September 5, 2007

Humor News Probably Written By Men.

Men who have willfully estranged themselves from women who say "That's not funny."

So let me just say: Guys, that's not funny.


Peter Hoh said...

But just taking their lead from Nancy Grace.

Gahrie said...

Which brings to mind that classic feminist joke:

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: That's not funny.

Joseph said...

Makes me cringe a bit, but so does typical media coverage of these types of events.

MadisonMan said...

Not funny, no -- but it's a nice rip on sensationalist "news reporters".

Ann Althouse said...

Gahrie: Sometimes it's actually not funny. When you find yourself making rape jokes -- and you think you've got a good target -- sensationalist news reporters/Nancy Grace -- so that makes it okay, think again.

rhhardin said...

The stories do represent an essential truth for the Women Who Watch, that men are beasts.

But if men didn't have such low standards, what chance would women have? Most women are not real bargains.

Still, the story hooks her. She is helpless before it. Her eyes are sold to advertisers, the purveyors of unspeakable feminine hygiene products.

Incidently the Kroger supermarket now has a Feminine Needs aisle, replacing the Feminine Hygiene aisle.

But it's still Tampax. The greeting card section is not part of it.

Peter Hoh said...

Sometimes satire is not intended to be funny, just pointed.

Original Mike said...

Yeah, I don't think it was meant to be funny.

Joe R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

Yeah, I don't think it was meant to be funny.

Huh? I let out several chuckles. The picture-perfect sad face of the parents couldn't be better.

New to broadband (after 11 years of dialup until Sept 1), I just discovered Onion video. You got a similar picture-perfect scientist, damn I can't find it now, talking about the danger of multiple stab wounds in tests on monkeys.

The thing is a send-up of the news audience, which drives the news programming.

Just what is needed to make such crap eventually impossible. Perhaps then soap opera won't dominate every national debate, someday.

Rape is just the material to pull and hold this crazed female audience.

It's making fun of women, not rape.

Gahrie said...

Did anyone find Swift's suggestion of eating babies funny?

Most people thought Lenny Bruce was unfunny....

Comedy and satire are often un/under appreciated, especially by those it is targeted at.

Comedy is supposed to be uncomfortable, in fact many people will tell you that is precisely why we laugh at it.

Ann Althouse said...

You don't think an Onion video is meant to be funny???

Ann Althouse said...

Men writing about women getting raped need to take a step back and look at it from a different perspective.

And this is nowhere near the level of Lenny Bruce or Jonathan Swift. Some humorists have pushed the envelope and done it well, but that doesn't mean that anyone in the humor business may as well go ahead and ignore taste.

How'd that Lenny Bruce argument go for Michael Richards?

The Drill SGT said...

I think I'm with MM and JH.

It's not funny and I could no get through it, but it had a teaching point that was valid. yes it was over the top, however

most of that "if it bleeds it leads" news reporting is awful. I cringe just as much when I see somebody thrust a mike in front of a mother who just lost her kid as I did watching the onion stuff.

course I feel the same way about some of the NYT coverage of NSA terrorist hunting.

There are some things we don't NEED to know. particularly when it is only done for ratings or to embarrass somebody.

rhhardin said...

Men writing about women getting raped need to take a step back and look at it from a different perspective.

They're writing about what pulls women into the audience.

Perhaps if that were widely ridiculed, the audience would be aware of it and refuse to be manipulated into watching. Then the trick would disappear.

Rape is a marketing tool. That's what the Onion bit is about.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I found it over the line, because while it made fun of the sensationalist presentation, it did not rule out the very likely outcome, which is that the girl was indeed abducted, raped, and murdered.
I think it could have succeeded as humor if it ended with the missing girl returning to her dorm room, perplexed by the camera crew and explaining that she had spent the night studying in the library.

Original Mike said...

I think it's obvious it was meant to be critical of sensationalistic TV journalism. Criticism that is well deserved. I seriously doubt it was meant to make fun of rape.

Trooper York said...

Pointed satire is often not very pretty…it is simply a comedic device…sort of like
Rosie O’Donnell’s strap on…just without the unpleasant odor

rcocean said...

Sorry, I thought it was hilarious.

The reporting of these young women/girl abductions/murders is disgusting. TV news feasts on this for ratings, and should be attacked for their fake concern, violations of the parents privacy, and needless dwelling on the horrible facts.I'm glad someone took a jab at them.

I agree it would have been better if the young women had interrupted the reporter at the end and asked him what he was talking about.

Joe R. said...

Comedy is supposed to be uncomfortable, in fact many people will tell you that is precisely why we laugh at it.
Uhh..No. Comedy is supposed to be *funny*--this isn't.

Pointed satire is often not very pretty
Yes, but the story doesn't make me say geez, all of these newspeople are using these horrible techniques to get me to watch their stories, but instead God, what bunch of stupid bastards making fun of rape.

Joe R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe R. said...

I'm glad someone took a jab at them.
But, they didn't take a jab at the news making apparatus and their stupidity. This message is completely lost by mentioning rape.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It took me a few minutes to realize that this wasn't a real newscast. (not enough coffee this morning I suppose)

The media reports have gotten so bad, intrusive, insensitive and sensationalized that I was disgusted but typical.

This says a lot about the depths to which we have sunk as a society, that we put up with this crap for real and that we can't tell satire from reality. Or maybe it just says something about me....more coffee.

Swifty Quick said...

You don't think an Onion video is meant to be funny???

To the extent that it is intended as humor, the joke is on the over-the-top sensationalist media who look for stories like this to sensationalize and on the reporters who breathlessly report every lurid detail of such crimes, and it is not a joke about rape or rape victims. There is a distinction there that gets blurred by the process of being offended by the subject matter of it.

reneviht said...

For the life of me, I don't see any purpose to satire other than either [A] making fun of people who disagree with you
[B] Stirring up righteous indignation so you can feel better.

I had to give up Doonesbury and ScrappleFace when I realized that, as amusing as they were, they didn't add anything to my understanding of the topics they were considering. They occasionally added new facts, but they were inevitably just reiterations of opinions and logical processes that were oversimplifications. I realized that I was becoming more closed-minded by reading them, as I tended to dismiss any opposing arguments as being laughable before considering them.

I've never changed my mind to agree with a piece of satire. However, I have grown disgusted with the attitude of satirists who do agree with my position, and lost the will to logically defend their propositions.

I've heard people cite "A Modest Proposal" as being "one of the epitomes of satire," but I can't imagine that it changed anyone's mind on what to do about the economy, etc. I can believe that it stirred up people who already agreed with Swift, which may have resulted in their action, but I don't think he won any converts.

Are there any commenters here who have digested a piece of satire that they disagreed with, and then changed their mind to agree with it? The closest I've come is absorbing a satire I disagreed with, but laughed at it anyway because it was written with sufficient skill to overcome any unsavory attitudes held by the authors.

Unknown said...

Looks like Ann and some of her fans are caught in the Onion vortex!

Cedarford said...

The video was just like the usual thing from Grace, Greta Von "Pretty Missing White Girl", ET Tonight - exploitive dreck. Complete with the exploitive, sleazy interviews with parents.

The subtext is always rape! rape! rape! Rape sells. Fear of rape that can be milked for months in specuation about "Chandra!" "Natalie!" "The Missing Female Soldier - Was She?????" are even better. Solid long term ratings boosts and ad revenues through the roof as the affluent woman to trailer park woman who spends 90% of household income Eats it up.

Onion was beating this crass media marketing ploy to a pulp with a blunt force baseball bat pummeling.

As for rape jokes, unfortunately, there IS a big amount of feminist stridency about it being and remaining the forbidden exception to "anything goes, nothing is sacred" dark humor.

Except prison rape jokes of men and their well-endowed unwelcome "Bubba", which are somehow still acceptable to feminazis and other Stalinists as well as the public - as mainstream humor staples.

Holocaust jokes, especially by Jewish comedians or Hollywood writers - fine! Seinfeld making out at a Nazi atrocity movie and having to aplogize to scandalized onlookers? Brilliant! Ethiopian famine jokes? Good and dark. Katrina jokes? Ubiquitous. Dark hospital comedy? An entertainment staple! Celebrities with drug and other problems leading to open meltdown? Let the joke floodgates open! Mob humor? The Sopranos and Scorcese made a "killing" off seriousness interspersed with dark humor. War humor? Check! Stalin jokes? Check! Senior dementia jokes? Whole books of 'em. Terrorist jokes? Where would Letterman be without a few a week?

And besides jokes, amusing tales of real life crime escapades besides rape? Stupid crook's tales from shoplifting to serial murder, excepting rape? Standard mass media fodder.

It may be one of those singular "Thats not funny!!" feminist victories of the last 30 years to get rape excepted from "acceptability" of all other crime & tragedy sources of dark humor.

So, in the interest of opening the field up...

"Did you hear about the guy who was arrested for 108 acts of rape, 221 acts of sodomy, and 43 Acts involving rope, sex toys, and candle wax?"
"Turns out his fiancee` found her ring was cubic zirconia."
"She was 'willing' for real diamond, but for less, it was clearly rape."

Meade said...

Having a sense of humor is more than being able to laugh at whatever professional humorists tell us we should find funny. Having the sense to weed out for oneself that which isn't funny is essential to a well-developed sense of humor. Offensiveness, by itself, is not sufficient to create humor. There needs to be an effective twist or subtle surprise.

Althouse's use of the word "probably" in the title of this post is the only funny thing about the Onion video and, because it is concise, subtle, and because it mocks the Onion's failed attempt to do the same thing, it is truly laughably funny.

Mortimer Brezny said...

What's wrong with satirizing media sensationalism? The coverage about that girl who disappeared in Aruba was just like this. The media does speculate. The media does cover the most gruesume facts. The media does engage in conversations that are little more than speculating about gruesome possibilities. That is how the media gins up its ratings. Perhaps it is mostly women watching; I don't know. In any event, I don't think the audience is being satirized. I think the inhumanity of the media was being satirized. I found several portions of this hilarious, because, as satire, it was dead-on. I imagine plenty of female viewers found it humorous as well.

Mortimer Brezny said...

You know, when Cedarford isn't being a racist, he can actually make a point.

former law student said...

I don't watch enough TV news to know what the video was supposed to be a parody of. I just found the video to be unfunny and pointless.

MadisonMan said...

when Cedarford isn't being a racist, he can actually make a point.

Alas, he takes 10 paragraphs to give 1 paragraph of information.

paul a'barge said...

ok, rape is not funny.

What else is not funny? Can we get the complete list? With respect to the elements on the list does it matter if the element is presented by a man? woman? Is the list ordered?

thanks in advance.

elcurado said...

It is well known that The Onion spares nothing and no one. I don't see why rape (or, more precisely, *news accounts of abductions of young women*) should be an exception. If it/they should, then should it be the only one? If not, what others?

Also, consider the feminist notion of "rape culture." As I understand it, this is the very defensible notion that all sorts of lesser exploitations of women (typically by men) constitute forms of rape, or at least are offenses on a continuum of rape-related behaviors. Yes, true rape is the ultimately awful and unforgivable rape-culture offense, but it's not the only one.

Why isn't the logical extension of Althouse's argument that The Onion (or its men anyway) has no business lampooning most anything related to demeaning women?

elcurado said...

I would add that OF COURSE it's tasteless. It's The Onion.

Away From The Brink said...

Hmmm. Sort of puts all those John Wayne Bobbitt jokes of a few years ago into perspective.

Steve H. Graham said...

The main reason it's not funny is that it's crap, written by untalented hacks. The Onion has sucked for years. "Area man drops remote in toilet." "Area man tired of waffles." Who laughs at garbage like that?

It's like the Lampoon, which was brilliant for five years and then devolved into a magazine for maladjusted boys in junior high.

The quality problems make it unnecessary to reach the issue of whether it's in bad taste.

Joe said...

I agree with Steve. The Onion used to be witty. No longer.

blake said...

As others have said, the problem is it's not particularly clever. Richard Pryor did a brilliant bit on rape in one of his performances. Carlin did a whole thing on what you couldn't joke about, joking about rape as an example. I can't recall a "South Park" on the topic, but they've done bunches on child molestation.

Having said that, some people in this thread laughed. Do we assume some defect in them as a result, or do we admit that there is such a thing as taste, and it differs among us?

As for "The Onion" being all men, I can't speak to this particular story but I seem to recall some women being on the writing staff as portrayed in the movie The Aristocrats.

I'm not sure how that's relevant. If it were written only by men and only men laughed at it, so what?

Revenant said...

I can believe that it stirred up people who already agreed with Swift, which may have resulted in their action, but I don't think he won any converts.

Not directly, but he probably shamed some of his more fierce opponents into reexamining their beliefs.

Swift wrote "A Modest Proposal" not to encourage people to help the Irish, but to shame people who were overtly callous towards the Irish. The gut reaction -- that killing babies is disgusting -- automatically stirs the feeling that the lives of those babies must matter. That is more empathy than most of the English were feeling for the Irish at the time.

Moira Breen said...

I laughed.

How are you supposed to satirize lurid, cheesy journalism about rape without mentioning rape? CNN offends the hell out of me; the Onion doesn't.

The Three Stooges, however, are not funny.

rhhardin said...

The point is that it's mocking the media's content and the audience for it. That's the Lord's work.

It's witty in the sense that it hits right on; the perfect rendition of this or that piece of the narrative as played daily for the enthralled women who watch.

Not every part is perfect; I thought the parents were though, in this piece.

The parents are willing participants in this, by the way.

The ones that punch the reporter out, in real life, you don't get to see.

In real life, it's entertainment. Women don't understand what entertainment it : it's not being made happy, but being made engrossed, hooking the interest. Soap opera, in this case, made to look like news.

Onion is just playing the parts out, with just enough over-the-top stupidity to mark it as unserious.

The soap woman, of course, catch only the parts and not the over-the-top, and pronounce the over-the-top as unfunny. They're engrossed by the story line anyway.

As men would be inappropriately engrossed by a breast self-examination video.

The respective neurons don't let you alone until you're around 80.

RWD said...

The Onion's critique of the media here isn't funny, it's deadly.

The professor appears to have conflated humor and satire, which is surprising since she's otherwise pretty good at decoding what journalists are really saying.

halojones-fan said...

You're right. It's not funny. But it isn't supposed to be funny; that's the whole point.

That satire is often funny does not mean that all satire is funny.

rcocean said...

I wish the "Onion" would go back to satirizing white men, Christians, TV evangelists, and George Bush.

Now thats funny - and original.

Andrew Shimmin said...

Were the rape bits in Martin Amis's Money funny? Does it make a difference that the jokes were explicitly at the expense of the would-be rapist?

What about Lolita?

I didn't laugh at this video, I agree that it isn't funny. But I laugh at Money every time I re-read it, and I remember finding Lolita hilarious (I also remember feeling like it didn't reflect well on me to be so tickled by it).

Paco Wové said...

Late to the party, as always. Dang.

One of my favorite bits parodying media sensationalism was the SNL "Who shot Buckwheat?" sketch. Hadn't thought about that in a long time.