The answer might surprise you – but only if you haven’t been paying attention
Source: None - there is no citation for this level of obscenity
In a word: No.
This past week there was a measured reaction to a teaser for the hit CBS television program, Big Bang Theory, and the commercial’s implication that women do not like comic books. The internet, as always, took this implication as it was intended and became a hotbed of activism and rational thought, and this made me look at sitcoms as a whole and evaluate their place in current American culture; and what I discovered shocked and appalled me.
The commercial in question highlighted three females from the show - Penny, Bernadette, and Amy – as they walk into the local comic book store as the voiceover announcer proclaims that they are going “where no woman has gone before!” in his best Star Trek voice. This was a poor attempt at humor, the joke being that females are never in a comic book store, an obvious exaggeration whose only goal could be to undermine gender equality.
Bravely, BleedingCool.com ran a story pointing out the offensive commercial and how dangerous the “joke” could be to the civilized world stating that (and I am paraphrasing here), even though 85% of all comic book readers are male, that still leaves the 15% majority who are women, and proposing a joke suggesting that women are not the target audience for the genre is an evil on par with Pol Pot. Should The Big Bang Theory, or even all sitcoms, take a Holiday in Cambodia?
The sitcom – short for situational comedy – has been a staple of American television since its inception, with programs such as Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best, both of which helped to set the model to which all sitcoms would adhere for the next 60 years. Exaggerated humor based on broad generalizations fueled the plot points of almost every episode. In other words, racism, sexism, ageism, and all other -isms have been entertaining us for generations. Don’t believe me? In Leave It To Beaver, quite often the youngest child, Beaver, would behave in such a manner that would lead to consequences that were unfortunate for The Beave, his family, and his friends. This ageist idea that all children are immature and make bad decisions only represents 99% of all minors, leaving the vast majority to suffer as the brunt of a joke. Even the name of the show “Father Knows Best” reeks of ageism and sexism. It manages to insult, dismiss, and infantilize women in one fell swoop by lumping women into the same category as children within the family structure while questioning their capability and intelligence. Mothers and children both need to submit to father's infallible wisdom.
Jump forward to the modern age and all we have are sitcoms that exaggerate everyday occurrences to amuse and entertain the masses:
The Cosby Show: This show had many instances where the children misbehaved, ignoring the large portion of children who never misbehave, implied that some African Americans really like jazz and other types of music, and perpetuated the idea that teenagers (boys and girls) can be overly emotional.
Married With Children: A working class family whose parents don’t have much education and are doing what they can to get by, a blonde daughter who isn’t all that bright and is sexually active, a father who is overly protective to the point of violence, and a teenage son who wants to have sex with a girl were all components of this show. This type of humor is totally unacceptable in a civilized society.
The Simpsons: Here we find what is probably the most offensive geek caricature of all time – Comic Book Guy. First, he's a comic book *guy*. Why not comic book *girl*? They read comics. Second, he’s fat and socially awkward. Whoever heard of such a comic book fan?
Happy Endings: Ok, this one is horrible. There is a blonde who is not all that bright, an African American male who is currently unemployed, and a gay jerk. At first, you might think that this is a great set up for humor, and that is to our collective shame. There is nothing funny about a dumb blonde; all it does is hurt all of us. Just because we were/are/whatever political beliefs you have / in an economic downturn doesn’t mean that we need to see an unemployed African American in a humorous setting. What do you think that does to the mindset of all Americans who are forced to watch this tripe? As for the homosexual, we all know that there are some people who may be jerks, but does that mean they deserve representation on our television? Should these jerks be allowed to represent the sacred comedic cow of our generation – the gays? What right does this show, these writers, that actor, the network, or even “Freedom Of Speech” have to depict a gay person as anything less than a perfect human being? I weep for our children.
Two And A Half Men: This horrible show completely ignores the majority .5% of American Men who do not want to have sex with attractive people. What kind of society are we living in when we can have an entire television show that tries to tell jokes based on the stereotype that men like having sex? That’s like saying that most comic book readers are male and poking fun at their reactions to women in a comic book shop. The terrorists have truly won.
The Office makes me think that there are some people who (SHOCK) do not like their jobs. Parks And Recreation implies that there are some weird people who work in government. Don’t Trust the B--- ...well, no, this one is fine.
As you can clearly see, sitcoms do more damage to the American way of life than any assault rifle ban ever could. We, as a culture, as a society, as a nation who only thinks of the children need to stand up and say “NO! No more exaggerated humor at the expense of the majority, minority, and anyone in between!” We need to show that there is no humor in anything that comes at someone else’s expense at all, no exceptions! Even one joke about how teenage girls exaggerate situations leads us all down a slippery slope of debauchery, anarchy, and the disillusion of the masses.
I may not be a biblical scholar (but don't you dare joke that, being Jewish, I couldn't be), but I don’t remember Moses, Jesus, or even The Prophet Mohamed ever telling a joke, and neither should we.
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