Archive - Feb 7, 2007
Hear Ye Hear Ye
7 February, 2007 - 18:20 — Bryan Lambert
Memo to yuksters: ALL RISE. COMEDY COURT IS NOW IN SESSION.
Today, You Are Dumb Dot Net provides yet another service an ungrateful world didn't know it even needed. In today's world, as long as people are making jokes, people will get in trouble for making jokes. And when that happens, there's endless debate and harping and cries to "lighten up". It goes on for fucking weeks. Well, no more. From now on, the one person with both the qualifications and the time to adjudicate these issues will issue final binding decrees. That's me, by the way.
DEFENDANT #1: RED EYE A new late night talk show due to premiere on Fox News shortly, accused of being cruel and possibly sexist when discussing Joe Biden's comments on Barack Obama.
THE JOKE: "Oh. Well, I think Oprah’s clean." "She does douche."
THE DEFENSE: None given, nor are the two hosts in the exchange identified, as it comes from a leaked, pre-debut clip.
THE VERDICT: Not guilty. Oh, the joke's not funny. But that's not what comedy court is about. It's about whether the joke is valid, given the structure, the context, and the audience. Whether it's a fair shot. Which I'm afraid this is.
Oprah's a valid target, and the joke takes the basic tack of taking the adjective, "clean", and redirecting it to something a bit off-color. The show, with its former-Maxim-editing host, is obviously going for the aging frat-boy audience. The overall harm to society from this show is as tiny as its eventual audience.
DEFENDANT #2: HILLARY CLINTON Accused of dredging up her marital infidelity while campaigning for President, which I guess is unseemly or something. Anyway, the national media had a collective "OH NO SHE DIDN'T" for a couple of days.
THE JOKE: "We face a lot of dangers in the world and in the gentleman's words, we face a lot of evil men. People like Osama bin Laden come to mind. What in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?"
THE DEFENSE: "You guys keep telling me, lighten up, be fun. Now I get a little funny, and I’m being psychoanalyzed."
THE VERDICT: Not guilty. But this court would like to remind the junior senator from New York that politicians sound like fucking dolts when they try to make light of their past controversies. Cite the precedent of Pee-Wee Herman vs. the MTV Movie Awards all you want, but Paul Reubens had a receptive audience and comedic talent on his side, two things politicians universally lack. You're getting away with it this time because it's your first serious comedic offense, but I can't promise leniency in the future.
DEFENDANT #3: SNICKERS The company stands accused of airing a homophobic Super Bowl commercial in which two men accidentally kiss while eating from two ends of a Snickers bar, then go through extreme measures to expunge the fag cooties from their system.
THE JOKE: In the Super Bowl ad, the men decide to "do something manly", and tear hair off their chests. Snickers put up three other options on the Internet - the two guys drink oil, get offered a threesome from a vagrant, and beat the crap out of each other. Web clips also showed football players going "ew" at guys kissing.
THE DEFENSE: While the Snickers people have pulled the ads, the chief defense is that the ads are actually making fun of the extremes straight people will go to in their ridiculous homophobia.
THE VERDICT: Guilty. When looking at comedy in advertising, you can't just look at the joke. You have to look at who's being advertised to and how. And there's no way in sweet fuck that Snickers spent two million bucks for a Super Bowl spot in order to sell candy bars to people comfortable with gay male sexuality who enjoy watching the over-reaction of Neanderthal homophobes. The people watching the commercial are supposed to eat Snickers bars. Ergo, they're supposed to identify with the people eating the Snickers bars. In this case, the Neanderthals.
Snickers didn't bother putting up a fight on its own behalf, so the rest of you need to shut the fuck up and stop defending it too. The world of advertising is still largely safe for politically incorrect, edgy comedy designed to get you to wolf down a lump of corn syrup and cheap chocolate. But comedy needs to be kept safe from advertising, so I sentence Snickers to 1,000 hours of corporate penitence, where it can perhaps commiserate with the people from Hershey over their unfortunate highway-naming incident.