Eventually the only source of humour that will be socially and politically correct will be bodily functions, spoonerisms and puns, and the sort of humour where people inadvertently slip on banana peels. And then the Cruelty to Foods that Used to be Alive people and the environmentalists will get all up in arms that discarding banana peels violates the banana’s rights to be composted and to rejoin the Cycle of Life, and that making fun of bodily functions disrespects the pinnacle of evolution/creation and is in Bad Taste. So we’ll be left with spoonerisms and puns, and trust me, NOBODY WANTS THAT.
At some point, we have to realise that part of the reason humour is humour is because it ridicules social taboos. Because it causes a specific area in our brain to light up (particularly when there is a juxtaposition of what you expect to happen versus what does happen). At the core of ‘humour’ is the ability to detect when something ought to be taken seriously. Some people simply do not understand humour, and there are as many theories about humour as there are people who think about it. That number being about ten.
One of these theories suggests that humour is a reaction to fear. You see this when someone is startled; they often begin laughing afterward (watch one of those movies where Something Weird jumps out at you every second scene. You’ll be quite sick of the giggles by midway through the flick). Part of humour is expressing the absurd. What’s absurd? Well, something that is absurd can range from something completely ridiculous to something illogical to something that is incongruous. Out of place.
“cenobyte, what’s your bloody point?” You’re wondering. “Where the poop did this come from?”
Well, I read a story this morning, where the author was heaping shame upon people for “laughing at transgender people”. Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating discrimination. I’m not saying that you’re a laughingstock just because you’re gay, androgenous, transgender, beige, pink, wearing traditional/religious togs. What I *am* saying is that there is a place for humour at the expense of people who DO discriminate because of those things. The example used in that story has to do with the main character making a Big Stink about a woman actually being a man (juxtaposition). The main character then goes off into an extended display of homophobia (vomiting because he’d kissed the transgender woman) which isn’t supposed to be funny, IMO because it’s homophobic, but because you (the audience) is supposed to really grok how hateful and terrible the main character really is. You are supposed to be laughing at the main character because he’s an asshole, not because he kissed another dude. I mean, there are people who probably didn’t get that, but there it is.
And there are lines that can get crossed and people don’t understand humour, and the whole nine yards. But finding humour in someone being surprised that their lover is not what they expected them to be is, damnit, funny. It’s funny not because it’s wrong to be transgender (which it isn’t), but because it’s *unexpected*. It would be JUST AS FUNNY if someone’s lover turned out to be a flipping squid, for God’s sake. Like in “Mars Attacks”. The hot babe wasn’t funny because she was transgender; she was funny because she was NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT HER TO BE.
When my International Car Show Boyfriend made a sarcastic remark about Mexican cars, the BBC came to his defense, saying :
During the third episode of series sixteen, Hammond suggested that no one would ever want to own a Mexican car, since cars are supposed to reflect national characteristics and so a Mexican car would be a “lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight oaf.” Hammond finished with the remark “I’m sorry, but can you imagine waking up and remembering you’ve got a Mexican car?!” Following complaints, the BBC defended the broadcast of this segment on the grounds that such national stereotyping was a “robust part” of traditional British humour.
Go ahead and vilify me, but bloody kudos to the BBC. When I joke about rude things with people, I am doing it because I’m making fun of bigots and doosh begs. And yes, I understand there are people who won’t get that, and so I don’t tend to do it unless the people I’m with understand what I’m doing. I don’t think my International Car Show Boyfriend hates Mexican folks. I don’t think he thinks they’re all a bunch of overweight, feckless oafs. But damnit, that’s funny.
I will give you that there could very well be something very wrong with me, because of the sorts of things I find funny. “It’s okay, Gramma; she’s a midget” was the punchline from a true story that damn near killed me. I just think it’s a bit ridiculous to assume the words when it comes to humour. Sure, there are times you have to stand up and say, “I don’t find that funny.”
The sentiment of the article isn’t wrong. The point of it, though, should be that transgender people are normal. That homosexual people are normal. That no matter what moist and/or dangly bits and/or combination thereof spins your toque, that’s normal. Not “acceptable”. Normal. Not that it’s mean to laugh at people who use humour to force people to face their fear or to recognize a situation that may not make sense to them.
If you find something funny because it confirms your own intolerant or hateful point of view, I think you’re doing it wrong. If you find it funny because it’s ridiculous, that’s probably the point.