Monday, December 15, 2008

In Which Even Mr. Trend's Extremely Limited Sensibilities Are Offended

I have an almost universal sense of humor, and I often find things that appal others rather funny. My sense of the appropriate is more than a bit askew (you simply have to ask those who know me well to confirm this). This is something that I'm neither proud of nor ashamed of - it's just how I am. There are just very few things designed with the intent of humor - whether they're actually funny or not - that I find offensive. In short, it's really hard to find comedy that I think has crossed a line.

However, I'm siding with Gov. David Paterson on this SNL skit crossing the line. The most obvious complaint here, I think, is the "blind jokes." In part, it's offensive for the same reason that making fun of people with Down's Syndrome is offensive, or making fun of people for their skin color is offensive - it's mocking people for something that's beyond their control (save for making fun of the bizarrely orange - they do that to themselves). Blind jokes about Paterson definitely fall under that category - people with disabilities and special needs have enough problems in trying to get equal and fair treatment in society, and this kind of stunt just helps society not see that and fall on easy stereotypes of incompetence and inequality. And the worst part is, from a strict sense of humor bit, the blind jokes in this sketch aren't even that funny. If they were at least intelligently crafted jokes, I would maybe concede that point, but the "blind guy/girl who is messing everything up because he/she can't see" is one of the easiest jokes in the world, and well below the talents of professional comedians.

To be clear, I don't think that Paterson is in any way off limit in the joke-making industry, and I actually thought the joke about living a Richard Pryor movie was excellent (even if Armisen embellished the amount of cocaine Paterson has done - "massive amounts of blow" is a funny phrase). But the blind jokes were simultaneously offensive and lazy. Political satire can and should be better performed, instead of falling back on physical challenges as a crutch, and if you can't make your satire be funny without that crutch (and Armisen can be and was funny without the blind jokes), then you shouldn't be in the comedy business.