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Author Topic: Jokes about Homeless People  (Read 6425 times)

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Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2011, 08:07:50 AM »
I think the power of comedy is being overlooked in a lot of these instances.  When a joke is told and people want to partake in the humor of the joke, they are opening themselves up to the concepts and to the words.  People laugh at jokes about homeless people, but at the same time have to face the realization of what is being said about the homeless.  The people are forced to see and hear about a topic that many people close their ears to.  Badgering someone with guilt, with “reality” and the harshness of a condition does more to shut them down to a topic than to endear them to the situation.  Comedy is a relief, a facing of the fears and topics that many people do not want to consider.  There is a release of tension and then a drawing of the eye to that area.  Now are all jokes enlightening and all comedians messiahs of social injustice.  No.  But they serve their purpose regardless.

When people can engage in a conversation over a topic and have the tension relieved, things can get done.  Instead of people focusing on the negative, focusing on the weight and severity of the problem they need to find a common ground to laugh and then discuss.  Comedy allows for that.  How many times has a tense situation at the dinner table been relieved by a joke?  A moment of silence interrupted with laughter by a well timed joke about the awkward moment that just occurred ?  When the fear is removed then real conversation can take place instead of simply dancing around something that makes people nervous.

Comedians like John Leguizamo do a great deal in their comedy about being impoverished and making fun of poor people.  John Stewart makes fun of a great many people, of times pulling them on the air to publically ridicule them.  Robin Williams made a career on making fun of small pockets of culture in the United States such as homosexuals and drag queens.  Carlos Mencia made a fortune off a phrase that was essentially making fun of the mentally handicapped.  George Carlin was a master of combining political humor with offensive references such as fart jokes.  All of these comedians could not have pushed on with their comedy and their spreading of awareness and social critique if they were constrained by their topics.  Any social commentary, which comedians do provide, is going to be offensive to someone.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2011, 01:57:04 PM by Pumpkin Seeds »

Online Missy

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2011, 10:52:30 AM »
It's easy enough to say that something isn't funny (such as above when someone said lighting someone on fire can never be funny) and another thing to view it as part of a whole (say, the South Park episode where Kenny dies after lighting his fart on fire).

When we think of someone being lit on fire, without context, we typically think of a real person with thoughts and feelings and emotions as they feel very real pain and anxiety - and that's good! We have empathy! Sympathy!

But when it's done in a clearly comedic situation, we're not asked to feel that sympathy because we know it's not real, no one is suffering.

Everyone has rights not to find certain jokes funny, or to find certain jokes to be off limit, but I think we all need to accept that these are simply our personal limits and others may not find them as offensive.

For instance, in watching one episode of South Park (since I mentioned it above), I got really offended. It was the The China Problem episode. Firstly, I hate when rape against men is used as a humorous thing, but I was okay with the episode - until the scene where Indiana Jones was raped in a bar, on a pinball table, while others cheered.

Why did this bother me? Because it was based on a movie that was based on a true story. A woman was gang raped on a pinball table in a bar, and as she cried for them to stop and for someone to stop them, no one did.

But... there was a lot of things in that episode that I could have just as easily found offensive, and I recognize that, no matter how I feel about gang-rape jokes never being funny, someone else will feel about something else not being funny.

There's a lot of situations that, when real, are heartbreaking, but comedians push the boundaries and many are extremely offensive. Laugh at the things you find funny, don't laugh at the things you don't find funny, but in the end it's best to just not let it bother you too much. We all have our own personal limits, but that's just what they are. Personal reasons.

I disliked the South Park episode which ended in the Japanese guy stereotypically committing suicide, later my Japanese friends said they thought it was funny. Kind of odd, but whatever.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #27 on: August 18, 2011, 11:04:27 AM »
I think it's a lot to do with whether the joke is clearly at the expense of the black person, the redhead, the homeless woman, or (as in the last post) Indiana Jones. And I'm thinking of real-life blacks, homeless, redheads, and so on, because the joke will invite us to see its fictional person as a proxy for them, and so it may run at least half at their expense (if jokes were purely about fictional people we wouldn't recognize much in them and wouln't laugh).

I don't regularly watch South Park but I can imagine what that scene was like. The idea of having Indiana Jones gang raped on a pool table is one that could come out funny because it's so completely leftfield, but if the image of a gang-raped woman or transperson in real life seemed to show through the scene like a back projection, then it wouldn't be a lot of fun. And if Indiana Jones was presented as being a bit complicit in his own rape, by having, like,  the wrong hat - this actually happens to women who have been brutalized, we all know that: "you wore a too encouraging skirt" - then it would seem highly offensive, it would intersect with a real world where women are used as sex dolls and raped.

Or to take a less weighted example, people have said sometimes that in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a sort of classic skipping-school popcorn comedy, you have to actually like Ferris as a person or you're not going to enjoy the movie, it will fall apart. Its premises will seem moronic and Ferris himself, if you look at him without an adorative glance, seem pretty much a self-serving half-psychopathic bitch who is being lionized by the way the film makers tell the story (and by being surrounded, in it, by people who are either stupid or adore him). Most of the pranks and stunts he pulls in the film would only work if we suppose  the others are dumb, they are all stooges. I'm not a big fan of that reel myself and I reckon it would have been hard to do now, at least with a big-name young actor like Broderick, because school has gotten much higher shares now, in the popular consciousness, than it had in the late eighties - skipping school and throwing a creamy cake in the face of teachers is no longer the ultimate cool -  so going that far in showing up everyone who takes school seriously as dumb wouldn't really work, not even in a popcorn flick. The adulatory angle at which Ferris is presented, when you might as well read him as a pampered prick, seems to be inbuilt in the way the story is told.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2011, 11:29:16 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2011, 12:08:50 PM »
For instance, in watching one episode of South Park (since I mentioned it above), I got really offended. It was the The China Problem episode. Firstly, I hate when rape against men is used as a humorous thing, but I was okay with the episode - until the scene where Indiana Jones was raped in a bar, on a pinball table, while others cheered.

Why did this bother me? Because it was based on a movie that was based on a true story. A woman was gang raped on a pinball table in a bar, and as she cried for them to stop and for someone to stop them, no one did.

I'm having a similar reaction to the movie '30 Minutes or Less'.  The premise is that this teenaged pizza delivery guy gets ambushed, crammed into an explosive vest and sent to rob a bank.  If he succeeds, he gets the codes to get the vest off.  Hilarity ensues.

In reality, the pizza guy was middle-aged, and it was a collar bomb.  He was going to get clues and 'additional time' as he completed each part of his task.  He got his head blown off on camera while the cops were waiting for the bomb squad.  They later determined he wouldn't have possibly had enough time to complete the clue-hunt.

Offline Jude

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #29 on: August 18, 2011, 01:07:38 PM »
There's a difference between making a joke about a group of people and making a joke at the expense of a group of people.  You can tell jokes about the topic of homelessness that involves homeless people and do it in a way that isn't telling a joke about them in a mean-spirited way.  For example, this (towards the end is the homeless joke):  Lazyboy - Underwear Goes Inside The Pants

I don't think any area should be sacrosanct anyway.  When you make fun of something, your intent is generally pretty obvious:  are you mocking other people's plight?  Are you exposing your own person biases and bigotry?  Or are you mocking societal expectations and stereotypes?

I use It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as an example every time the question of humor and offense comes up.  It takes every controversial subject known to man.  They mock societal attitudes on homelessness, drug addiction, transsexuals, homosexuals, and even religion in the most explosive way possible.

I'm sure a lot of people get offended by it, but I think it's hilarious and that the message is one of ridicule for close-minded people who are prone to prejudice, not the marginalized groups that are portrayed in the show.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2011, 01:13:11 PM by Jude »

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #30 on: August 18, 2011, 01:34:43 PM »
I'm having a similar reaction to the movie '30 Minutes or Less'.  The premise is that this teenaged pizza delivery guy gets ambushed, crammed into an explosive vest and sent to rob a bank.  If he succeeds, he gets the codes to get the vest off.  Hilarity ensues.

In reality, the pizza guy was middle-aged, and it was a collar bomb.  He was going to get clues and 'additional time' as he completed each part of his task.  He got his head blown off on camera while the cops were waiting for the bomb squad.  They later determined he wouldn't have possibly had enough time to complete the clue-hunt.

If I'm understanding you right, the real-life pizza runner bomb incident inspired the film, but the film changed his age and so on. This is where reality shines through to some viewers and that does create a "jammed perception" with some of us . I think this is the responsibilty of film makers, not of us as viewers. It must have been obvious to those who did the film that many people would recognize the original incident.

I remember a similar cross between the r/l crime and a film based on it. On a winter night in 1986, Olof Palme, prime minister of Sweden (and one of the most charismatic and polarizing political people in the modern history of the country) was shot down in the street in Stockholm. The assassination remains unsolved to this day and it's the only time in modern Scandinavian history that a PM has been killed, during their term or after. At the time it was as much of a shock as the recent Oslo/Utöya attacks, and it remains an open wound with many people twenty-five years later, not least because it was never cleared up.

For many years, film makers and fiction writers avoided directly picking up on the murder; there were barely even documentaries approaching it, though the news media were returning on the tracks in various ways of course. About ten years after, the first - and so far only - attempt to make a thriller based squarely on it arrived, a film called The Last Contract. It wasn't a good one, it was a hotch-potch of nods to different strands and theories with the main track being a professional killer brought in by backers both Swedish and foreign to take out the PM, for vague political resons. It would have been okay to take the film as fiction if it had at least been skilfully made, with good production values, acting and script, but watching it I felt offended by the sloppy storyboarding and a lot of glitches and improbabilities in how this kind of thing could be carried out by a hired killer (the main police character was also much too obviously modeled on Garrison in JFK, an incomparably better film).

As for jaunty preparations for the shooting, in one scene the guy tries to kill Palme by getting up on top of the roof of a (three or four storeys high) tenement house in a Stockholm suburb, in broad daylight, and gets ready to shoot the PM as he exits a tennis hall on the other side of the street after he's been exercising. The hitman mounts his rifle but breaks off the attempt when two women come up to hang some of their laundry to blow dry up there - this is absolutely inane, no pro killer hired for half a million bucks would ever try to do it that way, on the fuckin' roof of a peopled house, at very close range and in broad daylight. After the shots, he would have been unable to escape without far too grave risks. Just one of many examples. It was really plain that the film was sacrificing storyline logic and character credibility for cheap suspense effects and "what if they had only looked..." moments.

When I talked the film over a bit with some Americans online, I noticed they'd admit that it wasn't realistic, but they felt it was okay because those jumps in the logic made it look better, or funnier. They were aware that the film had been based on a real-life assassination, but to them it was really as fictional as Batman and reality didn't enter. To me, having grown up with the afternath of this particular killing and the suspicion, distrust and mystery generated by it, it was not something you could freely use for a popcorn flick. I recognized the need to make films about a subject like this one, but I felt that at least the first few had to be realistic in the sense that they didn't dabble around too far with what would be possible or likely - likely on the story's own terms. That film didn't take the trouble to do so and I felt offended and very dismissive about it.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2011, 01:47:45 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #31 on: August 18, 2011, 01:52:36 PM »
I see a difference between changing a true-life crime into an action/drama/horror movie (Ed Gein inspired a number of those, after all) and turning it into slapstick comedy.  Might just be me, though.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #32 on: August 18, 2011, 02:59:41 PM »
I see a difference between changing a true-life crime into an action/drama/horror movie (Ed Gein inspired a number of those, after all) and turning it into slapstick comedy.  Might just be me, though.


Yes, in a way, but The Last Contract was much closer, in terms of the names of some key people, locations and so on than Psycho or The Silence of the Lambs vs Ed Gein. The politician was actually called Palme, the tennis hall attempt was inspired by that the PM had been well-known to engage in tennis with friends and aides, and in one part of the film, even the junkie criminal who had been briefly charged with the r/l assassination, and then acquitted, was inserted as a patsy - the actor looked exactly like him and he got phoned up with the imbecile line "Would you like a pound of amphetamine for a small service?"

I'll admit that an event like the JFK murder (as infected to Americans as the Palme assassination is in my neck of the woods) became free goods of fictionalization even faster, and to a much wider extent. I've seen tv thrillers where it was tossed in that "Carlos", the famous arch-terrorist who worked with Palestinian and South American militants, had been the mastermind at Dallas. In 1963 Carlos was in his teens and it was ten years before he would emerge as a skilled hit man or terrorist commander. Maybe Americans have a thicker skin on this because everything gets fictionalized anyway on so many levels, and because Hollywood and U.S. tv produces so much more fiction, so it could seem a bit futile ina U.S. context to keep some things off sloppy fictionalization?

When it comes to "logical in terms of the story" I'm not saying any film about a recent assasination or major event in history must stand up to what we would demand in court, or to what we know of the real thing, of this actual assassination. Good Bye, Lenin took some liberties with people and events around East Germany, and Apocalypse Now wasn't "the final truth" about the Vietnam War. But I think such a film should avoid making blatant jumps or breaks in the story that couldn't near have happened in the general reality we know. The tennis hall attempt in Last Contract is ludicrous in terms of how any seasoned hit man would work nowadays, not just in he sense that there was no such attempt in this case. The Day of the Jackal, book and film, is realistic in this sense, the killer and his backers don't step outside what would have been possible or likely in the event of such a plot against de Gaulle in the early sixties, and the cops in the film do not step beyond the realistic either. And there is no point hwere the plot is wrung ninety degrees just to arrange for a scene that doesn't belong. It's that kind of inner logic I would have wanted from a film about a real-life event that shook so many people - and to cite another example, I think both Flight 93 and United 93 lived up to that demand with their subject.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2011, 03:05:06 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #33 on: August 18, 2011, 05:47:20 PM »
To pull this thread back closer to its main subject - are there things you shouldn't joke about and are we responsible for what we'll laugh at? - I'll admit I loved the clip where bin laden was watching bin laden on tv. It had a wonderfully ironic touch on several levels, and I thought almost at once "this is the cartoon we've been waiting for, and it was actually shot by his own team!". But it wasn't the first time news items and details about UBL made me laugh. There were many really strange or unexpected stories about him - I read once that he used trade in 'arabian gum', a substance used for production of licorice and wine gums, as a front to cover his jihadist activities when he was staying in Sudan. And an attack by a one-person private plane on a high-rise in Florida a few months after 9/11 (the pilot was the only one that died) spawned headlines about "Sympathy for Bin Laden".  ;D There was a cartoonish quality to the man and his activities that seemed to pull along this kind of thing, even when you kept in mind that he was also one of the most evil people of the age.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2011, 05:48:49 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #34 on: August 18, 2011, 05:52:19 PM »
There was a cartoonish quality to the man and his activities that seemed to pull along this kind of thing, even when you kept in mind that he was also one of the most evil people of the age.

That would probably be our age's equivalent of Charlie Chaplin's 'The Great Dictator', (Or more recently, Mel Brooks) poking fun at Hitler.

Offline didoanna

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #35 on: August 22, 2011, 03:30:55 PM »
Comedians have always performed 'edgy material'. 

I didn't think the joke was either funny or offensive.  I suppose it just depends on your own point of view.

For example, the show 'Friends' leaves me stony faced...utterly rubbish in my honest opinion.  Scrubs, however, even the final series, leaves me howling with laughter.

I think that is the whole crux of the matter....comedy and humour is just so subjective.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #36 on: August 23, 2011, 12:14:55 AM »
Just saw this one at another big forum, and for obvious reasons this would never make it into any tv comedy programme or at a high-street theatre in the present age:

"How do you fit a Jew into an ashtray?
You gas him to death, then burn his body to ash.
 XD"


It was followed up by two people making several reply posts consisting just of
lol'  smileys. Hmmm - no, not funny.

Offline meikle

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2011, 02:20:09 AM »
Bill Bailey - Three Blind Mice - Part Troll

I thought this was relevant to the topic.

Offline didoanna

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2011, 09:53:31 PM »

 Good Bye, Lenin took some liberties with people and events around East Germany, and Apocalypse Now wasn't "the final truth" about the Vietnam War.....

It's a little off topice but I thought a brilliant film about life in East Germany and how perverse that state made everything was "The Lives of Others".  Really stark and gritty.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #39 on: August 23, 2011, 10:13:09 PM »
Maybe not entirely off topic, but almost the entirety of Cabaret involves making jokes about things that were horrifying, or at best, the subject of tittering gossip.  I think the difference is that in that case the audience is supposed to feel a sort of 'dissonance' by the end of it.  Yes, the EmCee is entertaining his audience (and us by extension), but he's doing it by holding a carnival mirror up to the world outside.  He knows it, and he knows we realize it too.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2011, 11:33:58 PM »
Maybe not entirely off topic, but almost the entirety of Cabaret involves making jokes about things that were horrifying, or at best, the subject of tittering gossip.  I think the difference is that in that case the audience is supposed to feel a sort of 'dissonance' by the end of it.  Yes, the EmCee is entertaining his audience (and us by extension), but he's doing it by holding a carnival mirror up to the world outside.  He knows it, and he knows we realize it too.

True, and personally I think in general it's true of irony that it has a cognitive side to itself - it attempts to wring something out of what it holds up, it achieves a tension between reality and someone's perception, or between different planes of perception. That's why irony is, sort of, most effective when at first you might not really see the irony but feel disgusted "how can they actually suggest this!", "what a dumbass to describe those people like that!" and then you begin to realize that hey, that was parody, but so close on the heels of the real thing, yet stretching it that extra bit, that it exposes it.

With the joke quoted in my last post, about Jews and ashtrays, it doesn't really work as irony I think, at least not good irony, though that was the intention I guess. A much cooler twist of irony is this one: some social scientist and pundit had stated - in earnest - that (paraphrased by me)
 we don't see much mobility between the working and farmer classes and the white-collar middle class anymore, but that's a natural point of maturity in society. Most of those who were smart, who had dedication and intelligence in their genes, have made the journey in preceding generations; they took their genes with them to their kids, so there is not much of an "intelligence reserve" left below the rungs of the established middle class.

Well, that boils down to saying - without saying it quite openly - that those who don't make it into the middle class are too dumb to succeed, and come from "mediocre families". The reply from another writer was a graceful backhand strike:

"How true! Social and intellectual mobility out of the working classes reached its liminal point with Bo Södersten /a neo-con faculty professor of economics and former MP, son of a miner, born in 1929/. When even he had entered college, only the blockheads were left." :D
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 12:29:15 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Caehlim

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #41 on: October 13, 2011, 08:18:49 AM »
It's a tricky issue, discussing whether comedy is appropriate. Half the time, the point of comedy is to be inappropriate.

We all have places where we draw the line. The difficult thing is that they're usually in wildly different places. Sometimes that line changes over time as well. I don't say this to be offensive, but I think it's possible that before you experienced homelessness you may have found those same jokes funny just because you didn't have that understanding of the situation.

I know lots of people who love those Darwin Award books and I used to love them too. Then suddenly one day I realized, "Wait, this is someone in the real world who has died tragically and proceeded to be humiliated throughout the world. How would their families feel?".  I just can't read those books any more.

I think Pumpkin Seeds has a good point. Humour can reach places that reason and discussion can't. Sometimes an issue is so serious, that you need comedians to take it down a peg before it can be discussed. Also there's a bit of truth behind the statement that sometimes you just have to laugh or cry.

I don't know the answer to this one.

Offline LustfulLord2011

Re: Jokes about Homeless People
« Reply #42 on: October 13, 2011, 07:19:30 PM »
First off, Carlin had it right. The problem is misnamed. The problem isn't homelessness, it's HOUSELESSNESS. Home can be anywhere; all you have to do is say, "I'm home", and VOILA! Lo and behold, you are. What's needed here is actual physical structures where people who have nowhere else to go can live, and infrastructure to support them in becoming self sufficient... not just so society doesn't have to bear the burdensome expense of their support, but to help them grow as people, gain confidence, and learn useful skills. And yet nobody wants to help the "homeless". They either stick them in shelters (which yes, does temporarily fix the immediate threats of continued exposure), jail them for "vagrancy" (gotta love those catch-all terms), or leave them to fend for themselves... when we're not kicking them and cursing them out, that is (and yes, sad to say, I sometimes DO see this shameful behavior in my town... which usually results in a lesson in etiquette of a VERY violent kind from me). "Homelessness" is a huge problem, both in America and abroad, and it's up to all of us to do what we can to help it.

However, I don't think that you can't joke about it. In fact, I think we HAVE to... because nothing has quite the cathartic, healing power that laughter does. Humor is often how we deal with the things most painful and awkward in life (why do you think relationships, and problems therewith, and politics, are such common topics for comedy?). It's part of how people heal. Making a tragedy humorous isn't always the same as trivializing it. Sometimes it is... but that's not real humor anyway, that's meanness for meanness' sake, and in that case, the perpetrators should be ashamed of themselves. If we can't joke about it, then we can't TALK about it, either... and there are too few people aware of the problem, really aware of it, as it is.