Last Friday I was shocked by a Tweet by Canadian actress Ellen Page. In essence it stated that anyone making any jokes about Japan would be summarily blocked on Twitter.

This is the type of closed-mindedness that scares me. This type of thinking caused witch-hunts and honour killings. This type of attitude drips of religious and political superiority over those they view as unworthy of their attention.

Humour and perspective are both extremely subjective. For example, not everyone understands, nor appreciates the humour of Monty Python…no doubt that some animal rights activists are upset by the dead parrot sketch which is a brilliant play on consumerism vs. marketing and has nothing to do with the dead stuffed parrot.

Ms. Page is only an example, as I know others shared her view. In essence her Tweet is another example of how “they” believe if you are not as horrified by what we are watching as I am, then I do not respect you.

Here is the difficulty with this situation, in particular…I, for one, was not “watching”.

I do not have cable nor satellite television. My news reports come from AM radio news blasts every half hour on the local sports radio. The only internet news I get is what I go and intentionally search for.

I have not seen ANY of the horrific images from what has happened in Japan…and yet I feel their loss. I do not need to see these images. To me, this is simply disaster porn as the likes of CNN, the BBC and the CBC sell commercial spots as billions are glued to their seats waiting for the next horrific image. Imagine the ratings if the next image is a mushroom cloud over Tokyo.

I do not judge people for needing to see these images. I judge the corporations for taking advantage, but that is another subject for another day. I do, however, take a serious issue with those who judge me for not seeing things exactly as they do.

Humour, for me, is a much better coping mechanism than shocking myself with images. According to the likes of Ellen Page, this makes me less human. I admit to a bit of a voyeuristic streak, but not where human suffering is concerned. I do not even rubber neck at car accidents.

The humour, itself, is subjective. I, again for example, can never, and will never make a joke about pedophilia as I do not find it funny…in any form. I understand that some people do, however…I even understand why, and I can accept that without judging them. Not my cup of tea, but perhaps it is theirs.

With Ms. Page’s example, if she does not think it is funny, then it should probably not exist in her world.

Again, I am only singling Page out as she was the first Tweet I saw in this nature regarding Japan. She is, by no means, the only one who would think this way. Then again I have just as much right to make a joke about something as they do to be close-minded and judgmental about me doing it.

What scares me most is that these are those stars that we hold up for our children as role models.

For the record, I do not always like Bill Maher who was fired by a US network over his “insensitive” comments just after September 11, 2001…but he is one I would suggest my children should listen to more than the likes of Ms. Page. At least he thinks about things and keeps a relatively open mind.

There is one other problem, however. With how Japan has marketed itself using disasters…remember Godzilla…sometimes these jokes can write themselves.

6 Comments

  1. I didn’t even know what Ellen Page wrote. I myself haven’t been looking for the graphic details, I don’t want to see it. I saw one picture and couldn’t grasp the concept on why other people wanted to see these people suffering. I do understand the journalistic view of reporting and sharing stories in any form, this case images, but agree with your “diaster porn” statement.
    It’s a shame that people can joke around, this is a serious subject and there is a time and place for humor, this not being the time.
    Now I must look at what she said.

    1. All she said was that she would block anyone making jokes about Japan. No great wisdom at all.

      I disagree with you on the joking part. We need to use humour. For me it is a way to humanize what has happened. I will, however, make a distinction that “picking on” the Japanese for laughs would not be appropriate in my book.

      Time and place that you mention is also subjective and will be different for every person.

  2. I agree about time and place but I also agree that humour can be a wonderful way of coping with tough times. Making fun of their suffering or the hardship they are going through is not appropriate but finding humour within the horror is not something to be ‘banned’.

    So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless that we have no appropriate sword other than laughter. ~Gordon W. Allport

    Mollyxxx

  3. There is a fine line between censorship and protecting people’s feelings and it is a very subjective matter. A joke that I may find funny may upset somebody else and sombody else’s joke may upset me. There is no definitive solution to this.

    To say that you can’t make a joke about Japan, as in this instance, in my view is silly. We are getting to the stage now where we can’t make a joke about anything. As someone else has commented, sometimes a joke can be a release.

    I wonder if Ellen Page will go to Japan…….maybe come back glowing!

    angiewalkerblue
    1. Careful now. I woke this morning to a Toronto radio voice getting admonished for talking about airlines canceling flights to Japan and he said “Honey, let’s get on the plane and glow.”…

      Apparently the word “glow” offends people.

      Bravo and well stated.

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