It's loud and it's tasteless and I've heard it before

Ronald De Sousa claims that in order to be amused by something we have to endorse the attitudes of it. This means that the reason that we see divided opinion over whether something is funny or not is because people naturally support different attitudes. Someone who has a low tolerance for sexist behaviour will not appreciate a sexist joke - they will find it immoral or offensive so when telling a joke you must always be aware of your audience.
Generally I find that polite people do not make jokes at the expense of others or laugh at the misfortunes of others. Oh if the person in question starts the joke then by all means engage in a bit of light-hearted banter - humour is a coping mechanism and it's good to not take life so seriously all the time but you must accept responsibility if you've taken it too far and offended someone.

I will be the first person to admit that militant political correctness endeavours go too far and that it must be frustrating for people who are restricted by being unable to exercise their right to "free speech" but I do think that people who make jokes about ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disabilies for example do not appear witty, they merely appear ignorant and appear to be endorsing ignorance and intolerance.

I don't like to foster stereotypes because I think it leads to discrimination but there are occasions when humour can be used to disempower the negative effect of a word or a stereotype. In hip hop, the word “nigger” is used frequently by black people, yet it's also a racist slur.Comedians like Chris Rock or Richard Pryor downright mock black people, Joan Rivers has mocked Jewish people throughout her entire career in the same way that Jo Bland mocks overweight people. Observational comedy is comedy and I can see the humour in a lot of things I find offensive when it is tastefully done. Sometimes using offensive topics as humour can bring issues to the mainstream and social consciousness. I would not though, for example sit through a Frankie Boyle sketch for love nor money.

As children we laugh at shocking things because we recognise the thrill of the taboo: the fabulous show Coupling; the Giggle Loop explained those times when we laugh at inappropriate moments and sometimes despite the content of a joke, the delivery still causes us to laugh at it.
Despite all this rationality and analysis of humour though... there is NO WAY I would ever find this t-shirt funny.

Topshop has since recalled this t-shirt and there has been a social media storm of divided views - those who think it's an overreaction to a lighthearted t-shirt, those who think it's downright disgusting that it was allowed to be sold in the first place.

Personally I'd rather buy one of these t-shirts.

If you can bring me one victim of domestic violence who sees the humour in this t-shirt then maybe I will reconsider my view that it's not an overreaction. That fashion may be controversial at times but it should not glamourise rape or domestic violence. Nothing should. Today I have been labelled an "angry feminist" for being offended by it - what's your opinion?

Ziggy played guitarrrrrraaaaarrrrraaaarrrrrr.

Title: Fashion by David Bowie


khaitea said...

Hate the T-shirt but I must say I strongly strongly disagree with your view of humour.

I love Frankie Boyle, and that style of humour, and it has got me through some of the darkest times in my life.

In my view, dark humour is the least discriminating of all comedy because it targets everyone. No one is safe and nothing is sacred, and that's the beauty of it. It's about letting go of all your prejudices and misconceptions and labels and measures of self worth and laughing about them.

Letting go of the ego, essentially.

Trying to intellectualise dark humour is like trying to explain why laughter exists in the first place. If you have to explain it to someone, they're already missing the point.

Lianne Marie Binks said...

I agree with you completely about dark humour! I've only ever seen one or two Frankie Boyle sketches and I found him repugnant. If his philosophy is truly about letting go of all your prejudices and misconceptions and labels and measures of self worth and laughing about them then I will revise my view of him but as it stands what I've seen just sickened me!

khaitea said...

Really? I love his humour.

I stand by what I said above, that if you have to explain the point it has already been missed.

In the dark comedy genre, people are encouraged not to laugh at the subject matter, but to laugh at the inappropriate wit of the joke ABOUT the subject matter.

It's almost all about the wording. If there isn't enough wit and wordplay the jokes generally fall flat on their faces.

Most other forms of comedy encourage you to laugh at the subject matter, and wit/puns are a secondary bonus. Like mother-in-law jokes, or even Monty Python sketches.

I guess it's like watching violence in films, or horror movies. Watching Gladiator is not the same thing as actually watching a real human being get slaughtered in a real life amphitheatre. Laughing at a dark joke is not the same thing as condoning terrible things.

sexdeathfairytales said...

I don't like the t-shirt.

However, and it is a big however, I also don't like hundreds of t-shirts on the Market. Ones that say "I fuck on the first date" or "I'm not a gynaecologist but I'll take a look" or the famous "FBI: Female Body Inspector"; it's not that they insult both sexes (which they do) but that they aren't funny.

I really believe that you can be sexist in a funny, ironic way. You could even make a comment about domestic abuse using humour. But these t-shirts aren't witty or intelligent enough. They aren't the first though, and they won't be the last.

You should take it as a victory to humankind that they were removed from sale as quickly as they were.