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Archie Bunker’s educational (and racist) humor that would never be possible today

“It is well known that women are worth less than men,” the protagonist explains to a colleague who complains that he is paid less than a man for the same work. “Do you read ‘Playboy’?” he asks. “No, the Bible.” And explain.

“The Bible says that God created man in his own image. Only then did the woman make out a rib [de Adão] — a cheap piece of meat,” he explains. When she discovers that her colleague has the same salary as her, she develops a (somewhat) complex theory.

“Wait for the day when women get paid the same as men. Where will this end?” he says. “Equality is unfair. Think about it: What’s the point of a man spending his entire life trying to achieve something if the only thing he will achieve is to be like everyone else?”

Currently, a clip of this genre broadcast on television would quickly lead to removal requests and an avalanche of criticism on social media. Or it would probably never make it through the various edits to the final cut. But it was shown on American national television and reached every home.

The protagonist is not one of the many comedians who have left the stage for television, but the eternal and legendary Archie Bunker, star of “All In The Family”, the hit sitcom of the 70’s, racist, misogynist, homophobic. He’s been billed as having a little bit of everything — and despite some criticism, that never stopped viewers from seeing him and the show for what it was: a bold comedy that brought into public discourse what was only shamelessly done behind closed doors was said. .

Bunker was the caricature of so many white men, reactionaries, wellingtons, outraged at the natural development of society. Millions shared Bunker’s views, but when the ideas were ridiculed on national television outside the white suburban bubble, they lost all their vigor — and were seen for what they really were: a backward, outdated way of thinking.

The bold spirit gave the series a timeless status despite being based on highly racist descriptions and derogatory terms. Faced with the arrival of a black family in the all-white neighborhood, Bunker lost patience and taught his family a lesson. “Send me your poor, the vagabonds, the pigs… And all countries sent them here – they came in swarms like ants: the Spanish, the Caribbean, the Japonocas, the Chinocas, the Krauts [termo pejorativo para alemães]the Jews and the English wimps,” Bunker scolds.

“They all come here and are free to settle in their respective departments, separately, where they feel safe. If you stick your nose in there, they’ll break your head. That’s what makes America great.” A statement worthy of screaming for cancellation of a 21st-century bunker.

Almost five decades later, the climate has changed. The recent controversy surrounding a Jimmy Carr joke in his new Netflix special would go unnoticed in Bunker’s mouth — and we’d probably, so many years later, applaud the fact that he elevates discussion of the Holocaust by sharing a piece Data that many are probably not aware of.

Just as Bunker found a way to debate socially relevant issues like equality, racism, war through humor, that might also lead us to delve into some of the dirtier and more obscure historical details. Here’s what Carr did before, during and after the controversial joke.

When people talk about the Holocaust, they talk about the tragedy and horror of six million Jewish lives lost in the Nazi war machine,” the British comedian began in His Dark Material. “But they never talk about the thousands of Roma killed by the Nazis. Nobody ever talks about it because nobody ever wants to talk about the positive side.”

Though the comedy special premiered in early January, controversy didn’t explode on social media until a month later. But many may have only seen the snippet, or worse, just read the transcript of the joke, which omits the comedian’s explanation – which would never be necessary if everyone understood that unbridled humor is a very powerful weapon.

“The third reason this is a good joke is that it has educational quality. Everyone knows that six million Jews died in World War II,” he noted. “What many people don’t know, also because we are not taught it in schools, is that the Nazis also killed thousands of gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people…”

None of this saved Carr from ending up at the center of a hurricane of outrage with thousands screaming for his head — or, since we’re in the 21st century, his cancellation. “I’m not going without a fight,” the comedian challenged.

The truth is, humor is, and always will be, a way to defuse complex issues. That’s exactly what Bruno Nogueira wants to prove with his new show “Tabu”, which doesn’t have a premiere date yet, but steals the concept from a Belgian original.

Also produced in Australia, “Taboo” plays with the limits of humor and forces the presenter to take a special standup on sensitive topics: incurable diseases, disabilities, homosexuality, poverty, racism. The turn? You must live with four issue-affected guests for a week, discovering each one’s weaknesses and strengths.

“The most important thing is to understand what makes the guests laugh,” explains the presenter and comedian, who is responsible for the Australian version. “The specific jokes about each individual – I really need them to laugh at this joke. It’s all done for them and that’s what makes the concept a success: making them laugh at themselves.” And if someone who has a few months to live can find humor in this situation, why should we then all be offended because of him?


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