Empathy VS Comedy: Why Do We Laugh About Bad Things?

Empathy VS Comedy: Why Do We Laugh About Bad Things?

When is it bad to laugh?

Humor often comes at the expense of other people, as we recently saw in the response to the calamitous Fyre Festival. As news of the fiasco broke, the Internet spun it into comedy gold.

The Fyre Festival was advertised as a luxury music festival on a private island. Ticket prices were insane, with one highly publicized package going for $12,000. As guests arrived, the island's infrastructure was still weeks away from completion. In place of luxury lodging, they found disaster relief tents. Instead of a gourmet dinner, guests were offered, well, this. Understandably, the bands slated to perform pulled out.

Comparisons to Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games abounded on social media. For every actual attendee documenting the experience, there were dozens of people making up apocalyptic stories about wild dog attacks and gangs of cannibals. I'm not going to take the high ground here. I, like many others, think the Fyre Festival is hilarious. The guests, after all, were some of the most privileged people in the world. For college students that can drop $12,000 on a weekend getaway before finals, this is probably the only brush with hardship they'll ever have. As far as most of Twitter is concerned, a weekend of fighting over mattresses may have brought them down to earth. To many it was a simple joke, to others a quasi-Marxist victory over the perceived ruling class.

There's simply no denying that the response to the Fyre Festival shows a lack of empathy. We can't honestly assume that every attendee deserved that. And yet, that realization doesn't stop me from laughing. The Fyre Festival makes such great comedy because it fulfills the rule of punching up. Punching down, making fun of someone less fortunate than yourself, can seem mean-spirited. Making fun of people more fortunate than yourself is the safest way to avoid controversy while savagely mocking people.

However, punching up is just a rule applied to an inherently lawless pursuit. Comedy is subjective, and there is no clear line between an acceptable and unacceptable joke. Making light of a recent tragedy will provoke responses of "too soon." 9/11 jokes won't be well-received for years, and Pearl Harbor could still be questionable, depending on the age of the audience, yet nobody will bat an eye at a Titanic joke. Pompeii is probably a safe target, too. So how many years do we have to wait before we can joke about death and destruction? However many years it is, it's totally arbitrary.

Perhaps we make these rules to avoid the inherent link between comedy and a lack of empathy. The main difference between a horror movie and a horror comedy, for instance, is that one might try to shock us with a decapitation, while the other tries to make us laugh. Even innocent, old-fashioned slapstick expects us to laugh as people are injured. Have you ever sat on a train and watched the automatic doors shut on people trying to get through? I have, and it's amazing, but I should probably feel bad about that. Can these quintessentially human traits, humor and empathy, actually be at odds with one another?

I'll laugh at plenty of jokes that could be seen as in poor taste, yet there some topics I simply can't laugh about. I'm sure other people feel the same way, about different jokes. Limit comedy to the universally wholesome, and you wouldn't have much left.

Perhaps comedy shouldn't be about avoiding the unpleasantness of the world, but confronting it. Maybe we need to laugh about terrible things sometimes, or maybe I'm just making excuses for myself. I may never know when I should or shouldn't laugh, but that's not going to stop me.

Cover Image Credit: HollywoodReporter

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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

I will always love you, Akon.

Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

SEE ALSO: 23 Iconic Disney Channel Moments We Will Never Forget

3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

SEE ALSO: 20 Of The Best 2000's Tunes We Still Know Every Word To

30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

Cover Image Credit: http://nd01.jxs.cz/368/634/c6501cc7f9_18850334_o2.jpg

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16 'Golden Girls' Quotes That Are Still Golden In 2019

Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia..four unique middle aged women from different backgrounds under one roof.


One of the greatest shows of all time (at least in my opinion) is Golden Girls. I was not born yet when it first aired in 1985, but thankfully it is on Hulu. Here are just some of the many quotes from the series's seven-year run.

1. Crying is for plain women. Pretty women go shopping. -Blanche Devereaux

2. Go to sleep sweetheart. Pray for brains. -Dorothy Zbornak

3. Dorothy, was Sophia naked just now, or does her dress really need ironing. -Rose Nylund

4. People waste their time pondering whether a glass if half empty of half full. Me, I just drink whatever's in the glass. -Sophia Petrillo

5. I've been having a giood time, and there wasn't even a man in the room. -Blanche Devereaux

6. As they say in St. Olaf, Helgenbargenflergenflurfennerfen. -Rose Nylund

7. Have I given you any indication that I care? -Sophia Petrillo

8. I'm as jumpy as a virgin in a prison rodeo. -Blanche Devereaux

9. Blanche, I could get herpes listening to this story -Dorothy Zbornak

10. I had a knack for coming up with the firmest, most appealing yams. -Rose Nylund

11. No, I will not have a nice day! -Dorothy Zbornak

12. Look, you didn't ask for my opinion, but I'm old, so I'm giving it anyway. -Sophia Petrillo

13. There is a fine line between having a good time and being a wanton slut. My toe has been on that line. Blanche Devereaux

14. You'll have to excuse my mother. She suffered a slight stroke a few years ago which rendered her totally annoying. -Dorothy Zbornak

15. Everybody likes me. -Rose Nylund

16. Silly rabbi. Tricks are for kids. -Sophia Petrillo

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