Why have we stopped laughing?

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troyheadshotThree Aussie guys – Shane, Barry and Jeff – were working on a high-rise building project. Unfortunately, Shane falls off the scaffolding and is killed instantly.

As the ambulance takes the body away, Barry says, “Someone should go and tell his wife”.
Jeff says, “OK, I’m pretty good at that sensitive stuff, I’ll do it”.

Two hours later, he comes back carrying a case of Fosters.

“Where did you get that, Jeff?” Barry asks.

“Shane’s wife gave it to me,” Jeff replies.

Barry continues, “That’s unbelievable, you told the lady her husband was dead and she gave you a case of beer?”

“Well not exactly,” Jeff said. “When she answered the door, I said to her, ‘You must be Shane’s widow’. She said, ‘No, I’m not a widow’. And I said, ‘I’ll bet you a case of Fosters you are’.”

When that joke landed in my inbox on Monday, I got a good little chuckle over it.

I also got a good laugh out of ‘that’ Australia Day advertisement for lamb that sparked more than 300 complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau.

That, by the way, sniffs of a targeted campaign as 300 is an incredibly high number of complaints based on what the Bureau usually deals with.

Leading the charge, we’re told, are vegans who are offended by a very funny part of the ad where a bearded man living in Brooklyn, New York is ‘rescued’ as part of ‘Operation Boomerang’, which aims to bring ex-pats back to Australia to enjoy lamb on the BBQ on Australia Day.

The ad is bloody funny, but of course the fake outrage brigade is out to ensure that we now live in a politically correct planet where everything must be done to some mythical standard of ethics and morals set by a finger-waving minority.

As we prepare to celebrate Australia Day on Tuesday, you have to wonder, have we lost the ability to laugh?

And who is to blame?

Is it the finger-waving minority I mentioned before, who are determined to be outraged about anything and everything?

Is it the wider mainstream media who in their obsession for content make minor complaints into major stories that simply make everyone angry?

Or is it the big companies who are too quick to apologise or take action when in reality the majority of their customers disagree with that response?

A little over a year ago, Woolworths ridiculously pulled t-shirts from their shelves that carried the Australian flag with the tag line, “If you don’t love it, leave”. There was nothing wrong with the message but of course, the fake outrage brigade ensured it was removed.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s some things that happen in this country of ours that deserve attention and focus.

There is indeed a racist element in Australia that needs to be stamped out, and of course there’s inequalities that need to be addressed.

There are companies, individuals, advertisements and campaigns that will, at times, step across the line.

But when we become outraged at every little thing, often just for the sake of being angry at something, then the real issues often don’t get the attention they deserve.

When we make a national story out of an ad for lamb that quite clearly was a funny take on Australia Day, we line ourselves up to water down the outrage on the things that really do matter.

The Australia I grew up in was quite happy to have a laugh at itself.

The Australia I grew up in would have given that lamb ad an award, not complained about it.

Why have we stopped laughing?

I don’t care if you’re vegan, vegetarian, gay, straight, bi-sexual, tall, short, fat, thin, black, white, a beer drinker, a wine drinker, a non-drinker… the list goes on.

I do care if you’re an Eels fan but that’s a story for another day.

What I really care about is that we can sit down and share a laugh together.

Dump the fake outrage, be angry about the things that really matter and be prepared to laugh. Go on, you can do it.

Happy Australia Day.

Troy Dodds

Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor.

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