"There is a time for everything ... a time to weep and a time to laugh."
These words come from The Ecclesiastes, better known by their more common name, The Byrds. If you don't understand this music reference, please turn! turn! turn! the page.
Why am I talking about weeping and laughing? Anyone who frequents YouTube is aware of the [Bleep] Girls Say videos that have been going viral this month. This comedic reel has spawned hundreds of variations (no exaggeration—this meme will peter out any day now), among them: "things" Asian Girls Say, L.A. Girls Say, Black Girls Say, Latina Girls Say, Brides Say, Church Girls Say, Actresses Say, Deaf Girls Say ... the list goes on and on.
I made up Deaf Girls Say, but I bet someone would take offense to the meme if it existed. Except it would be called a mime. (If you choose to take any offense to this statement, please do so for no other reason than because it was a horrible joke.)
Every one of these videos has been met with some sort of backlash because a number of folks find them offensive. So are they offensive? Or are they true? More importantly, are they funny?
As a longtime stand-up performer and comedy writer, I believe that in order for something to be funny, it has to come from a place of truth. A well-known saying in the stand-up circuit is: comedy = tragedy + time.
There weren't many jokes flying around about terrorism in 2001, but "Family Guy" and "South Park" no longer shy away from 9/11mentions, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a Muslim comic who doesn't poke fun of his experiences in airline security. Sarah Silverman elicits chuckles with her Holocaust jokes, and Chelsea Handler makes more references to date rape than a Tori Spelling Lifetime marathon.
In the early '90s, Ted Danson dressed in blackface at a roast for Whoopi Goldberg. After the hate mail started pouring in accusing Danson of being racist, Goldberg jumped to his defense. "It was funny," she simply said.
Danson said—and I agree—that you always have to look at intent. So which is the problem: that people are easily offended or that we just live in a society where a lot of people have bad intentions, therefore it is irresponsible to make light of serious situations such as sexism, racism, terrorism and abortionism.
Maybe someone took offense to my reference to a video about things a deaf girl would say. Would it lessen the offense if I explained that I had spent years studying the deaf culture and spent time in school to become an interpreter? Or perhaps stated I had deaf friends or that I was deaf myself?
As someone who has never been the victim of horrific cruel intentions, it's easy for me to say that I don't understand those who can't laugh at themselves or their situations.
I just think these videos are "a time to laugh." And if you don't agree, I look forward to the viral explosion of [Bleep] That Dumb [Bleep] Columnist in [Bleeping] RedEye Says.
KATIE KILLACKY IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR.