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It's often the case that people will look back on old movies and TV shows and react with shock at the humour often used. I will admit, I'm probably one of the first to laugh at an old school gay joke, even as a man who enjoys other men's bottoms, but there's a growing trend recently which sees legitimate LGBTQIA criticism of such humour as being 'oversensitive.' I, personally, have always had a bit of a dark, no-limits sense of humour. If put in the right way and the right context, there's almost nothing that won't make me laugh as long as it's legitimately funny, but even I will find my own eyes rolling back into their sockets at some groan-inducing humour from the past.
I re-watched a few old movies recently, more specifically relevant here will be Ace Ventura: Pet Detective starring Jim Carrey, and Wild Wild West starring Will Smith and Kevin. The first has an entire plot device where the Police Chief is actually a man dressed as a woman in order to evade suspicion and capture. Ace, being the amazing Detective that he is, is aware of this fact from the beginning, leading to a number of 'hilarious' and 'gross-out' encounters between Ace and the Chief. At the conclusion of the film, Ace exposes the Chief's true identity and SURPRISE! He was just tucking his balls between his legs the entire time! The second film, perhaps less offensive than the first, features a scene where Kevin Kline's US Marshal character, dresses as a woman in order to go undercover.
Naturally, over the last century of cinema, there are countless films which have adopted the humour of a man dressed as a woman and all the 'hilarious' confusion that might be caused by such things. And while many just case such 'jokes' off as just being 'harmless fun,' and I've no doubt that personally, I may occasionally laugh at these types of jokes, even when I, as a gay man, am the target of such humour, but it's important to acknowledge that such humour has negative and damning repercussions for those within the LGBTQIA community.
Let's consider the fact that such humour remains very much a part of the mainstream culture. Just recently Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond on their Amazon Prime show, The Grand Tour, found themselves under fire for a range of 'homophobic' jokes made on the show. Now the three are no strangers to such controversy, and I myself again found myself laughing at the banter exchanged, and rolling my eyes at those expressing offence, but when you step back and really think about it, the offence is understandable. While in the eyes of their fans, and the trio themselves, the jokes may simply be harmless, consider the fact that such jokes merely emphasise commonly touted stereotypes about gay men as being effeminate or over-sexualised, and makes them the target for the joke. To some people, it's just harmless banter, but to others, they're the target of the humour, the people being pointed at and laughed at, even if the stereotypes themselves may not apply to them.
Back in 2012, Paddy Power found one of their adverts being banned because it targeted trans people. Spotting the 'Stallions' from the 'Mares' at Cheltenham Ladies' Day made them the butt of the joke, perpetuated the still routinely held notion that trans women are just men in women's clothing. Maybe funny to those who don't know any trans people, or who aren't trans themselves, but again might be less funny to those on the receiving end of the joke.
Let's consider it in another context. Disney and racism. Disney has a looooong history of racially insensitive humour; The Black Crows in Dumbo, the 'Injuns' in Peter Pan, the Siamese Cats in Lady and the Tramp, the list goes on. Most everyone these days will watch these parts of classic films and cringe at the obvious racism on display and wonder how they managed to get away with it. Most who complained back then will likely have been labelled oversensitive, or told that it's 'just a joke,' or that there's no 'meaning' behind it. But a joke played for cheap laughs still has someone as the target, whether it be a group or an individual, such jokes are always at somebody else's expense.
Now imagine the 'humour' on film and TV merely trading in racial stereotypes for other stereotypes; namely those of the LGBTQIA community. We live in an era where people are more freely able to express their anger or displeasure at being made the target of a joke. I imagine that had the likes of Twitter or Facebook existed in the peak racist Disney era, then a lot more people would have expressed their dislike of that type of humour too, but would they have just simply been snowflakes, or will they have had a serious point to make?
Rather than just wantonly dismiss people, criticising them as being 'snowflakes' who can't take a joke, ask yourself whether you truly would have just been able to laugh at yourself if you were the target. If movies and TV shows made jokes purely to target an aspect of your existence over which you had no control? I doubt very much people will have been so readily willing to laugh if they were the targets as many in the LGBTQIA community have been made to be.
This isn't a rant by just another 'snowflake.' Like I said, I can laugh at a lot of this type of humour because that's just the way I am personally, but I understand that not everyone thinks like me, and I would like to think I have a certain empathy about how others can perceive a joke differently to myself, even if I may not do so right away.
So before you share that gay joke, or that trans joke you recently heard with your buddies, be sure that they aren't themselves dealing with some internal confusion or identity questions that such a joke might cause them pain. LGBTQIA suicides are still at record highs, and while there's a plethora of causes behind these high statistics, you can bet your arse that turning their lives into a joke doesn't help.