Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jokes and a twisted nation.

Any civilization in the world is bound to have it's own jokes. The element of laughter is present in all forms of human life. Unknowingly however, jokes give up a lot about how the society itself thinks. Is it a free society or is it not? Many such questions can be answered simply by looking at the jokes we tell each other.

A joke makes us laugh simply because of the punch line. The punch is something we do not expect. It is not something which happens a lot and hence makes us laugh. The nature of laughter itself is for another article and so we will abstain from it here. On giving some thought to it, do jokes also imbibe in children certain traits specific to the society they grow up in? Let us have a look.

A google search for "top 100 indian jokes" returns some websites. A casual look is enough to show a few things. Some of the jokes I want to use to illustrate my point are:
A teacher asked her class for sentences using the word "beans"..
My Father grows beans," said one student. "My father cooks beans," said
another.
Then little Johnny spoke up: "We are all human beans."
This shows that one would not expect the use of the word 'beans' in 'human beings'. Thus the punch which gets us cracking. The more unexpected the punch, the harder we laugh.

As a old man was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang.
Answering, he heard his wife's voice urgently warning him,
"Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on Route 280. Please  be careful!"
"It's not just one car," said Herman, "It's hundreds of them!"
This popular one gets us cracking the first time and consequently loses it's mirth.

What we miss however is that a lot of the jokes we tell are sexist, racist and many other things deemed unworthy of society. We overlook them in jokes as they appear harmless.

A lot of Indian jokes involve sardars. A lot of English jokes involve blonds. Both based on the crux that the sardars and blonds have less than average intelligence. This may seem harmless enough but when repeated in front of a child in formative years, it embeds into them the idea that some people are less intelligent than most.

Then comes the racist side of jokes.
Father's day, the most confusing day in the ghetto.
What might be funny to us as grown adults, with our preconceptions already wired into us, might be instructive for a child. As there is no way of insulating children from the mirth of society, we must ask, do we really want our children growing up with the same preconceptions we have now? Do we really want them to make the same mistakes?

Jokes might lighten us but joking around in front of a child is a serious responsibility. They are powerful tools of social regimentation.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*sources*
1. top 100 indian jokes
- http://binscorner.com/pages/a/all-time-best-50-jokes.html
- http://believenext.blogspot.in/2012/05/best-joke-ever-top-50-hindi.html
- http://top10wala.in/top-10-hindi-jokes-ever/
- http://best100sms.blogspot.in/2010/02/best-100-hindi-sms-jokes-to-send-to.html

2. top 100 jokes
- http://www.jokes-best.com/
- http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/top-100-jokes-edinburgh-fringe-4075470
- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturepicturegalleries/11034196/funny-jokes.html
- http://shortestjokes.blogspot.in/2013/03/top-100-funny-jokes.html