Thought-provoking article that got me thinking. This is not intended as a rebuttal, of course, but as an expansion. I more or less agree with Ms. Zoladz’s point on inclusion, though I think the dangers of politicization based on a very small number of people is something to watch for.
The politicization of comedy would ruin it, essentially. The problem here isn’t “senses of humor” or “exclusion,” it’s that there are people who view EVERYTHING only through the lenses of competitive politics. A white male who makes a joke about a girlfriend is “sexist”, for example, and should therefore be pilloried (that’s the most extreme view, of course, as an example). Were this model followed, it would simply be a return to the Lenny Bruce days of censorship and arrest. Perhaps even to the era of Divine Right royalty.
Millennials are a huge group and should not be represented by a few hecklers — and people who like to yell and heckle will yell and heckle no matter their political stances. Personally, I think people who like to scream and yell often have no real ideology, they just glom onto whatever belief system they grew up with or suits their needs the most. Think of Donald Wildmon — the conservative Christian who went after cartoons in the 1980s and 1990s. His ideology mattered less than the fact that he wanted to censor images, words, and jokes because they were “offensive.”
And comedy is observational twists that are funny — and that’s what matters. One can make a joke about the dearth of women in STEM and still have it able to make fun of the situation (e.g., crusty old academic dudes) while still wanting women to participate in those fields more. Whether it’s mocking weirdo dudes nervous to be around women or why women may gravitate to Humanities more (I can’t think of a clever joke right now…), the jokes can press buttons but still be inclusionary.
Everybody has a different sense of humor and people who are funny should be included on that basis, whatever their background. Nobody should be excluded based simply on appearance, class, gender, etc. They should only be excluded because they’re not funny. So if some are far too sensitive for comedy, they should ignore certain kinds of comedy and stick with slapstick. But we all have that inkling of knowledge that it’s about power — the power to control what is seen and heard rather than cultivating diversity in the world of funny.
It’s not a zero-sum game, being funny. (And because this is the internet — There’s a big difference between Michael Richards’s clearly racist rant vs. Russell Peters discussing international comedy. I don’t defend the obviously mean-spirited stuff — and most viewers, listeners, audiences can tell pretty quickly what’s a joke and what isn’t.)
Again, cool article, and thanks to the author.