Sex Tape Titles and the Never-ending Dilemma
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of my favourite TV shows, but some of the cruder elements of comedy are uncomfortable to watch, because I can relate to the butt of the joke in most cases.
First let me start by saying that I actually really enjoy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, having seen it a many times over. I am looking forward to another season. It has witty humour and is funny, but it is certain elements such as those pointed out in this article that affect the real world in ways that are harmful to certain individuals in our society.
Modern society has many problems, one of which is casual workplace sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is not only physical, but also social, emotional, and verbal, including indirect acts such as displaying NSFW (Not Safe For Work) imagery in a public environment, telling sexual jokes or stories, making comments or innuendos, and asking about sexual preferences and history. The list goes on.
In any workplace, suggestive language regarding a coworker's sexuality or sex life is wildly inappropriate, especially when the person the comments or jokes are being made about don’t find them funny. That is why it is troubling when media content such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine plays such situations as jokes. For example, in the episode "The Wednesday Incident" when the following exchange takes place.
Gina: Eek, blast of cold air coming out of that box.
Jake: Name of Amy's sex tape.
Amy: Hey, man, come on. Not cool.
Jake: I'm going through something. Just let me have this one!
In this scenario, a male coworker is feeling entitled to make an innuendo about a female co worker's body in a sexual manner, a male coworker who eventually gets married to the very same woman he torments. Jake seems to think that he is entitled to these agressions because he is having a bad day, even though Amy clearly is not enjoying these jokes and does not appreciate them. Nobody around her seems to mind that she is being bothered. Jake is also excused of teasing Amy just because he likes her, and because he is just an immature man-child. What kind of precedent and example does this set? What is the message that is being sent?
This is just one of the many examples of inappropriate behaviour from Jake and other characters throughout the show.
One could say that these transgressions are excuseable due to the joking nature of the situation, but I disagree.
A joke is only as funny as how much the victim finds them amusing, and most of the time when these jokes are made, the person on the receiving end does not appreciate it. Their dislike of these jokes are often ignored or overlooked by perpetrators and coworkers and become a point of major stress for many people in the work environment. This appears to be a common trend among workplace comedies such as The Office in the form of “That’s what she said.” The Office was also created by Micheal Schur, which may be a correlation, but to say that these jokes are solely because of him could be a stretch.
The line between joking and bullying is incredibly thin. Much thinner than most realize or care to think about.
It may be funny to watch on television, but what’s not funny is that impressionable youths and immature adults alike tend to copy what they see on television, and they are sure to be reached as the show is extremely popular. This means that when they go to school or to work, they will use this behaviour on their classmates and coworkers, turning another multitude of workplaces into a hostile work environment in a new way. This leads to stressful daily situations for some, while their perpetrators are laughing at their misery. As an asian male with an unimpressive body, unique sense of style, and unusual pattern of behaviour who has been bullied for most of their school and work life, I know how stressful it is to have to go to school or work only to have someone ready and waiting to torment me for their pleasure.
Teachers could not help because of the tuition that their parents paid, and the one in charge of the office said “not my business” because he did not want to deal with the hassle. Also, we did not have an HR department, one of many inadequacies.
What’s worse was that there was nobody on my side except for my best friend who would intermittently be homeschooled.
Despite my visible distress, some classmates laughed and some classmates looked the other way, as Amy’s coworkers do whenever such a joke is made. One solution I found was to play along, to show them that I was unaffected.
“Sticks and stones are what you eat for dinner, and your words mean nothing to me.”
Amy also eventually plays along with the joke and makes them herself when she starts dating Jake.
That at least takes the pleasure out of the experience for the bully, but this is not a sustainable solution. It is but a band aid for a booboo, a façade that is put up, but as is the case when people try to hide how they truly feel, it is extremely emotionally draining.
Now, that's not to say that these jokes should not ever be told anywhere. As is with most things, there's a (very limited and specific) time and place. This kind of humour might be okay at a comedy show, for example, where everyone in the audience is willingly there to observe that type of humour for enetertainment, and everyone on stage is doing what the audience has paid to see. The problems arise when this behaviour is carried over into inappopriate settings and nothing is done about it. In addition, people at a comedy show go fully aware that they may end up as the butt of the joke.
It’s 2020, the beginning of the era of change and reform. It’s time to refine what we consume through media, and what we put out into the world, as well as how we treat each other. It's time to hold each other accountable and raise the standard of behaviour that is expected of each and every member of society while living in one.
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*Bonus preview*, "The truth of Modern bullies":
Bullying comes in many forms, and most bullying in modern settings do not fit the usual lunch money extortion routine. Through experience, I've learned that the bullying that hurts the most is what you don't know about. One day your friends look at you with different eyes. Talk to you with a different tone. Eventually you're pulled out from the group. They talk of plans that you're not a part of, and go to others for expertise in an area you excel in, with mediocre results. When asked about what has changed, nobody is willing to give an answer. Bullying is not an action, but a state of mind. That's why most don't even feel that their behaviour is that of a bully; They don't have to do anything special to be a bully, they already are.
Keep an eye out for the rest of the article!
Forge your swords of hate into scythes of harmony and reap the fruits of Love. - Snookeronidjon