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In extremely poor taste

By ATWadmin On December 16th, 2006

Did anyone hear Sacha Baron Cohen at the British Comedy Awards this week? He mentioned Borat having to dash off to the holocaust denying conference in Iran. (A timely and important joke drawing attention to this hatefest – in which Ahmadinejad accused Iranian student demonstrators protesting the event of being ‘americanised’. Surely a fine tribute and a kick in the teeth to those hard-line lefties who think America represents the ‘great satan’. You can read the sick joke of an agenda here replete with its recitation of the ‘holy’ quaran and welcome message from Mr Armageddon himself)

Speaking of ‘what were they thinking’ moments.  Contrast Baron Cohens clever remarks with Oliver Stone’s at the same comedy awards event. They were met with disbelief and jeers.  Taking the stage, he quipped: “It’s great to be back in England. I feel like Jack The Ripper days are back. Nothing ever changes here.”

Realising his joke had bombed, Stone sneered: “You’re a lovely crowd.”

One audience member said: “If he was trying to be funny, then he failed. To make a joke like that when five young women have been murdered and the killer is still on the loose was in unbelievably bad taste.”  

The world is going to hell in a handbasket, i swear.

46 Responses to “In extremely poor taste”

  1. I found that disgusting. I was similarly disgusted by Billy Connelly’s similar joke year or so ago and that is speaking as a big fan.

  2. I’ve come to expect Sacha Baron Cohen and Billy Connelly to be in bad taste, but what was Oliver Stone doing trying to tell jokes? George Clooney doesn’t even do that well.

  3. The joke was in bad taste but it was accurate.

  4. colm can you explain what you mean?

  5. Thanks aileen. Sometimes i really do wonder at people.

  6. I only meant that it was accurate in a literal sense – that here was this American coming over to the UK and seeing on the news an unfolding story which matched virtually exactly the most famous series of murders in UK history. In that sense the comparison was accurate even though it was inappropriate for him to tell it as a ‘joke’.

  7. It isnt the facts of the case. Its that it is inappropriate. I dont see why facts are relevant. Most jokes are based on ‘facts’ or lampoon current affairs. The point of telling a joke is surely to get a laugh though.

  8. “It’s great to be back in England. I feel like Jack The Ripper days are back. Nothing ever changes here.”

    -It’s not even a joke, as such, is it? What is it? He’s not trying to make a serious point, either. It’s just a totally pointless, rude comment.

  9. "-It’s not even a joke, as such, is it?"

    No, just like Mike Cunnigham’s non-joke about South Africa:

    http://atangledweb.squarespace.com/httpatangledwebsquarespace/and-its-brazil-14england-0.html#comments

  10. alan – i dont get it. but i get this. stone’s is disgusting.

  11. "alan – i dont get it."

    OK, over at Mike Cunningham’s "….And it’s Brazil-14…..England-0" thread he said:

    <Q>However, I was able to tell him that the South African World Cup 2010 ticket site was said to be doing brisk business, with one strange, but typical, Third World addition:
    the South Africans were paying people to come to their Tournament!

    s a logo 2.jpgUpdate:- There are discussions on-going regarding the logo used by the South Africans, as it has been argued that the logo should be made larger, as the wording is incomplete, as it should be reading:-

    South Africa…..Alive with possibilities of murder, rape, armed robbery, car-jacking, AID’s and HIV, lawlessness and general mayhem!</Q>

    When called on this, MC explained:

    <Q>You’re supposed to be able to recognise attempts at humour, even my feeble attempts at humour!!</Q>

    I assume Stone’s bad taste reference to England being "Alive with possibilities of murder, rape," etc. is no more objectionable than Mike Cunnigham’s. Or, is it?

  12. I daresay if the remark had been genuinely funny and made well after the case was a distant memory, it might have been acceptable. Unfortunately it’s neither. Ditto Billy Connolly’s remark about Ken Bigley.

    Reminds me of a bloke I used to work with who rolled into the office on 12th September 2001 and announced loudly; ‘hey everyone do you know the great thing about United Airlines? They deliver you straight to your office desk.’
    The silence was deafening.

  13. Alan

    I think the difference is that Stone’s comments were about specific murder victims, not yet even buried

  14. It can be very tricky to predict when a joke can be bad taste but funny, and bad taste and wrong. Tragedies and deaths can be a source of humour – witness the jokes that did the rounds after Diana’s death or Dr Shipman and jokes can be made out of events like the Tsunami or indeed even Iraq, but I suppose in a situation where we are dealing with newly murdered known individuals and there is still fear about the killer and the families grief is still raw it’s not appropriate to make a joke but it is still something that each individual who decides to tell a joke has to judge tactfully.

  15. Aileen

    Not for the first time we are thinking virtually identically.

  16. Aileen,

    An interesting observation. I thought Stone’s comments were about England.

  17. thats a bit convoluted and random. These victims arent yet buried and were very specific to the ‘joke’. Their families are still grieving. As with the Billy Connoly joke you just exercise common sense. Of course there are stupid jokes made about awful situations. But not on tv by people with some publicity clout and not cheaply. Simple really.

  18. Alan

    I don;t know if you reaslise but one of the main news items at the moment is a serial killer who has been murdering young women in Ipswich.

    There is an additional sensitivity in terms of not making comments that seek to put the lives of these young girls as not important because they are prostitutes. We have recently had the father of one talking about his loss broadcast. It is in that backdrop that the comments were made and were obviously specifically intended. I don’t want to think of the distress that this mans words could add to the distress of the bereaved. perhaps not even so much now but if as is quite likley they look back over related press and media commentry.

  19. I don’t get Alan’s comment about England. yes Oliver Stone was commenting on England but making a joke about recent murders to do so.

  20. Alison

    I get the impression you think I am defending Stone’s joke. I am not.

  21. Billy Connolly’s comments were about the captors of Ken Bigley ‘getting on with it’ – what was wrong with that exactly?

    Ken Bigley was captured along with 2 americans (who were killed immediately when the americans refused to negotiate) while taking his chances in post Saddam Iraq – earning over 4 grand a month driving lorries after he had retired – he knew the risks, he took his chance, he rolled the dice – and lost.

    Ken Bigley was a dead man from the moment he was captured, his captors knew the longer they kept him alive, the more publicity they would get and angst they would cause via the UK press

    Billy Connolly spoke the brutal truth, and i would have thought A Tangled Web would have sided with his opinions from what has been previously posted on here – not to pander to terrorists, not to feed terrorists publicity etc

    Billy Connolly’s comments were not ‘a sick joke’, but the truth served up to those who can’t handle the truth – that the longer Ken Bigley was alive, the more damage Al Qaeda could do to the soft liberal underbelly of the UK

    OK, Jack Nicholson moment over

  22. The issue of black humour is very complex but a lot of the unspoken ettiquette as with sex is to do with permission and concent.

    Police officers and firefighters use black humour as a coping strategy and that is fine. It would be unprofessional for them to share do that with any bereaved in incidents that they were involved in, unless they had formed a relationship with them where that is ok.

    I remeber once talking to a group of Police officers as part of their Family liaison training. I was really interested in sitting in on another session, prior to my talk. They did not know ho I wasn and what had happened to me. There were well through the week of very intense and draining training and discussion about death and destruction and there were a few black humour comments that I did not offend me at all, primarily as I understood the context and as I said they did not know who I was.

    When I was due to speak I did think of just saying something to them to reassure them but i diecided that it might make them more uncomfortable if I reminded them about it and it might have made it a big deal.

    I made the wrong decison and I fiund out later that a few of them were feeling guilty about it.

    If they had said it knowing how I was and without them having "gained consent" I would have taken a different view.

  23. No Colm not at all. When you first commented i wasnt sure what you meant by accurate. i suppose when you think about it the guy isnt a ripper. I dont get Alans pov though. Sorry.

  24. "Billy Connolly’s comments were about the captors of Ken Bigley ‘getting on with it’ – what was wrong with that exactly?"

    They were not funny and as part of a "comedy" routine were insensitve and indeed cruel.

    "he knew the risks, he took his chance, he rolled the dice – and lost." and so it’s ok for BC to make fun of his fate????

    "Billy Connolly spoke the brutal truth, and i would have thought A Tangled Web would have sided with his opinions from what has been previously posted on here – not to pander to terrorists, not to feed terrorists publicity etc"

    What has not wanting to pander to terrorists, a worthy ideal got to do with making fun of the fate of one of its victims?

  25. Oh the indignation. 60 prostitutes have gone missing in the UK in recent years and I haven’t seen a moratorium on jokes and sneers about them.

    5 die in a week and because of this "normal" women live in fear so the moratorium is introduced.

    How long do we have to wait before we tell jokes?

  26. Alsion,

    Let’s just chalk up my point of view to my being an American and out of the loop.

  27. My mum was involved in an horrific traffic accident ten years ago. Walking out onto London Bridge she went to cross the road and a bus driver lost control of a bus ran up onto the pavement and dragged her under the bus. She had to be got out by the fire brigade and was ages in hospital. Even now she suffers badly from the head injuries. People make jokes about being run over by a bus all the time dont they. That doesnt matter a jot really. But if at the time someone who knew about it had joked to me about the same whilst she was still in hospital I think i would have ‘punched their lights out’.

  28. Aileen

    I think makeyourmindup is trying to do a rottypup impression.

    Alison

    I don’t think anyone here , not even Alan has tried to defend the ‘joke’.

  29. Oh the indignation. 60 prostitutes have gone missing in the UK in recent years and I haven’t seen a moratorium on jokes and sneers about them.

    Garfield – the case has been picked up by the media, highly publicised and the families interviewed. The case is highly public. God only knows what you mean by ‘normal’ women either. Blimey. But if you want to wade in on the joke telling noone is stopping you.

  30. Alison

    Sorry to hear abput what happened to your mum. Although as you say she still suffers from the head injuries I do hope she has recovered well generally and is still able to enjoy life.

  31. Sorry youve got ne again Colm – not sure what you mean. I dont think they have no.

  32. Colm – Not totally but thanks. We are very lucky she is alive. In the police car on the way up to Guys they thought she had died. That was a sobering and horrible 15 mins. Re yr other point i dont think people do defend it – its just something to talk about on a saturday night i guess – as all us saddos are in and not out during the festive season! 😉

  33. Makeyourmindup – OK. Interesting. i didnt realise that was his intent. You mean a bit like Sacha Baren Cohen and the holocaust remark?

  34. Alison

    I was referring to your comment that you didn’t understand Alan’s POV. I though you believed he was trying to defend the joke. he wasn’t. He was just commenting in general in comparison to other ‘jokes’.

  35. Alison

    Yes we are the sad ones – tip tapping on our keyboards on a Saturday night. I did have a good drink last night though at 2 separate parties , so my weekend wasn’t entirely ‘Billy no mates’.

  36. Garfield

    "Oh the indignation. 60 prostitutes have gone missing in the UK in recent years and I haven’t seen a moratorium on jokes and sneers about them."

    I haven’t seen any jokes about soecific murders of prostitutes except the one we are talking about.

    "5 die in a week and because of this "normal" women live in fear so the moratorium is introduced."

    I don’t accept this for a moment. Mine and I have no reason not to suspect other’t people’s horror was because of those that have been murdered and their families. Who has mentioned "normal" women, Alison’s OP talked about the five young women who have been murdered.

    "How long do we have to wait before we tell jokes? "

    I don’t actually see the need to joke about specific murder victims ever, although waiting until they are buried would be a start.

  37. Yes. was a heavy Xmas week. im sobering up before i go to la fwance on tuesday ho ho ho

  38. Alan just hadn’t realised how specific the comments were.

    Alison you illustrated the point perfectly

  39. I’m meant to be writong my cards and wrapping presents that need to be done for tomorrow. but I know that I will be heading out tomorrow and will be wrapping presents in the train and writing the cards at my friends house before handing them out.

  40. I haven’t even bought any presents yet – I will have to do it all next week.

    I think the passage of time plays a big part in ‘allowing’ jokes to be aired about tragedies – there is a place for gallows humour , but the joke has to be very clever or very silly but not malicious.

  41. These days,it seems that every no good son of a bitch that says something cruel wraps himself in a flag of "truth" or "honesty". Such comments do not speak any truth, nor do the speakers or their admirers come from any position of honesty.

    I haven’t the slightest respect for Billy Connolly as a man.

  42. These days,it seems that every no good son of a bitch that says something cruel wraps himself in a flag of "truth" or "honesty". Such comments do not speak any truth, nor do the speakers or their admirers come from any position of honesty.

    I haven’t the slightest respect for Billy Connolly as a man.

  43. Sorry for the double post.

    But another point as to the "truth" as spoken by this Connolly: he denied even saying it, despite an audience full of witnesses, at least one who confronted him ("You’re talking about a man’s life" or similar comment) over it.

    So Connolly is a liar in addition to being very cruel to a man and a family in the most awful situation one can ever imagine.

  44. Phantom – i didnt see it but it is all sick as is Connollys remark. I though he had said it in anger but from what you imply possibly not. But then again so frankly was the medias insistence in running these images on front pages and tv every night and day. It got to a point where i felt sick walking to a newstand, like i was watching this man slowly be out to death in front of my eyes. I wished it over. I genuinely did. Only because i knew there was no way out and that the murdering bastards undertaking this were enjoying the publicity. The media seemed to revel in it. I felt forced to be a part of it. I refused to watch tv or pick up a paper til it was over. I honest to god shut my eyes and wished it over.

  45. It doesn’t always have to be an unhappy ending. Norman Kember was freed. I agree though that the media should not give huge publicity to people being held captive. It plays into the hands of the kidnappers.

  46. Tasteless jokes can be funny, but like everyhting else there is a time and place. Oliver Stone is not known for his standup ability and probably is missing that small speed bump most of us have in our brains that tells us no to let out every thought in our head. His line was probably offensive and certainly not funny.

    The all time winner in these type of situations remains Pee Wee Herman who shortyly after his arrest for not behaving himself in a male porno theater, and after a slew of Pee Wee jokes made the rounds (pre-internet) appeared at an MTV Award show and utterd the memorable first line "Heard any Good Jokes Lately?".