My son is laughing at a video where people on the beach get showered with gull poop after some teen’s feed laxative laced chips to the unsuspecting sea gulls.
“What’s funny?” I ask. “Think of the dehydrated birds?”
“C’mon. It’s only a prank.”
Going by Karan Johar’s advice, ‘Not your cup of tea, don’t drink it’ I close the video. But an anonymous comment on the video stays with me. “Brilliant. I’m going to try this.”
I feel like a preachy mother who doesn’t know how to laugh. Because ‘funny’ videos showing a toddler flying off the swing and falling with a thud also appall me. Does age have something to do with humor? As Aamir says, “I am not a 14 year old who can laugh at cuss words.”
Whether it was Bollywood or Twitter, the jokes at the AIB Knockout confused many and divided many more. As it happens, when a controversy hatches, some opinionated voices on the internet begin to shout so loudly that they refuse to listen to any disagreement. Consequently, the rational voices, afraid of being lynched on social media emerge after some sanity is restored. Funny, but the opposite happens in real life where religious moral minders are the first to flex muscles.
Humor is subjective. What is funny for me can be silly for you. So Aamir is a hypocrite when he objects to the roast and Ranbir is ‘cool’ because he is all for it. Twinkle is even better when she says she is more offended by Arnab Goswami than the AIB roast. Good. But what if Ranbir is simply pandering to his young fans? Would Ranbir approve if his family was the butt of jokes? What if Aamir is simply taking a stand on behalf of his friend Salman? Would Twinkle be hailed as a popular columnist if Mrs. Funnybones had blasted the roast? This not to say that all of them are liars. But how many of us are truly honest when we take a public stand?
While I am all for the show being watched as an adult movie, I am confused on several fronts.If popular trends mirror society, will I be comfortable if my kid narrates cuss laden jokes at home? Am I supporting the show only because I support 'freedom of expression'? What if the event was conducted by Hindi speaking stand-up artists using colloquial offensive words? Would the social media activists support them? Perhaps, we are treading in grey waters. Perhaps there is no absolute right or wrong. I don't know. What I know is that I don't want Mr. Ashok Pandit as my moral minder.
‘Offence is never given, it’s taken. If you are offended walk away,’ say AIB supporters. Agree. But how many of us are mature enough to walk away when we are the butt of a cuss laden joke?
For me, freedom of expression comes with some sense of responsibility. I cannot listen to loud music at midnight because my neighbors will not walk away. Not without protesting. As Justice Orwell said, “You cannot go to a crowded theater, and shout, fire.”
Even at the cost of sounding preachy like Aamir, why cant we be more tolerant in understanding that any alternate view comes from a different culture, a different mindset, a different approach, a different reference, a different vantage point and a different upbringing? Why should Russell Peters ask Aamir to shut up? Aamir was reacting to a question and not sermonizing on his own. We can disagree with Aamir, maybe he is a hypocrite, but he has every right to speak his mind just as Twinkle has. Why is it so difficult to agree to disagree without calling names? After all, different folks, different jokes.
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Also on Huffington Post.