Recently, someone who I had thought of as a “friend”, had
made a joke about me to our friend group about my physical appearance. At the
time, I didn’t realize just how abusive and cruel it was, because we had always
been playfully critical about each other and I wanted to be their friend. This
person told everyone that I shouldn’t spend so much time putting on my makeup,
because it wasn’t even worth it because I wasn’t even pretty, so it didn’t even
make a difference. At the time, I
laughed at their joke to be included and show that I was care free, but deep
down I knew it was true because I have always struggled with my appearance,
self- acceptance and societies definition of beauty.
This person had used humor to mask the offensiveness of the
comment, and invite others to laugh along, because of its’ distance to the
actual meaning. In this case my so-called friend, abused humor and the
contagiousness of it to offend and humiliate me in a way that would have been
hard for me to get upset over, and would be seen as overreacting. Morreall points out that the abuser of humor
often uses it to achieve a goal, or ulterior motive, for instance gaining a
higher rank, or standard among friends by putting others down.
Our mock kidding/criticism started out as playful, and cheeky,
but had soon escalated to degrading remarks rather than friendly fire, as they
made friends with a different type of person. Harvey is not incorrect, when she states that
humor has the power to harm or reinforce negative stereotypes, and sexism, but
it often depends on the character of the person themselves. Harvey does make a
valid point when she states that humor reinforces the power of individuals in
high social standings. But, this depends on the type/character of the person,
for example our family friend is extremely funny and his humor is never based
in callousness or negativity.
Although humor can have a tendency to be harmful, it does
have an important place in society and can be used to bring individuals
together or to provide a therapeutic outlet. Joking amongst best friends creates
a feeling of intimacy and affection that have been proven to be beneficial to
ones’ physical and mental health. In the end humor is subjective to our own
interpretations which can be taken in the wrong context or misinterpreted.