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Old July 29 2012, 03:57 AM   #1
the G-man
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Rape Jokes

Are Rape Jokes Funny?

Interesting editorial/article by a comedian, sparked by the recent Daniel Tosh controversy.

It cites Dane Cook, Sarah Silverman, Louis CK and others arguing for the use of the humor in this area.

I don't agree with everything (a perhaps not even a lot) in it, but the piece raises good points for and against humor and touches on free speech issues.

Louis CK's passage (transcribed from a Daily Show appearance) is one of the more provocative parts:
  • "If this [controversy about Tosh] is like a fight between comedians and bloggers—hyperbole and garbage comes out of those two places, just uneducated, unfettered—it’s also a fight between comedians and feminists, because they’re natural enemies, because, stereotypically speaking, feminists can’t take a joke, and on the other side, comedians can’t take criticism. Comedians are big pussies. So to one side you say, ‘If you don’t like a joke, stay out of the comedy clubs.’ To the other side you say, ‘If you don’t like criticism, stop Googling yourself every ten seconds, because nobody’s making you read it.’ It’s positive. To me, all dialogue is positive. I think you should listen.

    “If somebody has the opposite feeling from me, I wanna hear it so I can add to mine. I don’t wanna obliterate theirs with mine, that’s how I feel. Now, a lot of people don’t feel that way. For me, any joke about anything bad is great, that’s how I feel. Any joke about rape, a Holocaust, the Mets—aarrgghh, whatever—any joke about something bad is a positive thing. But now I’ve read some blogs during this whole that made me enlightened at things I didn’t know. This woman said how rape is something that polices women’s lives, they have a narrow corridor, they can’t go out late, they can’t go to certain neighborhoods, they can’t dress a certain way, because they might—I never—that’s part of me now that wasn’t before, and I can still enjoy the rape jokes.

    “But this is also about men and women, because a lot of people are trading blogs with each other, couples are fighting about Daniel Tosh and rape jokes—that’s what I’ve been reading in blogs—but they’re both making a classic gender mistake, because the women are saying, ‘Here’s how I feel about this,’ but they’re also saying, ‘My feelings should be everyone’s primary concern.’ Now the men are making this mistake, they’re saying, ‘Your feelings don’t matter, your feelings are wrong and your feelings are stupid.’ If you’ve ever lived with a woman, you can’t step in shit worse than that, than to tell a woman that her feelings don’t matter. So, to the men I say, ‘Listen to what the women are saying about this.’ To the women I say, “Now that we heard you, shut the fuck up for a minute, and let’s all get back together and kill the Jews.’ That’s all I have to say about it.”
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Old July 29 2012, 04:29 AM   #2
Mr. Adventure
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Re: Rape Jokes

One thing I've noticed is that apparently prison rape by men seems to be an acceptable source of humor.
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Old July 29 2012, 04:50 AM   #3
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Re: Rape Jokes

"You can't joke about rape. Rape's not funny."
I say, "fuck you, I think it's hilarious. How do you like that?"
I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd.
See, hey why do you think they call him "Porky,"

-George Carlin
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Old July 29 2012, 04:55 AM   #4
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Re: Rape Jokes

HEY!

I was going to say that!
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Old July 29 2012, 06:46 AM   #5
BDJ
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Re: Rape Jokes

I used to host a morning radio show and once I did a joke about Amadeus. That's right Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

It was the anniversary of his birth and birthday calendars are staples on some morning shows.

I asked the listeners if they knew that he was "composing at the age of four! And hey, now... he's decomposing!"

(I know, I know, c-o-r-n-y but hey it was morning radio and what do you expect for free?)

But the next thing you know I got a phone call from a listener who was upset with me because their father had just passed away and they found my joke had crossed the line.

After I explained to them I meant no disrespect, being as the joke wasn't about his father. I added I felt that maybe he was just kinda taking it out on me because his dad had passed. That only served to upset him even more.

With any kind of humor you're going to cross the line from time to time. Sometimes unintentionally and most of the time intentionally.

I would never joke about something as personal as the crime of rape. I would never joke about child molestation either. I do believe that some things are probably "off limits" just out of respect.

My "decomposing" joke didn't seem like something that could be off limits but I guess we all have friends and relatives that are "decomposing". So maybe it touches off something more intensely personal, whereas most of us don't know what it's like to face a situation where rape is involved and we can maybe laugh about it.

But those who've dealt with something that horrible see it for what it is and know that humor can make light of something that is very real to it's victims. Making light of something that stirs so many negative emotions can re-open deep old wounds. Is that something we should want to do?

I'll bet that if you can find out what Daniel Tosh and his ilk find to be majorly offensive and you made jokes about that, they might not think it was so funny.

Jus' sayin'
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Old July 29 2012, 07:12 AM   #6
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Re: Rape Jokes

Daniel Tosh doesn't think anything is off-limits, so you'd be hard pressed finding something that's offensive to him. I remember him commenting on that when I saw his show last year.
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Old July 29 2012, 07:18 AM   #7
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Re: Rape Jokes

HotRod wrote: View Post
"You can't joke about rape. Rape's not funny."
I say, "fuck you, I think it's hilarious. How do you like that?"
I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd.
See, hey why do you think they call him "Porky,"

-George Carlin
I thought of the same quote! I agree with him, too. Anything can be made to be funny.
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Old July 29 2012, 07:53 AM   #8
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Re: Rape Jokes

Kestra wrote: View Post
Daniel Tosh doesn't think anything is off-limits, so you'd be hard pressed finding something that's offensive to him. I remember him commenting on that when I saw his show last year.
Tosh.0 is deliriously politically incorrect. I'm always amazed by some of the things he says and does on there.
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Old July 29 2012, 08:00 AM   #9
Kestra
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Re: Rape Jokes

sidious618 wrote: View Post
HotRod wrote: View Post
"You can't joke about rape. Rape's not funny."
I say, "fuck you, I think it's hilarious. How do you like that?"
I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd.
See, hey why do you think they call him "Porky,"

-George Carlin
I thought of the same quote! I agree with him, too. Anything can be made to be funny.
I think anything can be funny and that sometimes the funniest jokes are that humorous because they're just a little bit offensive. There's a certain shock value in that.

Should comedians be joking about rape? I dunno, I mean it's such a traumatic thing to go through. I personally wouldn't do it, but I'd obviously also never be a comedian. I guess if they're aware that their jokes are going to be incredibly offensive to a large part of the population and they're okay with that, then that's up to them. I think the difference here is that normally when someone is offended by a joke, people just say that they're too uptight or whatever. Clearly that's not what happens with rape jokes.
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Old July 29 2012, 08:07 AM   #10
Gov Kodos
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Re: Rape Jokes

Kestra wrote: View Post
sidious618 wrote: View Post
HotRod wrote: View Post
"You can't joke about rape. Rape's not funny."
I say, "fuck you, I think it's hilarious. How do you like that?"
I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd.
See, hey why do you think they call him "Porky,"

-George Carlin
I thought of the same quote! I agree with him, too. Anything can be made to be funny.
I think anything can be funny and that sometimes the funniest jokes are that humorous because they're just a little bit offensive. There's a certain shock value in that.

Should comedians be joking about rape? I dunno, I mean it's such a traumatic thing to go through. I personally wouldn't do it, but I'd obviously also never be a comedian. I guess if they're aware that their jokes are going to be incredibly offensive to a large part of the population and they're okay with that, then that's up to them. I think the difference here is that normally when someone is offended by a joke, people just say that they're too uptight or whatever. Clearly that's not what happens with rape jokes.
Like Blazing Saddles and the N word, it's about context. One way can be funny, another irredeemably offensive.
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Old July 29 2012, 08:32 AM   #11
Guy Gardener
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Re: Rape Jokes

A movie made in the 1970s set in the 19th century that didn't use the the word nigger when it should be organically present, would be more offensive to me because revisionist history is coddling and patronizing.

The only joke I know about rape is from Sandman...

"A woman in a desperate panic rings the police station and screams down the phone line: HELP ME! HELP ME! I'm being REAPED!!!! ...The policeman answering the call replies "I'm sorry ma'am, but don't you mean "raped"?" "Oh no" She says, "He's using a Scythe.""
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Old July 29 2012, 10:17 AM   #12
Kirkman1987
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Re: Rape Jokes

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Old July 29 2012, 04:03 PM   #13
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Re: Rape Jokes

I basically subscribe to the Parker/Stone view that you can't declare a subject off-limits for humour without becoming hypocritical, because there's always going to be something that somebody else thinks shouldn't be joked about that you don't have a problem with.

That's not the same thing as saying that all jokes are funny. Jokes about rape can be funny, or they can be obnoxious, depending on the context (the scenario involving Tosh makes him sound like a bit of a jackass to me, but I really wouldn't make a firm statement). Pretty much anything can be funny. Our Dumb Century features a number of hilarious jokes about genocide.

Another part of the Tosh controversy is whether rape jokes are overused, which...maybe? I really follow the world of standup comedy closely enough to have an opinion.
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Old July 29 2012, 06:54 PM   #14
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Re: Rape Jokes

I don't really understand the humor in rape jokes because I know someone who has gone through it and it really traumatized her for life.
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Old July 29 2012, 07:09 PM   #15
Shanndee
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Re: Rape Jokes

Kestra wrote: View Post
sidious618 wrote: View Post
HotRod wrote: View Post
"You can't joke about rape. Rape's not funny."
I say, "fuck you, I think it's hilarious. How do you like that?"
I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd.
See, hey why do you think they call him "Porky,"

-George Carlin
I thought of the same quote! I agree with him, too. Anything can be made to be funny.
I think anything can be funny and that sometimes the funniest jokes are that humorous because they're just a little bit offensive. There's a certain shock value in that.

Should comedians be joking about rape? I dunno, I mean it's such a traumatic thing to go through. I personally wouldn't do it, but I'd obviously also never be a comedian. I guess if they're aware that their jokes are going to be incredibly offensive to a large part of the population and they're okay with that, then that's up to them. I think the difference here is that normally when someone is offended by a joke, people just say that they're too uptight or whatever. Clearly that's not what happens with rape jokes.
Starbreaker wrote: View Post
I don't really understand the humor in rape jokes because I know someone who has gone through it and it really traumatized her for life.
This is the crux of the issue for me. When you consider that a large part of an audience is female, and that 1 in 4 women have experienced some form of sexual assault, you run the risk of traumatizing a significant number of your audience.

I agree that context is important (I always laughed at the Carlin piece), but there is a fine line. Tosh was well and truly over this line. What he did was a hair below inciting violence, and that is inexcusable to me.

But we have to voice our feelings with our actions and our wallets. If we walk out on an offensive performer and demand a refund it will be noticed. If our boyfriends/husbands join us it will make more of an impact. If performers start losing money things will change.
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