The Hangover: Glory vs. Depravity in Humor (Part 1)

26 07 2011

As a follow-up to my last post about the dangers of humor coming at the expense of human dignity, I wanted to cite a real world example.  (I have chosen the movie, “The Hangover” because it is a movie that is generally agreed upon as both very funny, and kind of raunchy.)

What is a healthy emotional response to this?

I have some hesitancy about doing this, because some may feel judged for thinking that something (like “The Hangover”) is funny, or may disagree with my assessment of things.  So, I want to say two things about this:

1. Some things that are inappropriate and damaging are also, for better or for worse, really funny.  We can’t always control our instinctive responses to things.  So, if you find yourself (as I often do) laughing at something inappropriate or damaging, that doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person.  But how you respond to it (i.e., indulging it and encouraging it, vs. walking away or changing the channel) is worth looking into.

2. My goal here isn’t to pass judgment on “The Hangover”.  I have no doubt that there is true Glory and Creativity in the movie!  I’m not here to pass judgment.  My goal, rather, is to use “The Hangover” as an example to help us consider what goes on in our hearts when we laugh.

And without further ado… The Trailer:

Homework!  (Can I assign homework in a blog post?  Whatever; I’m doing it.)

Since this series of blog posts is about how humor often comes at the expense of human dignity: Make a list of all the examples of Degradation and Debasement you see in this trailer (or remember from the movie) and list your corresponding emotional reaction to each instance of Degradation or Debasement.


Debasement: Intentionally causing physical harm to a human being with a stun gun for humorous effect.

My emotional response: joy (I laugh); sadness/horror (It’s awful and wrong to enjoy the torture of a living thing.)

Is self-mutilation funny if it's fictional?

Next time: I’ll show you my complete list and then respond to my list!

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