Opinion

Tuesday 21 January 2020

When was the last time that you laughed at a joke?

Family Guy - Peter, Lois, with Stewie on her lap, Meg, on ground, Chris and dog Brian
Family Guy - Peter, Lois, with Stewie on her lap, Meg, on ground, Chris and dog Brian
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

YOU'RE the one for me, fatty.

I want you to think back to the last time you heard a joke and raised a smile.

It may have been something someone said to you, or it may have been something you saw on the telly. Well, regardless of where you heard the joke, and regardless of who told it, it would appear that even the simple fact of laughter is now enough to offensive.

That's the conclusion of a new study by some American psychologists who have come up with some new ways for people to feel aggrieved. On this occasion, they warn that jokes about fat people are as bad as racist jokes about ethnic minorities.

Yes, in the pantheon of things that people aren't meant to laugh at, obesity is the new black.

According to Dr Jacob Burmeister: "Although disparaging jokes about physical disability, religion and ethnicity are often considered to be in poor taste or not politically correct, obesity stands out as a condition that is commonly made fun of in entertainment media."

Then, further proving that the only thing that should be banned is academics telling us what is acceptable, he adds: "There has been very little research done on what viewers think of this humour."

This eminent shrinkologist reckons that: "People with obesity are often stigmatised and blamed for their weight, which might be related to why viewers feel comfortable laughing at jokes about a character's weight, even if the jokes are a bit mean-spirited."

The study, which was published last week in a journal called Psychology of Popular Media (not to be confused with their hated rival publication, Psychology of Unpopular Media) argues that joking about obesity is akin to a hate crime and all right-thinking people should eschew making fun of any fat person.

Perhaps the most telling quote from Burmeister is the bit about the lack of "proper research" into why people laugh at fat jokes.

Because here's the thing - you don't need "research" to explain a joke and if you do, then the chances are that the joke is on you.

Anytime academics stick their beak into popular culture they invariably get things spectacularly wrong and this is a classic example.

But, really, when you think about it, every joke is bound to offend somebody.

After all, every joke needs somebody to be the butt. But in academia, where common sense is the rarest commodity of them all, it now appears that simply having a sense of humour is enough to be branded as a bigot.

This kind of nonsense would be laughable (if 
you'll pardon the pun) if it weren't so bloody dangerous. Because what starts out as a piece of bunkum by some humour-challenged boffin invariably becomes digested by the mainstream.

After all, when you consider the recent treatment of TV presenter Adam Richman, who was hounded by a bunch of militant fat activists who seem to think they are the new persecuted minority, it won't be long before we start seeing comedians being prosecuted because some morbidly obese tub of lard takes offence at what they say.

There is one fundamental, screamingly obvious flaw in the assertion that making jokes about fat people is as bad as racist jokes and it is this - people are born black, or brown, or pink or whatever colour they happen to be, and short of going all Michael Jackson, there's nothing they can do about the pigmentation of their skin.

Fatties, on the other hand, make a choice to stuff themselves. So, go home, go through your DVD collection and throw out every episode of Family Guy, or The Simpsons, or any other programme that makes jokes about people's weight.

You'll probably never laugh again - but at least you'll be safe in the knowledge that you won't be offending anybody.

At least he didn't say niggardly

Q In more news from the world of stupid, an employee of a school in the heart of Mormon country in Utah has hit the news after he was fired for "promoting a homosexual agenda" on his blog.

As it turns out, however, the fired employee, Tim Torkildson, was actually writing about homophones (words that sound the same, even though they are spelled differently) not homosexuals.

His remarkably stupid boss, Clark Woodger read the offending blog, completely misinterpreted what had been written and fired the staff member, saying: "Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality."

Um, not quite. In fact, I reckon the only thing the school is going to be associated with after that debacle is rampant idiocy.

But then, I'm quite homophonic, so I would say that.

Well, it's a hobby

Q The internet has undoubtedly revolutionised the way we live and it has certainly introduced dumb people to new and improved ways of killing themselves. Now a new online trend has emerged which makes the idiotic Neknomination craze look rational.

'The fire challenge' is a staggeringly dense craze which sees people cover themselves in an accelerant such as aerosol spray or alcohol and then set fire to themselves.

Now a bunch of teenagers in America have been turning up at hospitals in places like Missouri and Kentucky suffering from serious burns after they tried to show off to their mates.

Local cops and hospitals have now issued a series of public service announcements warning people that: "Setting fire to yourself is dangerous and can result in serious injury or even death."

I know the generation gap has become a gaping chasm and I know that there are certain online trends that will never be understood by anybody over the age of 21.

But really, when cops and doctors have to issue public warnings about the dangers of setting yourself on fire, then you know that you're dealing with a whole new level of thickness.

After all, the clue is in the name.

But let's be honest, if someone is so spectacularly silly that they need to be told not to set themselves on fire, maybe the best approach would be to simply let them at it.

After all, the last thing the gene pool needs is these people to procreate.

Although they will at least keep the compilers of The Darwin Awards busy for a few weeks.

Irish Independent

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