Kai Hanno Schwind

'My four year old is an asshole': Considering ethical challenges of children as the butt of jokes in contemporary comedy and satire

Drawing from relevant theory in humour research and media studies, this paper analyses the representation of children and minors in comedy, in particular within darker forms of humour and satire. By focusing on two recent cases - an excerpt of a stand-up routine by comedian Louis CK and a controversial sketch featured at the Oscar ceremony in 2016 hosted by Chris Rock - it explores to what extent the use of children and minors as part of disparaging humour discourses present moral and ethical challenges and possibly violations. It argues for a more nuanced discussion by proposing a categorisation of the humour and comedy targeting children and minors and by arguing for individual meta-ethical analyses of the mediation of these cases.

Keywords: comedy and ethics, satire, taboo comedy, disparaging humour, children, stand-up comedy


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Note on the contributor

Dr. Kai Hanno Schwind is an Associate Professor at Westerdals Oslo School of Arts, Communication and Technology, Christian Kroghs Gate 32, 0186 Oslo, Norway. Telephone: +47 94 24 80 32; email: schkai@westerdals.no.