“Saturday Night Live” has long been a program that pushes the boundaries of what is considered appropriate for network television. Many believe comedian Louis C.K. crossed the line in his monologue in their recent season 40 finale.
In the stand-up style monologue, Louis C.K. — already known for his irreverent, sometimes offensive style of comedy — provided riffs on controversial topics including racism and sexism and offered a particularly blunt bit on child ?molestation.
Now, let’s put this into perspective. The bit itself was referencing a man in C.K.’s childhood neighborhood. He spoke about how there are few punishments worse than what comes with being a child molester, so it must be great from their perspective to be willing to risk such a punishment, later comparing it to his love for Mounds?candy bars.
This was edgy and controversial, there is no doubt about that, but the Editorial Board cannot align with C.K.’s critics that he was out of line.
Something important for everyone to remember is that comedy is a form of art. It is comparable to literature. Now, there are comedians who can go their entire careers without being ?offensive, and that does not detract from their art, but being offensive at times is an inherent part of comedy.
Comedians bring to light things that aren’t often spoken out loud. Artists cross the line all the time; it’s often crude or provocative, and ?often there’s nothing mild about it.
Just as there are people who will be offended by certain authors, people will also be offended by certain comedians. That doesn’t mean their voice is any less deserving of attention ?or respect.
The key part of this is whether the words that offend people either advance a conversation about a particular issue that is deserving of serious consideration or a facet of their art form.
If it doesn’t, then sure, it is probably just a cheap trick to gain publicity, fame, fortune or status. At that point it becomes “Family Guy” or a myriad of other Seth MacFarlane productions that exploits racism and sexism through cheap and offensive jokes for nothing more than a laugh and a buck. Yes, it does evoke laughter, but ?to what end?
However, when the offensive words do advance us in any way, whether it is addressing a societal issue or simply offering a tasteful and artistic point, then we need to realize this is beneficial to our society even if we don’t prefer ?it ourselves.
Yes, Louis C.K. offended people. Comedians do that. But when we look at his entire body of work, this isn’t unusual, and his comedy is widely regarded as some of the best social satire in the funny business.
Regardless of the blowback ?and the reaction to this particular joke, he is making a point and he is creating art.
Not everyone will appreciate it, but show us a piece of art that everyone appreciates and we’ll show you an artist who isn’t being honest with themselves.