At one family dinner, over a game of Apples to Apples, an ongoing family joke was born.
The card was Anne Frank. Austen was choosing the winning answer. As he turned one over, he burst out laughing, declaring it the instant winner. The word was ‘woebegone’.
Most of the family, found this response equally hilarious. My father did not.
“That’s just not funny,” he said.
Austen replied, “What, too soon?”
“There are some things you just don’t joke about.”
Apparently Jewish girls who were victims of the Holocaust fall into that category.
Last night, at the Academy Awards, Seth MacFarlane hosted what some are calling a very misogynistic Oscar night. Here is one example from the New Yorker. To summarize, The night was full of ridiculous and childish humor, some focused on women. I am not going to dispute some of the jokes were in poor taste, depending on perspective. Jokes about George Clooney liking much younger women, Chris Brown beating his girlfriend Rihanna, or women holding a grudge are certainly offensive to some, hilarious to others.
Perhaps I am misguided, but I did not sense any hateful intent behind the humor. Maybe that is what makes the difference for me.
The tone of the New Yorker blog says I am wrong. Some things just aren’t funny. What things are permanently off the table of comedy? Funny how the overused and expected joke about Abraham Lincoln was not too over the top for this article (“I would argue, however, that the actor who really got inside Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth”), while jokes about boobies can only have one interpretation. Comedy with social commentary, implicit meaning, is apparently dangerous, mean spirited and not to be tolerated.
We know that Daniel Day Lewis was not implying Meryl Streep looked mannish when he joked that Spielberg originally wanted her to play Lincoln, yet we are to take every joke from MacFarlane as evidence of his personal misogyny.
I found MacFarlane to be a good combination of smug, silly, childish, serious, and at times, professional. He was boyish and stupid, reflective and gracious.
Is the problem the public forum for the comedic effort? I know I read far worse and inflammatory things last night while following certain people on Twitter. If you’re the least bit curious, check hashtags for Kristen Stewart or Adele. Perhaps this type of comedy is only funny in small groups of friends and family, things we should laugh at in close company and never in public (To be fair, I bet the author of the blog never finds certain things funny, which is of course, absolutely fine. My fear is this person thinks that any of us who might feel differently are degenerates who are clearly anti-Semitic and hate women).
Either everything is on the table or nothing is. Individuals can choose (yes, it is a choice) to be offended, choose to write blogs, complain, throw their hands up in the air in disgust, but they do not get to tell the rest of us how to think or feel, or what we are allowed to laugh about.