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Dark Humor: Defense Mechanism or Psychological Issue [graphic]

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posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 11:34 AM
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***This may be offensive to some. Proceed with caution!***



Humans are born with many survival instincts. I believe one of those instincts is our ability to deal with tragedy through the use of humor. That’s not the way everyone copes with tragedy but there is no doubt there are many people who make seemingly tasteless jokes about tragedies.



Death, destruction and widespread devastation may be the unfunniest subject matters imaginable. Yet for some people they make up a comedy sub-genre.


Sick jokes have a habit of springing up in the immediate aftermath of any catastrophe, and modern communications mean they are heard by more people and closer to the event than ever.


Dark humor has been around for a long time….long before the internet or stand-up comedy. Even Sigmund Freud addressed the topic of dark humor in his 1927 essay ‘Der Humor’.



....the father of psychoanalysis argued that sick jokes were the mechanism by which the ego "insists that it cannot be affected by the traumas of the external world".
www.bbc.co.uk...


Is this really a defense/coping mechanism or something deeper? I have a recent example I’d like to share involving the crash of an Asiana aircraft last week in San Francisco. This crash resulted in the death of two young girls and the injury of several others; certainly not a laughing matter. I’m bringing this up more to explore dark humor than anything else. I mean no disrespect and my regards go to the victims and their families.

So this is what happened after the crash….



An intern at the National Transportation Safety Board who confirmed false offensive names of the pilots in the Asiana 214 crash in San Francisco has been let go, according to reports.

NBC News and CNN both reported that the intern no longer works for the NTSB on Monday. CNN cited “a government official with knowledge of the situation.”

Local television station KTVU-TV read the false, offensive pilot names on a broadcast Friday, claiming the NTSB had confirmed the names. The agency later put out a statement saying a summer intern had been responsible.
www.politico.com...


So what was the big fuss you ask? The intern put some bogus names on the press release which were aired on TV. These names were fictitious and…..well, take a look at a screen shot.





Not only was this dark humor, it also played on racial stereotypes. A lot of very funny comedians do the same thing and we’ve all seen or heard this type of humor. I guess I’m interested in what makes people find humor in tragedy and what makes us respond positively to it? Is it really an instinct as I suggested? Is it a mental problem?


What do you think? I don’t want to get too serious so feel free to share other examples, too!



edit on 19-7-2013 by seabag because: (no reason given)




posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 11:38 AM
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Not that I normally laugh at other's mishaps, but those names are......



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 11:40 AM
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I think without being able to laugh at the horrors of our world, we would have a lot more people just freaking out and having breakdowns. A lot more agoraphobia and such, realizing that safety is a myth, is scary as hell.



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 11:41 AM
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Originally posted by Teye22


Not that I normally laugh at other's mishaps, but those names are......


I agree!!


But why do we find humor in this garbage?? I feel bad for laughing!



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 11:41 AM
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reply to post by TKDRL
 


Well put

I totally agree with you there!



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 11:44 AM
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Originally posted by seabag

Originally posted by Teye22


Not that I normally laugh at other's mishaps, but those names are......


I agree!!


But why do we find humor in this garbage?? I feel bad for laughing!


IDK!!! but it sorta make me think of when I offer sauce to my wife when having chinese food
"Sauce of som young guy"
She always calls me an idiot afterwards


Or when I ask her if she wants to eat something my mother made....same reply!!!




posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 11:45 AM
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Originally posted by seabag

Not only was this dark humor, it also played on racial stereotypes. A lot of very funny comedians do the same thing and we’ve all seen or heard this type of humor. I guess I’m interested in what makes people find humor in tragedy and what makes us respond positively to it? Is it really an instinct as I suggested? Is it a mental problem?


What do you think? I don’t want to get too serious so feel free to share other examples, too!





Great questions and I think you partially answered some of them by bringing up that we generally find it acceptable when a comedian does this. It's more of a matter of the right place and right time.

Anything can be offensive in the wrong context and tragedy just has a whole bunch more contexts that humor is offensive in.

However, no matter how tragic something is, there is almost always a context in which you can joke about it as long as there is a modicum of respect involved. Honestly, I thought the news thing was funny but inappropriate. If it were on the Daily Show or the Colbert Report, it wouldn't be nearly as controversial. Time and place.

There are also the cases that may never be totally cool to joke about (even thought people try). Holocaust, Salem Witch Trials, Rwanda Genocide, etc.



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 11:50 AM
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Interesting topic...

I can tell you a someone who has booked hundreds of comedy shows.

Dark humor is by far the most popular. Young people especially.

I also enjoy it. You can go places with comedy that otherwise is taboo.

It also helps to be staggering drunk. People just want an escape.

Life is full of judgement and rules. Comedy helps us escape real life.



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 11:50 AM
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I felt really bad afterwards, but I saw that OP example on yahoo news before everyone figured out they got trolled bigtime. I could not breathe for like 10 minutes, I was in tears.



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 11:55 AM
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reply to post by Cuervo
 



Anything can be offensive in the wrong context and tragedy just has a whole bunch more contexts that humor is offensive in.

I can’t think of an appropriate time to make a joke about death but we find a way…..




However, no matter how tragic something is, there is almost always a context in which you can joke about it as long as there is a modicum of respect involved.
So how would you rate the respect shown in the case I presented?




Honestly, I thought the news thing was funny but inappropriate. If it were on the Daily Show or the Colbert Report, it wouldn't be nearly as controversial. Time and place.

There are also the cases that may never be totally cool to joke about (even thought people try). Holocaust, Salem Witch Trials, Rwanda Genocide, etc.


I agree that people wouldn’t be as offended (or offended at all) if it was a comedy show. It was likely more offensive in this case because people tuned in for NEWS rather than comedy....and the story was still breaking.

I wonder why some deaths are off limits for jokes while others are acceptable.

By the way, on a side note, this report was not only broadcast, an anchor woman actually read it aloud! I guess the joke was on her!


Terrible…but in defense of the intern, I don't think any deaths were reported at the time (I could be wrong).


edit on 19-7-2013 by seabag because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 12:02 PM
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Originally posted by TKDRL
I felt really bad afterwards, but I saw that OP example on yahoo news before everyone figured out they got trolled bigtime. I could not breathe for like 10 minutes, I was in tears.


WOW! You saw it live?


I laughed so hard when I figured it out, too. I felt bad but something inside us makes us laugh during uncomfortable situations. It certainly can offend people when you laugh at certain things in front of them but it happens.

The fact that an achor read it really got me laughing. Reminded me of many Simpson's episodes with prank calls.




posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 12:06 PM
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Of your choices I'd favor that dark humor is somewhat of a defense mechanism allowing you to confront the morbid/offensive/dangerous on a person's own terms. Kind of like defusing a cultural bomb.

What I find humorous about the KTVU incident is not the names, but the fact the anchor actually read them on-air. Are news anchors just androids programmed to read whatever is on the teleprompter? Are they afraid to break from script even if they realize they are reading something absurd? I'm a bit anal-retentive, but there is no way in hell I'd read something on live TV without proofreading it first...especially if I didn't write it. I like to believe I might have read the first two, caught on then quit.



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 12:11 PM
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reply to post by FatherStacks
 



Of your choices I'd favor that dark humor is somewhat of a defense mechanism allowing you to confront the morbid/offensive/dangerous on a person's own terms. Kind of like defusing a cultural bomb.
…hence the reason for so many racial jokes?





What I find humorous about the KTVU incident is not the names, but the fact the anchor actually read them on-air. Are news anchors just androids programmed to read whatever is on the teleprompter? Are they afraid to break from script even if they realize they are reading something absurd? I'm a bit anal-retentive, but there is no way in hell I'd read something on live TV without proofreading it first...especially if I didn't write it. I like to believe I might have read the first two, caught on then quit.


RIGHT!


I’m a bit of a perfectionist myself. I would certainly have read the script prior to going live. However, I admit that I did read it 3 times before I got the ‘joke.’



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 12:23 PM
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From Comedy Central, Nathan for you.
Caution some mature content


People definitely enjoy the dark side of humour.
edit on 19-7-2013 by woodwardjnr because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 12:26 PM
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Originally posted by seabag
reply to post by FatherStacks
 



Of your choices I'd favor that dark humor is somewhat of a defense mechanism allowing you to confront the morbid/offensive/dangerous on a person's own terms. Kind of like defusing a cultural bomb.
…hence the reason for so many racial jokes?



True, but sometimes when trying to disarm a bomb it still explodes in your face. Racial jokes can be acceptable to the mass majority if done with skill (although few of us have that skill).



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 12:28 PM
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Originally posted by TKDRL
I think without being able to laugh at the horrors of our world, we would have a lot more people just freaking out and having breakdowns. A lot more agoraphobia and such, realizing that safety is a myth, is scary as hell.


According to Freud, humor was about thoughts that society suppressed.


In Freud's view, jokes (the verbal and interpersonal form of humor) happened when the conscious allowed the expression of thoughts that society usually suppressed or forbade. The superego allowed the ego to generate humor.[1] A benevolent superego allowed a light and comforting type of humor, while a harsh superego created a biting and sarcastic type of humor.[3] A very harsh superego suppressed humor altogether.
en.wikipedia.org...

This makes sense. Maybe jokes about tragedy are so funny because we know they are so wrong to say! You either laugh because you agree or you laugh because you’re uncomfortable.

If they are indeed about supressed thoughts I'm going to look at comedians differently now!



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 12:40 PM
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reply to post by woodwardjnr
 


The one about LUNCHTIME (min 4) was over the top! That guy wasn’t real happy at first!! I think he had a bit of fight or flight going! He was deciding whether or not to start beating that guy!


Funny how he talked the artist out of his comfort zone then acted offended at the end!



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 12:43 PM
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If they are indeed about supressed thoughts I'm going to look at comedians differently now!
reply to post by seabag
 


It kind of comes down to laugh or cry. Some people just choose to laugh.

However, most comedian's personal life is a total mess.

What type of personality needs the approval of 200 total strangers to be fulfilled?

Most of these guys and gals are very strange people...



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 09:32 PM
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Laughing at mistakes, scary things, or bad events, can help you to feel better in a tough situation. It eases the pain and suffering. Some people may think that it is "inappropriate" to laugh in certain situations, but some may be laughing when they are uncomfortable or scared. If you want to deal with it by feeling sorry for yourself and crying or being jealous or angry, that is fine, and it is certainly a natural emotion; but there is nothing wrong if another person wants to get over it with a feel-good approach. They say laughter is the best medicine and that's because it has many positive effects [1].


reply to post by whyamIhere
 



Originally posted by whyamIhere
It kind of comes down to laugh or cry. Some people just choose to laugh.

However, most comedian's personal life is a total mess.

What type of personality needs the approval of 200 total strangers to be fulfilled?

Most of these guys and gals are very strange people...


Most comedians do not tell jokes for "approval" (being accepted), in fact, comedy can be a perfect way to open up about yourself in a playful way, laugh about yourself, and not care what others think. They do it to make the audience laugh. They want to inspire happiness in others.
edit on 19-7-2013 by arpgme because: (no reason given)
edit on 19-7-2013 by arpgme because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 19 2013 @ 09:54 PM
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reply to post by arpgme
 



Most comedians do not tell jokes for "approval" (being accepted), in fact, comedy can be a perfect way to open up about yourself in a playful way, laugh about yourself, and not care what others think. They do it to make the audience laugh. They want to inspire happiness in others.


I think you’re right…but

You said

Laughing at mistakes, scary things, or bad events, can help you to feel better in a tough situation.


Does this desire to make people happy drive people to make jokes about tragedy? Was the guy (or girl) who made the press release I highlighted in the OP trying to cope with his/her own tough situation at the expense of others?

I’m not criticizing your response….just asking for your opinion!






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