Thursday, December 20, 2012
Sensibility wins out over sensitivity
I'm not immune to the devastating emotional impact of the school massacre in Newtown, CT. It was a terrible tragedy and I can't imagine being a resident in that town, let alone a parent of one of the murdered children.
But at the same time, I think we have a tendency to, in the name of being sensitive, reduce or eliminate anything that could possibly cause discomfort to anyone affected by tragedies of that nature. Movie studios reduced the scope of their premiers for the films Jack Reacher and Django Unchained, both violent films featuring their fair share of gunfire. In the name of good taste, I have little problem with that. There's a difference between reveling at a party for a violent murderous film days after an unspeakable act of violence killed 26 people, 20 of whom were small children, and leaving in a joke that, within the context of the film, has nothing at all to do with actual child murder.
I'm referring to director Judd Apatow's decision to leave a joke in his new film, This is 40
The joke involves references to child murder which, of course, in light of what happened last week, takes on an entirely new meaning for most people. Certainly, many people watching the film will immediately call to mind the horrors of watching the news reports. Perhaps as an artistic decision it might have been wise for Apatow to remove the joke because who wants an audience thinking of actual real life child murders in the middle of a comedy? But if the joke is removed simply because it could make some people uncomfortable, then we cross the line into that territory I dread we will continue to fall deeper and deeper into: nobody should ever feel bad about anything ever. We see this attitude constantly and quite frankly, I think it's making us into a nation of frightened little kittens.
So I applaud Apatow for making the decision to leave the joke in the film if for no other reason than that it might make people briefly uncomfortable only to soon discover that nothing terrible comes from that fleeting feeling.
Let's please stem the tide of transforming ourselves into a nation of pussies.