Joan Rivers Not Apologizing for Holocaust Joke On E! Fashion Police

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Rex, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    15,903
    I have written about this before in other contexts so I've thought about it a lot ... I think that humor is tricky. I do think it's okay to offend with humor. However, in the case of humor that hurts, I do think that, if people are hurt, they can say "hey, that's not funny." But the people being hurt are the ones who get to say if something is funny or not. Other people don't get to decide that for them just like other people don't get to say "lighten up, it's just a joke." So in this case, it really is Jews and Holocaust victims of which I am neither. If they say it's not funny, then that's that. At the same time, if they say "lighten up, it's just a joke" and it seems like a lot of them have, then that's that too.

    In the same vein, given that Joan is Jewish, this is why I get to say that she gets to tell such a joke. (Note: I didn't say it was funny. In fact, I freely admit it: I didn't get her joke.) But if tons of Holocaust victims were to protest her joke and say it wasn't funny, then I think that trumps her being Jewish. Because she's not a Holocaust victim and they are. I haven't heard of them doing that though.
  2. PRlady

    PRlady aspiring tri-national

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2003
    Messages:
    20,694
    I really know how tricky it is.

    I worked at the Holocaust Museum in DC, as I've posted before. Before the opening, there was some discussion (there was ALWAYS discussion...the place was a cross between a university, the federal government and a Jewish organization!) about whether the cafe would be kosher, dairy, regular....

    One night after working too late before the opening a bunch of us came up with the right menu. It was horrible. The one I remember was Anne-Frankfurter-on-a-bun.

    So there you go, black humor that kept us sane after years of working with this topic. I guess if I didn't think Joan Rivers wasn't a classless comic long past her sell-by date, I would have been more amused by her comment.

    But I have to say after all these years, when I drive by in the spring and still see long lines outside, I'm touched by how many people want to learn about the Holocaust. The people who have said to me, I'm sorry, I just can't visit that place -- them I understand. I think if I were not brought up in the midst of it, as it were, I would never have gone near the whole subject.
  3. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,368
    As I said, I am not Jewish, and therefore cannot react as a survivor/child/grandchild. I cannot react as someone who is Jewish. However, I am human and can react to the concept of what was done. I have been to Auschwitz. I have walked through the gates, knowing I could leave. I have been in the gas chamber, the crematorium. I've seen the shooting wall where the non-Jewish Polish political prisoners were shot. I have been in the former barracks and seen the rooms full of clothing, hair, eyeglasses, prosthetic devices. I have seen the photos and records of Mengele's experiments. The records with names of the incoming prisoners. Having been there, it is very hard for me to find humor in a joke about the victims. I do not believe that makes me insensitive to understanding the horror. I believe it means that I know how very real it is. It is a horror and pain that will never end. I can understand the need for the victims to have used humor to survive. But, that time has passed. There should be a reverence for those who perished. We certainly would not make jokes about those who died on 9/11. Why is it alright to make Holocaust jokes?
    Kruss and (deleted member) like this.
  4. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2002
    Messages:
    18,917
    I'm prepared to believe that humor was used by the targets of the Nazis but I've also read a lot of Holocaust literature written by survivors. It's the terror and confusion and pain that comes across. How their descendants can joke about it escapes me.
  5. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    Messages:
    2,557
    This. I've mentioned this before, but my father's father's side of the family is Jewish, and my grandfather did serve in WWII, so my father is a scholar of WWII for both those reasons. I can remember watching part of War and Remembrance with him one time, the scene where Aaron Jastrow is talking about the whys of Jewish suffering. Dad has read the books (WAR and Winds of War) and has watched both mini-series on DVD, which he owns, countless times, yet I STILL saw him going for the tissues as we were watching that scene. And then when you watch the death camp scenes with the knowledge that most of the extras were actual survivors, filming those scenes where it all took place...

    IMO, it's just not something to be joked about, in any sense.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  6. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    15,903
    Why not? I bet some of the survivors make jokes all the time. Gallows humor helps people cope. Just because it's not something you would do doesn't mean no one does or should do it.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
    Southpaw and (deleted member) like this.
  7. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2004
    Messages:
    9,815
    I think a person that had actually survived being at ground zero can make a joke about 9-11 and justify that he has a right to do it. It has not happened yet but would not surprise me if we hear a 9-11 joke in the future.
  8. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2004
    Messages:
    9,815
    Making a joke about it on the national level has not happened. I'm sure people make tactless jokes among themselves all the time but doing it for millions to hear is another matter.
  9. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2001
    Messages:
    17,444
    I've never understood the idea that some people have the "right" to make jokes because they are one of the people that survived something or belong to a particular group. What if the other 9/11 survivors, their families and those who did what they could to help that day don't find it funny? What if it's hurtful to them, reopening wounds and impeding their healing process, or belittling what they went through, and in some cases, may still be going through?

    As for racist jokes made by people of that race (or ethnic group, or religion etc), again others may not share their humour, and not appreciate that stereotypes or prejudices they've fought hard to overcome are being given a platform and trivialized.

    Plus, I think to say that some people can do this and some people can't do that just further divides us as a people. There are many reasons to celebrate our differences, but I don't think this is one of them.
  10. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2004
    Messages:
    9,815
    I agree but we do not love in an idealistic world. At least in the U. S., it is not ok for a straight person to use the F word, but some gays will use that among themselves. A white person better not use the N word out loud, but some blacks will refer to another black person as that, etc.
  11. PeterG

    PeterG Argle-Bargle-ist

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2002
    Messages:
    8,608
    9/11 Jokes

    FYI...more than one of these made me say, "Ohmigod!!!"
  12. Sparks

    Sparks Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2002
    Messages:
    7,167
    D@MN you, Peter. :(
  13. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,368
    And I wish they would not do that.
  14. PeterG

    PeterG Argle-Bargle-ist

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2002
    Messages:
    8,608
    :eek: So you're Ms. Sensitive now? (P.S. I will try to refrain from using mind control in the future to make you open up and then read over random links...) :p
    IceAlisa and (deleted member) like this.
  15. my little pony

    my little pony snarking for AZE

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Messages:
    30,332
    actually joan was the first mainstream comedian to publicly make a 911 joke iirc, she's got all the bases covered
  16. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    15,903
    I think this is a case where the majority rules... If the majority find it acceptable, then the more is that it's acceptable to that group as a group.
  17. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,368
    But, we can't poll people before inappropriate jokes and remarks are made. And we really only hear from a few vocal people, after they are made. So, how do we determine if it is acceptable, by the majority, within a group? I believe that if you even suspect that what you are about to say will really hurt someone, don't say it. And that doesn't stem from "political correctness", it stems from being taught as a child, that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything.
  18. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    15,903
    Well I'm not a famous comedian who makes a living telling jokes so the rules are different for me anyway. I know what is and is not acceptable within my group. And, if I tell a joke, and it gets a bad reaction, I can just say "sorry" and either not tell it again or not tell it around that person (if I have reason to think that person doesn't speak for many or is overly sensitive). And that's the end of it. No articles and editorials and threads on FB and message boards. So it's a completely different situation.

    But professional comedians have a wider audience. Are they suppose to never tell a joke that might hurt anyone's feelings? I mean some people out there are *awfully* sensitive. And others seem to be just looking for something to be offended by.

    Plus what if you tell a joke that makes a skinhead look bad and skinheads everywhere say "my feelings were hurt?" I bet the comedian would probably say "GOOD!" :lol:

    Or what if you hate the group that a comedian belongs to so you complain about every joke they tell? Should they just shut up and go away because someone is offended that they even exist?

    I think at some point, a comedian is an artist and art sometimes offends. They have to accept that and they have to make a judgement of what *they* consider acceptable and not acceptable. Then we can make a judgment too about their work... is it funny? is it hurtful? dit it cross some sort of line? And they can change their work based on our judgment or they can tell us to go take a flying leap.

    BUT I just don't think the "never offend anyone" or "never hurt anyone's feelings" standard is remotely reasonable for a professional comedian and I'm not going to hold any of them to it.
  19. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    11,879
    Won't anybody think of poor Mrs. Youngman?!?!?!??!
  20. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2001
    Messages:
    17,444
    Agree with this. This is why I can't imagine why any comedian would want to do the Oscars. It's one thing when you have a tv show or movie or stand up routine, and the audience are people who tuned in or bought tickets because they like your humour. But the Oscars is a no-win situation, because the audience is so much broader, tuning in not only for the "show" but because they are movie or fashion or celebrity fans.

    And there's a new challenge for comedians and other artists, and that's of course the internet. In the old days, Joan might say something offensive to some, but it wouldn't go much further than a show review in a newspaper. Now, everything flies around the world in hours, often without any context, and as with just about anything, opinions will range from love it to hate it to everything in between. And even more than that, there are a million platforms to voice those opinions for all the world to hear.

    Yep, putting yourself out there as an artist requires a lot of bravery, and a thick skin I think.
  21. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,368
    I can't argue with that. Most of what I said above is how I feel about what I say. However, I do think there are certain issues that are just not funny, and even professional comedians should avoid them. I don't think rape is funny, I don't think child molestation is funny, I don't think genocide is funny. But, that is my opinion, no one has to agree.
  22. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2002
    Messages:
    30,310
    And yet how many jokes there are about priests and boys?
  23. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2004
    Messages:
    9,815
    Anyone remember when comic Gilbert Gottfried was fired from his job as the voice of the AFLAC's duck when he posted some jokes on twitter about the tsunami destruction in Japan? AFLAC does do a large part of its business in Japan, so the firing wasn't surprising.

    Some of the jokes can be read in this article.
  24. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2002
    Messages:
    18,917
    Yes!!!!!!!! Poor baby - imagine being married to someone name Henny. :drama:
  25. Eden

    Eden Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    Messages:
    7,169
    Their descendants rarely joke about it, it's the survivors themselves who used the humor in order to survive the madness they went through in that terrible planet of the ashes * called the concentration camps.
    My grandpa, a Holocaust survivor, was one of those who never wanted to talk about what he went through during that time.
    Most of the Holocaust survivors were and still are like my grandpa, but there were some who used the black humor in order to survive.
    It is hard to diagest how they did it but as one of the survivors described in Dr. Ostrower's research, it helped her to keep her sanity. She didn't want to give Nazis the satisfaction of becoming a robot with a serial number on her wrist. The humor kept her human.

    *-planet of ashes- a term that was used by Ka-Tsetnik, a Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor, who revealed his real identity (Yehiel De-Nur) during the Eichmann trial on 1961. De-Nur described Auschwitz as the "planet of the ashes", but before he was able to answer any question about Auschwitz he fainted and was unable to resume his testimony.
    I knew Ka-Tzetnik during my days as a journalist. He gave me some of his books with a personal dedication. When my son went to high-school he took one of Ka-Tsetnik's books to his Yeshiva to show it to his classmates. He also talked about being a second (from his father's side) and a third (from my side) generation to the Holocaust survivors.
  26. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2003
    Messages:
    9,940
    Comedians know when jokes are over-the-line when the reactions become over-whelming negative to the point where it seriously hurts their income-earning potential and reputation. Some shock jocks have more leeway because they don't appeal to the broad base, but some of the more mainstream ones seem to have a bigger balancing act to do.

    I remember Lena Dunham made some joke on Twitter about some Canadian murdering couple, and ended up apologizing because of the strong negative reaction she received. Other comedians bask in the negativity and get away with it because they end up attracting a niche group that will continue to fund their career.
  27. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,368
    And they make me squirm too.

    Again, I completely understand the victims of the Holocaust (or any tragedy) needing humor to maintain sanity or dignity. But, for non-victims to use humor, especially years later, just feels opportunistic and wrong.
  28. Scrufflet

    Scrufflet Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2006
    Messages:
    515
    Some very interesting takes on humour in this thread. It's gone well beyond Joan, which is good. I find the remarks about Holocaust humour particularly interesting: worked well for some, not for others. Perhaps it all depends on the reasons for the humour?
    Another example to add to our list here: Here in Canada we have a comedian, Rick Mercer, oif whom I am quite fond. Many years ago he did a weekly routine called "Talking With Americans" in which he would illustrate how little Americans knew about Canada. He would go to American universities and do polls with whomever he came across on campus. He would ask them to sign a petition to end the seal hunt on Toronto Island (no seals in this city, only at zoo!) or one to extradite Jean Chretien Pinochet for crimes against humanity (Jean Chretien was the prime minister at that time). It was very very funny because he fooled so many of them. But the most important thing was that he was absolutely delighted when they caught on (a few did). He stopped doing this routine after 9/11 because he said he simply couldn't bear to do this to those in such pain. As far as I know, he's never done it since. This is an example to me of knowing why you're doing it and taking full responsibility for it.
  29. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    15,903
    And to me it's an example of being sanctimonious. There is no one in the US who is in such pain from 9/11 that we wouldn't laugh hysterically at how much we don't know about geography and world events. In fact, these sorts of bits are done all the time in the US by US comedians and even newscasters. Because the knowledge of the average American about such things is dismal and deserves to be poked fun at.
  30. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2004
    Messages:
    6,959
    Bill Maher is big for these jokes.

    -------------------------------------

    Needless to say, these types of jokes are Joan's MO. She had said to a London, UK audience back in '09 that (paraphrasing) there is always something to laugh at in every situation. Another one of her Holocaust jokes was that (again, paraphrasing) she hadn't anyone happier than [actress x] since Mel Gibson's tour of Auschwitz.

    I think if anyone is offended, they can just change the channel / turn off the TV ... so many choices ...
  31. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,368
    Or, with Fashion Police, just turn off the sound. :D