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Sunday, November 18, 2018

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Trying to define what ‘comedy’ is


Everyone loves a good comedy or joke. From cartoons to TV sitcoms to comedians, there is always something or someone trying to make us laugh.

It is all about how the comedic routine is delivered. Sometimes there are pretty tough crowds; some tougher than most. It also depends on how a crowd embraces a particular subject matter. Sometimes it isn’t necessarily the actor or comedian that people disagree with, but the material they use.

Granted we can, and sometimes do, choose to see a certain comedic show, cartoon or movie just to satisfy our curiosity about it. Take for example, "The Boondocks." It started out as a comic strip in the Sunday paper. Now it is a regular television series that airs late at night on Adult Swim, a collection of adult targeted cartoon series’ on Cartoon Network.

For some, it may not be as funny as intended, because both the comic strip and the cartoon poke fun at everyone and everything in a bluntly sarcastic way. When it’s all is said and done, "The Boondocks" catches people off guard and makes them think about the issues being addressed. It more or less says the things most people don’t have the courage to say.

Of course "The Boondocks" isn’t the only cartoon television series that rattles everyone. Cartoon series like "South Park," "The Simpsons," and "Family Guy," all have the same sort of effect on people who don’t initially see them as anything more than something funny to watch on television.

Regardless of the subject or connotation, there will always be someone else with a different opinion. We don’t have to agree with everything we see, read or hear. We are well within our right to choose what is acceptable or believable for each of us.

But the real question remains, do Hollywood and television go too far in their quest to make people laugh? Can films such as Mike Myers’ new film "The Love Guru" really and truly offend someone, especially taking into account Myers’ off-the-wall slapstick style of comedy?

Although the movie does not mention any particular religion, Hindu leaders are concerned that the movie will give people the wrong impression about Hinduism or Hindus in general. Hindu leaders have even asked Paramount to allow them to screen the movie before it is released this summer, which is understandable.

Are films like Myers’ film or the cartoons mentioned above meant to offend or entertain? Perhaps perception is the main factor when one is determining whether or not something is offensive or funny. But at the same time, we cannot really fault Hollywood or television studios for producing what sells tickets or generates ratings.

Or can we?

Latimer, a post-baccalaureate English student, can be reached via [email protected]


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