Assorted Opinions: A Cross Between
A Cross Between
As Torsade’s mission in part, is always to stand for misfits and outsiders, and to help in any way possible disassembling the bullies’ toolkit, the serious question of humor keeps cropping, and needs addressing analytically—whenever we see another rearing-of-the-head, of: “My offense was only a joke.”
So, Part II:
How to Tell a Joke.
Fallout has fallen, and things have settled somewhat, but not long ago, a TV personality got into trouble for a toxic variant on the “cross-between” format of quipping.
You see this type frequently in reviews and light news articles.
The band’s vibe is a cross between heroin-chic nihilism, and a Reno lounge act.
Her public relations approach is a cross between McMann and Tate, and viral word-on-the-street hustling.
The humor nexus is in the contrast of two disparate things, each of which, for the reader’s sake, should conjure a picture; the pictures making together, with luck, a packet too ironically incongruent not to be funny.
If used at the personal level, the outlandishness of comparison then serves to soften the blow (and of course, points towards “not seriousness”).
She looks like a cross between Wilma Flintstone and William Howard Taft.
His penthouse is décored in a cross between UFO and Hee Haw.
Can you ever joke about someone’s appearance?
Let’s first ask, why do we want to?
Society has certain airbrushed standards of beauty and coolness that almost none of us meet. And…people sometimes take ridiculous measures to live up to them. Then again, people continue being (and despite the doing-unto-others snag) harshly judgmental towards those who don’t.
So, in matters of appearance, we have the behavioral, as well as “what can’t be helped”. Behaviors, when they are conspicuous and in some way idiotic, strike a common chord of response…to joke is often a means of acknowledging: “I think so and I know you do, too.”
But, if what we have both noticed is that a small and powerless person is also fat or old, or identifiably possessed of a race, where is the humor? The observation would be pointless; the acknowledgment of it, cruel…if not stand-alone stupid.
If someone is powerful, wealthy, privileged, enjoys a position in the public eye; or if even an ordinary person exhibits behaviors that are egregious (as of some recent Twitter infamati), a certain amount of take-down is indicated…perhaps in the matter of sunglasses or hair gel.
Many style choices are aspirational: i.e., plastic surgeries, hair extensions, makeup strength incompatible with local lighting conditions (let’s say); the combining of tight garments with a prominent Sitting Belly Bulge, etc.
If your skin is orange, your eyeliner Cooper-esque (Alice), or if your procedure to rein in chin baggage has left your profile prognathous, you know these things about yourself. You chose them. These are not disabilities. They are a few of the “looks” aspects that fall in the behavioral category.
Religious clothing, unless it’s a species of cult-wear, doesn’t qualify as behavioral, and isn’t suited for joking…nor are malpractice-level consquences in plastic surgery; nor are hairpieces worn as a result of illness. Foremost, because accidents and illnesses aren’t funny.
Below, samples of Larry Tate in action; the old Sci-Fi series UFO; and a running bit on Hee Haw.
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(2018, Stephanie Foster)