And you should be too.
As a matter of fact, the fact that you aren’t offended offends me even more.
Alright, come on, context.
Hokay. So, today I unfriended yet another high school acquaintance over posting more stupid millennial bashing. In this case, it was an article about millennials finding the show “Friends” problematic.
Yes, it was a different time. Yes, what was considered appropriate humour and representation was different during that time. Guess what? You’re still laughing at it today.
That isn’t an indicator that the humour is timeless, just that you still find it funny. Shows like that can not, in fact, be timeless, because of the fact that the humour is bound to the current social norms at the time of its writing. The fact that you still post jokes from such things and laugh at the “non-PC” humour only indicates that you still find it funny.
WHICH IS EXACTLY THE FUCKING PROBLEM.
I’ve talked before about the danger of letting old favorites get a bye because of a pre-existing emotional attachment. It’s still bad. No one’s favorites are unproblematic. Realizing this is part of maturing. Treasure the memories of the laughs you had, and then acknowledge the faults in what you love.
Continuing to push the old, problematic things without disclaimer is just perpetuating the idea that this kind of stuff is both funny and acceptable. That’s how memetics works.
Memetic knowledge is an idea that spreads person to person, creating meaning attached to the idea by the society that spreads it. Memes are so much more than templates for dumb jokes. They are the evolution of cultural context written small and self-contained.
As such, any idea that is perpetuated gains meaning. That is why it is so important to acknowledge the fact that society needs to move on from things that were once considered funny.
Every time you share a joke that can be summed up as “man in a dress,” a transgender woman becomes the target of ridicule and violence somewhere down the line.
When you turn sexual assault into the subject of comedy, a rape victim becomes afraid to step forward.
If you make racist jokes on the defense that “people laughed, therefore it was acceptable,” you are empowering racists everywhere.
And before you think of shooting back with “but what about X satire,” if you don’t understand what the satire is saying, then you are quite literally the butt of the joke. Doesn’t feel great, does it?
Yes, a lot of old things are problematic. That’s why we are trying to build a better world by shaving off the pieces that are hurtful. Instead of insisting that your humour is funny and ridiculing anyone who is offended by it, examine why you think it is funny. You won’t like what you discover.
I leave with one more thought. Many of us have heard the saying “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” I say, fuck that. If you’ve got negative thoughts on a subject, there’s probably something wrong about the situation. So think about it, and change. If you are the reason, change your thinking. If someone else is, speak up about it, insist that they change. Letting toxic ideas flourish unchallenged is how we’ve ended up in the situation we are in.