Sunday, August 24, 2008

In Search of The Elusive Lulz

Here is what I am getting sick of hearing: "Feminists have no sense of humor." This is usually said by a male (most often white) in response to a woman, particularly one who has declared herself feminist, not dying of laughter after a rape joke or a domestic violence joke or some kind of "women-as-props-in-men's-lives" joke.

Look. I will say right here I still laugh at the George Carlin bit about how anything can be funny, including rape: Imagine Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd. Thing is, you pretty much have to be at George Carlin skill-level to pull that shiz off. Porky raping Elmer takes refuge in audacity. Especially when you take into consideration that these are Looney Tunes, and there will likely be cartoonishly deformed facial expressions and ridiculous props pulled from hammerspace and fun with speech impediments. Your so-called "joke" about you, a human being, say, raping another human being to death...well, that isn't funny at all, really. That's more "disturbing and horrible." Unless you're two feet tall and your eyes have been known to jump off your face when someone throws TNT at you, only to be hilariously soot-covered and slightly tattered after the explosion, I don't want to hear about you raping someone. Unless you can find a way to contextualize a rape that rivals George Carlin's one specific joke about it in cleverness. I, personally, won't hole my breath.

I still do get a chuckle out of the old creepy mofo standard, "My favorite pick up line is, 'Does this rag smell like choloroform to you?'." This is mainly because I, a tiny unassuming girl, have worked hard to perpetuate the myth that I am SUPERCRAZY and will KILL you. See, it's funny because it isn't true. (This, incidentally, might help explain why people are more likely to suffer my insanity gladly than that of my friend, who actually might hurt you.) I'm 5'2", about 100 lbs, and mousy. Pretending to be a psycho stalker works for me because it's patently ridiculous. What would I do with a normal-sized human being if I caught one? My noodle arms certainly can't move them anywhere. I'm far too bashful to do anything to anyone I knock out. Where would I even get chloroform? I'm broke all the time! People who know me personally (and thus, the only one I tell jokes about drugging people and having my way with them to) will get the joke.

But when a seemingly average guy (let's say guy, for the sake of arguement) who could concievably drug and rape someone makes a joke about drugging and raping someone, that takes the silliness out of it that, for me, makes it okay to laugh at when I say it. And I'm not going to make that joke to a bunch of people who know nothing about me, or at least not that I'm tiny and crazy and kind of shy.

Clear as mud? Awesome.

My point is that the thing about making jokes that can be totally offensive is that there are a number of factors in play here. You need to think about your audience, yourself, and your skill level. As someone who has been treated as a "less than" because of her chromosomes, a joke treating women as "less than" is, oddly enough, not exactly going to resonate well with me.

Anyway, I leave you with a link to Shakesville on this topic that might make a little more sense.

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