I guess sometimes it’s a debate if I want to be a person that tells you what you want to hear, or the person that tells you what you need to hear. The Latter choice always sounds more clearer in my head when it comes to topics or discussions that are dear to me.
On Saturday the VGX broadcast went live onto the internets. It was a retooling of the far defunct Video Game Awards pet project that was on Spike TV for god knows how many years. Nobody liked it. Even when things seemed like they were getting better, gamers decided that they needed to hate it for what it was.
In a sense, you couldn’t blame them. It was very much a hokey hollywood-like production every year. Celebrities had no real reason to be there other than present things and make jokes that were geared to whatever part of the demographic it thought it needed to pander to.
But collectively (I guess) gamers decided that it wasn’t for them. Geoff Keighley tries so hard to make something for people to enjoy, but every year it’s an uphill battle that he always looses. You can’t please people that will never admit what kind of people they are.
That’s what I’ve come to realize with the now retooled VGX. It stripped down a lot of it’s dog-and-pony show in favour of a hollow, yet over decorated set. Keighley stood left to Joel McHale, whose entire shtick is to be sarcastic and condescending. Keighley excited to see McHale beside him, and Joel just there to read the teleprompter. Jokes written by writers directed towards the crowd of people already bitter and hateful over the fact that he’s there.
In a sense, it was a large irony that Joel was doing to the internet, what the internet has been doing to the show for the past 10 years.
As a grown up adult male, I understood why the jokes were made and I laughed. When one spends a lot of time stewing in a community, they become self aware. Maybe it has something to do with my age that surprises me when everyone else continues to be so oblivious to their own ineptitude.
I would cut and paste my entire twitter timeline if I didn’t care so much about respecting their identity/opinion.
But then there was something that caught me completely off guard. I wasn’t fishing for it, but it was presenting itself and I was told about it. Joel McHale made a Transphobic joke. Well… You remember the three most overused words on the internet right? Transphobia isn’t one of those words yet, but I have a feeling it might be, once more people start feeling incredibly sensitive about the decisions they were confident enough to make.
Before I continue any further I just want to say that I’m not trying to sound insensitive.
That was the word I used when I wasn’t sure how to address a problem that a woman brought up on a blog soon after the show was done. The joke was something about Wario getting sex reassignment surgery. I’m not here to explain why the joke was in-offensive, because everyone is going to find a way to get offended by something. The thing that worried me, as an average, day-to-day human being, is her claim that the joke triggered some sort of traumatic experience for her. (Being transgendered herself.)
Something sparked in my head, and much like fictional Character Will McAvoy from the Newsroom, I was suddenly on a mission to civilize.
It was the first time I found myself replying to a statement of offended-ness.
I figured the comment I made was done as a conversation worth having, but she didn’t want to have any of it. The well thought out words that I tried to deliver never got approved by her. Every comment approved was just the typical jargon of “you’re right. You’re so brave for being a victim.” So in the interest of everything, or just myself perhaps, I have to say it here:
You people need to understand that you’re a hell of a lot stronger than you’re presenting yourselves as. To be transgender is a very serious decision, and experience that you have to go through. While you go through this trial that you put yourself on, you’re also going to experience hurdles. People might make fun of you, think you’re ugly or whatever, but you’re also surrounded by plenty of people that care about you.
And you know what? You’re also alive. You’re here. You might also be reading this blog post. (One can only hope, I’m equal opportunity in my writing. Everyone should be allowed to read and respond.) There’s also another thing about comedy that you need to understand. Comedy is subjective. It could be tasteless and bad, but I guarantee that exact same joke would have been different to you if a transgendered comedian said it.
The fact is, there’s no wrong way to say a joke. It’s up to you to have a better outlook on life. Gamers… Nay anyone that uses the internet have just conditioned themselves to hate the outside world that is trying to communicate with them. Joel just did his job, and he did a pretty good job, but the entire three hours people kept looking for reasons to hate what they were seeing.
It’s more offensive to me, when one feels the need to be offended by something, and then fish for a response on the internet to get people on your side. There should never be a need to victimize yourself, whether you’re trans, queer, fat, asian, or mentally incapable.
At the same time, I know that this is one person out of a handful of transgender people that could tell you that there was nothing offensive about the joke. But If I wanted to accomplish anything tonight, it’s to tell you to think before you speak.
I care enough about the community to tell you that sometimes you have to put your own bullshit to the side and enjoy something for what it is. What you tell me, when you get offended over a “harmless transgender joke that doesn’t attach to the community itself”, isn’t that you’re offended by it. It tells me that you aren’t comfortable with being transgender yourself.
If you can’t laugh at yourself, then you’ll never love yourself. So then why are you this person you claim to be in the first place?
Anything particular that you don’t agree with, feel free to comment. We’ll discuss, maybe I’ll update this. This is only one recent topic in data of years of this stuff. It’s time to start thinking about things from a different perspective.
8 thoughts on “jokeophobia”
“To be transgendered is a very serious decision, and experience that you have to go through.”
It’s not a decision. That you don’t know that shows just how thoroughly uneducated in trans-related issues you are, and how unqualified to comment on this you are.
You’re also wrong. We – transgender (it’s not “transgendered; it’s not a verb. It’s and adjective, and, yes, that’s important) individuals, especially transgender women – have to sit back and be the butts of jokes constantly. That is virtually our only portrayal in any media at all – “Look at the man who thinks he’s a woman, isn’t that funny? Ha ha ha.” That’s awful. And we get to keep being offended by that if we want to, because IT IS OFFENSIVE. It’s just as offensive to us as blackface was to people of African descent, as yellowface, as jokes about “simply fabulous” gay men. It’s taking our identities, our lived reality, and turning into something for people who have power and privilege to mock.
So, no, cisgender comedians don’t get to make trans jokes. Not until we have full equality – until we are portrayed well in media on a regular basis, until we can get our damned health care paid for, until we aren’t the victims of nearly half of all hate crimes in America in spite of being less than one percent of the population, until I am something less than one hundred times as likely to get MURDERED than you are.
Comedy has to punch up, to attack those with more power and more privilege than the comedian, or it’s not comedy, it’s not satire, it’s just cruelty and bigotry wearing a twisted, wretched mask of one of the most amazing things humanity has ever created.
Because comedy – humor, laughter – deserves BETTER Than that. And so do people.
I understand what you’re saying, but comedy can’t change due to what it is. I’m also aware of how ignorant I am to being trans. I don’t mean ‘decision’ as if you suddenly decide you’re transgender, I mean that in the time that you get the strength to be the person that you know you are.
When that body goes through changes, internally it’s going to be a tough time, isn’t it? (I mean, forget about the people that make fun and ridicule for a second, because that happens to everyone. what was it like for you, on your own.)
Realistically, you’re not really as different from everyone else just because of who you are. We’re really all in the same boat with books, television, internet, even when it comes to being murdered. We’re all victims of something, it doesn’t really matter who you are.
What I say is that I know you’re a much stronger person than you represent yourself online. I can’t tell you what you can/can’t be offended by, but I know that there are worse things out there than a throwaway joke.
would it have been different if the comedian was LGBT? Would a transvestite not be allowed to?
also, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen any correction on the spelling of transgender, I apologize and will fix the mistake.
We really aren’t all in the same boat.
There are a great many positive and neutral portrayals of straight white cis men out there, in games, movies, and television. For each of those traits you change, though, the number goes down exponentially – and there is no change that drops the number nearly as much as if you change “cis” to “trans,” and there are nearly no positive or neutral portrayals of trans women in mainstream entertainment. That’s a PROBLEM, and it’s made worse every time a negative portrayal or, to me even worse, throwaway joke at our expense is made.
And that’s not even getting to violence. You chance of being killed, assuming that you are cisgender and all other things are equal, is less than one percent as great as mine. That’s not “in the same boat.” We might both be in boats, but they’re incredibly different, and mine is quite likely to kill me.
Yes, I’m strong. I’m strong as hell, and I face trouble and overcome it every day. I don’t see how that makes it acceptable for a wealthy straight white male comedian – someone with FAR more power than I have – to mock my identity and put even more barriers in the way of my struggle to be treated with the basic dignity owed every human being than are already there in an effort at earning a cheap laugh at my expense.
It would be different if the comedian was transgender. It’d still be in poor taste, to my mind, but at least it wouldn’t be punching down. A cis gay man, a cis lesbian, a cis bisexual, a transvestite (which is different from a transgender individual; transvestites dress in clothing counter to their identified gender for sexual, entertainment, or other reasons; a trans woman in women’s clothing is NOT crossdressing) doesn’t get to make that joke either because they don’t have the lived experience to make it. I’m not a fan of RuPaul because a pile of his work consists of “Look at that man dressed like a woman isn’t it funny” and since he’s a cisgender man he shouldn’t be doing that.
Thank you for fixing the spelling.
Portrayal is something that is going to come over time, and I look forward to it. There’s already plenty of awesome gay/lesbian stories out there. (at least from many independent comickers/writers)
I don’t agree, that a person’s social status or representation should have anything to do with a joke. That’s just how I view humour, it’s either funny or it’s not regardless of whoever says it. So wealthy straight men are besides the point.
I also feel that if you’re strong as hell, than I don’t believe that you should ever be in fear for your life. Confidence can go a long way. The joke did nothing to who you are, because you’re better than that.
I feel like, if you want change, then change doesn’t come over yelling about it. Change comes from owning up to who you are. I’m not saying it to sound mean, but there’s always so much semantics that go into these kinds of conversations, that I never believe anyone making the argument is happy with who they are.
I’m sorry, but when my statistical chances of being killed are as high as they are, I don’t think being in fear of my life is weak. It’s RATIONAL.
And change never, never comes from those who are treated badly sitting down and being quiet. It never, never comes from just waiting for it. It comes from getting up and fighting and telling people they’re wrong. That’s the only way it ever happens.
I agree with that last paragraph. Because actions speak louder than words, and it’s telling there’s been a lot more action as of late. I appreciate the conversation.