How Comedy Helps Society

Going to the ReelOut Film Festival to watch the film G.B.F directed by Darren Stein was an experience I am glad I got to enjoy. I would recommend everyone go to the festival no matter the film; being in the building was amazing.  There was this abundant feeling of acceptance and understanding throughout the building, if I went there in pajamas I don’t feel like I would have been judged or given a second glance. Being in an atmosphere like that was very refreshing compared to my hometown and Queen’s University.

Although Queen’s is taking many strides in the right direction we are still stereotyped as a judgmental white dominated school, and sometimes these stereotypes can make people feel uncomfortable and unaccepted.  Being a minority at Queen’s it can some times be overwhelming even though my hometown is a white dominated city, being away from family can sometimes make you feel out numbered.

 

*SPOILER*

 

Relating to the film G.B.F (standing for Gay Best Friend) directed by Darren Stein, I enjoyed it. The film is a comedic representation of a teenager coming out as a homosexual to his high school. The main character Tanner Daniels attended North Gateway High School and was “out-ed” before he was ready to come out, when his fellow schoolmates tracked him using a dating app made for homosexuals. This outing changed his life, instead of being a wallflower; he became the next “object” to win by the three Queen Bee’s at the school; Shlee, Caprice, and Fawcett. Every girl wanted a gay best friend.

 

The film portrays the ridiculous stereotypes placed on homosexuals by society. It successfully does this by using comedy and stereotypes about high school. It references the popularity struggles in high school, and the different social groups. The main idea of the film is that the three Queen Bee’s are struggling to gain the most power/popularity to win prom queen and the only way to do that is to have the next best fad, which in this case is a gay best friend. However once Tanner is “out-ed” the three Queen Bee’s are a little upset that he does not follow the typical stereotypes places on homosexuals.  He does not have impeccable fashion taste, he does not want to have girl chats, and he reads comic books. Their upset was evident when they said, “You’re not like the ones on Bravo…” ones referring to the homosexuals on bravo who depict the stereotypes society places on gays. Stein’s use of exaggerated stereotypes was brilliant, t caused viewers to laugh and then also assess their own perceptions and stereotypes they believed to be true. One that really stuck out to me was when in the movie they stated “we don’t have a real live gay”, at first I laughed along with the audience but then it got me thinking that in fact during high school we had no openly homosexuals. They only came out during the summer of grade 12 year going towards university. That got me thinking, was my high school not accepting enough, were we to judgmental?  If you asked me that question before the movie I would have sworn that we were an accepting high school with a great community but now I have to think long and hard if that was actually the case. Did we not make a safe environment?  Another comedic example that was used to show the unrealistic stereotypes and judgment placed on homosexuals by some portions of society is a quote that my friend showed me from the website wittyprofiles.com.

 

“ I went to subway today to get my favorite. The man in front of me ordered a different sub. I got really pissed because he didn’t get the same thing as me, even though it didn’t affect me in any way.”

 

“This is what people sounf like when they say gay marriage affects them.”

(http://www.wittyprofiles.com/q/6769016)

 

 

 I think the use of comedy and outrageous stereotypes is a great way to make society think and assess situations better because they realize how ridiculous some of them are.

 

An example of a successful use of comedic stereotypes to breakdown barriers and show the general public how stereotypes can hurt people is done by a comedic tour called The Axis of Evil. In the United States of America, axis of evil refers to a act of terror made against the homeland, particularly by Muslims. To show how ridiculous it was to stereotype all Muslims as terrorists and scary human beings comedians Ahmed Ahmed (from Egypt), Maz Jobrani (from Iran), and Aron Kader (whose father is Palestinian) created the tour called Axis of Evil. The goal of this tour was to show the burdens Muslims are faced with because the stereotype of them being terrorist exits, it also was to show that Muslims are people just like everyone else, the laugh, they make jokes, and they are not all evil.  One of the most popular lines in the comedy tour is “As a Middle Eastern male, I know there’s certain things I’m not supposed to say on an airplane in the U.S. I can’t walk down the aisle and be like, ‘Hi, Jack.’ Even if I’m there with my friend Jack, I say, ‘Greetings Jack,’” (Jobrani, Axis of Evil Tour) I feel that this line in his comedy act is a clear show of the breakdown of stereotypes. People listening to this joke laugh because they think how ridiculous it is but then they realize that it is actually true.

 

If you would like to watch some of the jokes and comedy acts they have here is the link: http://blog.ted.com/2012/12/12/a-sampling-of-maz-jobranis-stand-up-sprinkled-with-the-work-of-his-axis-of-evil-comedy-tour-collaborators/

 

I believe the use of comedy in both the movie and in the comedy act of the individuals is the best way to show controversial ideas to the general public because it gets them thinking. 

3 Comments

  1. You’ve put forward a very strong argument. You used lots of effective examples to support your position. I agree with your point that the over exaggerated stereotypes used for comedic purposes is an effective and constructive way to spread awareness about teens facing serious identity issues. Before reading your post, I thought comedies were a poor source of education because the media relies on negative stereotypes for naiive entertainment. Comedies, as you have highlighted, educate the audience in a different way because there is still a moment available for personal reflection after the joke is told, the audience laughs, and you can think and realize that the stereotypes are actually real. At the end of the day, spreading awareness of an issue in the media is about getting the most amount of attention and you’ve showed me that there are many ways to do this effectively.

  2. I completely agree that this movie effectively used comedy to put forth their thoughts on ridiculous stereotypes. Your use of examples, as 12sg60 stated, are impressive. The quote about ordering the sub and how it doesn’t affect us just as gay marriage doesn’t is really interesting. I’ve heard that quote before and it has always stuck with me.
    But I do think that sometimes using comedy to prove a point is ineffective depending on the audience. Younger viewers might simply overlook the underlying messages because it doesn’t occur to them that the comedy is meant to be ironic. I do think that understanding this message definitely has an age limit on it.

  3. It’s really interesting of how most or possibly all the people in our group chose the same movie for this festival. Anyways, great points, I totally agree with you on how humor can brighten up our society, and especially with stereotypes, I believe it is the best way to actually reach out to people and tell them that they are wrong. I guess humor can actually have impact on both positive and negative sides, but movies like GBF, I believe that humor was the best choice for the director to reach out to every audience. Your examples and quotes are very impressive, and I totally agree with you on the Muslim identities in USA’s society. I also agree very much on the point that I felt un-judged and accepted in the Screening room! It was such an amazing experience.

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