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Compared to our current politics, John Waters is kinda respectable. I saw him at a university auditorium a couple years ago. Entertaining. Plus he was great on the Simpsons.

Time seems to take the shock out of things. Maybe its the non-stop access to interesting things on the internet and photos and videos of everything taking the rumor and imagination out of things.

GWAR's shows were mythic but now we have a nice wikipedia entry explaining it all. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwar.




It's funny that you mention the Simpsons, which itself used to be so counterculture that you were a bad parent if you let your kid watch it.

Now it's so mainstream that they can't find a plot that offends people anymore, not so much because they toned it down, but because society caught up to the Simpsons.


>they can't find a plot that offends people anymore,

I doubt that is true. I bet that it is more like the people they offended could not really do much about that offense other than yell about it which just made the sows writers more popular in Hollywood.

Now, if they come up with a plot that offends, they are likely to get de-platformed and lose their ability to find a job in Hollywood.


[flagged]


The comment isn't downvoted. I'm sure it was when you commented, but this is why the guidelines ask us not to go on about downvotes; a downvoted state of a comment is often temporary, whereas comments it are permanent, and always uninteresting.


Yes. Even a distant hint of thoughtcrime must be punished.


"Fox turned into a hardcore porn channel so gradually I didn't even notice."


First that job went to Southpark, then Family Guy.

Now we show the most offensive plots of all but call it "reality TV"


> Now we show the most offensive plots of all but call it

“the news”


Wasn't there a huge fuss about one of the Simpsons characters last year?


It wasn't about anything new about the show, though, nor about anything meant to shock.


Didn’t people recently freak out about the ethnicity of the convenience store owner?


The controversy wasn't the ethnicity of the character, it was that the character was portrayed in a stereotypical manner by a white guy no less. It is basically the audio equivalent of blackface.

The Simpsons debuted 30 years ago this year and there are plenty of 30 year old comedies that are extremely objectionable by current standards. It isn't always fair to criticize that comedy since it is important to always judge art in the context in which it was originally created. However, The Simpsons is still running and therefore needs to continue to justify these decisions today and into the future. No one was suggesting that the character should be edited out of past shows or anything, but the show shouldn't be immune to present criticisms about shows created in the present just because the mistake originated 30 years ago.


> isn't always fair to criticize that comedy since it is important to always judge art in the context in which it was originally created.

I strongly disagree. I very much remember how my dad (an immigrant to the US) felt about it when he saw the Simpsons in the 90s; I remember how obvious the racism was when he pointed it out. Just because you were oblivious to how it made people feel doesn't mean it didn't make people feel horrible.

This historical relativism crap is really just a cheap copout for not taking the time to ask: "is what I'm doing going to hurt or demean someone?" If the answer is yes, dont do it, it doesn't matter how many people are accepting of it at the time. If the answer is "I don't know", ask the person it might hurt.

The reality is, people largely didn't care how others were impacted by the things they did and giving them a lazy and thoughtless copout is nearly just as demeaning as the original actions.

(Think about it, all those guys getting negatively swept up in the metoo movement claiming that they didn't know any better with regard to sexual harassment sounds absolutely absurd; putting "historical context" on racist things is equally as absurd)

(People who are not minorities usually dont come close to understanding how racism feels; I look and sound "white" and it was always troubling to see how my dad who doesn't look or sound "white" was treated relative to me; it's painful to see all the microaggressions that my friends deal with on a daily basis (in a place as liberal as socal) and to see comments like this trying to invalidate the damage done because of copouts like historical context is incredibly disheartening because it makes me realize how far away we are from the point where we no longer treat people like second class citizens because of their grouping)


I did start that quote with "isn't always" meaning there are certain situations in which I agree with you. However, I think intent has to play a factor when judging comedy like this. It is not just intent to insult that is inappropriate, but knowledge that your comedy would insult and doing it anyway even if that isn't the primary intent. I think a lot of people were just ignorant of the repercussions of their jokes. That doesn't make those jokes acceptable today, but I have a hard time judging them retroactively like that. If we judge everyone by that standard, basically anyone born before 1995 is an awful person in one way or another.


It's also not as if Homer's speech was portraying him (or white people) in the best light. Apu was a recognizable character because of the setting and the accent. People do have accents. The audience watching the show in the 90's could relate to that specific convenience store experience. So Apu isn't the best representative of people from India/Pakistan. Homer, Barney, and the rest aren't the best representation of people from America. Comedy/satire is a thing. About the only character who represents with sterility is Dr. Hibbert.


I would push back on that a little. There are different responsibilities when you only have one instance of a character of a certain demographic verses a multitude of characters. For example, no one would complain if one of the East Asian characters on Fresh Off The Boat was a stereotype (I don't watch the show, so I'm not sure if there is one) because the cast is full of East Asian people are therefore the show is in no way implying that they all fit that stereotype. Apu was the most prominent and sometimes the only South Asian face on television for years and therefore there is extra pressure not to make that character a stereotype. There are so many white people on TV that presenting some in a bad light doesn't lead to stereotyping.


The problem is that our culture doesn't really agree on whether it's the responsibility of the speaker to avoid offense or the listener to "suck it up" or whether it varies based on the relative identities of the speaker and listener in a hierarchy of identities. I'm fine with expecting courteous speakers and charitable listeners, but running it through an identity matrix is inherently racist (and/or sexist, and/or etc).


Well said. I watched Blazing Saddles last night and that film flat out couldn’t be made today.


Yet Blazing Saddles used epithets and parody as weapons against racism, ultimately, with all races unifying to fight the racists and building a new town together.


Much like Huckleberry Finn and that is similarly thrown down the memory hole


Mel Brooks said as much himself. He said, "I could never get away with the 'N' word or the 'C' word today".


Why do you think Blazing Saddles couldn't be made today, when Django was successful?


Blazing Saddles was a comedy. Django is acceptable because it's a drama, but Mel Brooks' style of humor is no longer socially acceptable. We can take issues like race and anti-semitism deadly seriously, but we aren't allowed to laugh about them anymore.

Which is unfortunate because bigots often take strength from projecting an air of dignity and respectability in an attempt to legitimize themselves in the public square. It's why modern white supremacy and anti-semitism have been reframed as science and philosophy, merely a skeptical form of racial and political realism questioning the mainstream narratives of progressivism and the Enlightment.

Using humor to debase those ideologies and humiliate those who hold them could be a powerful weapon, robbing them of their potency.

Of course, not all such humor has noble intent. The difference between Mel Brooks using racial and religious stereotypes for comic effect and, say, /pol/ doing the same is who the target is, and whether the joke is "punching up" or "punching down." Punching up is funny, punching down isn't. For all of the crass and racial jokes he would make, he, as a white man, still refused to make a joke out of lynching[0].

[0]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62cPPSyoQkE


> Blazing Saddles was a comedy. Django is acceptable because it's a drama

That's not at all true; except perhaps for extremely historically-grounded drama (which Django is not), drama tends to get less license than comedy.

> but Mel Brooks' style of humor is no longer socially acceptable

Mel Brooks style of humor was never “socially acceptable”, it’s was always transgressive. It's probably not as commercially acceptable in the mainstream film industry as it once was, but that's more because transgressive video entertainment has other outlets and the mainstream film industry is a more mature and more narrowly-focussed industry than it once was.

> We can take issues like race and anti-semitism deadly seriously, but we aren't allowed to laugh about them anymore.

My experience of currently successful (both live and distributed on major video platforms) stand up and other comedy suggests that, yes, we are very much still allowed to laugh at those things. The particular currently successful forms may not look exactly like Blazing Saddles, but while the latter isn't stale, it's also very firmly grounded in the time it was produced (which seems generally true of Brooks’ comedies).


I see it contrapositively; that they're now so mainstream that they can't find a plot that offends people anymore that they are not also offended by enough to not produce. It's not that society has somehow become unoffendable, but that the people who produce the Simpsons are either 1) people who were hired because they are extremely successful establishment writers, or 2) leftovers from an earlier era of the show who are far more wealthy and establishment than they were then.

It's not completely fair to say they toned it down (although they absolutely did to some extent), it's more that they fell into a establishment rut and repeated themselves endlessly.

You could effortlessly write a humanistic/heartwarming, funny script every week that would deeply offend the powerful. The network that airs the Simpsons wouldn't air them, though. That's not what they're paying for.


I knew Dave Brockie. We both went to the same school, parties, and stickball games. Death Piggy played at my birthday party. We both had studio space in the Dairy. I saw the first GWAR show at Shafer Court.

I finally got around to watching Lord of the Rings. I was struck by how the costume design was nearly identical to GWAR’s. It made me wonder if or even how a self proclaimed cartoonist could have influenced someone on the other side of the world.

Its sad that he died; I’m losing all my old friends, Adam, Mike, John, my older brother. Jim Carroll was funny to us way back when. Not so funny now.


One other thing I thought of. Our neighborhood had its own Divine wannabe. Donnie, aka Dirt Woman, was a kindred spirit with John Waters and Divine.


I first learned of gwar from beavis and butthead.


Time takes the shock out of things because people compartmentalize things that they don't think of as recent. I feel like people right now, at least in the anglo-american orbit, are constantly shocked about almost everything, or when not actually shocked, pretending to be.


I don’t know. The dog scene in Pink Flamingos still feels a bit on the edge to me.




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