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  1. #1
    cloud on my tongue SurrealisticSlumbers's Avatar
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    Default Are jokes about mental illnesses and phobias acceptable?

    I came across the following cartoons recently. I wasn't exactly offended. It was more like a mixture of amusement and shaking my head at the naivete of the cartoonist - 'cause this is not how agoraphobia works (especially since most agoraphobia is situational, i.e. not a fear of going outside or being a recluse). You have to admit the cartoons are kind of cute. I've always liked the funnies, even did some cartoon drawings of myself and my friends as a kid. I enjoy discovering new comic strips on the web and such. I understand that the nature of a lot of comics is to draw attention to controversial subject matter and make it humorous, i.e. political cartoons, or even The Far Side. People like to laugh off their problems, which is understandable. These comics just don't exactly get it right in terms of what agoraphobia really is, in my opinion.

    I just wanted to see what others thought.



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  2. #2
    darkened dreams Ravenetta's Avatar
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    There is a kind of feeling imo with jokes based on vulnerabilities that there is a kind of issue with timing and credibility. This is also connected to your comments about the author not getting the concept correct.

    When dealing with mental illness or any vulnerability it means something if the person making the joke has had to live with it. Such people tend to make more apt jokes that reveal both an understanding and a way to cope.

    Both of my parents are in dementia units so it's a part of my life and pain. I will admit that my siblings and I have at times made jokes to cope, so the motivation is love and understanding rather than anger or trying to hurt someone or make someone feel like less. Some of our jokes are geared towards our own possible demented futures rather than demeaning anyone with dementia, but it really does help to laugh about pain.

  3. #3
    Fe this! Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    Yeah, I think it depends on both content (does it respectfully bring levity or is it demeaning) and audience (if someone consistently perceives all such jokes demeaning, then it's not appropriate - I've seen people mock others for being too sensitive to take a joke, but imo, the person who feels the need to do that is over-sensitive themselves if they can't handle feedback about joking too harshly).

    I've had major depression since I was a teenager (back in the 1600s) and it's hit or miss. Marvin the depressive robot from Hitchhiker's Guide is 100% fucking hilarious to me. The only example coming to mind on the opposite end of the spectrum is maybe the Debbie Downer skits on SNL (because the hidden message to depressive folks is: yep, you're as toxic as you think you are). It's possible too that some with depression did think they were funny, they just weren't especially funny to me.
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  4. #4
    Slightly Petulant Population: 1's Avatar
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    Not sure about how appropriate these jokes are (I definitely piss off the PC police from time to time) but they definitely aren’t funny because the cartoonists don’t seem to understand the subject matter. I think almost anything can be funny if the joke teller understands what would be funny about it. A lot of humor is putting serious topics in an amusing framework. It is also about laughing at the truth about things. Mental illness, just like anything, does have amusing aspects about it.

    I’ve also dealt with serious depression in my life and yes Marvin from Hitchhiker’s guide is very funny and I’m willing to bet Douglas Adams dealt with bouts of depression in his life (hell he was a writer) and that’s why Marvin is so well written.

    Btw I love The Far Side.

  5. #5
    Demon King Yamimaru's Avatar
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    I think joking about anything is acceptable, but timing is everything.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Yuu's Avatar
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    Those are more about people thinking of cleverly ironic situations and word play than people or their mental conditions. There is nothing to be offended by.

    "Is it incest if you go to the past and fuck yourself?" It's just more of a random thought..(and also no one cares if you make of the incestuous...yet.)
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  7. #7
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yamimaru View Post
    I think joking about anything is acceptable, but timing is everything.
    I'd probably say, joking about anything is acceptable if it's actually funny. If it's not, you may have forfeited your life. Joking is dangerous folks.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Frosty's Avatar
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    I think it depends on whoever you are telling the joke to and why. I get annoyed lots of the time when people thinking living with mental illness IS some sort of joke. Like- hah- so glad Im not one of THEM. What freaks.

    At the same time, those cartoons do not bother me because I dont believe they were meant to be taken as seriously derogatory. They were meant in a light hearted way and though they might not be accurate- which might annoy me because there are already so many misconceptions out there- they dont necessarily offend me BECAUSE I can tell that no one was meant to read them, and then base their entire understanding of agoraphobia on an image of a fenced in cowboy.

    That said- I think people should be careful about what jokes they make because these sort of labels carry around a lot of pain for the people impacted by them and it can suck to feel like- here you already have so much stacked against you just by having this condition and someones going around acting like its something to laugh at.

    I guess individual tolerances vary on when a person feels that point is reached. I just figure most people just- dont realize the magnitude of what they are joking about somwtimes. And while that is discouraging- its best to just inform that person calmly that you felt their joke wasnt cool and then- hope that the person actually listens.

    I feel also like expecting everyone to always be ultra sensitive in what they say is kinda- unneccessary too. No one is impacted by every single negative thing in the world- there are quite a few of them- and expecting people to completely avoid saying anything that could ‘potentially’ be upsetting is a bit unreasonable and stifling.

    Also, another thing. Sometimes extremely unfair ‘insults’ are disguised as jokes. Or names of mental illnesses are used to describe traits in individuals. This sort of thing... I dont like because I think it adds to this view of mental illness as ‘otherness- impossible for me to get because Im just naturally incapable/not weak enough/too good to get’- though I recognize this thing is often another thats born out of ignorance to the magnitude of the lifelong and enotional impact on the labels thrown around. But usually if this is the case and you say something- the other person will apologize or at the very least- stop. If thats not the case its usually either defensiveness or intentional insult. Defensiveness is to be ignored after explanation- left, imo, for the person who is told to work out. Insult is where I have a problem.

    So... I guess im ok with jokes- on a spectrum. Generally the more seriously you treat how valuable your ‘joke’ is- the less it becomes a joke in my eyes and the more it seems like a faintly concealed way to feel superior to another human being by putting them down. Jokes- Im for the most part ok with. Commentary on mental illness disguised as a joke- less so.
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  9. #9
    Demon King Yamimaru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qlip View Post
    I'd probably say, joking about anything is acceptable if it's actually funny. If it's not, you may have forfeited your life. Joking is dangerous folks.
    No risk, no reward...or laughs. You can try to take my life, but Ill still poke fun at you!
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  10. #10
    sol ⬥ noctis Ixaerus's Avatar
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    If it makes people laugh, even the person/s with the disorder; OK.
    If it makes people laugh, at the expense of the person/s with the disorder; NO.

    It's not that hard.
    JohariNohari
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