoni Pizza or that Asian girls are always fingering their pussies and saying "SO DERICIOUS!"
I watched The Producers today and they took like twenty minutes in the middle of the movie to make fun of gays and I was trying to figure out if I was OK with that. It didn't seem that the joke was that the trope of ridiculous effeminite gay guy is ridiculous. The humor seemed to be based in expecting viewers to say, "Yeah, they do act like that." I also don't think Mel Brooks was trying to make any deeper point about gay performativity.
Having not satisfied my two requisites of an appropriate joke, I have to fail to reject* that its inappropriate. So what else can make a joke "appropriate"?
Authorial Intent? If the writer or comedian doesn't mean it to be offensive then its OK.
Is Anyone Offended? If a group gets offended its not OK. BTW, what is the critical mass for a group to be offended? One person? 51% of the group? Everybody?
Who is getting offended? It's OK to make fun of white people because they are the dominant group and not OK to make fun of black people because it only adds literal insult (the joke) to a figurative injury (slavery, jim crow, etc.). It's OK to laugh at Nazi's because, well, they're Nazi's. People with disabilities* are usually off-limits but its OK to go after fat and ugly people.
Is it funny? If people laugh, then you can tell the joke. That's it.
Obviously I don't buy those last four justifications. I've been asking a lot of people what they think is a reasonable justification but no seems to have a coherent, rational system*. Comments are appreciated.
Happy Holidays* Folks.