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You are familiar with the geographical and social-standing rivalry in which stereotypical inhabitants or events in different streets, cities, regions and countries are compared. I can quote you dozens of comedians who enter into a rapport with the majority of a particular audience using those stereotypes.

Any comic has to do this - to get this rapport generally involves pointing out shared attitudes to life with that audience majority (shared experience). And this sharing is often accomplished by pointing out the ways in which other minority cultures (perhaps in the same audience, or next city, or region, or country or class, or whatever) have different attitudes.

An audience will laugh at jokes about politicians, for example, because as a class they are in an external minority, and they impinge greatly, and 'obviously' have a different attitude to life than you and me chum. The comic exploits the perceptual stereotypes of the audience in order to draw them into a conspiratorial rapport.

But then you included 'usefully'! In this context I don't know what that means. Is laughing useful?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jan 7th, 2013 at 08:52:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An audience will laugh at jokes about politicians, for example, because as a class they are in an external minority, and they impinge greatly, and 'obviously' have a different attitude to life than you and me chum. The comic exploits the perceptual stereotypes of the audience in order to draw them into a conspiratorial rapport.

Politicians are laughed at because they hold power over those who laugh.

Is laughing useful?

To you as a clown, it earns your keep.

I see a total absence of power dynamics and politics in your analysis. It's almost like economics.

Politically, humour can be socially useful if it keeps the powerful honest. If it is used to belittle te powerless, humour is not being socially useful. IMHO.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2013 at 08:58:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
belittling the powerless to keep then down is certainly "socially useful" for some. An essential part of maintaining class separations and divisions...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2013 at 09:38:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's start at the end. "Usefully" stems from the previous discussion in which (it seems to me) you posited a socially useful role for the Fool or Jester (such as speaking truth to power under cover of jest, or questioning the attitudes of an audience), by taking up an:

Sven Triloqvist:

'acted position' in order to provoke a discussion, or question an audience.

My point was that comedians do this from the inside of the culture, not outside - isn't that what you're saying about "shared attitudes" and "audience majority"?

Now, what you go on to say about humour arising from comparing stereotypes and different attitudes may be true. But I suggest we would find it a lot less funny (and socially useful) if that humour doesn't question majority attitudes by making the audience laugh at themselves, not just at the minority (politicians and people in power one way or another not included, that's a different kettle of fish).

So I'm sure you could think of lots of examples (though you don't offer any) of humour arising from comparison or dissonance of cultures. But an example of humour, that we find funny, that simply mocks a minority group's accepted beliefs and attitudes from the outside?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2013 at 08:55:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the comic, to survive, needs to create a bond with a particular audience via a particular channel (channel used in the pro sense of a system of delivering and receiving messages. So pigeon post would be a channel!)

As I said there are minority groups everywhere. Many comedians do characters - I surely don't have to name them? - and typically the act will at least partly mock the attitudes and beliefs of the adopted stereotyped minority: the scouser, the punk, the minister of silly walks, the welsh, the cockney, the Staines crew etc etc.

And of course mocking humour formed a very important of WWII, at least as far as the British were concerned.

As usual here at ET it's the inexact or unshared meanings of words that cause many a trip up the garden path. 'Mocking' comes to me as a tad nasty, but usually understood by both ends of the dialogue. It is not far up from teasing or joshing as the temperature of invective rises.

In Funland, bullying is mobbing (translated), which seems to me a milder version of bullying.

But back to the point: IMO, though there are usually sharper cultural differences across borders, there are lots of minorities (cultural isolates) within national cultures. Thus I am referring to all examples of minorities within, and without national boundaries, whereas I realise now that you were referring back to the main thrust of the previous diary. It wasn't a very useful diary and conversation, but there were some issues that came up that I thought worthy of further discussion.

Perhaps we can no longer enjoy the sometimes vicious mocking of political cartoons of the past that were full of the kind of racial stereotyping (mocking) you are talking about. But to me, a cartoon of a Islamic man with a beard with a bomb in his turban is no different from the Pope depicted with young boys. Those cartoons speak to power (misuse of), and thus to leaders who promote, defend or conceal gross acts against a society. The 'collateral damage' is that millions of followers take offense because they think it depicts them personally. My guess is that the Danish cartoon was addressed to an internal audience (which includes a minority who might see themselves as depicted), and the actual worldwide effect of dissemination was not at all predicted.

On the whole though I am in favour of total freedom of expression - except where against the laws of the particular jurisdiction where the freedom is expressed ;-).

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 8th, 2013 at 11:21:13 AM EST
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I think it is much more basic, Sven. The same speech act can be interpreted as friendly banter or as an unfriendly act. It depends if the relations are friendly or unfriendly, not on the speech act. The relations are part of the message.
by Katrin on Tue Jan 8th, 2013 at 11:34:37 AM EST
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Yes, but you shouldn't read other people's mail.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 8th, 2013 at 03:58:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The sloppy encryption was too tempting.
by Katrin on Tue Jan 8th, 2013 at 04:13:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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