Where can humor take place?

When I first enrolled in this class, I thought by around this time this semester, I would mimic a certain “Key & Peele” skit, in which movie hecklers interrupt the treasured silence of the theater in order to loudly complain about poor filmic techniques that the director of the movie chose. The skit is made even more humorous to me after taking the course, since the terms they throw around (like “mise-en-scene” and “crane shot”) actually make sense now. However, the skit does make me question one aspect of our movies that we’ve continually discussed: the placement/use of humor in apocalypse settings.

Of course, one might easily make the point there is no real room for humor in movies concerning the apocalypse when you think about the amount of damage and casualties that usually take place. But as we have seen in a good portion of the movies we’ve watched, this is often the opposite. For many of these films, humor works to disguise the tragedy and calamity we would otherwise witness firsthand. By reimagining the actual event in a way that’s easier to mentally digest, we can receive the message behind it without becoming depressed at watching it for ourselves, like how a dog owner might hide their pet’s medicine inside a treat. Take, for instance, Andrew Stanton concealing the hard-hitting subjects of the damaging effects of consumerism and environmental consciousness in a cute, children’s movie with animated robots. Or Don Hertzfeldt letting a third-generation clone explain the pain of existence to a babbling four-year-old in his movie.

But then, how much more effective are humor-based apocalypse movies over their serious counterparts at conveying a message? Would the presentation of deep, thematic elements hold more weight in viewing outright carnage and destruction, or does the feeling of laughing over grave subjects feel unnerving enough to pay attention to them?


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