It’s incredibly bizarre that comedy is now in a period of rebirth and burgeoning relevance and yet, what comedians say today is often scrutinized and attacked more than ever before. People being offended by a tweet by Chris Rock is a news story, when it shouldn’t be.
The rampant “trolling” of whatever is said or done in comedy has the Internet to blame. Still, the Internet is how comedians are now discovered and build their following. It’s really proving to be a sensationalist circus of faceless crowds with torches and pitchforks that are ready to burn anyone at the stake that they, only two weeks ago, enjoyed listening to in the middle of the town square.
With any single thing, whether it can be a joke that was being told or especially a tweet that often lacks subtext and/or context, a comedian can go from thought of as pretty funny to be effectively protested by groups of people. That’s ridiculous. Why are people getting up in arms over John Mulaney’s rather innocuous bit off his latest special New in Town about there not being a female Ocean’s 11?
How is it that Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks would still be edgy today? They absolutely would be crossing the line by today’s standards, if not more so than most people currently working in comedy. It’s hard to imagine that a bit about blowing up a plane or attacking everyone that works in marketing would be televised today in any time slot. Decades and scores ago they broke down censorship barriers and now it feels like we’re rolling back because people don’t understand that a joke is a joke and not a personal threat towards their identity.
Sure, there are people who think of themselves as comedians that say shocking things without remorse simply to illicit a reaction, but when you get offended and file your complaint via your blog, Twitter, etc. you’re giving them what they want. Ignore them. That’s the number one way to make them go away, especially on the Internet, which has arguably what brought about this new wave of political correctness. Think of all the unfunny web videos that don’t get millions of views because people don’t find them funny. They’re allowed to fade away into obscurity.
Above all, it’s an oxymoron that the forum of the Internet, that allowed people to freely and legitimately express themselves is the very forum that has made it impossible to freely express anything without being vilified by hordes of people begging you to confess a non-existent crime you’ve somehow committed. They’re just jokes.