Monday, February 15, 2010

Comedy Not So Comedic

While watching random comedies for my Psych 250 media project paper, someone suggested watching 30 Rock to me. Primetime comedies are not exactly my cup-of-tea, but I had to watch 3 different shows. I pulled up my coding sheet and began to watch last weeks episode, Anna Howard Shaw Day. Low and behold, 2 very very disturbing things popped out at me. First, they were joking about the fact that one of the actresses had a stalker and how disturbed she was that he had stopped contacting her. The show went even further to have a meeting between the actress and her stalker, where they basically compared this "no more stalking" to a relationship break-up. Secondly, in describing a possible date for valentine's day for the network executive, Liz Lemon pipes up that the woman was on "Maxium's 'I'd rape that' 100."

This was my first time watching this show, and needless to say, it will probably be my last. I'm sure that this is not a pervasive theme in the plot line. What has happen to the old days of comedy? With a little slap here (3 stooges) or silly pranks (MASH)? Please, someone tell me this isn't normal...


  1. I was directed here after searching for "I'd rape that one hundred." To be honest I (a guy, just for the record) thought Liz's comment was furthering the cause of women by bringing attention to lists of that nature and general objectification of women. I thought it was entirely satirical while continuing the theme of feminism touched on earlier in the episode. I admit to laughing out loud and once again marveling at the ingenuity of the 30 Rock writing team.

    To understand the stalker storyline you have to understand the character of Jenna. I'd rather not describe her here as it is too complex. With knowledge of her background you would have realized the scenes were also satirical.

    30 Rock is very complex and has little in common with the "old days of comedy."

  2. This comment ties back in to the discussion we've been having for the majority of this semester- about the role of satire. While some people may be aware of the backstory, or be able to see the satirical/feminist commentary behind these statements, many individuals either are unaware, or do not have the capacity to draw their own conclusions.

    This is where using rape joke, or stalking jokes as a form of satire becomes dangerous. It is such a slippery slope, between creating political commentary and perpetuating stereotypes that the vast majority of people actually believe. While I often appreciate the use of satire in this sense, I have a very hard time believing that the majority of the country or viewers can pick out the underlying message of such media.

  3. I was quite shocked by the rape joke as well. I am a fan of 30 rock and usually the humour is very intelligent and satirical. But on this point I don't think the "it was satirical" defence has any merit. Everyone knows about the "100 sexiest women" lists in all these kind of magazines, but there is never any hint of rape or violence in any as I'm aware of. So what exactly are they being satirical about? I think it was just a bad joke that slipped through the writing/editing process. What I am surprised about is that there seems to be little or no backlash or challenge to this comment at all (yours was the only negative comment I've found on the web). I'm sure Tina Fey wouldn't want to be seen as condoning rape, so I think it should be challenged for exactly the reasons you state above (that most people won't see this as satire, and that somehow it makes rape seem almost acceptable).
    However the stalker storyline is a completely different thing. As the anonymous poster mentioned you would have to know the Jenna character to see that this storyline fits very well with her character (who is too ridiculous to bear any resemblance to reality).