WARNING: This is another of my rants.
Now apparently there is a group demanding no one can make fun of people who are on gluten-free diets. Did you know that folks who are avoiding gluten in their meals are being ostracized? This sounds like a sketch but it’s real.
The Disney Channel has pulled an episode of their sitcom, JESSIE, because angry parents made a huge stink when derogatory jokes were made about kids who needed gluten-free diets. The episode first appeared on line and Disney responded by pulling the episode off the air.
Here’s one of the offensive jokes. A character says to the dieter: “You call me sweetie again, and you'll be eating some gluten-free knuckles.”
Ohmygod! How could anyone allow that on television?
Yes, gluten-free diets are necessary for people with celiac disease. And I’m sure they’re a pain in the ass. This is not a choice, it’s a burden they’re stuck with. And when it’s so important for kids to fit in, anything that isolates them is like a scarlet letter. As someone who was an outcast and geek in school myself, I can totally empathize.
But come on. Where do we draw the line? The jokes weren’t malicious. At worst they were glib. Have we become so overly sensitive that gluten-free diets are now an incendiary topic?
Where are the asthma zealots? Their activists are dropping the ball. There’s an episode of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER where one of Beaver’s friends has an inhaler. Shouldn’t that be yanked off the air the way AMOS AND ANDY was? I think there’s also an inhaler joke in THE WONDER YEARS. Burn the negatives!
Comedy needs to have edge. It needs to ruffle some feathers. When we’re so afraid of offending anybody we might as well not even do comedy.
You kill the sacred cow; you kill the golden goose.
I will happily grant you that we have a responsibility not to be overly cruel. There are lines of good taste and if we have any humanity we need to observe those lines. There was a big discussion of that just this last weekend in this blog. But we also need to lighten up. And we as comedy writers (I refrain from using the pretentious word – artist) can’t walk on eggshells. We can’t self-censor ourselves in fear that some whacko parent group will protest. Because here’s the thing: no matter what you write someone will take issue.
Now I expect a flood of angry comments (most of them by “anonymous”). I’m insensitive. I have no compassion. This is yet another example of how irresponsible I am. What if a child read this blog? By inference I must also condone torture (I got those trolls when I had the audacity to like ZERO DARK THIRTY). I’d make fun of handicapped kids too. I’m not funny was never funny. I’m in bed with the insidious Gluten industry. I’m too old to understand anything. This is why I’m no longer producing television shows. And this is proof I have it in for Woody Allen.
But once we can’t make fun of anything we’re on a comedy-free diet. And at the moment there are no activists for us. So please, have a little compassion for me.
By the way, there is a gluten-free dating site. I'd make jokes except... y'know...