By Jake Mulick
Last week, I watched Comedy Central’s “Roast of Rob Lowe,” and it was awesome. Few words can really encapsulate how much I enjoyed watching a very diverse panel, ranging from Peyton Manning to Ann Coulter to Rob Riggle, take myriad shots at Lowe and his infamous past. The jokes were quick and biting, even verging on insensitive, as the accomplished panel roasted Lowe on his past sexual deviancy, as well as his recent fall from super-fame. What I enjoyed most about this comedy special was not the attack on Lowe, but the verbal reprimanding of Fox analyst Coulter.
Coulter was a member of the panel of celebrities invited to roast Lowe, but was subject to the panel’s biting remarks concerning her ultra conservative views. They showed no mercy, calling her a hate monger and a racist, and comparing her physical appearance to that of a horse. It was a sight to behold as comedians, actors and even a Super Bowl MVP ripped into the very essence of this woman’s being.
Now, I won’t lie to you — I can’t stand Coulter. I think she is a bigot who uses her spotlight to preach hate and encourage a racist, divisive mindset. I think she deserves to be reprimanded for how she treats people who are different than her.
What struck me as I watched her face during this verbal assault is that I almost felt bad for her. When one of the members of the panel called her a “transvestite hooker,” I thought that maybe she should throw in the metaphorical towel and save herself from the rest of the night’s attacks. It was almost too cruel to watch a person, even someone I detested to a point, be mocked so mercilessly.
This comedy special forced me to ask myself a very serious question: “Am I a bad person for enjoying the aggressive mockery of Anne Coulter, and does laughing at this joke make me reproachful?” After some intense thought, I arrived at the very simple epiphany: of course not. Laughing at comedian Pete Davidson compare a shrill, blonde TV personality to a scarecrow does not make me a villain.
Comedy is an expression of oneself, similar to any other form of art. In my mind, there is no real difference between saying, “I dislike this person’s stance on crucial social issues,” and cruelly mocking someone in order to garner some laughs from an audience. Laughing at someone’s persona is the same as disagreeing with their stance on an issue. How crudely it is worded shouldn’t matter because we live in a world where a brusque remark or a biting sentiment really might be the best way to get a message across. A critique is a critique and should be respected as such.
So, next time you hear a joke about someone that makes you put your hand over your mouth and wonder whether or not it is socially acceptable, remember the world is not divided into what is and isn’t appropriate to say. All critiques should be thought of as valid information that helps us better shape our appreciation for the world around us.