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The Danger of Humor

Sometimes I think the greatest thing my parents did for me was sit me down to tell me why FOX was a dangerous channel. They didn’t say that, though. They told me that other people’s tragedies aren’t funny. The example of that was a sitcom, about jail.

You see, FOX had a TV show about women in prison and I, as a child, wanted to watch. My divorced for years parents said no, and as a unit, explained. There are some things out there that just aren’t funny. And anyone who made money off those things was dangerous. Again, their point was that there are some things out there you just don’t laugh at. But from that I learned to distrust those who did. 

The example my parents used was Hogan’s Heroes. You don’t laugh at the Holocaust. It was one thing to laugh at the funny parts in The Great Escape, because the comedy was balanced in the tragedy. You understood the loss. The fifty who died. Ives’ suicide by wire. There was comedy, but it worked because of the drama.

That was sort of the end of my enjoyment of any sitcoms to be honest. It took me until 2017, when the One Day At A Time reboot aired, to really feel like I could laugh, fully, at comedy again. But that’s not my point.

Many of us know that FOX is dangerous. It drives a wedge between the open minded and the terrified. FOX media preys on our fears and tells us they’re caused by the liberals, the blacks, the Jews, the Mexicans, the president (but only if he’s liberal), and the poor.

That’s a tactic used by many despots throughout history. Yes, the one you’re thinking about right now included. But it’s worse becuase FOX give them a global platform. And it’s worse becuase they did it, they do it, touting Americanism. Patriotism.

At the end of the day, I remember sitting on the smelly old brown couch in Del Mar, with Dad on his Aemes Chair, Mom on the footrest, both leaning forward. They were earnest and united. They were calm and thoughtful. They were a little sad. It was not the only time they were so united in conversations with me, but this one is burned into my memory.

“Other people’s tragedy isn’t humor.”

I wonder, sometimes, if my parents remember this day. I doubt they do with as much clarity and fervor as I do.

But Mom, Dad… That moment you need to hold on to as a reminder and proof that you two are good parents. Separately and individually you have been and will always be good parents.

Because in that moment, you taught me to see the world with open eyes and to think about the implications of a joke. You made me understand why Mel Brooks can be funny but Jimmy Kimmel’s Man Show was not. You helped me care for the power of words. You taught me that being the butt of the joke didn’t make a thing funny, it made it painful. It hurt people. And we should never hurt others.

Maybe that wasn’t the lesson you intended. It was a pretty shitty show, now that I’m an adult I see that. But that’s what I got out of it. And when I look at FOX, I see an empire built on other people’s tragedy. I see a media mogul who used power to harass and subjugate. I see evil done in the name of the almighty dollar.

And I think to myself that I have never seen a good person make money off tragedy.

FOX normalized hate. They normalized hating.

I don’t know if we as a people can come back from that, but I will try.