I’m not entirely sure whom I blame. Some days I think the fault lies with Television Without Pity, Fark, Reddit, and other websites. Other times I have to admit to myself that my beloved MST3K & RiffTrax are probably a large source of the problem. No matter the origins, we’ve reached a place in our cultural zeitgeist where what passes for “humour” is actually nothing more than the cruel mocking of another person.
In high school it was fun to mock movies. My friends and I did that for a pastime. “No, you stupid cheerleader! Don’t go into the garage alone! That’s where the killer is!” Then MST3K came along and made a living out of making fun of stupid movies. The jokes were often highly intelligent and had a bemused tone. But all in all when you got right down to it the humour was essentially just laughing at the stupidity of movie characters.
Nowadays, though, blog articles such as this one are common place.
When you’re a couple and you make the choice not to have kids, you don’t get it. You’re a DINK (pardon the double entendre).
“Funny” Articles like this one have made the rounds so often it’s shown up on my Facebook News Feed more than ten times in the last two years.
[10 Worst People You See At Every Summer Music Festival] 7. Girls in leggings. We can only imagine what kind of swamp-ass nightmare is festering beneath that Spandex cameltoe.
And of course there are websites I won’t even link to which mock the people who shop at Wal-Mart (Oh, Look at how fat they are! Look at how weird their clothes are! Poverty is hysterical!), endless conversations mocking the Honey Boo-Boo family for being fat and poor (I’m sensing a trend) and entire blogs devoted to mocking whatever person the blogger needs to feel superior to. Sometimes the victims are sorority girls, sometimes Fundamental Christians… pick one. If I list them all I’ll burn through my 500 words without even touching on the thesis of this post.
That thesis is, simply, as stated in the title, being mean isn’t humourous. Yes, people say stupid things out of ignorance or lazy mental habit. People wear odd looking clothes for reasons often known only to them. But I’m just so tired of this school of thought reigning supreme now, this idea that casual cruelty is clever. Why do we think highlighting the frailties or even simple differences of other human beings is an okay thing? Is it because on the Internet we have become so used to going to “real people” for entertainment that we forget that the folks in YouTube videos and shopping at thrift stores are not characters in a movie called Everyday Life?
For whatever reason I’m just over it. I really am. I’m ready for humour to be something I can laugh at without hurting another person. Because even if they don’t know you’re laughing at them, that spirit of cruelty hangs in the air. It hardens you, callouses your soul. I’d like for us all to stop being casual bullies for the purposes of our own amusement.