AI: Humor III: When it’s Offensive
In the last Humor AI, I asked what it was about slapstick comedy, awkwardness, or other negative situations that made them funny. There was a really excellent comment on that post that made the point that people seem to use laughing at other people’s awkwardness or misfortune to distance themselves from it and/or to signify some understanding of the situation.
That plays directly into one of the places I’d intended to go with this series of posts – all of us have at some (probably far too many) points encountered humor (or “humor,” but strictly speaking since someone find it funny, the term applies here) targeting a marginalized group of some sort. In the various activist blogospheres over the last few years, there’s been no shortage of discourse over misogynistic, homophobic, or otherwise offensive jokes, and what makes them offensive, and I wanted to talk a bit about the nuances involved in what makes jokes that touch on that sort of subject matter funny versus offensive.
It is my intuition that the idea of creating distance between the joker and the joked-about is a major key to distinguishing between humor that’s funny for all involved and humor that ends up being offensive, but there’s a lot of nuance to that, and probably some other things at play. So today I ask:
What sorts of humor really get under your skin, and how does the context affect that? Is there any humor that gets directed at you that you find funny but that you know others might take offense to (even others taking offense on your behalf)? What are the factors that can make the difference between something funny, something malicious, and something subtly harmful even though it seems innocuous to most? And perhaps most importantly, how have you (or how would you) explained these things to someone who asked you?
P.S. – My initial image search for this post’s featured image and the associated rage made me realize I really should know better than to google “get back in the kitchen.”
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 3pm ET.