Mudcat Café message #2588187 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #118593   Message #2588187
Posted By: Joe Offer
13-Mar-09 - 03:05 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: Gallows Humour-laughing at death/disease
Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
OK, I confess. I have a son who leads a punk rock band, and is a devout follower of the Sex Pistols and the Dead Kennedys. He's been writing shocking lyrics for twenty years, and people have often demanded to know why I allow him to write such lyrics - he never asked my permission. In the early years, I was the primary person he was trying to shock. He got tired of trying to shock me after a while, because I assumed a catatonic posture in the presence of his music. But there must be something in the essence of shock in entertainment, because there has always been a fringe element in entertainment whose primary purpose was to shock. Rap and hip-hop lyrics also work hard to maintain a high shock value.

Back in the 1970's, there was a rash of "dead baby head" jokes, talking about using pitchforks to move them around or using them as bowling balls.

Then there was the stink about the art exhibition that featured a crucifix in a glass full of urine.

The Berlin cabarets of the 1920's were known for their shocking performances.

So, the Jade Goody jokes are nothing new - they're just the latest iteration of something that seems to have gone on forever. I read a hundred of them last night. Most were just crude, and very few were clever or had any intellectual appeal. The Celebrity Most Haunted joke at the beginning of this thread, was the one that seemed closest to cleverness.

So, just what is this phenomenon, and what is the logic behind it?


As somebody once said, "I may hate what you say, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it."