Op-Ed: When Did Death & Domestic Violence Become Funny?
Friday, May 28, 2010 was a strange day. Twitter exploded with a couple of situations which garnered a lot of attention. The first came when it was announced that Gary Coleman of Diff’rent Strokes fame had passed away due to a brain hemorrhage at the age of 42. Shortly thereafter, a video surfaced of a young man slapping groupie queen Kat Stacks.
When situations arise, Twitter bursts at the seams with commentary. What was surprising about both situations was the level of insensitivity displayed. Some made jokes about Coleman’s death, while others laughed at Kat Stacks being slapped and told to apologize for her actions. While reading some of the tweets, I began to wonder if we’ve become a society that points and laughs at others misery until it happens to us.
With Kat Stacks, it’s easy to see this girl is completely lost. She needs help, not pageviews. Her blog is nothing more than aimless rants about sexual exploits with famous rappers. It’s not the sort of thing that should be given as much attention as it has received. Every comment, interview and click on her blog pours gasoline on her already out-of-control fire. Regardless of what she’s said or done, the fact she was assaulted by a man is dead wrong. Everyone knows the unwritten rule—never put your hands on a woman. For someone to record this and have the gall to post it online is surreal, but for people to actually condone this type of behavior is even worse. It’s rather difficult for me to find the humor in it. To say she “deserved it” is also a lame excuse. I don’t support ANYTHING she does, but I’ll never say it’s okay to slap any woman unprovoked. Truthfully, Kat Stacks is a monster “we” created. Had we not paid so much attention to her, she may never be known well enough to be slapped and have it broadcast on the Internet.
But I digress…
In Gary Coleman’s case, making jokes about somebody passing away is pretty distasteful. Coleman may not be a “hero” but somebody has lost a son, brother, friend, and are grieving. Making jokes about his height, or the fact he fell and hit his head, is inappropriate. Death is never anything to laugh at. But somewhere along the lines, we figured it would be okay to poke fun at the demise of an individual.
Perhaps it’s the Internet that gives us the balls to say what we say. Considering the World Wide Web has allowed us to communicate with people without actually ever meeting them provides a certain amount of disconnect to people’s lives and feelings. I don’t understand the need to provide snarky commentary on things as severe as death—but others do. Maybe some people find it okay to strike a woman who’s clearly not ready for a fight, too.
As much as I love the Internet, it’s become, what I’d like to call, “Computer Courage.” Just like a few shots of your favorite tequila will have many doing things they wouldn’t normally do, the Internet has people saying things they’d never have the audacity to say in a public setting. For those who’d make the same jokes in public, maybe you should just keep them to yourselves.
Meanwhile, there are situations that truly matter that get little or no attention. Instead, we’re sitting here talking about Kat Stacks and making jokes about Gary Coleman’s death. I’ll go to CNN.com and read Davey D‘s site while most of you feed WorldStarHipHop and continue to laugh while the world crumbles around you.