I want to say first off that I don’t think rape jokes are funny in any situation. I just don’t. I do think that humor is one of our few ways of dealing with the world and it is important to be able to joke about things, even terrible things. Sometimes those jokes aren’t going to be funny, but it is how we deal with horrible things. Still, there are just some things that are going to be problematic to joke about even if we need to in order to deal with the horribleness. We may not like the fact that our ability to think and speak is restricted, but it is the way things are.
I’m, of course, talking about Daniel Tosh getting in trouble for making a rape joke. To summarize, Tosh was doing an act and commented that he thought rape jokes were funny. An audience member contradicted him and Tosh made a joke about how he thought it would be funny if that audience member was raped right then. This did not go well.
Personally, I think my sympathy has to go out to the audience member first. As much as I think a person has a right to say things, that person has to understand that people also have a right to react. Really, this was over the line to refer to the audience member getting raped. I understand the humor mechanism he was trying to use, but there was no way that he wasn’t going to catch shit for that and it was pretty clear that this was going to feel like an attack to the audience member.
I do at least still feel bad for Tosh. I mean, there are things we need to be able to talk about (and sometimes joke about) that we can’t. His entire comedy bit involves pushing that envelope between acceptable and not acceptable. With comedy like that, it is inevitable that the comic will go over the line. It happened to Gilbert Gottfried (on multiple occasions) and it happened to Daniel Tosh.
Do I think he thinks rape is funny? No. Do I think he felt he should be able to joke about it without in any way making light of rape itself? Yes. Did it still go over the line? Yes. Sometimes with this kind of comedy the comic spends so much time on the line that his or her judgment as to what is going to be too far may be impaired. I think that happened here. This was just too much for Tosh to get away with.
I mean, I don’t think Tosh thinks that rape is funny. Rape is a horrifying, grotesque crime. I just think he wants to be able to joke about anything. He himself commented that: “The point I was making before I was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them.” Technically you can make them. Whether or not you should is another story. Still, his comment itself seems a bit ironic. After all, this situation seems to disprove his point a bit.
Either way, the whole situation makes me uncomfortable. I feel bad for the audience member, but I feel a little bad for Tosh too. We need to be able to joke about bad things in order to be able to deal with life, but sometimes our dealing is going to make more for others to have to deal with. Rape definitely isn’t funny, but we have to be able to talk about it in order to put a stop to it. The whole situation is complicated and I just feel bad around….and now I’ll probably be attacked by both sides for not taking a total side one way or another. Oh well, I’m going to say fuck it and post anyway.