I hope you all enjoyed the first instalment, as now, it is time to be serious again for a moment. Last time we discussed the media's power to instil a sense of immorality into selective areas of comedy, and pondered why they choose to ignore other, potentially more offensive aspects. This time, the focus shifts slightly onto the current political climate and how that is effecting the comedy that is produced.
First of all, I turn to tragic events and overblown sensationalism caused by them. Now, it's not a secret that our newspapers enjoy taking a terrible event and making an even bigger meal out of it in order to create a profitable story out of next to nothing. In the past, we've seen many breaking stories that have dragged on for much longer than they should have done, and many, whilst terrible in their nature, have been taken to the point of national hysteria. I only have to point at the support groups set up for Jade Goody as an example of this.
How does this impact on our tastes in humour? It might not necessarily affect us personally, but our comedians and writers are having to become increasingly aware of their subject matter. Sure, they might not even care if people are offended by their material (they may even relish it), but the recent trend seems to show that people outside the target audience are getting involved and trying to make it difficult for those who don't veer on the side of caution. Whether this is the reaction you are aiming for or not, it's obvious that many, many more people are becoming too reactionary to such trivial matters, and will purposefully go out of their way to ruin your day, blissfully unaware of the hypocrisy involved.
I have witnessed this first hand. A simple joke can cause a massive backlash, and on the Internet, can cause hate groups to spring up out of nowhere, simply because the other person doesn't share your sense of humour.
Not all that long ago, each of these breaking stories used to have a series of topical gags that would begin circulating around via text, email, and good old word of mouth. You'll probably remember the jokes about maddie turning up in the back of a Renault McCann, or about the local council doing away with christmas lights in favour of hanging (Gary) Glitter instead. Sure, they might be in bad taste for some, but regardless of whether you enjoy them or not, the lack of them sprouting up about recent stories indicates that a there is a growing sensitism amoung the public.
So what can be done? Frankly, until people cease allowing themselves to be manipulated into a false sense of alarm and realise that you don't have to rally around the latest national outcry to be a decent, contributing member of society, there isn't much that can be done. Our tabloids will continue to milk the latest tragedy for their own ends and means.