Where Should We Draw the Line when Parodying? (April 16th post)

So, this is something that has bothered me for quite some time, and I don’t have an answer for it. I watch a YouTuber called Filthy Frank, a guy who is half-white, half-Japanese. He’s supposed to represent a disgusting, terrible person. If you go to Frank’s YouTube description page, it says that he is “the embodiment of everything a person should not be. He is anti-PC, anti-social, and anti-couth.” Basically, his “character” that he performs is supposed to parody “the social media machine” and essentially reflect how terrible everything in the world is. So then, the actual character behind this persona, Joji, does not actually hold the views or believe in doing the things that are acted out on camera in his show. The reason I’m talking about him is because Frank essentially displays acts of human indecency in terms of ableism, racism, sexism, so on and so forth. The issue I have with this is that from one perspective, the things he is doing on this channel are a parody; they are jokes and are clearly described as such. They don’t actually represent what he thinks is good or right in the world. However, when people make these jokes, regardless of intention, that message is still technically being spread, and there are those who will agree with it regardless of whether or not the person conveying that message means it. This spread technically promotes that mindset. A similar example lies in the YouTuber “Pewdiepie” using a website known as “Fiver” to pay some people five dollars to hold up a sign that said “Hitler did nothing wrong.” News media took this and used it to claim “Pewdiepie is a Nazi”, despite him not truly expressing any actual anti-Semitic or Nazi views, and the fact that the fiver incident was meant as a joke. Pewdiepie also apologized for making the joke and recognized that he had gone too far with said joke. However, again, the idea presented here still potentially finds its way to those that agree with it. I’d personally like to believe that context matters, that intention matters, that every instance of controversy should be dealt with on a case by case basis to ensure that jokes remain jokes, and actual hate-speak and hate crime are prevented. However, I’m unable to think of any practical methods to ensure such a thing happens. I assume that McIntosh (based off of the list of privileges that she made in our text [FF p. 12-14]) would likely say my ability to have this view is due to my white privilege, and honestly I feel like there’s merit in that. My identity as a white male isn’t necessarily threatened by statements like “Hitler did nothing wrong.” Obviously Hitler did everything wrong, there should be no disputing that. But they’re also words that are linked to different intentions based on context and who says them. However, the message of hate is still there.

(Here’s a link to Frank’s Youtube description on his page. I will warn again, the channel does have offensive content.)

https://www.youtube.com/user/TVFilthyFrank/about

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