Observing the heated debate in relation to pieces Marcus Youssef chose to share in his readings, I was intrigued by the multi-dimensionality and the complexity of the topic and found myself not ready to take a firm stance as I normally would in arguments. This made me give the topic more thought in the days that followed only to brainstorm several arguments in various, completely different directions.
I appreciated the argument on how crossing certain boundaries in relation to racial discrimination may simply reinforce that behaviour rather than offering constructive criticism or a solution. It is also understandable how racial jokes, taken out of context – or not – can be offensive or disrespectful especially when presented by someone other than the race being presented.
That said, many genres, within the present-day comedy, are known to be subversive and to cross borders in all fields and topics alike. They can be unconventional, bold and controversial.
To say that a comedy artist from a middle-eastern background can only present marginalization using material from his own race is in and of itself discriminatory. It re-introduces borders damaging the very essence of equity and inclusiveness. It is the manner in which racial humour is employed that needs to be tweaked or addressed ethically.
I think it is safe to say that the majority of our society members learn to abide by the popular tolerant and equitable principles the same way they follow the rules on the road or live within the confines of the law in general.
How intimately everyone relates to those principles, however, is what differentiates true tolerance and equity from silent and often times inconspicuous discrimination and hostility that exists to this day.
As someone who comes from an immigrant background and has experienced racial discrimination in personal and professional contexts alike, I believe it is this deeper connection that determines how genuinely we tolerate and respect each other, which will in turn dictate how effectively we will educate and prepare our children to deal with this issue in generations that follow – the key to eventually end discrimination – for real that is.
To me the human connection established through humor is like none other. Laughter is a universal emotion that tends to close otherwise very deep gaps and bring diverse audience on the same plane field. This is similar to what art in general is capable of accomplishing: to immerse its audience up-close in concepts and realities otherwise not internalized or genuinely appreciated.
I have experienced this personally on several occasions where a work of art and the context it exposes has transformed my level of appreciation on a concept from superficial to deep and resonating understanding.
I find humour the outlet to the strongest human emotions including dark and painful ones. This prompted me to google ‘dark humor’ for which I found the following definition:
“Contemporary definitions for black humor
in literature and drama, combining the morbid and grotesque with humor and farce to give a disturbing effect and convey the absurdity and cruelty of life.”
In the end I feel this On Edge Reading discussion presented a great learning opportunity for me to give this topic more thought, learn from everyone else’s perspectives and most importantly get to observe what one can expect if their work of art is not received as well as they would have hoped and how being prepared to back your work up is crucial in presenting it in the best light possible.