Humor is the world’s way of taking a few steps back to address an issue from another point of view. We see it a lot in movies nowadays.
Films like Scary Movie take the sting out of horror movies that actually, truly scared some people, and gave them a way to laugh at how silly it all is in the end. How many people were terrified to answer their phone after watching The Ring? I can name five people off the top of my head–because I dragged them to a theater six days after I’d seen the movie the first time. Just in case. Okay, so I may have been one of the few freaking the hell out. *cough, cough* I’m not alone. The world went insane after The Exorcist came out. The lines between reality as uber religious people knew it and entertainment blurred. A blur that’s still hanging over entertainment to this day. Countless possession films are out there right now, using that inability to disconnect fact from fiction. We can’t constantly live like that. All high-strung and clutching prayer beads until our fingertips go numb. It isn’t healthy. We have to be able to see the fiction and laugh at it to break the spell. Thus satire. Shakespeare knew this crap long before Scary Movie and the five-billion films like it took off.
Some subjects lend themselves well to satire. In The Hangover, they rip into the mythos behind a guy’s final “night of freedom.” A night every bride-to-be dreads because she knows that bastard will touch, or a the very least look at, another woman. So what did the writers do? Took the potential for chaos and turned it on its ear to the point where the mythical bachelor’s night devolved into a bunch of women staring at these morons, thinking, “Why the hell was I worried about another woman? They can’t even navigate a hotel room without getting into trouble.” The audience expected the movie to be about booze, strippers, hookers, and a dash of male bonding. They got the latter, and more than enough of the first, but the middle bits? Not really what the characters had to worry about.
But you know what can never, ever be satirized? Rape. Abuse.
It doesn’t matter who the victim is. Watching a human being treated with as much respect as one gives a Kleenex will always have impact. It can’t be laughed away. no amount of winking, quick jokes, and laugh tracks will make rape acceptable satire fodder. Don’t do it. There’s nothing cheeky about trying to cleverly address rape culture masked in a series of rape jokes. Frankly, it’s disrespectful.
And worse, if poorly written, one can never tell if the writer intended for the movie/book/fanfic/etc. to be satire or not. I’d love to give some folks the benefit of the doubt, but not enough to actually do it. There comes a point when we have to stop allowing people to make light of something that should not be such a prevalent issue as rape and physical/emotional abuse are, even in these so-called evolved times. Don’t accept their endless apologies, only for them to turn around and do it again. Call them on the carpet. Or better yet, write them off as a loss. Deny them the attention and money (in the case of entertainment offenders) they want. If you give in to their half-hearted, bullshit apologies, they’ll continue to walk all over serious issues.