Thursday, October 4

Bad Humour: Shooting Political Correctness in the Funny Bone

We've all been a little non-PC in our lives. Well, I have. I cringe to think of the younger me. Aged ten, sixteen...yesterday. I've laughed at some crude comedy and later thought, 'I shouldn't like this so much...but I do.'

Just wanted to note that I am human...because I have been chewed out for putting my finger on non-PC language, labelled as acting superior and whatknot. It's not my aim but I do notice things and sometimes I say something, even if I'm only talking to a television set or a book.

Adult films (no, not porn - out of the gutter with you) objectify the sexes, promote the significance of masculinity and femininity, play up and play off the stereotypes, turn other writers' work on their heads and push the limits. There are shows like The Simpsons which can conjure cynical comedy from anything or South Park where slapstick and slander are sewn together at the sides. I watch a lot of these things. Not compulsively but enough to know when I appreciate the humour and when I just cringe and switch off.

Ensemble casts might come with smart girls, cynics, men whose greatest talent is using their reproductive organs (while living in constant fear of reproducing) and men who fail at every turn because they are sad nerds who will never catch a break and should be laughed at. Not to mention characters on the autism spectrum (though such a thing is barely hinted at, let alone named) and accidental heroes who have a knack for falling over 90% of the time, with the other 10% being the climactic/heroic moment of the episode.

It might sounds like I'm a wacko who sits around analysing way too much television but what startled me was how little of what might be construed at non-PC humour I pick up on. Little kids ham up the black/Latino stereotypes, a character's cruel laugh at the inability to distinguish whether a character is male or female, young women who are obsessed with proving they are equal to boys but then dumbing themselves using side-splitting schemes... It all seems a little distasteful.

What makes for bad humour? Is it being politically incorrect, crude, flushing feminism, hamming up stereotypes, overdosing on sexy puns? I can't hate on all these things because there are plenty that catch my funny bone.

Where do you draw the line between infectious and unstomachable? When you are writing/reading/viewing, what do you find switches you off and what guilty humour makes you laugh?

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