Thursday, May 7, 2015

When is Humor Funny?

I love humor. A lot of patience sprinkled with humor makes life fun! 

A friend sent me a link to a couple of songs from the Broadway smash hit, the musical Book of Mormon. I had to admit that the tunes were catchy and well sung. I also had to agree with her statement, "I would say that though the jabs were made so funny one had to laugh, it was also insulting if you were a Mormon."

My question is whether it is ever ok to "put down", "jab", or insult other people? Should we embrace entertainment derived from hurting others? Think of all the "Dumb Blond", "Pollock", "Fat", "Jewish", etc, etc. jokes. Are they really funny?
When a person is attempting to discredit, or devalue another person's beliefs, nationality, or occupation is it really funny? When people are being made fun of because of who they are; because their skin is a different color, they are heavy, female or male, short or tall, have poor eyesight, old, uneducated, or poor, is it really funny? Actually the list is endless. All that is required is that whatever characteristic is being made fun or is not possessed by the people doing the put downs. Have you ever noticed that the groups that get singled out for "humorous" attacks are always people who are a minority? I think these people are just trying to make themselves feel superior by demeaning others. (Have you ever noticed that the word "mean" is the root?) I guess they feel safe by picking on people who can't, or won't fight back. Hurting others definitely does not make you a "superior" person. Though bullies claim they aren't doing anything harmful, that they are "just having fun", that they are "just teasing", the victim fails to see the "fun" in it.

Does this mean that you can't ever laugh? Of course not! I love comedies, especially the old comedy musicals. Slap stick, word plays, and comedies of errors have been around for a long, long time. Let's face it, people do some pretty funny things. I just roll at movies that have been made that exaggerate some of the funny things Mormons do, such as the movie The RM, or The Home Teacher (Hale Entertainment). There is a difference between laughing WITH people about our all too humanness, and laughing AT people to gain power, or make a buck at another's expense.

If you reduce a person, or a group of people, into mere caricatures or stereotypes, is it truly funny? When the intent is to discredit a group of people or their beliefs, to make them look foolish and silly, is that funny? When humor is used as thinly veiled prejudice directed at harming other people, at destroying faith, it is Not funny.

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