Da Boss over at SGT banned a member recently for a series of posts he made that poked fun at the stereotypical newbie sex touri visitor to Pattaya. He and a handful of the regular posters – the guys who have to add ‘lol’ to their unfunny one liners to make sure everyone knows they are supposed to laugh – failed to get the joke, assumed the posts were serious, and then continued to not get it even when others pointed out the poster was having a go at them. Rather than own up that he’d just banned someone for having a sense of humor, Da Boss pointed to a single post buried away in the blog section that was about, as he put it, ‘ingesting sperm’, a subject far too sensitive to a man that runs what amounts to a whore house. Granted, Da Boss’ excuse was more funny than the now banned member’s posts were, but then humor is subjective. Not everyone finds the same things funny. But it’s a big step from ‘not funny’ to offensive. Unless, evidently, you are gay.
As we gain acceptance and work toward equality, what once was considered acceptable is now considered offensive. Jokes about gays where they serve as the punchline are no longer the staple of comedians they once were. The general public is coming to the realization that homophobic jokes are just not funny, much as they have in regard to jokes about race. And it is good that people no longer laugh at jokes that come from a hateful place. But at the same time our community needs to realize that some jokes, even those about gays, are funny. Even when the joke is aimed at them. And it is okay for us, and others, to laugh. Not every gay joke is inherently homophobic or offensive. Some can even help fight homophobia. Even those that require a ‘lol’ to let you know you are supposed to chuckle. It’s ironic that gays, historically known for their wit, seem to have lost their sense of humor on the road to acceptance.
It seems the gods have decided that for those whose sense of humor they skimped on, it’s only fair to over compensate by blessing them with a heightened sense of indignation. For many, their natural reaction to a gay joke these days is not to laugh but rather to take offense. They don’t seem to realize that sometimes it’s okay to laugh at ourselves. And if the joke causes you to squirm uncomfortably because it holds a bit too much truth, then the problem isn’t with the joke but with the behavior that provided its basis. Or better yet, just accept that as with any group there are things different about us that are worthy of a chuckle or two.
Rather than immediately become prissy about someone’s attempt at humor, whether the joke is actually funny or not, intent should be considered. There are those jokes that make fun of stereotypes that celebrate the differences among us and those that ridicule and whose intent is to cause harm. Sometimes there is a fine line between the two, but that there is a difference needs to be realized. Part of achieving equality means being proud enough of ourselves that we too can laugh at those things outsiders find humorous about us. Being the brunt of a joke does not always equate to hate.
Surfing through the ‘net for interesting and odd stories loosely associated with the Olympics I ran across an ad for a boutique beer from New Zealand that was intended to be funny but instead caused many gays to get their panties in a wad. Incensed, those offended by the ad demanded our community boycott the beer. That seems to be the #1 reaction to those who offend our gay sensibilities these days, the idea that if we hit them in the pocketbook, where it hurts, they’ll learn their lesson. Not that that has ever been proven to be an effective way to educate.
Moa, the company who produced the ads and the beer just happens to be an official Olympic sponsor. Many called for a protest against what they decided was homophobic advertising, believing that involving the IOC would strengthen their hand. That might have been a good idea if the Olympics awarded a gold medal for overreacting. At least it would have gotten them somewhere. But all that really was required was for a level-headed person – who still lacked a sense of humor – to approach the company and explain why they found that ad to be offensive. Which is what happened. The company apologized, pulled the ads, and bathed in all the publicity their offensive advertisement garnered. A small brewery in a small country managed to get world-wide publicity on a small advertising budget thanks to the outrage of those who took offense instead of ignoring a joke that really wasn’t that funny to begin with. But then sometimes expressing your outrage is more important than being effective.
Was Moa’s ad an attack on the gay community? No. Was it an attempt to stir up some publicity through controversial outrageousness? Probably. Was it worth the community becoming incensed over? Not really. And who ended up getting the last laugh? Playing the homophobic card is not always the best answer. As with comedy, timing is important. We need to stop using the shotgun approach when fighting homophobia. The little boy who cried wolf should have taught us that lesson.
When we cry wolf every time we think a company is homophobic, then when we run up against one that really is, the support that we should have is diminished. Chick Fil A, a southern-based fast food restaurant chain whose food is a joke in its own right, has always had a rep of being anti-gay. Their president recently addressed that claim by agreeing they are guilty as charged. And is quite proud of the fact. Calling gays an abomination and backing his homophobia up with a claim that it is just in accordance with his religion which evidently teaches hate, the company actively supports groups whose purpose is to fight against equality for gays. While many outside of the community have taken a stand against the company for its position of hate, many within question the validity of boycotting a company based on what they deem to be a political stance. We’ve become so used to being incensed over the actions of companies whose homophobia is suspect that we have begun to make allowances for those that truly are.
It is important that we take a stance against homophobia in whatever form it takes. It is equally important that we not fly off the handle and assume our community is under attack when it is not. Perspective is important. As is keeping a sense of humor. Being offended and taking steps against those to blame is not always the smart move. Especially when that was never their intent. Sometimes a joke is just a joke. Da Boss did not ban that poster for being offensive, he banned him because Da Boss was offended. And there is a big difference between the two. Falling into a state of moral outrage at the drop of the hat numbs us to a point where we no longer become outraged when we should, or no one cares that we are because it seems we are always upset about something. Over reacting is as bad as not taking action when we should. And that’s nothing to laugh about.
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