Monday, 6 September 2010
You Cannot be Serious!
Is anything a fit subject for humour? I’ve not usually got much time for those who complain, for instance, about jokes about religious belief or ritual, though I can see why those who wish to take their religion seriously object to them. I am led to this reflection after seeing a poster in my local arts centre advertising a one-man show called ‘Lord of the Rings’. The poster suggests that if you like Lord of the Rings, you’ll love this, and the quoted reviews claim that it is hilariously funny. I found myself thinking that the one thing I didn’t want Lord of the Rings to be is funny. I’m not, of course, going to protest outside the show or write letters of complaint to the theatre management. But I won’t go to see it.
I’m not usually averse to humour and especially enjoy satire directed at those who deserve to be lampooned. I can even see that some people might think Lord of the Rings deserves to be lampooned, though that does not seem to be the case here. Thinking about it, I find that I am less keen on such things as mimics pretending to be someone else in order to get people to laugh at them. But my specific objection here seems to be to parody. It could be said that Lord of the Rings is fantasy, and so it is not ‘real’ so there can be no objection to making fun of it. On the other hand the only way such high fantasy can work (except I suppose as spectacle which might be the main attraction of the film version) is if it is taken seriously. So to laugh at it is to undermine it.
Do I want to ally myself with the killjoys, the religious fanatics and those who say there shall be no more cakes and ale? Do I wish to assert that certain areas of human culture are sacrosanct and cannot be subject to humorous interpretation? My clear answer is no. But the feeling persists that trivializing some things that should not be trivialized is to detract from the human potential for deeply felt experience.