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Satirical or bad faith

Started by shlug, July 26, 2022, 06:30:42 PM

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I was rewatching some of the old Jerry Jackson videos David Firth used to put out the other day which I remember watching when I was in younger.

While I still found it funny, there are parts which I know people not familiar with Firth's comedy would be horrified by - mainly the bits involving depiction of ethnic minorities. Obviously Jerry Jackson is supposed to be a satire of the crappy animations/humour from the Newgrounds era of the internet and the sort of young people making those cartoons so in my mind the joke isn't their overtly racist depiction but more on Jerry Jackson making those cartoons - similarly to the Lethal Weapon segments from Its Always Sunny. However that doesn't necessarily mean everyone else is laughing at the same thing as some of the older YouTube comments on those videos seems to suggest and from what I remember lads I knew finding funny about those videos growing up. I wouldn't have thought that was Firth's intention and certainly don't think him or his output is inherently bigoted but without the context of what he was originally taking the piss out off I can understand someone taking something like Jerry Jackson at face value.

It made me think about at what point is the line drawn between being satirical and just playing bad faith with these sort of depictions. Another example would be the sort of humour in the UK Office where Brent's social faux pas and bigotry is played for laughs but who is the audience laughing at/with? Is laughing at the outrageousness of what Brent's ignorance just a thin veil for the writers to get away with making 70s era comedic racism under the guise of something else? I recall seeing a quote from Merchant or Gervais on here to the effect of using it as a vehicle to say the most outrageous things but can't seem to find it now (or may have been fabricated).

I think there are very obvious examples of bad faith or "satirical" stuff which severely misses the mark like some of Spike Milligan's stuff, Little Britain, Come Fly with Me - its easier for me to dismiss these I suppose because I don't find them particularly funny unlike Firth, IASIP or The Office.

I probably haven't made my point all that cohesively but curious as to what others view is on this and whether there is a distinct line or if its up to audience interpretation/consensus.


I used to like Dr Drey but he smokes drugs


This is why I ultimately went off Gervais. A decade and two sitcoms on from The Office and he was still just doing the same ironic gags about disabled people. It dawns on you that if he was actually interested in exploring bigotry as a theme, he would have developed that, not just kept doing the same thing.

It's been discussed here before by people more eloquently than me, but there's definitely a major element, in noughties comedy, where a lot of white guys thought they were being "right-on" by doing this sort of thing, as they essentially assumed bigotry was a thing of the past. It's the New Labour millennium, we all know racism and sexism is wrong! And so they could make all the bigoted jokes they wanted, because of course the audience would all know those views are ridiculous and a thing of the past. Except, as we all now know, that was deeply naive of them, and the racists were still there the whole time.


I agree with the sentiment around noughties comedy, I used Lucas & Walliams output as an example of that sort of mindset in the UK and in hindsight its very on the nose without really making a wider point about its depictions beyond "ha ha david walliams is naked fat black woman". Baddiel's Jason Lee blackface likewise.

A less clear cut example of that era would be that sketch from Mitchell and Webb where David basically plays a woman in a burka in blackface. The audacity of that alone is one element of the humour of the sketch and I guess its trying to make a point about race but its not quite clear what that is. I guess the point is that David's character is trying to rationalise his bigotry when confronted by Rob?
Comments underneath like "couldn't make this these days/triggered snowflakes lol/david going to get cancelled" shows either that people have missed what I gather was the point of the sketch or just typically "culture war" reactionary responses that they feel this sketch validates for them.

Misappropriation of comedy isn't anything new, Chris Rock doesn't do that Black People vs N***** bit anymore for that very reason. In a way, that bit only became viewed as problematic when it was misappropriated by racists to legitimise calling black people the N word.