Who has the Responsibility?

February 28, 2012 19:58:22 Posted at February 28, 2012 19:58:22
Duana Posted by Duana
Photos:
WENN

So this came out of Whitney Cummings'  Twitter while she was livetweeting during the Oscars the other night.

"If Christian Bale murdered me I would have an orgasm right before I died."


So, let's go with a couple of assumptions here. That the "murder" inference was 80% American Psycho and 20% general joking about his rage rep. Fine. Then, of course, I had the "how-is-this-OK-it's-no-different-from-Chris-Brown-oh-riiiiiiight" embarrassing thought chain.
   
Okay, I get it, sort of.  So you're a comedian and probably horrified by what went down during the Grammys and so decide it's time to skewer the whole situation.  In theory, this is very clever, being during an awards show, and there's probably even some social commentary about how accepted Christian Bale continues to be.

But let me be blunt - I don't think Cummings did a good enough job getting her joke across. Comedy is about subtlety, Twitter definitely isn't, and there was nothing in her tone to imply tongue in cheek-ness. And tell me if I'm being elitist here, but is it crazy to think that maybe not every one of her followers on twitter will get the joke?

But - so what? She made a not-very-good joke about a social situation, a joke she probably never thought about again.  As a comedian, she absolutely needs the freedom to say whatever filthy depraved thing comes to her mind. It's a part of the process, it's been well-documented that  "dirty" things are considered acceptable and beneficial in creative environments, and I will defend to the death her right to go through a million terrible or wrong or offensive jokes to find the right one. But in public, with people who have all different levels of sensitivity and understanding? Does she have any responsibility to make it better? By better I mean clearer, not an apology. Does she have any responsibility as a public figure? As a woman? Do we accept that that WAS her contribution and that we need to get smart enough to understand it whenever someone drops a reference of any kind?

I'm asking because this is the debate that continues with everyone ever, when there's something sensitive around. Can I EVER talk about it without it being taboo? When is it ok to make jokes about natural disasters? 5 years after they happen?  5 minutes?  I heard a 9/11 joke the other day that made me laugh like crazy.  A bunch of you just signed off of me altogether, and another bunch want to hear the joke. But the whole premise of comedy is that nothing is sacred, and that humor comes from pain. Maybe that only applies if the joke is funny. Funny is subjective.

We aren't supposed to look to celebrities for guidance. But often they're the only ones with the balls or the stupidity to say what they really think. It's not an easy thing to negotiate, is it?

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