Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Don't Yuck Other People's Yum; Even When It's Funny

Look, I get it. We’re all feeling a bit crazed in the face of this post-truth, Trumpian world looming ahead of us. And when salacious news drops in our laps...well, how can we not laugh?

At the ridiculousness of it all. At how, while the coolest, classiest president was giving his final impassioned, eloquent, inspiring speech to the nation, a story about our president-in-waiting hiring Russian sex workers to pee on the bed his predecessor stayed in like some pissant punk with a hard-on for immature and ineffectual vengeance and more money than sense leaked online. At how this is the state of our great nation now. 

I get it. Sometimes you have to laugh; it's either that or break Canada’s immigration site again.

All I’m asking is, like with all jokes, make sure you're aiming your humor correctly.

You may find what Trump allegedly did to be disgusting or gross, and that's fine, but the vindictive golden showers—childish as it may seem or unpleasant as you may find it—isn't the part you ought to focus your disgust on. Hiring sex workers, however you may feel about paying for sex, isn't the part you ought to be grossed out by.

The possibility that Trump lied to the American people about having ties to Russia, about his possibly knowing about Russian interference with our election, and the very real impacts both those things would have on our country and our democracy should be the story. Should be the things we all sit up and pay attention to.

If you want to attack that, I’m all for it. If you want to use piss play humor to shine a spotlight on that, hey, whether the rumor is true or not, I’m pretty sure that, with his manipulation of the media, he’s more than earned that.

But you know who hasn't earned your scorn?

Consensual clients of consenting sex workers, said sex workers, and kinksters who engage in consensual water sports.

If you talk or joke about how disgusting and gross Trump’s actions were and ONLY talk about the piss play or the sex workers, even when it's funny, that's part of the problem. Because, when you say, “Look, Trump got caught doing golden showers with sex workers; isn't he gross?!” all you’re saying that doing water sports and hiring sex workers is gross. That THAT is what we should be upset with. And, by logical extension, everyone else who does those things are gross and upsetting. 

But is that really what we mean? Other than in a tabloidy, gossipy way, do you really care about Trump’s sex life or what he chooses to do in bed between, hopefully, consenting adults? Other than in a tabloidy, gossipy way, does it actually impact your life? And, if it does—which it does just not in the way too many of us are talking about—how does it affect us and how can we make the conversation about that?

Because, yes, the man IS gross and disgusting, but those acts are not what make him so.

The man has given—and no doubt will continue to give—an unending supply of deplorable material to work with. From possibly colluding with Putin to undermine our democracy to insulting the disabled, veterans, minorities, women, and countless others. From courting a segment of the nation by preying on their fears, hate, mistrust, and ignorance to reducing the bragging over sexual assault to “locker room talk.” There is no shortage of disgust to speak of as we approach this horrifying transition of power. 

Keep focus. 

And, again, I get it. I’m not even going to pretend like my first reaction wasn’t to laugh and make juvenile jokes.

But, if we’ve learned anything over our vast human history—particularly these past few years; hell, over these past few weeks—we need to be better. We need to demand better from everyone else. It is the only way we, as a whole, will ever get better.

We need to make sure that our humor is directed at the right people, at the right things. Poke fun, poke humorous holes, at the hypocrisy or corruption in power. Use wit and laughter to make people pay attention to the establishment and their actions. Like, I’ve said before, humor is a powerful tool for forcing us to look at the ridiculousness of our world and to inspire us to change it for the better. 

But, if it’s not actively harming anyone, don’t yuck someone else’s yum and don’t let others do it either, not even for a joke. Because, to be funny, we shouldn't need to use kinksters’ or sex workers’ humanity—or the dignity of anyone who doesn’t deserve it—as a punchline for our humor.

Humor is a tool; we decide if we want to use it to fix what’s broken or as a weapon to blast at the world, damn the casualties.

If we want to actually hold Trump accountable, we have to use all our tools—from humor to ire to attention—to highlight what’s important. If we make this story about piss play and sex workers, not only are we vilifying the wrong things, and implicitly the people who engage in those things consensually, we’ll all be mindlessly laughing at the jokes, while we let him get away with the dangerously unfunny and potentially criminal acts we ought to be holding him accountable for.

Which would kinda kill the fun out of it, right?

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