Why Are Our Conversations About Comedy So Awful?
There's a bit of buzz on this topic in the sexism thread, but I think splitting it out may invite a bit more discussion from people who have gotten bored with that thread.
Especially after reading this take. I've never been able to figure out why people get so upset about criticism of comics, or why I should feel guilty for enjoying Ted.
But criticize a comedian, whether he’s standing on a club stage, soft-shoeing in front of the Dolby Theater audience on Oscar night, or Tweeting from an institutional account, and a different set of rules seem to apply. The act of criticism is taken as proof that the critic speaking lacks critical judgement. We’re told that comedians get a pass because their job isn’t to make people comfortable, but to speak difficult truths—but if that is their privilege, we’re also not allowed to ask questions about whether or not they’re fulfilling that responsibility. Criticisms that suggest that jokes were cliche, ineffective, or fail to live up to the standards that are invoked to argue that comedians deserve special protection get recast as evidence of bias or humorlessness. A perfect example of this is how frequently feminist calls for rape jokes to be constructed precisely and their targets to be chosen with care are recast as evidence that feminists don’t understand comedy. Unlike every other form of pop culture, comedy seems to have a special status. At one stroke, the idea that people are allowed to have multiple opinions is invalidated, and replaced by the idea that there is an objective correct view of any joke—that it’s funny, and the comedian was correct to make it.