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Risky Jokes. The How and Why?

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Risky Jokes. The How and Why?

Post  rEvolutionist on Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:20 pm

So I know the issue of bad-taste/offensive/bigoted/etc jokes has been done to death on the internet for the last few months, but I mostly stayed out of the debates at the time (and I was away from the internet for a couple of months too). What are people's thoughts on whether certain types of jokes are appropriate or not, and what sort of qualifiers would you put on that?

I'm still not entirely sure where I sit on this issue. My sense of humour is compatible with some of the more crass and offensive jokes. But for me there is a limit to when and where I will say those jokes. With my close friends, amongst whom we are all comfortable about each others morals (i.e. we aren't sexists, racist or otherwise bigoted), our sense of humour often takes the form of saying extremely offensive and shocking things to be as non-politically correct as possible to get a laugh out of each other. I guess some might say that's a pretty pathetic form of humour. Perhaps. But I'm pretty sure a lot of people when honest would admit to enjoying similar brands of humour amongst their closet friends. Anyway, the point is that we say it in an environment where it is known clearly that none of us actually hold those types of views. Most of the humour is in the pure shock the utterance such non-politically correct statements generates.

But we see cases of where this type of humour is extended out of personal circles and into the public sphere to differing degrees. And while I laugh heartily as some of that stuff, I personally find that ok because I know i'm not a bigot. But I guess the problem starts when you start looking at it in a wider social context. In this context, I start to become unsure how I feel.

So, apart from a general discussion of these issues, I would like to ask - Do you think it is right/wrong/neutral to partake in this humour at a personal level but denounce it at a societal level? Or should one either denounce it at all levels, or alternatively accept it at all levels?

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Re: Risky Jokes. The How and Why?

Post  Youthinasia on Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:46 pm

The issue here to me is understanding. There is a difference between a person telling RACIST jokes around children and Richard Pryor, Dave Chapelle, or Daniel Tosh telling RACIAL jokes around adults. Then there are jokes that are flat-out intended to offend. Though none of this relates to whether the joke is funny or not, that really is a personal thing. My friends father used to tell racist jokes that were so hateful I couldn't help but cringe.

Naturally comedians are people who push the limits on what can be said in public, old comedians in the 60's used to tell jokes just as bad as comedians today; but they were often kept backstage for only other comedians to hear.

I think we all know enough to keep the offensive (but funny) jokes in the correct spaces, where we don't offend. But for comedians onstage I don't see it the same way, society can judge that well enough (I mean look at Kramer, that guys career is over).

One of my bosses is Italian and has some of the most hilarious anti-Italian jokes I've ever heard, all stereotypical, but he also tells antisemitic jokes but only when my other boss (who is Jewish) is not there. I don't think he's antisemitic in the slightest but I guess that is what I'm saying, for me it's not morally wrong to tell these kinds of jokes because intent, respect and understanding do mean something.

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Re: Risky Jokes. The How and Why?

Post  mood2 on Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:17 am

Yeah it's tricky. My favourite jokes tend to be horrible or just stupid.

In private when everybody's in on the joke and there's a nod and a wink, you can relax all the social taboos. But still get a kick from breaking them. It can be a hoot.

The problem with being a public onlooker to say a racist joke is worrying how others see you isn't it? If I'm alone watching TV and they show clips of those old racist comedians some of them are actually really funny - well constructed jokes I mean, and I'll laugh. If I was in an audience I'd be worried about being seen as laughing for the 'wrong' reason.

Then it can also be a way of backslapping - 'we're so cool, we can be daring and ironic because our motives are above question'. There's a lot of that around now, male white comics need to be good to pull that off. If they do, then they get the reward of flattering their audience while coming across as edgy and confrontational.


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Re: Risky Jokes. The How and Why?

Post  AliRadicali on Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:49 am

I really don't believe in censorship, and I don't like forced political correctness at all either. I think the public is the best judge for whether or not a joke is appropriate or funny, not some set of rules carved in stone. What can be funny when said by someone in a certain tone, in a certain setting, can be offensive and unfunny when said by someone else in a different setting.

My rule of thumb is if it gets a laugh, it's appropriate. Now of course, telling offensive racist jokes at a Klan meet would elicit a laugh, but we really have no business telling people what kind of jokes they can and cannot say among their bigoted friends, all we can and should do as a society is frown upon the people telling such jokes to an unresponsive audience..... and since we already do that, I don't really see a problem.

If a comedian is bigoted and unfunny, he'll wind up with a very tiny niche of followers and the disapproval/condemnation of the general public. That should be punishment enough, IMO.
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