Contagion

This is a bizarre news story about how a South Park episode incited a “hate crime.”

I find so many different aspects of this story just so absolutely hilarious. The actual clips from the show, the grave seriousness of the reporters and how they are treating people with red hair like they are some other species of human beings, the interview with that half Asian family…everything is funny to me. Even the fact that the joke is four years old already and exactly the type of outdated joke 7th graders would find hilarious. I think this is a bigger issue than it seems. Seriously, there is something odd and weirdly isolated about the sense of humour that develops between classes of 12 to 14 year-olds, and I think we should take a closer look at it.

They spend all day hanging out with the same 20-30 people and no one else, so once something is collectively deemed funny, it spreads all over and is abused until it’s dead. Furthermore, the chances that someone will recognize an old joke are much lower. When you get older and start interacting with the rest of a high-school or university population, there’s a higher threshold for what’s deemed funny, and you don’t see these severely localized infections of outdated jokes as much. Much like with actual diseases, a more comedically diverse population will have more immunities to old and bad jokes. In the same way you could still likely infect a remote Amazonian village with polio, you could very well infect a current 7th grade class with “I’m Rick James, bitch!” and other Dave Chappelle bits. They don’t have the general immunity that people in the rest of the world have already built up.

In this case, it doesn’t surprise me that these 12 year-olds are laughing about an episode that’s four years old already. Four years ago they were eight and very likely not watching original South Park airings. I’m betting someone in that class just recently found out about the show and became Patient Zero in spreading Ginger Kids around his fellows.

I will leave out the specific details of our own junior high comedic leanings, but you see it all the time. Like how people my 9th grade class were saying “Gooney Goo Goo” nonstop for like three weeks after they had suddenly discovered Eddy Murphy’s Delirious (1983) for the first time. (Of course, YouTube didn’t exist back then…so guys were just passing around a single audio cassette for others to listen to themselves on their own walkman. …although CD players, MP3’s, and MiniDisc players were certainly popular already…so I guess our class was just really out of date.) I felt like a white guy witnessing a small pox epidemic in the New World for the first time, it was horrible…and yet oddly compelling.

Ramping up efforts to spread awareness of racism isn’t the answer. The answer lies in ramping up efforts to spread awareness of bad, outdated comedy by abolishing the isolation between junior high school classes. What happens when a kid hops on the internet and discovers AYBABTU for the first time? The first time he talks about it (perhaps with his peers in Ben 10 forum) he is instantly called a faggot on the internet, and the infection is cured. We need to apply the same sort of principle to our junior high schools. Just like how some parents are embracing the controversial decision to put their kids in chicken pox parties to build up early immunities to the disease, we need to expose these kids to all sorts of internet memes and old stand-up bits as early as we can, to prevent these things from building up unchecked in isolated classrooms on their own. Maybe we can have exchange programs, and send out of a bunch of kids to experience humour from a multitude of locales. So that when they return and someone pulls out a Dane Cook bit for the first time, they can shut it down right off the bat – “Oh yeah, I heard that one already in Chicago. It was funny…when it first came out, faggot.” Or we host clinics and assemblies to have professionals just tour schools nationwide to tell as many bad and outdated jokes as they possibly can. Wouldn’t that be an interesting job to have?

Doesn’t really matter what we do in the end, as long as we do something. Otherwise our children are going to grow up misquoting bits to each other and telling bad jokes, and they will be woefully under prepared for life in high school or university. (Oh and also they might beat up ginger kids? I’ve kind of forgotten the original purpose of this post by this point.)

Someone needs to do something.

For the kids.

The safety of the people is the highest law.

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Destined to fight the world's evil, The WAMBAG endures massive battles involving impossible stunts, races on horse-pulled carriages, and the desecration of enchanting medieval castles (all done with dizzying computer graphics). Not only does the eye candy keep on coming, the tongue-in-cheek writing and deep Transylvanian accents perfect the film with a dose of dark humor.

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