Comedy is a deeply routed facet of our society. Records of comedians go back all the way to Greece in 425 B.C., and in all likelihood extend back even further. As with literally everything that has existed in this time period, comedy has undergone multiple drastic changes to its style and form.
There have been major stylistic changes in comedy since its creation, but the changes that it has undergone in just the last 70 years are some of the most drastic and most civically intriguing. Comedy in the post-war era was very limiting creatively. Foul language was a huge no-no, language relating to the bathroom was right out. Words relating to sex? Forget about it. But those constraints became less and less stringent as the years went by. By the mid 80’s comedy was becoming less and less family friendly.
Comedy today often talks about social and political issues in unflattering ways, constantly employs foul language, and does absolutely nothing to avoid topics that are controversial in nature.
The controversy and vulgarity are extremely polarizing in today’s society. Many people think that comedians shouldn’t discuss these topics.
Society has a huge effect on comedy and comedy has a huge effect on society.
Popular comedy says a lot about our society. It shows what we think is funny, what we’re comfortable joking about and laughing at. It shows how far comedians will go to get a reaction out of the audience.
Why is comedy becoming more inappropriate?
What caused this shift?
Comedy is an ever-changing art, even more so than many others. We, as a society, shape it so that it, in return, can shape us.
For centuries now, humans have developed countless forms of entertainment. One of the most lasting and timeless of those forms is comedy. Since the dawn of civilization, people have sought out laughter for entertainment. While the idea of comedy is timeless, comedic styles have shifted drastically through the ages, especially in the last 50 or so years. What does this shift say about us? About our society?
In 60’s comedy was family friendly.Comedians rarely swore and told jokes about topics that were appropriate for most ages.
Comedians rarely swore and told jokes about topics that were appropriate for most ages.
Nowadays popular comedy is a much more raunchy and inappropriate brand that brings up questions about society.
Comedians constantly swear and joke about very controversial topics.
Comedy has become a form of entertainment known for causing controversy.
Comedians constantly push boundaries that can either get a laugh or enrage people.
Should we return to a time where comedy was more family friendly or should we allow them to continue to cause us to ask questions about ourselves?
Comedy is a reflection of our society. Comics write things that we laugh at.
Our culture is more comfortable now laughing about controversial topics than we did in the mid 20th century.
Is it because we have become numb to serious topics? Is it a coping mechanism for the general public? Are we just harder to offend than we were?
These questions are hard to answer but are very important. I believe the shift is a combination of the first two reasons. Offending people, if anything, is easier than it was in the 60’s. But I believe people cope with humor more than they used to. This coping has caused some people to become numb to serious situations and make jokes in especially poor taste.
Addario includes many powerful photos in her book. Seeing as she is a photographer telling her stories, this comes as no surprise. This is because Addario knows how powerful of an effect images can have on an audience. While many of the photos in the book had an effect on me, none were more profound than these two. Starting on top, this picture is really devastating. Thinking about that poor man dealing with all the dead is just tragic. My mind goes to thinking if he knew or was close to any of those people. I wonder if any of those lost were his loved ones. I have tried but I can’t even begin to imagine what I’d do if I was in his position. Now the kid, this one really hits me hard. Seeing his battered face is one thing, but those will heal. Seeing the expression on his face, the pain in his eyes, that’s what gets me. By around the age 8 or so, this kid has had experiences no person should ever have to. He has likely lost family and friends at an unfairly young age for no good reason. Those are the wounds that cut deepest, that will take longest to heal. This photo truly captures all of that at once.
In terms of my own blog, I have already begun to incorporate photos and videos to improve the quality of the blog. Addario knows that images can have a profound impact on a viewer and, as you probably already know, my blog is about movies, which can use imagery to achieve profound effects in the same way. Last blog I used videos to show scenes that I was talking about because, even though I could go on for pages about them, it will never compare to seeing it for yourself.
As a conflict photographer, it is no surprise that Addario sees more than her fair share of war and conflict while doing her job. However, she also deals with conflict in her personal life and even within her own mind. There was one quote that I believe can be considered as the crossroads of all of these conflicts. On pages 151-152 she says, “The sadness and injustice I encountered as a journalist could either sink me into a depression or open the door to a vision of my own life. I chose the latter.” This quote really got to me because it connects to my life. I’ve never been a big fan of big changes in my life. Ever since I was a kid they just made me nervous. And obviously leaving home, leaving everyone I knew behind and going to a college that nobody from my school goes to has been the biggest change in my life so far.
This past summer was the most fun of my life. I enjoyed every second of it and became closer to my friends than I ever had been before. But I knew deep down that our days together were numbered, that all of us would be going off to schools around the country. This started to have an impact on me in August. I was so sad about leaving everything I loved behind that I began to realize I wasn’t even thinking about what I had to look forward to here. When I realized this everything changed. I knew that I was going to encounter a world of experiences here and couldn’t let nostalgia ruin that. I knew that, even though my hometown felt warm and safe, my time there had to end. I realized the future could be whatever I wanted it to be. From that moment on, I have never looked back.
The Beatles were at the forefront of social change in the 1960s. They opened the floodgates that popularized political music to the American public. Though their accomplishments in music are virtually unrivaled, it may not have been the same were it not for some of their inspirations, namely Bob Dylan. His music was political even before the Beatles’ was, though he wasn’t able to make it as popular. Like the Beatles, he called for social and political change in his songs. Most notably in his hit “The Times They are a Changin,” which many consider to be the most political song ever.
Dylan compares the social change to a flood with the line “And admit that the waters around you have grown. And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone.” What he is saying here is that society is beginning to accept African Americans and that this acceptance is spreading like a flood, and that if people become tolerant they will be fine, but if they resist the change society will leave them behind. This sentiment also is evident in the line “Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone.” “Swimming” refers to becoming tolerant. Those who remain racist will not be able to cope with the new accepting world and will, according to Dylan “sink like a stone.” Dylan calls for “writers and critics who prophesize with [their] pen” to stop lying to and negatively influencing the public and to start being good journalists.
Dylan makes a number of Biblical references talking about how those that have been oppressed by those in power will soon be in power themselves, and that those who were in power will be powerless.
This song’s influence became clear immediately after its release. It was instantly used as an anthem for social change. Beyond the 60’s, the song has continued to have a lasting message of acceptance. This is because, despite originally being written about the Civil Rights movement, the general lyrics are universally tied to acceptance over intolerance.
The song is civic because it calls for people to strive for social change. Dylan was very rightfully disgusted by the treatment of African Americans in America at the time and was glad that things had begun shifting in towards equality. All things considered, this song can more or less be described as an absolutely scathing diss track directed at any racist or intolerant people. It was extremely effective in its goal to spur change, as it became somewhat of an anthem of acceptance.