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Who is harmed by a real names policy: I found this article excellently comprehensive.

A photo from 1965 alongside a photo from last night's Brooklyn protests. Showing how little has changed.

Speaking of visceral demonstrations of bad history and the present that sometimes re-enacts it, this blackface montage (blackface, cartoons and other portrayals of black people) from Spike Lee's Bamboozled. I don't know about the film in general, people seem to think it's supposed to be satirical, but the music suggests deep sadness. I wonder who to even show this clip to. I am glad I watched it, it was an injection of so much context that makes blackface never okay. But it would also be needlessly horrifying and upsetting to anyone who already understood this intuitively.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-15 10:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I watched the movie when it first came out, and rather enjoyed it, as a deconstruction of the way many people build their identity. It's one of the first things I think about when people talk about "ironic racism/sexism/etc". How good intentions can go ill.
I've never heard anyone else say a good thing about it though.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-16 08:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've been thinking lately that humor is to some degree inherently anti-empathetic. This can be valuable, because we don't always want to be fully in touch with our feelings--if I had to re-experience the things I felt during my first labor every time I think about labor, for example, I'd be in therapy. But it can also be damaging, when used in ways which inhibit empathetic connections with other people--say, racist or sexist jokes. Many people have reacted to people being offended at offensive things with, "It's just a joke!" Well, finding it funny depends on not empathising with the subjects.

Speaking of blackface.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-28 07:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I can try :)
I started thinking about it because Tron (my three yr old) has a sense of humor. The rest of us don't (not very good ones, anyway.) He's notably mischievous. He'll do things because he's not supposed to do them, laughing all the while. (Punishments therefore tend to be counter-productive.) His older brother is very serious and often doesn't 'get' Tron's humor, which leads to conflicts. He doesn't understand that Tron is joking when he calls him something silly and gets offended.

I fail at humor, but somehow, I've got a class clown. And as Tron messes up my dishes or advises his little sister to fall down the stairs or calls his brother a babababa, laughing all the while, the husband and I sort of look at each other in horror and ask 'how did that happen?'

There is something about humor which is about disconnects, things being out of place or mixed up. Basically, something being wrong. If we react to it being wrong with, "hey, that's wrong!" (Link's reaction,) then we may feel distress, disappointment, anger, etc. But to see the humor in it, that suggests some sort of emotional disconnect from the 'wrong' thing.

A lot of humor involves subjects which are emotionally troubling, intense, or taboo, such as death, sex, or ethnic stereotypes. Or in visual media, violence/harm. Why do so many children's cartoons involve characters being grievously injured (eg, Wyle E. Coyote?)

I want to emphasize that this antiempathetic response shouldn't be seen as a priori negative. Humans probably function better when they can emotionally distance themselves from life's harsher realities, at least some of the time. But two people's ability to laugh at a joke may differ depending on their life situation--someone who just had someone close to them die is much less likely to find a joke about death amusing than someone who hasn't.

When someone says, "It's just a joke! Get over it!" there may be a difference in empathetic identification, where one person is empathizing or identifying more strongly with the subject of the joke than the other. They don't see Wyle E. Coyote falling; they see a poor animal being brutally harmed.

Anyway, I've been poking around to see if anyone agrees with me :P I'm looking at this, now: The Relation Between Humor and Empathy

"Kuiper, Martin, & Olinger (1993) and Kuiper, McKenzie, & Belanger (1995) found that those high in humor were more likely than those low in humor to perceive potentially threatening events in a positive manner. Other studies have found humor
to be a factor in reducing stress (Martin & Lefcourt, 1983; Lefcourt & Martin, 1986; Nezu, Nezu, & Blissett, 1988; Fry, 1995; Newman & Stone, 1996; Abel, 1998)."

"Hampes (2001) directly investigated the relationship between humor and empathy and found a positive correlation between the Coping Humor Scale, Situational Humor Response Questionnaire, and Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale and
empathic concern, the extent to which a person feels warmth, compassion, and concern towards others who are having negative experiences (Davis, 1980). However, this study was limited in several respects. First of all, each of the humor tests
was a single measure instrument that did not separate humor into maladaptive and adaptive styles. Martin, Puhlik-Doris, Larsen, Gray & Weir (2003) found four different styles of humor: two adaptive (affiliative and self-enhancing) and two maladaptive (aggressive and self-defeating)."

(I can see how, in someone like Link, a low sense of humor might be coupled with low empathetic abilities; he doesn't really 'get it' when people are joking, for example, and may respond more seriously than situations warrant, which [aside from potentially alienating people] can subject him to more stress.)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-28 07:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Martin and Dutrizac (2004) studied the relationship between the four styles of humor (affiliative, self-enhancing, aggressive, self-defeating) and empathy. They found that self-enhancing humor was positively correlated with the receiving and giving of
empathic responses and aggressive humor was negatively correlated with the giving and receiving of empathic responses."

"Affiliative humor and empathic concern (r = .23, p < .05) and self-enhancing humor and perspective-taking empathy (r = .28, p < .01) were significantly and positively correlated, partially supporting the first hypothesis. Self-enhancing humor was
significantly and negatively correlated with personal distress (r = -.34, p < .001), partially supporting the second hypothesis. The third hypothesis was supported by the significant and negative correlations between aggressive humor and perspective-taking empathy (r = -.40, p < .001), empathic concern (r = -.29, p < .01), and personal distress (r = -.20, p < .05). The fourth and fifth hypotheses involving self-defeating humor and empathic concern, perspective-taking, and personal distress were not supported." (Emphasis mine.)

So, it looks like some humor is good and some is bad?
Make of it what you will. :)


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