A few days back Jazz stepped up to the defense of comedian Amy Schumer, the latest target of humorless social justice twits who have no capacity to distinguish between fiction and reality, but he obviously did not realize just how dangerous letting people laugh at things is. According to an op-ed in the Washington Post, Schumer’s humor is so insidious will seep into the brains of the white audience members and cause them to go murder black people.
Here’s the setup to that punchline:
Several people have rushed to her defense, arguing that Schumer can’t be racist because she doesn’t intend to be. But the motivation of the joke-teller and what compels laughter is not at issue. What matters is the costs and consequences of these “jokes” to those being objectified. Invoking the “it’s just a joke” defense denies the social, historic and cultural implications of racial humor. It ignores the ways that disparaging jokes provide a safe vehicle to share stereotypes, release inhibitions and spread racism.
Actually the social, historic, and cultural implications are what make the jokes funny so it’s most definitely at issue. Try telling a joke to somebody without the same frame of reference and they will simply stare at you blankly. It’s only when a joke exaggerates or otherwise exploits some existing understanding of the world around us that it induces laughter. Hence the saying “it’s funny because it’s true.”
America’s soil of racism is fed by jokes and incendiary speeches, by stereotypical images and symbols like the Confederate flag. Just as Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump and other members of the Republican Party regularly disparage people of color and claim they are simply telling the truth, Schumer can use comedy as a protective shroud to deny the harm and hurt caused by her jokes. A joke is considered benign especially when told by a supposed white liberal feminist. We can distance ourselves from the anger, from the harm, from the ideology, and from the hatred of the “extreme,” but also find comfort in the same anger, ideology and hatred that is “just a joke.”
This rhetoric isn’t just ugly. It contributes to a worldview that justifies a broken immigration system, mass incarceration, divestment from inner city communities, that rationalizes inequality and buttresses persistent segregation and violence. Yet nobody wants to take responsibility for spewing rhetoric that breeds the fear that results in soaring gun purchases, that “inspires” monsters like Dylann Roof to craft a manifesto with deadly consequences.
See, isn’t that a great joke? It takes the already silly argument that jokes make people racist to a level of complete absurdity. To think that the Charleston shooter’s problem was that he spent too much time in a comedy club, hahahahaha. Man, that’s a good one. What’s next? Video games turning men into rapists?
What really feeds America’s soil of racism, if such a thing exists, are the people who can’t sit through a stand-up act without thinking it’s going to drive all the white people in the audience to go on a murderous rampage. They’re the ones constantly obsessed with the skin color of the people around them, not the comedians who take aim at the various foibles of the human condition. They’re the people who believe non-whites are incapable of laughing at their own stereotypes, not the white liberal woman telling jokes on stage.
Schumer doesn’t need to use comedy as a shroud to deny hurting someone because no harm has actually been done. Either people laughed or they didn’t, but either way nobody ran out of her set to buy a gun and start campaigning for Trump. No one watching her TV show changed their stance on immigration, mass incarceration, inequality, or any of the other political issues listed in that diatribe because she made a wise-crack about Latinos.
But of course she apologized anyway:
I wrote this joke 2 years ago. I used to do a lot of dumb jokes like this. I used to play a dumb white girl character on stage. I still do sometimes. Once I realized I had more eyes and ears on me and had an influence I stopped telling jokes like that onstage, I am evolving as any artist. I am taking responsibility and I hope I haven’t hurt anyone. And I apologize if I did.
Not that it’ll stop the league of perpetually offended, because if there’s one thing they can’t stand, it’s other people having fun.
So in that spirit, let’s see some of your best jokes in the comment section.
h/t to Sarjex for the graphic as always. Here’s her store.