Rape Jokes

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by the G-man, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. Myko

    Myko Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The thing that complicates it for me is that laughing isn't voluntary. If you make an offensive joke that's really funny, I'm going to laugh. So yes, rape jokes can be funny. That doesn't mean it's ok to tell rape jokes, I don't know. But they can definitely be funny.

    Making jokes about something bad is a coping mechanism. I had a medical situation earlier this year which for me was very saddening and still is, and they way I helped get through it was to make jokes about it. People around me weren't sure if it was ok to laugh so it became interesting to observe their behaviour.
     
  2. Itisnotlogical

    Itisnotlogical Commodore Commodore

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    I find rape jokes in extremely bad taste. My gfirlfriend was sexually assaulted by her ex, and I've had to hold her while she cries because it was a horrible horrible experience for all involved. All that comedians show to me by joking about rape is that they have no tact or self-control.
     
  3. Kirkman1987

    Kirkman1987 Commodore Commodore

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    Eh, I got exactly what you were going for and even got a chuckle out of the line.

    If we stopped telling jokes or having portrayals of anything that offended someone we would be repressed prisoners. The correct response to people offended by rape jokes (Not just an individual rape joke but the very concept) is a shrug. These people are thought police, whatever their intentions may be.
     
  4. thestrangequark

    thestrangequark Admiral Admiral

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    ^Oh, what a load of hyperbole. Being offended by a rape joke, and making that offense known is someone’s right, just as much as it is someone’s right to make the joke in the first place. There are no “thought police” involved (what a stupid, meaningless term that is), and being called out on making a tasteless and offensive joke, and even being asked not to make such a joke does not make one an “oppressed prisoner” any more than being expected to say please and thank you or to wear deodorant is oppressive; no one is oppressing you by expecting you to do those things, or by recognizing that you’re rude and stinky if you don’t.
     
  5. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

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    You can't really compartmentalize a concept as "this can never be funny." The most important thing to me kind of harps on what Chris said. If you are going to go there, you had better know your audience.
     
  6. Rhaven

    Rhaven Captain Captain

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    If that is the case, then I apologize.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The "thought police" line is hypocritical. Yes, comedians have the freedom to make any jokes they want, but their audience has the equal freedom to say they don't like those jokes. And if a comedian's material is bombing, the comedian should amend the material. Creators improve by accepting feedback. If you reject all criticism of your work as thought policing or whatever, if you never consider that your work may be legitimately flawed and in need of improvement, then you'll never improve. I've seen the same thing with aspiring writers who assumed that every rejection they got was due to cliquism on the part of the editors and that their work was actually brilliant and perfect, and they never sold anything. The writers who succeed are the ones who recognize that their work is genuinely flawed, take the criticisms to heart, and work to do better until they finally get good enough.

    It goes both ways. It's wrong to say that no jokes involving rape can ever be funny or should ever be uttered, but it's equally wrong to say that every joke involving rape is worthwhile. Per Sturgeon's Law, ninety percent of everything is garbage. Most jokes about rape are going to be bad just as most jokes about everything else will be bad. And it's complicated with a subject like rape or murder or racism, because sometimes those jokes can be used with the deliberate intent to hurt, frighten, or oppress, while at others they can be used as defiance and coping mechanisms on the part of the oppressed group. So you can't make blanket generalizations either way. Humor about rape or racism or the like is something that can be funny or legitimate, but that doesn't mean it usually is. It's like a loaded gun. It should only be used by those with the requisite care and skill, those who have the judgment to know when not to use it. Using it with reckless disregard for its impact, or with the legitimate desire to hurt, is not acceptable.
     
  8. thestrangequark

    thestrangequark Admiral Admiral

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    ^Perfectly stated, Christopher!
     
  9. Kirkman1987

    Kirkman1987 Commodore Commodore

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    Overall Christopher, I can agree with the majority of that.

    I think I gave off the wrong impression in one or two respects. I do respect the rights of people to have dissenting opinions. I'm also talking more about public figures in this case than privately. Obviously it would be inappropriate to pull out your list of offensive jokes at Thanksgiving or when giving your buddies wedding toast and claim you are being repressed if someone takes offense. Earlier in the thread someone mentioned the idea of "polite company" and it is a wise rule of thumb in private life. A public figure is different though, they don't control who overhears them and cannot as easily use the polite company rule. They can therefore either monitor everything they say or just say what they think and risk offense. self-censorship can be creative castration for some people.

    You guys talk about knowing your audience, but in many cases artists like Tosh are being torn apart by media/advocacy groups and individuals who never even heard of the guy before this. People who clearly are not his audience.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  10. thestrangequark

    thestrangequark Admiral Admiral

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    ^A nice theory, but I don't suspect it'd work well in practice. 1 in 4 American women have been sexually assaulted. If you're a comedian in a 50 seater room, of which half the audience are women, statistically you could expect at least 5 or 6 of your audience members to have been sexually assaulted in the past (and that's not including the men). So how exactly does one operate by a know your audience rule?

    Anyway, I don't think Tosh is being ripped apart for making rape jokes. He's being ripped apart because after being heckled about his rape jokes he made a shitty comment about the heckler which he tried to pass off as a rape joke. Sorry, but saying that it'd be funny if a woman were gang raped in the club then and there just isn't funny. Again, I'd suggest reading this article, How To Make a Rape Joke. The author explains the issues very well.
     
  11. Kirkman1987

    Kirkman1987 Commodore Commodore

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    By the same token, how many people in your audience might be Black or christian, homosexual or know someone who committed suicide, be of differing political views etc. you gotta take a risk, and over time people going to your show are going to know what to expect. if someone stumbles in and gets offended, oh well. They can cool themselves off with a drink and get over it. Life goes on.

    I agree on Tosh. I'm not a fan and what he did was stupid. Like with any incident though, the debate has became about all humor of this type in general when it should have stopped with "He's an asshole, move along..."
     
  12. thestrangequark

    thestrangequark Admiral Admiral

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    ^That's where the article I cited comes in. I'd really suggest you read it, the author is spot on.
     
  13. Tora Ziyal

    Tora Ziyal Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In the 21st century, pretty much everyone is potentially the audience for something said in a public performance.

    I agree with those who say that every subject, including rape, can be funny. But the important word there is can. Most rape jokes -- or dead baby jokes, or suicide jokes, or whatever -- aren't.

    And the context is all-important, including who is telling the joke. For example, a rape joke or anecdote may be hilarious when told by one woman who's been raped to another [edited to clarify that I mean another who seems to have a sense of humor about the topic], or to a supportive friend. That does not mean that the same thing would be funny when told by a male comedian on stage.

    Some of you know that I was raped a couple years ago. A couple things that the assailant said and did were funny, not while they were happening, but in retrospect. The detective, the prosecuting attorney and I laughed together about them. (They'd both figured out very quickly that I use humor as a coping mechanism.) And I've joked about them with a couple close, supportive friends. But that's it.

    I wouldn't dream of telling those stories at a party, or here, or to anyone I didn't know very well. There are several reasons, but the one that's most relevant to this thread is that I wouldn't want to risk re-traumatizing someone who, unbeknownst to me, might also have been raped. And, for some people, it is a matter of re-traumatizing, not just offending, them.

    BTW, the article TSQ keeps referring to is excellent.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think I mentioned before, I think that in a context like that you should let your audience know in advance what kind of material you'll be covering so they can exercise their own judgment about whether they want to be exposed to that kind of thing. As with most things, the key is not censorship but information. You want the artist to be free to choose what to express, and the audience to be free to choose whether to be exposed to it. That way nobody is deprived of choice.
     
  15. Kirkman1987

    Kirkman1987 Commodore Commodore

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    I just read it and agree that it's solid. I can buy into that :techman: