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Folklore: Gallows Humour-laughing at death/disease

Joe Offer 21 Feb 09 - 02:12 PM
Jack Blandiver 10 Mar 09 - 01:29 PM
Phil Williams 10 Mar 09 - 01:38 PM
The Villan 10 Mar 09 - 01:43 PM
folkyshaun 10 Mar 09 - 01:47 PM
Bainbo 10 Mar 09 - 01:59 PM
Jean(eanjay) 10 Mar 09 - 01:59 PM
Nick 10 Mar 09 - 02:11 PM
Jack Campin 10 Mar 09 - 02:28 PM
Georgiansilver 10 Mar 09 - 02:43 PM
SunrayFC 10 Mar 09 - 02:52 PM
MBSGeorge 10 Mar 09 - 02:58 PM
Joe Offer 10 Mar 09 - 08:03 PM
MartinRyan 10 Mar 09 - 08:08 PM
Richard Bridge 11 Mar 09 - 04:18 AM
The Villan 11 Mar 09 - 04:22 AM
Backwoodsman 11 Mar 09 - 04:58 AM
The Villan 11 Mar 09 - 05:06 AM
Fred McCormick 11 Mar 09 - 05:33 AM
Dave Hanson 11 Mar 09 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,Elfcall 11 Mar 09 - 05:45 AM
Jack Blandiver 11 Mar 09 - 05:54 AM
Acorn4 11 Mar 09 - 05:58 AM
Backwoodsman 11 Mar 09 - 06:00 AM
Georgiansilver 11 Mar 09 - 06:41 AM
GUEST,peregrina at work 11 Mar 09 - 06:50 AM
meself 11 Mar 09 - 07:13 AM
John MacKenzie 11 Mar 09 - 07:14 AM
Liz the Squeak 11 Mar 09 - 08:11 AM
Jack Blandiver 11 Mar 09 - 08:15 AM
The Villan 11 Mar 09 - 08:59 AM
goatfell 11 Mar 09 - 09:04 AM
goatfell 11 Mar 09 - 09:05 AM
Backwoodsman 11 Mar 09 - 09:11 AM
Joe Offer 12 Mar 09 - 08:16 PM
frogprince 12 Mar 09 - 08:37 PM
katlaughing 12 Mar 09 - 11:52 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 13 Mar 09 - 12:57 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 13 Mar 09 - 01:03 AM
Joe Offer 13 Mar 09 - 01:29 AM
MartinRyan 13 Mar 09 - 03:41 AM
Richard Bridge 13 Mar 09 - 04:39 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 09 - 04:45 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 Mar 09 - 05:36 AM
The Villan 13 Mar 09 - 05:58 AM
Bryn Pugh 13 Mar 09 - 06:01 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 09 - 06:48 AM
Richard Bridge 13 Mar 09 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 13 Mar 09 - 07:59 AM
Will Fly 13 Mar 09 - 08:47 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 02:12 PM

Posted 12 March, 2009

At the risk of life and limb, I'm going to resurrect and reopen this thread and see if it can go in the direction the thread originator intended. At first, I didn't understand the thread originator's intention, but I think I do now. Before you protest, please read this message and the entire thread carefully.

Most of the taboos of society have disappeared in our modern world, but the taboo against the discussion of death, suffering, and disease seems to be stronger now than it ever was.

The thread originator did not make it completely clear in the next message, but his intention was to study the folklore and phenomenon of humor that arises in situations of death and disease and other dire misfortune - and I think that is a legitimate topic of study.

My personal observation is that some of the best humor comes from the victims of misfortune - and it can be a powerful weapon to help us overcome or at least deal with that misfortune. Some of that humor can be raw and crude, but it can be potent.

On the other hand, humor that is directed at the victims of misfortune from the outside, may seem at first to be despicably cruel - even in cases such as that of Jade Goody, where the target of the joke is notorious. Indeed, such humor often is cruel, but is it always so? Is it cruelty that motivates "gallows humor" directed at a celebrity who is facing death, or is it something else? I think that when people make jokes about a celebrity facing tragedy, they are actually considering what would happen if they had to go through such an ordeal themselves.

Many of us are over the age of fifty, and we face death and suffering every day. We have friends who have died, friends who are bald because of chemotherapy, beautiful friends who are no longer beautiful because of the ravages of disease or old age. Many of us and many of our friends are facing financial disaster. There's often nothing we can do about it, but perhaps the best thing we can do is to laugh in the face of death and despair, because laughing gives us courage and strength.

As I said before, most of the taboos of society are gone, and "anything goes" nowadays in many areas - sex and honesty and respectability are no longer sacred. Somehow, though, it is forbidden to speak publicly about suffering and death, especially in a humorous way.

Down below, you will see many expressions of that taboo, people who are absolutely appalled at the idea of discussing humor related to death and suffering.

Stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and consider all this with an open mind. I think you'll find that this can be a very worthwhile subject of discussion. Over the last two days, the thread was overwhelmed by a swarm of do-gooders who didn't even take the time to read the first post carefully and understand what the thread originator was trying to do. Too bad he got bullied into silence.

Like it or not, I'm going to reopen this thread to discussion and ask that we use a folkloric perspective to explore humor involving the topic of death and disease and other tragedy.
I hope you'll keep an open mind.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Folklore: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 01:29 PM

I heard my first last night from a hearty bunch of Lancashire folkies, much to the effect that Jade Goody's next TV project will be Celebrity Most Haunted.

A very public celebrity death, which raises all sorts of issues & provokes all sorts of responses, but the most immediate folkloric angle is the humour...

Any more???


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Phil Williams
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 01:38 PM

Its bound to happen, its what we do.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Jade Goody Jokes
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 01:43 PM

Sorry, I don't find anything funny about what has happened to her.

When you have had cancer, you know the anguish it causes to the person and the direct family. I am lucky enough to have survived for 10 years. I was devastated when I got it.
All she is doing, is making sure her children are financially stable.

I can still remember how aweful I felt, thinking that I may never see my children grow up.

She is a very brave lady and I feel so terribly sorry for her.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Jade Goody Jokes
From: folkyshaun
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 01:47 PM

No it's not remotely funny and your going straight to hell for even laughing...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Bainbo
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 01:59 PM

Ideally, nobody else will reply to this thread and it will sink without trace. Won't happen, though.


I hope no one who knows her ever comes across this via a google search or the like.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 01:59 PM

Jade Goody has done exactly what I would have done and concerned herself with the future of her two sons. She deserves someone to write a great song about her, not jokes.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Nick
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 02:11 PM

My father had lung cancer when I was 10 and lived an extra 40 years on the remaining lung which was good going as his surgeon expected him to die within a year of his operation. Pretty small odds of him living as long as he did and he got to the stage where when he was in hospital occasionally in later life he'd get asked if students could oome in and look at him as he was something of a curiosity as he should not have been alive. Not enormously amusing but it was nice to have his company across the years. And he did have a cracking scar.

The only bizarrely amusing (?) or just plain weird thing I remember from those times was the following. The ward he was in at Brompton Hospital was filled with lots of people suffering from smoking related diseases - lungs out, chromic emphysema etc etc One of the things my dad found really bizarre was the sight of one of the guys - who had had one of his legs amputated due to circulatory problems - hopping his way to the balcony to have a fag.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 02:28 PM

There is one interesting bit of folklore about this though.   Widely reported news story:

Jade was shocked when she saw an unknown woman holding a hammer in her hospital room.

Late at night on March 8, the London Metropolitan police arrested a 41-year-old French woman who entered Jade Goody's hospital room, The Sun reported.

The woman, probably a fan of Goody, used the opportunity when Jade's husband, Jack Tweed, went out of the room to get some tea and entered the room. At that moment Jade woke up and saw an unknown woman above her, mumbling something. She was shocked to see the woman holding a hammer and, scared, called the hospital staff for help.

- Who are you? What are you doing here? Jade screamed when she saw the woman in her room.

The doctors called the police who arrived within a very short period of time and arrested the French woman.

The police questioned her at the police station. They learnt the woman was 41 years old and that she was saying a prayer in Goody's room. Apparently she did not intend to use the hammer to hurt Jade. After questioning her, the police released the French woman from detention and will not conduct any further investigation against her.


There is a description in David Rorie's Folk Tradition and Folk Medicine in Scotland of a Breton practice, the "Hammer of Death", where a special stone was placed on the chest of a person dying in pain to hasten their end (magically - it wasn't big enough to have a physical effect). This was still current in the early 20th century. I wonder if this woman was doing the same thing, but with a modern hammer? (Well done the police for figuring out she was harmless so quickly).

So we seem to have the Sun reporting something that might have come out of The Golden Bough. You have to wonder how they'd have covered a wicker man burning.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 02:43 PM

To make any kind of joke about cancer victims is both thoughtless and insensitive. Everyone surely knows someone who has cancer or has died from cancer and it only harbours a particular kind of sadness for all concerned. Granted that many jokes have been made about disasters... which I think is insensitive anyway.. to all concerned.... but some are taken as at least acceptable and actually help people to come to terms by adding humour.
Sorry but cancer is not one of those disasters or occurrences which merits any kind of humour..... only sadness, pity, fear, hurt etc etc.
Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Jade Goody Jokes
From: SunrayFC
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 02:52 PM

...so why aren't the administrators of this site stopping this before it begins?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Jade Goody Jokes
From: MBSGeorge
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 02:58 PM

I agree this thread should go. Cancer is no laughing matter especially cervical. I myself had to go through the humiliation of tests for this and it was not funny.

I have absolutely no desire to read or recieve any jokes in this vein.

G


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 08:03 PM

This thread should have been "BS" to start with, but it was classed as "folklore." A volunteer moderator deleted the thread, but I see no justification for the deletion. I agree the topic is in bad taste, but we have had a tradition of bad taste in abundance at Mudcat. If you don't like the thread, don't post to it. Don't get all huffy about it.

We delete threads or messages to eliminate personal attacks, racism, spam, and general chaos - but not just because something is in bad taste. We also delete most non-music threads that were started by non-members.

-Joe Offer, Forum Moderator-


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: MartinRyan
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 08:08 PM

And even if you do like it - don't call it folklore!

Regards


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 04:18 AM

It seems to deal with our trait of responding to what could only otherwise be met with mute horror by humour. Surely that is close enough to folklore. It happens after many disasters and shocking events.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: The Villan
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 04:22 AM

It just ain't funny


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 04:58 AM

Two of my friends have cancer. They are bearing their burden with immense courage and quiet dignity. It's heartbreaking to see them suffer.

Cancer is not funny. Anyone who thinks it is is either stupid, an arsehole or, more likely, both.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: The Villan
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 05:06 AM

And whats more, if this thread had been "our best wishes to Jane Goody" then I for one would have supported it. But Jane Goody Jokes!!!!!!!

Joe, I am shocked that you put this thread back up again. I can only take it that becuase you live in the USA, what goes on in Britain is not so important. Bad mistake to put it back on IMHO. 0 out of 10 this time Joe

Les


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 05:33 AM

Sorry Joe, relocating this thread to BS just isn't good enough. I loathe Big Brother and I loathe the cult of celebrity. And I remember the racist spat that Jade Goody got into, doubtless egged on by the media moguls who fund the show. Truth to tell, if I ever knew her, I would probably loathe Jade Goody.

Most of all, I loathe the way that this one, admittedly appalling death, is being flogged unmercifully by every newspaper in the land in the name of profit. Forget Darfur. Forget the world economic depression. Forget the facts. Forget objective journalism. It's what sells newspapers that counts.

Cancer is an appalling disease. I know, both my parents died of it. So did a lot of my relatives and friends, and there was nothing remotely funny about the way that they exited this world. The folklore of sick jokes might be a suitable subject for an academic folklore conference. But jokes about people dying of cancer are not fit for a message board like this one.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 05:38 AM

Michael Jackson saw a passing bandwagon and jumped on it whilst publicising his comeback in the UK, what an arse.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: GUEST,Elfcall
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 05:45 AM

Fred - eruditely put

Please stop the thread now.

Elfcall


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 05:54 AM

This thread is dedicated to the gathering & sharing of folklore arising from topical circumstance. Such material as I called for in my OP is being generated within a narrative folkloric tradition (storytelling) & personally I see that as a phenomenon very worthy of our interest and investigation.

From what I have heard thus far, these jocular narratives are not about cancer per-se, rather about a celebrity figure who has chosen to endure her illness very publicly. The spontaneous generation of such narratives are a perfectly natural response to these somewhat bizarre and unprecedented circumstances. Thus, such considerations as decency and dignity have been well and truly jettisoned by the British press in the sure hope of the inevitable outcome of a nation mourns - much as we did for Princess Diana, and as we will, no doubt, for Poor Jade. She has thus become an icon of another level of suffering, especially to those who are suffering similarly at this time. As one old lady recently remarked to me, "At least I'm dying old - not like poor Jade."

Jokes (call them what you will) are a collective response to such an emotive topicality. They effect a societal catharsis whereby we each might experience (and to a degree exorcise) our subjective vulnerability in a context which is wholly, and ceremonially, objective. Ultimately however, we must all die alone; and that is the greatest horror in the face of which our only response is laughter, especially with the media (and Jade Goody) milking it, and us, for all it's worth.

So please - either delete this thread entirely, or else accord it the seriousness it deserves by restoring it to Folklore. By placing it in the BS section you are not only trivialising the life (and death) of another human being, but the depth of emotion we are bound to feel when confronted with such a tragic and untimely demise, however so mythologised and otherwise public that demise might be.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Acorn4
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 05:58 AM

I would agree with stopping the thread because of the sensitivity of the subject. I've got several comments I might make but won't on this one.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 06:00 AM

"Thus, such considerations as decency and dignity have been well and truly jettisoned by the British press in the sure hope of the inevitable outcome of a nation mourns - much as we did for Princess Diana"

I don't give a FF what the British press do. They might abandon their decency and dignity, I categorically refuse to abandon mine.

Can this crock of shit Joe, PLEASE.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 06:41 AM

With simple humility I ask that this thread be removed as it is causing many people upset. It matters not whether it is just considered by some to be in bad taste.. it is an attack on many people who have suffered loss and yet another attack on someone who is dying.. please please remove it.
Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: GUEST,peregrina at work
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 06:50 AM

Likewise. Please can this thread be removed. None here would like to see such a thread about a person close to them--and it shouldn't be tolerated about any human being. This is not a case of preserving free speech it's a case of respecting human dignity.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: meself
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 07:13 AM

While this thread is at the top - add my vote to the "delete it" faction.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 07:14 AM

The whole Jade Goody circus, is disgusting, obscene, prurient, and flies in the face of our claim to be a civilised society.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 08:11 AM

Sinister, I can see where you are coming from but I feel that maybe you should have titled the thread a little differently. Had it been 'Folklore: Gallows Humour' or something similar, it might have had a better reception. The title as it is now, and your original post, would suggest that you are trolling for "jokes" about Jade Goody. By naming her in the title, you've made it about her and that is what makes it inelligible for 'above the line', whilst opening yourself up for harsh criticism that might not be justified.

Now personally, I can't stand the woman, all that she represents, or the programmes and magazines that made her what she is. However, I can sympathise with her condition, having watched my father die of cancer. Even with the privacy afforded him by his anonymity and the local hospice, his death was not dignified. Jade's is not likely to be any different. It is her choice to make this public an end, she has stated her reasons for doing so, just as it is my choice not to read the articles or watch the TV programmes.

I'd like to see this thread closed, but if you really are interested in the sort of black 'gallows' humour your second post indicates, then maybe a more sensitive thread title with a less inflammatory and reasoned original post might be a start.

Of course, if your sole idea is to get more sick jokes about the death of a public figure to pass on to your mates, then it deserves to be sunk without trace.

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 08:15 AM

I have asked Joe to delete the thread. A bad idea. Apologies for any offence I have however so unwittingly caused.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: The Villan
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 08:59 AM

SS It would seem that you genuinly didn't mean for your thread to be confrontational and you have made an apology and I personally accept that.

May I suggest with respect, that you follow Liz's advice and start a new thread with a better title that will not create issues.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: goatfell
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 09:04 AM

the person and the people that find it funny to make jokes about a sick woman is just evil bastards


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: goatfell
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 09:05 AM

I just hope that none of your family or friends has cancer but then you can make jokes up about them can't you


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Subject: RE: BS: Jade Goody Jokes
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 11 Mar 09 - 09:11 AM

It's OK, Goatfell, the guy has recognised his error and apologised very graciously. Let's leave it at that, and let this one drop out?
    OK, under protest, I will allow the thread to remain closed because of the chaos it has caused - but it will not be deleted. The forces of prudery win today, and the noble tabloid queen's virtue is protected.
    Sorry, but I thought Mudcatters could react to a thread like this in a more mature fashion - like ignoring it, if they didn't like it. Do you folks get all bent out of shape like this when you see tabloid "scandal sheet" newspapers in the supermarket?
    Your demand that we deal with this issue by suppression is absolutely disgusting to me. Don't consider the closure of this thread to be a precedent.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Mar 09 - 08:16 PM

I have reopened this thread as a folklore thread, as the thread originator (Sinister Supporter) intended. I have added a message of caution and explanation at the beginning of the thread.
Before you post, I ask you to read ALL of the messages in this thread, and then say what you think.

I got to know a couple, Gary and Claudia, about two years ago, when they were in the process of joining the Catholic Church. Shortly after I met the couple, Claudia was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy and chemotherapy. She lost her hair, and was bald most of last year. Now she's recovering, and she has most of her hair back and went back to work.

But Claudia and Gary laughed a lot through their crisis, and I think it helped them make it through it all. They were honest and open about their suffering, despite all the taboos against such honest talk - and they laughed at their predicament and about themselves, and about the taboos against discussion of such things. I think that their humor helped them make it though; and that humor has always helped us make it through the toughest of times - even though that humor may seem irreverent.

So, what about the humor about Jade Goody and her cancer? What do you think of it? Has humor helped you through similarly dire situations?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: frogprince
Date: 12 Mar 09 - 08:37 PM

The single instance of gallows humor that most impressed itelf on me was from years ago when I worked in a methadone clinic (treatment for heroin addicts) briefly years ago. The bathrooms in back were labled "The Lenny Bruce Memorial Washroom" and "The Janice Joplin Memorial Washroom".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Mar 09 - 11:52 PM

Down below, you will see many expressions of that taboo, people who are absolutely appalled at the idea of discussing humor related to death and suffering.

I think we have had plenty of instances here of Mudcatters using humour in very dire, sometimes life-threatening situations and I know we have almost all of us recommended humour as a coping mechanism. We've also had plenty of discussions about death, playing and singing in hospices full of dying people, etc.

Having said that, I would thank you, Joe, not to denigrate the rest of us for perhaps not understanding the initial post's intent. You admitted to this yourself, but the rest of us aren't allowed?

The new title and further explanation help. I hope we can leave Ms. Goody out of it. According to the wiki article to which you posted a link, she has withdrawn from the public life to die and has said her goodbyes to family even. Surely we can discuss Gallows Humour without slagging off on a young woman who is dying as we type. I don't think this needs to be a personal discussion about people who are still alive but may be dying.

One more thing, I know I have posted, somewhere, about a young woman who found out she had terminal cancer. She withdrew from everything but funny, slapstick funny old movies. I can't remember how long she filled her life with them, a few months I think; anyway, she was cancer free when her "Humour Treatment" was done. We're always saying something like "I laugh to keep from crying." Good medicine in just about any situation.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/dise
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 12:57 AM

I am glad that you have opened the thread

As a "civil family of friends" bound with more than a decade of community perhaps we can share together.

I am more than happy to explain, "why death be not proud" and the "moldering worm is not the triumph of the grave" - for the first time in a decade - there is a "kindred brother within the threads" who appears willing to share.

Some terms post above "coping mechanism" - (It is NOT coping - nor is it a mechanism)if you think "hospices are full of dying" (then you do not understand hospice) - "denigrate the rest of us" - (No One can denigrate You unless You permit them - regarding "us" - ya got a mouse in your pocket - who be "us") "discussion about people who are still alive but may be dying" - (doesn't that pretty much discribe EVERYONE currently bound by our current mortal state?) "funny, slapstick funny old movies" (wasn't that what cured and led Alan Ladd to create "Candid Camrera?"

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Always delighted to laugh with the above poster - (not AT .... I wrote WITH)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/dise
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 01:03 AM

If you close the thread - OK.

But keep it in the archive....and searchable...the other threads made no-sense when referring to "Jade" when this was quarantened.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Joe - you Rock of Gibralter - you seem more than a little "on edge" during 2009. Go back to the Fed for 18 months - they need you and the break from retirement will do you (and the 401K) good.

Yeah, Garg, you'd get on edge, too, if you were in my spot. The thread damn well better NOT be closed again. -Joe-

Mick here. I am right there with you, Joe. I was reading through it, came to the closure and was about to PM and ask why. Glad you reopened it, and it should stay open. All mod's need to leave this alone. -Mick-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 01:29 AM

Back to the topic of discussion....

Googling "Jade Goody" jokes brings up 576,000 entries today. I looked through some of them, and they made me cringe. No, I guess I can't see much value in these jokes - or any defense for them. But gee, there sure are a lot of them. I wonder what those people are thinking.

On the other hand, if you Google death jokes or cancer jokes, you'll get a different perspective. For the most part, the jokes I found about cancer, serve to help people deal with it. I found a very good article titled Does Cancer Have a Sense of Humor?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 03:41 AM

Tom Munnelly, foremost Irish song collector and folklorist, faced approaching death with great humanist courage – and no little humour. Shortly before he died (of cancer, as it happens), I was privileged to attend a kind of "anticipatory wake" in Tom's home. He apologised for the absence of the (wicker) coffin in the corner of the room by announcing "It's on order – but it hasn't arrived yet!"

Regards

p.s. Any guesses as to what I sang on the night?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 04:39 AM

It is curious, but although "sick jokes" in general can be very funny, a rummage on Sickipedia finds much crudity but little wit arising from Jage Goody's cancer. That may be contrasted with the death of Diana Windsor.

My initial supposition is that the engine room for funny gallows humour is a affection for the subject matter.

I do not, however, understand why Gargoyle says that jokes about death are not a "coping mechanism".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 04:45 AM

I'm with Joe on re-opening this fascinating subject.
Our song repertoire is full of songs which cock a snook at death; there is a whole genre of them, sometimes referred to as goodnight ballads; true confessions sold at the foot of the gallows at public hangings.
It was once claimed by Bert Lloyd that the name appeared in one of Daniel Defoe's works; 'A Tour Through The Whole Island of Great Britain (??? - I've never been able to find the reference) and referred to the practice of the crowd watching a hanging shouting 'Goodnight' as the noose tightened round the subject's neck.

MacColl and Charles Parker, when they were recording actuality for The Radio Ballad (just typed 'radion ballad' - Freudan slip?), The Big Hewer' commented on the number of stories and jokes referring to death in what was the extremely dangerous mining industry.
Some examples; the first from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library cassette of traditional storytelling '.....and That's My Story'

THREE OLD MINERS
Dick Beamish, Pontypridd (?), Glamorgan, Wales

Well, you see the miner's life is a mixture, like it is in every other phase of life, a mixture of tragedy and humour; and I don't think you'll find anywhere where humour is richer in character than it is in our industry. Here's a story of the three old miners who had retired. One was well over seventy, the other one was eighty some odd and the oldest was ninety-six. And they were in the eventide of their life; summertime, sitting on the council seat enjoying the sunshine, watching the traffic going back and fore, and they suddenly discussed how they'd like to die.
The youngest, now, of the trio was well over seventy. He said, "Well boys bach," he said, "I've been watching these red sport cars," he said, "that these youngsters have got, travelling back and fore," he said. "I don't know nothing about cars," he said, "but I'd like to get into one of those," he said, "rev up," he said, "that's what I think they call it; sixty, seventy, eighty miles an hour, bang into a lamp post, everything at an end," he said. "That's the way I'd like to die."
"What about you, John?" he said, now, the one who was over eighty, now, the second oldest of the trio.
"Well, boys," he said, "I'm a bit more modern than you are," he said. "I've been reading about these sputniks. I would like to volunteer to go into one of those sputniks," he said. "They tell me they go up into the sky, thousands of miles," he said. "I'd like to be up there," he said, "ten thousand miles up, something go wrong with the works, explosion, everything finished; that's the way I would like to go out," he said.
Now the oldest of the trio of these old miners, he was ninety-six. So they said to him, "You're silent, Robert; haven't you got some suggestion how you would like to die?"
"Ha, boys," he said, "I've been listening to you two here. Do you know the way I'd like to go out?" he said.
"No, Robert, which way would you like to die?"
"Well, boys, bach, to tell you the truth," he said, "I'd like to be shot by a jealous husband!"

Recorded by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker, 1961

The second, from memory, also recorded in 1961, probably from a member of the Elliot Family of Birtly, Co Durham.

A miner called at his mate's house one Sunday morning to see if he would go down to the pub.
His mate's wife answered the door and he said; "Is Fred coming for a pint".
The lady replied, "I'm afraid Fred died suddenly last night".
Stunned, he said, "What happened missus?"
"Well, he was in the garden pulling a head of cabbage for the dinner when he had a heart attack and died".
"That's terrible hinny, what did you do?"
"What could I do; I had to open a tin of peas".

There were several stories of Bevan Boys (unemployed youths assigned to the mines by the Labour Exchange, therefore extremely inexperienced at and uncommitted to the work).
It was the practice following a death in the mine, that the whole pit should be closed down for a day as a mark of respect. Following a pit fall, two Bevan boys were sent into the mine to search for bodies.
On finding two corpses, one said to the other; "Let's take one up to the surface and save the other one for another day".

Ewan and Charles said they recorded dozens of stories like this, mostly about either death or 'black lung' (pneumoconiosis)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 05:36 AM

It's OK, Goatfell, the guy has recognised his error and apologised very graciously. Let's leave it at that, and let this one drop out?

My only error in starting this thread was to suppose people would have the nous to approach the subject with dispassionate objectivity deserving of a genuine folkloric phenomenon. In this alone I was sorely mistaken, for which I have been accused of trolling, called an evil bastard, and condemned to hell. And there I was thinking I was in the company of rational human beings.

How many people can there be in the world today whose lives haven't been touched, or else torn apart, by cancer? I've lost count of the close relatives and good friends whom I've lost to the Big-C - which any one of us might get at any time in our lives. Cancer and death are no strangers to me - likewise Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Heart Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, and Knife Crime; all of which have taken family & loved ones from me.

I say again, the intention here was not to laugh at cancer nor at those suffering from it, rather to collect and study a phenomenon of oral folkloric narrative which is an inevitable response to the current media circus. Folklore is not just about the quaint things in life, like Cheese Rolling and Morris Dancing; it emerges from the real hopes and fears of real people living real lives by way of a very real & potent catharsis. These narratives - jokes if you will - function by way of a genuine collective confrontation in which the very things that afflict us are reduced, personified and dealt with by way of ritual drama, however so droll. The humour, however, is a veneer, and the laughter all too grim, belying as it does a deeper sense of kindred affinity which extends even unto the person in question, who by her celebrity life and dying has provided a sharper focus for those common fears than would have been the case otherwise.

As with Princess Diana, our collective hearts will inevitably be broken; and, manipulated or not, our grief for the tragic and untimely passing of Jade Goody will be no less real because of it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: The Villan
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 05:58 AM

>>Sex and honesty and respectability are no longer sacred<<

Speak for yourself Joe.

>> Over the last two days, the thread was overwhelmed by a swarm of do-gooders <<

What do you mean by that Joe?
I am anti religion, but believe strongly in morality and have brought my daughters up in the same way. They are well behaved and polite at the age of 13 and 17. They have not been christened or go to church.

I am totally against political correctness, and am certainly not a do gooder. Certainly not in the eyes of Christians.

I object to a certain lady having the piss taken out of her, who you have mentioned on numerous occasions who is dying and should be left alone.

I happen to find the way that you are handling this as a forum moderator, totally unacceptable.

Sorry Joe, I have always had great respect for you in the past, but am left wondering, if we as members were to do what you have just done, we would get blocked or banned.

Are we now allowed to post whatever we like that is not politically correct or insulting. I think not.

I will get my devils costume.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 06:01 AM

Like Mr McCormick above, I too would probably despise Jade Goody if I knew her.

I have never watched Big Brother. I abominate any attempt to belittle basic human dignity, which is why I watched Noel Bloody Edmunds' House Party once. Seeing people get covered with gunge,

and hearing other people pissing themselves laughing at it, disgusted me.

I have similar distaste for the press and Ms Goody. If she is going to croak - and we are left in no doubt that she is - why can't she do it quietly ?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 06:48 AM

Whoops - what have I landed in the middle of.
Sorry for interrupting the flow
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/disease
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 07:54 AM

We are wandering again here. Many felt heartbroken when Diana Windsor died. Not I. But the point is that that collective (if mawkish) affection and grief spawned some shocking and therefore funny jokes.

Jade Goody seems to attract no similar collective affection (and if so I'm with the majority in that regard) - so the tartness of comment is replaced by mere vulgarity and the humour is lost (although some of the Jack Tweedy ones are a little more piquant).

As for either deserving to die with dignity - they chose to live their lives in the glare of publicity (both became very rich on it) and it seems to me can hardly complain if dying as they have lived. It goes with the turf, in the cult of celebrity.   Goody indeed has chosen for money reasons to die a public spectacle.   Her choice.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/dise
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 07:59 AM

I had never heard of this Jade Goody phenominum before - it ia a total non-issue to me - even though my dear friend told me yesterday she is going in for a hysterectomy - the biopsy was cancer - its just a fact of life.

This Goody thing appears to be similar to the "Challenger Explosion" (for you Brits it was a space shuttle that exploaded with a teacher along for the ride) and the "Christi McAluff" (sic?)dozens of jokes that made the rounds. Telling them to some friends in the course of a discussion - a younger one bacame quite incensed - at the "lack of respect for an American hero." I thought he was joking - he was "dead serious."

For example: "What color were Christi McAluff's eyes?
A: Blue - One Blew to the left and the other Blew to the right.

"What where Christi McAluff's last words to her husband?"
A: You feed the dog - I'll feed the fish.

What were Christa McAuliffe's last words?
A: What's this button for?

ETC...

They are sort of like the quadruplegic jokes.

Now there are some things you do not laugh about....for example....I never heard a single joke ever about the terrorist attack and killing of 11 Jewish athletes by the PLO in the Munich XX Olympics of summer 1972.

I imagine there must be some 9/11 jokes - but I do not recall hearing one.

I have read some holocaust "jokes" - but I would never repeat them.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

I will check some of my old vaudville books and see what they have on death.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gallows Humor-laughing at death/dise
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 08:47 AM

Joe - I think you were right to re-open the thread, under its altered title. We should be able to discuss the phenomenon of humour - black, sick, gallows, call it what you will - humour which is sparked by misfortune, in a rational way. This type of folk humour has always arisen spontaneously after tragedy, and the existence of the internet has made the spread of jokes arising from tragedy even greater. It's impossible to stop it and, though we might deprecate it and disapprove of it, the phenomenon itself is worthy of discussion.

Our attitude to death and our ways of coping with death and tragedy are still very Victorian in some respects. In medieval belief, for example, the whole of life was seen as a preparation for death, and the ambition was to die in the full knowledge of one's death and what - as they thought - was to come after it.The "memento mori" in paintings, for example, was a statement, a reminder, that death was ever-present, impossible to avoid, inevitable and timely. So, in many ways, people in those times had a much plainer and healthier (no pun intended) outlook on, and attitude to death. Furthermore, mortality rates were higher, and life was shorter.

I believe we're less able to cope with death by comparison. Modern medicine is dedicated to keeping us alive as long as possible, and our life expectation is longer. We seem to be unable to discuss death and the inevitability of death in all its forms and in all its aspects openly. Tragedy, death and loss need catharsis. That's why a wake after a funeral is often a joyous and life-reinforcing affair. That's why some of the most macabre humour of all comes from the medical profession. And - to take it one step further - that's why gallows humour arises spontaneously.

The question, for many of us, is where is the line of taboo drawn? Whether we like it or not, there is nothing in this world that can't be laughed at, or made the subject of a joke and, of course, whether we choose to do so, depends entirely on us as individuals. I choose not to, personally, but I hope I'm perfectly capable of discussing the subject in a reasonable way if asked to. There are 65 pages of Jade Goody jokes on the Sickipedia web site and, whether you approve of that kind of behaviour or not, the phenomenon, as a social phenomenon, exists and will always continue to do so. And therefore can be discussed, surely, by the sane and sensible in a sane and sensible way.

We often have a complex reaction to sick humour that we can't always hide. One side of us may overtly be shocked or embarrassed by black jokes - while the other side, if we care to admit it, is covertly sniggering. We're simultaneously shocked and titillated as only complex human beings can be. My parents live on the Morecambe Bay coast in the north-west of England - the scene, some years ago, of Chinese immigrant workers being drowned by the treacherous tides while collecting cockles (cockling) at night. The very next day, the joke going the rounds was in the order of:

First shark: "Fancy some fish and chips?" Second shark: "No, let's have a Chinese" (takeaway).

Yes - the very sickest of humour and, knowing the environment in which they had died very well indeed, not one that made me laugh. But the humour existed - it had arisen - and I believe, underneath the sickness was saying, perhaps, "there but for the grace of...". Why shouldn't we discuss that phenomenon?


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