When I was a pre-pubescent kid, I would go nuts over a friend or a relative using certain words in jest or when they would make jokes which could be considered offensive by some. Unable to comprehend the nuances of language and that intent behind words held bearing in their use, I felt a hint of superiority over my peers in reprimanding them over their inconsiderate sense of humour. To me, I was looking out for the people whom I (due to my juvenile sense of justice) presumed would not appreciate those jokes.
In a way, I could put myself in the supposed “victims’” shoes as I had dealt with what some people might regard as racism in my middle school, wherein an Indian boy who had just come from India was not too common a sight. Most particularly, I remember an encounter with a girl on my first day at that school. It was the first time I met this girl and she called an “Indian dog” which hit me like a kick in the back because I did not see it coming. I don’t remember provoking her in any way, and I thought, “man, this chick is racist.” My crime? Being in the presence of her boyfriend (who had volunteered to show me around the school on my first day being that I joined them in the second semester) while she wanted some personal time to berate him. I didn’t think that warranted those particular remarks and it didn’t. But does that mean she was racist? Not necessarily.
Over the months I noticed that one of her best friends shared my nationality and somewhat twisted accent so she couldn’t possibly hold something against us Indians. As my brain went through pubertal changes and my scope of the world grew, I realized that she wasn’t racist, she was just a frustrated teenager who wanted to bully me away so she used the only thing she knew about me, my obvious skin complexion and ethnic features.
A couple of months went by and I had made friends with kids from all across the world and in our conversations, we would often share a laugh or two pointing at each other's cultural differences. There was nothing racist about it. The comedy came out of observations from an outsider’s perspective, not hatred. So I got a pretty good sense of what is actually meant to be hurtful and what isn’t.
In today’s climate, however, I notice that big media and most people in general, do not care for the intent words carry. They just want to shut challenging humor down, disregard context and take a deaf ear to logic. There was a time in the latter part of the twentieth century, in which the young ones were the edgy ones, challenging previously held beliefs with the power of their words and through comedy. Now it’s the old generation of comedians that challenge the absurdity of society’s ideals while the progressive left hinders any real social change to occur by shutting people down, canceling interviews, forcing apologies and feeling offended for a group of people they don’t generally even belong to.
One of my favorite comedians, Norm Macdonald, who was not until recently under the left’s radar became their favorite piñata to hit with their bat of unrelenting apology seeking wearing their blindfold of surface level character judgements after showing empathy for comedians Louis C.K. and Roseanne Barr who had lost their careers in an instant (due to Louis C.K.’s admission of sexual misconduct with multiple women and Barr’s seemingly racist tweet comparing a former US government official to an ape). Those statements got him canceled from an appearance on ‘The Tonight Show’ hosted by Jimmy Fallon to promote his new Netflix show. Later having to apologize for his remarks, he stated “You’d have to have Down syndrome to not feel sorry” for survivors of sexual misconduct. For which he was made to apologize yet again with the assertion that his remarks enforce a hateful stereotype about people with Down syndrome.
Norm Macdonald is the comedian who brazenly called out American football sensation O.J. Simpson as the glaringly obvious murderer of his own wife as his celebrity avoided him facing justice in the court of law; a man whom everyone knew to be the killer of his wife (he later published a book titled, ‘If I Did It’, which detailed the “hypothetical” murders of his wife and her friend). Through his comedy, he pursued the truth and was fired for it from his Saturday Night Live segment, “Weekend Update”. He has been pushing the boundaries of comedy for decades with his unique style, while the current roster of late night show hosts lazily take shots at Trump on a nightly basis with no depth to their comedy, pandering to an audience unwilling to have difficult conversations.
Since the rise of Trump, certain late night shows have shifted from entertainment to propaganda disguised as comedy. They parrot ideas which are expected to be parroted. They don’t seek to challenge their viewers with ideas that may go against preconceived notions, rather they preach to the figurative choir in a masturbatory attempt to exude moral superiority over the opposing side.
Often times they are either too lazy to make an effort in fully understanding the ideas they so vehemently oppose, or perhaps intentionally misrepresent them to get the crowd roaring. Either way, if they want to champion political causes and portray themselves as a new brand of political journalism, their integrity should be questioned. One has to wonder, what else are they willing to cut corners for? When their comments are criticized, they hide behind their claim of being mere “comedians” whose words are not meant to be taken seriously.
As Macdonald aptly stated in an interview, “It’s more difficult, in the time of Trump, for good comedians and is way easier for bad comedians.”