One thing most people never spend much time thinking about is how the language we use shapes our reality.
I’m not gonna go into a whole “thing” about that, and I want to say first that I am not philosophically opposed to profanity or vulgarity, or fart jokes or dick jokes or anything like that (I’m quite the opposite, actually)…
But does anyone ever stop to think about how “for mature audiences” now means, basically, “this show is full of fart jokes and dick jokes”?
I mean, yeah, I get it, people don’t want their kids to pick up nasty language and start using it, and they want shows that have nasty language to be labeled, and “for mature audiences” is (I guess) as good a way as any to label shows like that…
But what effect does labeling a show full of fart jokes and dick jokes as “for mature audiences” have on adults that watch the show? Probably nothing major, but on the other hand, does it give shows labeled as “mature” a sort of authority that they wouldn’t have otherwise?
Take South Park, for example. It’s a cartoon, chock full to the brim with fart jokes, dick jokes, and all sorts of offensive humor… and somehow it’s become a running political commentary that many people take at least semi-seriously.
The “politics” of the show are not actually informed by anything other than what a couple rich white dudes from Colorado think about various items in the news, things that usually involve the concerns of non-white (or non-rich) people.
The most recent episode, in the first 6 minutes or so, mocks anyone who acknowledges that Christopher Columbus was a murderous slave trader, as well as anyone who wants to remove any monuments to the Confederacy, or for that matter rename any building or street or anything else named after a historical figure with ties to the slave trade.
The episode before that mocked white working class people being put out of work by changes in the economy. That’s been a running gag (“They took are jebs”) for a while now on the show, and yes, I laughed at it, and even used it in online conversations regarding immigration…
Please understand that I am not advocating censorship, nor am I calling for a boycott of South Park, or anything like that. I am just making observations. Last time I checked, I was still allowed to do that. 🙂
But it’s interesting to me that as Trey Parker and Matt Stone became more successful over the years (hell, decades now), South Park became more and more political, until every single episode became its own absurdist, highly skewed take on whatever those two assholes happened to see on Reddit the week before.
Did becoming successful make them more political? Or did becoming political make them more successful?
It’s probably both. But who knows?
What I do know (well, I am about 99% sure of this) is that somewhere on the internet right now (somewhere else, I mean), someone is complaining about how South Park nowadays is looking less like the funny, irreverent, absurdist dick joke-fest the show once was, and it’s looking more and more like your standard run-of-the mill red-piller alt-right self-congratulatory tribute to the status quo.
That someone is probably pointing out that South Park’s politics are poorly informed, that it skews the points of view of non-white, non-rich people beyond recognition and relegates their legitimate concerns to mere annoyances to be mocked and/or ignored…
And I would be willing to bet you one US dollar that wherever that’s happening, there’s a (probably white, probably male, probably middle-class or above) person responding to those accusations by telling that someone complaining about South Park that they “need to grow up.”
Of course that’s speculation. I’m not going to pore over South Park discussion threads to find examples. Lord knows I’ve seen plenty already. Not just about South Park, but about anything anyone anywhere has the audacity to be offended by.
Haven’t you? Sure you have:
A: “[offensive comment/joke].”
B: “Hey, that’s offensive. You shouldn’t say [offensive thing], because [detailed, well-thought out explanation].”
A: “OMG you seriously need to grow up!”
You’ve never seen conversations like that?
Really? You must be new to the internet. Welcome! 😉
Somewhere along the way, the idea came into the internet’s collective unconscious that “not being offended by anything” is equivalent to “being a grown-up.”
That fart jokes and dick jokes and other offensive things are something only “mature” adults laugh at, and that anyone who doesn’t laugh, or (gasp!) has the inclination to say “that’s not funny” is just a whiny crybaby who needs to put on his big boy britches and grow up already.
I wonder where this notion came from? 🙂
To be clear, in my opinion, fart jokes are hilarious. Dick jokes? Also hilarious. I rue the day that I don’t laugh at a well-timed burst of flatulence. I anticipate laughing at fart jokes and dick jokes for the remainder of my life, however long that turns out to be.
But is that because I am “mature”?
If so, I’ve been “mature” since I was about 3 or 4.
At any rate, thanks for reading.