Ever since the whole “meow means meow” joke was made a few weeks ago I’ve been thinking about comedy, what we make jokes about and why.
A few people were very upset about the joke, claiming it did everything from take a serious issue far too lightly to qualify as rape apology. People seemed to ignore the fact it was a joke, instead deciding to just be offended. I’m not going to say you have to approach comedy the same way as I do, but being perpetually offended really isn’t helpful.
Instead of accosting people for the jokes they make, perhaps it would be better to try see why they make the jokes? People joke for so many different reasons, about so many different topics. Making the assumption that someone is joking about something just to make light of that subject is unhelpful.
Anyone reading this has every right to disagree with me 100% but as far as I’m concerned there is no topic or situation that cannot be joked about. It may be cruel to joke about someone’s specific situation, especially if there’s a chance that person will find out about the jokes, but that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed make the jokes. There is no right to not be offended, even if we should try not to offend or upset each other.
I’ve been criticized on occasion for having a “very dark, slightly disturbing” sense of humor. And I’ve no problem admitting that my sense of humor is a lot darker than a lot of people’s. I’ve made jokes about horrible, evil situations. I didn’t do it just to get a laugh, I did it because if I didn’t make jokes I’d end up killing someone. Comedy can be a coping mechanism.
If my ex-girlfriend didn’t make jokes about the situations she had to deal with, from her verbally abusive father to her sexual assault, I truly believe she would have killed herself. If she didn’t force me to make jokes about the same things I truly believe I would have killed her dad and the man who assaulted her.
One of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis, Cognitive Dissonance, talks and jokes each episode about many horrific situations that have occurred in the world. I once heard one of the hosts say that if he didn’t joke about the stories they cover, he’d cry about them.
I’m not going to tell anyone they have to make jokes about something but I’m also not going to let you tell me that I, or anybody else, can’t joke about something. That’s not how free speech works.