Friday, November 21, 2014


Whenever someone argues that a joke is offensive or destructive, the argument is always that it's all just a laugh, you should learn to take a joke, etc.. The implication is that comedy has no real inherent power; it's leisure, a throwaway byproduct rather than an authoritative force with serious impacts and ramifications on culture.

Figure this then: the world's most famous comedian was able to sexually assault women with impunity for years because he was a trusted funnyman whose folksy brand of wit made him a moral authority in the public eye for around 40 years. When allegations were made against him, journalism gave him a pass, thanks in no small part to the power his comedy had had over culture. It then took a comedian, rather than a journalist, to bring these horrific crimes back to the public's attention, which in turn allowed a number of brave women to speak out about their experiences with Cosby. 

To laugh at something is to reject its authority. irony, on the other hand, mocks an authority while affirming it's continued grasp over us. But to laugh with someone is to be complicit in the joke. And it's this we fear and we feared most about Cosby- not that one man might be so monstrous, but that given our willingness to see ourselves in his comedy, his wisdom, his ideology, that we too or people we know might be just as responsible for other unseen or overlooked monstrosities.

After all, if Cosby could be a serial rapist, is it not also possible that Obama ordered drone strikes that killed children, that we starve the poor and rob the sick and needy of every last dollar while creating tax loopholes for billionaires, that a nation founded by holocaust survivors could perpetrate its own set of atrocities while the world sat and did nothing, that a police officer could shoot an unarmed teen six times in broad daylight until he bled out in the streets because he was pissed off that he wouldn't cooperate, that a gunman could massacre 20 kindergartners and 2 years later nothing has been done to prevent that from happening again, that the entire species could be headed for extinction while we make no distinctive changes to the we we operate, in many cases even advancing the direct causes of climate change? Who will be there to laugh at us when we're done patting the Bill Cosbys of the world on the back for making us laugh? When will we be able to look back at ourselves and laugh at how stupid we all were during this horrible time? (read the article, it's very good)

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