Amusing abusers and humourless survivors: analysing the role of comedy in media representations of sexual violence

Lamont, B.R (2021) 'Amusing abusers and humourless survivors: analysing the role of comedy in media representations of sexual violence.' Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 3 (3). pp. 344-373. ISSN 2658-7734

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.46539/gmd.v3i3.134

Abstract

This article reflects on the importance of comedy when considering media engagements with sexual abuse themes. This approach is informed by how closely the study of humour is rooted in the analysis of power relations, with comic theorists, both historical and contemporary, grounding the work.The comic figures of both the child sex (CS) abuser and the sexual violence survivor are first identified, before exploring what exactly about these tropes evoke laughter, and what this means for wider conceptions of interpersonal abuse and victimology. In analysing examples of CS abuser themed British and American comedy, animated adult comedies such as _Family Guy_ (1999-present) and _Monkey Dust_ (2003-2005) are considered in the context of early 2000s anxieties towards the suburban dirty old man and online child safety. In the case of the sexual violence survivor, _Saturday Night Live_’s 1993 ‘Is It Date Rape?’ sketch is considered within the context of 1990s anxieties regarding feminist campus politics, and is paralleled to the mid-2010s media panic surrounding British and American university students and trigger warnings through examples including _The Simpsons_’ 2017 ‘Caper Chase’ episode and early to mid-2010s online academic polemics on the humourless feminist, such as Mark Fisher’s ‘Exiting The Vampire Castle’ (2013) and Jack Halberstam’s ‘You are Triggering Me!’ (2014). The article concludes by considering the changing consensuses for sexual violence themed humour in the Me Too era through the 2018 episode of _It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia_ (2005-present) ‘Times Up For The Gang.’

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Monkey Dust, Family Guy, Saturday Night Live, Friends, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, comedy studies, trauma theory, television comedy, childhood sexual abuse, rape jokes, feminist media studies
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.46539/gmd.v3i3.134
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2022 14:17
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2022 14:24
URI / Page ID: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/14618
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