After Conan O’Brien tweeted a joke about Team USA weightlifter Holley Mangold, many were outraged at the insult against the athlete’s weight. Danny digs a little bit deeper.
Sometimes comedy can feel like a minefield. It seems like no matter what a comedian says there’s a high chance that they are going to tap onto some topic or subject that will rub some people the wrong way.
A few days ago comedian Conan O’Brien made a prediction on the performance of weightlifter Holley Mangold at the 2012 Olympics, in London. The tweet goes like this:
I predict 350 lb. weight lifter Holley Mangold will bring home the gold and 4 guys against their will.
This tweet presents us with two things. There is a matter of making fun of Holley’s size and making light of the idea of raping men. In fact, in an email exchange Noah Brand gave a rather nice breakdown of what’s happening in the joke:
“She is fat and therefore no man would ever consent to sex with her. However, she is also strong, therefore their consent becomes irrelevant!”
Holley is doing something with her female body that has traditionally been frowned up for women. Her choice to pursue weightlifting has supposedly made her unattractive to men but she can remedy that by using her superior strength to make guys have sex with her whether they want to or not. This makes her out to be some terrible woman that just can’t get a man unless she becomes a rapist. Holley is going against the flow and doing something that women “aren’t supposed to do”. What is funny about that?
Who said a woman has to build her life around the ability to attract men? Maybe she’s doing this for herself, which should be all that matters?
Did this joke bother you? Were you able to laugh at it and keep going? Additionally I wonder about a few other things as well.
Is this the fate of comedy? An art bound to leave some frowning as others are smiling?
What could be done to remedy this?
Is it possible that various types of social justice could bring about the end of making jokes out of topics that rub people the wrong way?
Or perhaps there is nothing that needs to be “fixed”?
AP Photo/Victoria Will