ricky_gervais_2010
Photo credit: Thomas Atilla Lewis via Wikimedia Commons

Annually, many of us watch award shows like the Golden Globes, the Oscars and the many other shows that Hollywood bestows upon itself.

Last night, Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes for the fourth time.  While some of his humor is occasionally very funny, there are unfortunate painful jests at those who possess less privilege.

Multiple times, inappropriate comments about transgender persons were classified as “jokes.”  Women were teased for their driving and wanting equal treatment in Hollywood.

Gervais wasn’t the only one stepping over the line with words.  During a speech in which he was accepting an award for the movie’s composer, Quentin Tarantino used the word “ghetto” without giving thought to the racial context of the term.

Granted, it may seem like one or two jokes.  It may appear as harmless jesting that will be forgotten in a day or two.  While some people appear as “equal opportunity comedians” by teasing all groups equally, they are actually misusing their privilege as often straight, cisgender white males.

We are all tied to one another as the great Body of Christ, from those who have many privileges and those who are often marginalized.  And what we often forget is that we are forever connected with all others.  The actions offered from one part of the body can be felt by other parts of humanity.

Our jokes against others in the Body of Christ may be like adding trash to a very large trash heap, a pile ready to topple at any point.  With every inappropriate and hurtful joke, we give hate groups more fuel to why they should physically, emotionally and spiritually harm someone who is already marginalized.

When we make jokes against others – especially those who possess less privilege, we ingest poison into the Body of Christ.  Teasing someone based on their errors keeps shame around when shame needs to be tossed aside to make room for grace.  But making fun of people for who or how they were born – LGBT, person of color, disability, woman, size, etc. – is absolutely not funny at all.

At times we may all laugh at something inappropriate and even repeat some unfortunate “humor.”  Our responsibility as Christians is to understand how our mocking ripples into the world.  The sooner we can change our habits to understand systems of privilege and the way our words and actions shame others, the faster we can repair and build a stronger Body of Christ.

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2 thoughts on “The Pastoral Is Political – Poisonous Jokes

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. If there is a different way I could have best stated this, please let me know. When it was stated during the awards show it felt as if the word was inappropriately reclaimed.

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