Last year, I wrote an article about Universal Studios Hollywood's annual Halloween-themed show, Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure. In the article, I called the show homophobic (which it was.) This eventually led to the show's cancelation.
Since 1979, Knott's Berry Farm has been doing a similar show during their Halloween season. This year, the plot of their show is inspired by the cancelation of last year's Bill and Ted show, and how the people who opposed it are sensitive babies who can't take a joke.
Just to recap the Bill and Ted show from last year, the plot revolved around Superman being turned gay, causing him to lose his super strength, become incredibly effeminate, develop a lisp, and attempt to molest several male characters. At the end of the show, Superman was injected with testosterone, turning him back into a "real man," at which point his powers returned, he became strong again, and stopped trying to molest everyone.
Anyway, I went to see the show at Knott's Berry Farm over the weekend. It was, and this will definitely not shock you, really, really, really terrible.
I hope it doesn't just seem like I'm saying that because I'm butthurt that the show makes fun of me. I'm FAR from being butthurt. I am thrilled to have a play lampooning me. I don't think I know anyone else IRL who has achieved such an honor. I have been thrust into the same cultural class as Jesus Christ, Socrates, and Anna Nicole Smith.
The show, which is called The Hanging, is a comedic look back at the year's pop cultural events. The humor is that type of Family Guy non-humor that mistakes "jokes" with "referencing something." The majority of the laughs that came from the audience during the show on the night I watched were that kind of "Ah yeah, I recognize that reference!" polite chuckle that you do to yourself when you hear a Nicki Minaj guest verse or see a dog dressed as Snooki. It's not a genuine response of titillation, it's more a way of announcing to the people you're with that you're clued up on whatever is being referenced. It's not the type of humor you would laugh at if you were experiencing it at home alone.
References to Pharrell's hat, Adele Dazim, Iggy Azalea, and the word "selfie" were strung together by a plot about a government agency called Agents of Panty Shield trying to shut down the show because it's too offensive. (I assume that's me. Hi guys!)
This plot was introduced by the characters making jokes about taboo subjects. You see, the play explains, everyone in the world is too easily offended, and the cast of The Hanging are the only ones brave enough to make jokes about things that the overly sensitive would deem off-limits.
They made this point using two jokes. The first was about the weather being "colder than Joan Rivers's sex hole." The second, which you can see in the photo above, was about Pixar making a Planes sequel about the missing Malaysian aircraft ("catch it before it disappears!").
After these jokes were made, the guy playing the head of Agents of Panty Shield announced that the show was being shut down because "shows like The Hanging can no longer be presented to today's hypersensitive public."
When he said this, Bill and Ted came onstage.
"Our show got canceled because people said it was homophobic." said Ted. "That is so gay!"
Then snipers took them out and they fell off the stage.
As much as the makers of this show probably like to feel brave for being unafraid to make jokes about things you probably wouldn't be allowed to make jokes about on daytime TV, this isn't really a fair comparison.
That Bill and Ted show didn't get canceled because the writers were telling it like it is. It got canceled because they were using harmful stereotypes to mock a minority in front of a majority audience. This would be like if Mel Gibson's defense had been, "Well, how come they're allowed to make jokes about JonBenét Ramsey on South Park but I'm not allowed to say the N-word?"
If, instead, Bill and Ted had made jokes about 9/11 or the death of Rogert Ebert, I wouldn't have given a shit. I almost certainly still wouldn't have found the show funny, but I wouldn't have written an article calling it out.
And that's the case here, too. The jokes in The Hanging about the Malaysian aircraft and Joan Rivers were not funny. They didn't get a single laugh from the crowd. And they're not unfunny because it's Way Too Soon. They're just unfunny because they're unfunny.
To compare, here is a joke that Howard Stern made during his eulogy at Joan Rivers's funeral:
Joan Rivers had a dry pussy... Joan’s pussy was so dry it was like a sponge. So that when she got in the bathtub— whooooosh—all the water would get absorbed in there. Joan said that if Whitney Houston had as dry a pussy as [hers] she would still be alive today.
That's a joke about Joan Rivers that actually is funny.
Like Joan said in that clip from that documentary that your friend posted on Facebook when she died, "If we didn't laugh, where the hell would we all be?"
They made a few attempts at making jokes that went beyond just referencing things or saying something offensive, but they were all pretty well-trodden ground. There were jokes about how Adele is fat, how Harrison Ford is old, how Wayne Brady doesn't act like other black people, and how Pamela Anderson is a slut. How Angelina Jolie's children are not the same race as her. How Justin Bieber is feminine. etc. etc. etc.
Also, weirdly, for a show about the importance of not bending to pressure from offended crybabies, The Hanging seems to have been toned down since it's opening night.
In YouTube videos of the show from last week, there's a joke where someone introduces Carrie Fisher to the stage. Now, I'm not sure if you know this, but Carrie Fisher is not currently as thin as she was in the 1970s. So what actually came out on to the stage was a model of Jabba the Hutt with Princess Leia hair. The joke here, in case you don't get it, is that Carrie Fisher is a fat bitch (lol).
The night I saw the show, that joke had been removed. Instead, when they introduced Carrie Fisher to the stage, someone came out in a Princess Leia outfit and danced to that "All About That Bass" song. The joke here is still that Carrie Fisher is fat, I guess. But now it's slightly more nuanced.
So, do I think these actors should be allowed to make jokes about Joan Rivers's death and the Malaysian plane? No. Do I think the show should be canceled, too? Definitely.
But that's not because of moral outrage, I just hate things that are shitty.
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