A Wiccan, a Tea Partyer, and Richard Dawkins walk into a bar…
Too soon? Okay, the actual topic wording,“Is modern humor too mean-spirited and dumbed-down?” was Norm’s idea. He’ll be there, but no presentation or anything, obviously. I’ll ask for a volunteer moderator, then for Norm to explain why he wanted us to discuss this and what he meant.
By humor, I suppose we mean mainly:
Television: I love the Daily Show and Colbert. But, they rely heavily on the crude and vulgar. And, have you seen some of Comedy Central’s other programs and their stand-up shows? Other networks, too. Forget the tame Simpsons. There’s a new generation of rude, crude shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Ugly Americans, and (old now but still nasty) South Park and Family Guy. Almost every barrier to language and sexuality and derision seems to have been erased.
Movies: Am I wrong, or are movie comedies way more low-brow than they used to be? American Pie. Dumb and Dumber, The Hangover, Knocked Up.
Internet: I love the Onion, but I imagine the same trend is going on on-line, too.
I think one notion we should get into is the tradeoffs between increasing artistic freedom and this rude and crude downside. Remember, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin were considered obscene at least in part because they talked about taboo subjects. With increased freedom comes increased ability to openly discuss our society’s problems, as well as increased ability to think that being offensive is funny by itself.
For links, um, I guess you could peruse:
- List of the political late night monologue jokes (search able by subject) .
- Comedy Central’s website. You can watch clips of South Park, etc.
- The Onion (Sample story headline: “Nations’ Boyfriends Dreading Free Event in the Park Season”)
I think this will be a fun one and a nice break from the usual heavy stuff. See you there!