Letters to the Editor 2019

To the Editor: 

Kevin Hart is hosting the Oscars. Kevin Hart is not hosting the Oscars. Kevin Hart can’t host the Oscars. Kevin Hart won’t host the Oscars.

There is a great deal of difference in each of the above statements - is or isn’t, can’t or won’t.

I’m interested in the Academy Awards, but never have I spent so much time thinking about the hosts.

Kevin Hart is a comedian. Like most comedians, he has told jokes for a long time.

Over that time, his targets for what is funny have changed. At one point, he probably sounded homophobic. At one point, we all probably sounded homophobic, or racist, or sexist. But we do not joke about the same things in the same way.

The first joke I remember as a child still sounds unfunny. It was both racist and scatological.

I knew saying the words of the joke would get me in trouble if my parents heard them, which added greatly to the appeal of the joke. I was maybe seven.

But people have moved far beyond racist jokes, haven’t they? The last one I heard was over drinks in a golf club in Miami, Fla.

When the man told the joke, I had to take a beat to think, should I make a fuss? I did, and he never told such a joke in my hearing again.

Maybe some racist jokes will die, along with the racism, if we don’t laugh.

Most jokes pick on some group. When I read that, it got me thinking. Is that true?

Last century, Don Rickets was famous for being rude to everyone, and the audience laughed. My early ha-ha jokes were about morons, now viewed as intellectually disabled - no longer funny.

Moron jokes were replaced by Polish jokes. Now, they are ethnically inappropriate.

That was followed by blond jokes. As a blond, I didn’t like being typecast as a dummy. I didn’t laugh.

Humor doesn’t have to scapegoat a group. Jerry Seinfeld got laughs from the day to day ridiculousness of life in the 1990s. Jay Leno was able to get laughs in the 2000s without casting aspersions. Are we becoming a kinder, gentler audience for humor?

We change our appreciation of humor because of the life experiences we have had. I am a blond, so dumb blond jokes aren’t very funny to me. My niece had a relationship with another woman, so homophobic jokes aren’t funny to me.

When offensive jokes are told, I challenge the teller. People stopped telling me those jokes.

I don’t really care about who hosts the Academy Awards. I just enjoy movies.

I tune in to find out what movies I have seen that were awarded, and to see what movies I should try to see before they are gone. But this most recent hullabaloo in the media has altered my hyper-alert brain.

While we should try to be aware of our prejudices (and everyone has them), while we should think about our words, and who might be hurt by them, while we notice people who take advantage of others in unfair ways, maybe the PC police need to ease off a bit.

We grow and learn and change. We (hopefully) improve and become better people.

If we were Buddhists, we would all want to come back as a higher form of life, and not as a cockroach. But if we grow and improve, it implies once we were less perfect than we are now.

We need to look back on our ignorant selves and forgive. And move on. But I miss laughing.