Thursday, 26 November 2009
Something a bit different than music
Do comedians have a moral responsibility?
Last week Jimmy Carr was criticised for a joke about servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was: "Say what you like about these servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we are going to have a f***ing good Paralympics team in 2012". This joke raised negative attention towards Carr as a respectable comedian, with many people believing that this was a step too far, which begs to ask the question what is a joke too far? And should comedians have freedom of speech to joke about whatever they want? And are there any subjects that should just not be joked about? However, many servicemen have since come out and said that they are not at all offended by Carr’s joke. There also seems to be a general consensus, that awareness of amputees has been raised in the news, and that many amputees are happy that Carr told this joke as it makes them feel more human and included in society. This seems that if those in the joke are not offended, why are so many other people? If anything, Carr’s joke mocks Britain’s poor attempts and limited success in Olympic games. Nevertheless, Carr has since promised to raise money for a charity which supports wounded servicemen after the uproar caused from this joke about troops.
People who would willingly pay money to be in the audience at a Jimmy Carr stand up show, would know far in advance of the type of show that Carr would put on and how he is renowned for shocking and outrageous material. This criticism implies that Carr’s joke was something out of the ordinary, however Carr was just following his standard shockingly distasteful jokes, which most spectators will know is said ironically, and thus it should be what is expected. Comedians such as Frankie Boyle and Jimmy Carr make their living through their dead-pan style of jokes on crude and not politically correct subjects or opinions, so the audience should be expecting some sort of shocking material. This is purely their style of comedy, in the same way you would expect Harry Hill to use slapstick, and Michael McIntyre to use observational realism for jokes.
Out of context, Carr’s joke does seem very distasteful and offensive, but if those who are targeted are not offended, and there is freedom of speech, then comedians like Carr should be allowed to make their living as the type of comedian they have established themselves as.