Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jerry Sandusky, FARK, Family Guy, SVU and the American Culture of Rape as Comedy and Entertainment

Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on so many charges of rape, he will be spending the rest of his life in prison.


I first read the news of Sandusky's conviction on a website I frequent called Fark. I've written about them before because it's a pretty racist place sometimes and, in what I can only suppose was a bid to prove they could sink lower than being blatantly racist, for a while, Fark went through a phase where rape joke headlines were all the rage. Of course, the rape jokes were never directed at men, it was only women who were always the punch line.

I mean occasionally, in a thread about male criminals going to jail, you'd get a reference to some guy being sent to PMITA Federal Prison, but that's about as far as it got.

Fark is known for tasteless headlines. My favorite sick one was when NASA was having trouble getting the space shuttle home and delayed it's re-entry for a day. The headline was "Space Shuttle Explosion moved to Tuesday." Ouch.

So, the headline announcing that Jerry Sandusky had been found guilty on nearly everything he was charged with was actually pretty mild for Fark: Sandusky goes from Penn State to State Pen.

Since readers submit the headlines and the ones that hit Fark's main page "go green" it stands to reason that many readers submitted headlines that actually referenced and made jokes about the rape, not just the rapist.

And one why guy wanted to know why one of the more tasteless and possibly "funnier" headlines hadn't made the cut. This was my reply:

doglover: bsharitt: This was the best headline?
Since when does Fark pull punches when it comes to jokes in poor taste?
TuteTibiImperes 2012-06-22 11:05:11 PMYep. It's just about the only one not about raping children in a shower. There's quite a few of those, and they're not gonna look too pretty on the main page.
  2012-06-23 04:05:29
Hey, I think I can field this one.

A few years back some of the female FARKers started complaining about the rape jokes on this site. Unlike jokes about black people, Drew actually seemed to give a damn and the ha ha woman got rapety rape jokes and headlines seemed to suddenly disappear. It was also around the time that Family Guy was coming under fire for their hideous rape jokes, particularly "Peter and the Bulll" and people were quickly drawing a co-relation to an uncaring, heartless FARK.

It also seems that several female FARKers had been victims of rape or child molestation, myself included, and it was pretty farked up to have to come to a place that was supposed to be fun and be reminded of that fact.

And now that I think about it, and fark me for being so damned slow - considering the Catholic Church Scandal, Prostestant Preachers Against teh Ghey, Hands-on School Teachers (male & female), Republicans in the Closet with Congressional Pages and whoever else they can get their hands on, the tragedy that was Bill Zellers, and now this latest Jerry Sandusky scandal, I'm thinking a lot of male FARKers have spent a lot of time either forcefully getting choked by a dick shoved down their throat or forcibly raped, possibly while others heard and did nothing to save them.

And if you find that description overdone, well the reality is no great shakes either: that a lot of us, female and male, have been sexually assaulted and making fun of it - well just isn't farking funny.

There's a difference between tasteless and heartless - and for once it seems, this site finally Drew a line in the sand.

I, for one, am mildly grateful.
I have never been a Family Guy fan. I refused to watch it, or any other show put out by Seth McFarlane. However, back when Ye Olde Matey and I were still together, he would watch it before we went to bed. I would spend that half hour surfing the Internet, but since were in the same room, I couldn't help but hear the show. Some of the jokes would make me chuckle and I could always be drawn in by the musical numbers.

So one day, Ye Olde Matey asked me to watch the show with him. After all, it did make me laugh sometimes, he was sure I would enjoy it. So the next night, I agreed to watch it with him.

That next night was the episode with Peter and the Bull. Ye Olde Matey was as sickened as I was watching it. He knew I would never watch the show again but, to my surprise, he stopped watching it too.

FARK seems to have learned their lesson and the rape jokes ended. I have no idea about Family Guy because I have never watched another episode. If I am on a channel when it comes on, I change it or turn off the television.

But then I turn right around and watch Law and Order SVU. And not that SVU ever seems plays rape for laughs, but they have a tradition of one liners about the crime of the night, started back in the Jerry Orbach days, that would seem to belie that fact. Even I have to admit that this show takes the worst of any all sex crimes and displays them for our salacious entertainment. And long after the other Law and Order brands have faded, SVU remains.

Are we being made aware or are we just interested in the gory details for curiosity's sake? These shows have been proven to make us more paranoid and that we're all only one minute away from a hostage standoff or murder crime scene. While crime rates are actually dropping, the continuous rotation of  Law and Order and  CSI in their various forms, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, Cold Case, Flash Point, NCIS, Monk, Psych, COPS and other reality crime shows - all of this makes us feel as though there's a murder happening every minute. These shows scream at us that we are in constant danger and we believe them.

And while these shows used to be late-night prime-time fare, they are now in heavy syndication and played at all times of day so we an be assured that children watch these shows. What messages are they getting about sex and violence?

Just recently, a several white teens felt it was no big deal bullying an elderly white woman employed as a monitor on a school bus.

Where did they learn that it would be "fun" to bully and deride a grown woman?

I really don't think we have to look very far.

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