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Friday, June 21
The Indiana Daily Student


Can we laugh at our problems?

There has been some debate about whether a skit on “Saturday Night Live” was funny or not — namely, an ISIS skit featuring Dakota Johnson from the film, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

See, the skit was about a father sending a daughter off to join the Islamic terrorist group after asking her if she was sure about not wanting to do another year of high school. The scene had some background music to accompany the mock-emotional father-daughter moment.

It featured a brief and touching conversation between the two before an ISIS recruitment truck pulls up and Dakota departs. It ends with a bearded ISIS member saying, “Death to America,” and the truck drives away as the men shoot their machine guns in the air while yelling hysterically.

Now I admit, there’s definitely something funny about it. The set-up of the whole thing was meant to be sappy and pathetic. But perhaps it being about ISIS was a bit off-putting. Unsurprisingly, the skit received mixed reactions. Comments from tweets have varied from saying that it was “the most unfunny #SNL piece of all time” to saying it was “funny as hell.”

Those who thought it was not funny found the subject matter too serious to joke about. They emphasized that ISIS beheaded, raped and tortured people, and how many have lost their loved ones to ISIS. Still, many others have found the skit funny, taking it to be no more than a humorous satire. Taran Killam, who plays the father role, even tweeted in the skit’s defense: “Freedom to mock is our greatest weapon.”

This divide shows that something can be both funny and not at the same time — as strange as it sounds.

After all, part of the charm of the Dakota Johnson skit comes from it being about something serious like ISIS. But that’s also what makes it offensive. If so, then the humor seems much like a source of comedic relief. Those who find it funny would probably not deem ISIS a joke. They would probably acknowledge that the threat the terrorist organization poses to our safety demands our attention.

But even so, there is still the question of whether or not that makes it inappropriate to joke about ISIS. Is it really not okay to joke about something serious and dangerous, such as substance abuse, car accidents, plane crashes and gang violence? These are all dangerous things.

They have taken the lives of people’s loved ones as well, but the entertainment industry jokes about those things all the time. ISIS then — in many ways — is no different than all the other problems that society faces. The ISIS joke, therefore, poses an interesting question: How willing are we, as a society, to laugh at our own problems?

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