Why so serious?

By Jamie Santoro
February 7, 2011

I have begun to view myself as a member of the media.  I say this begrudgingly due to what is involved. Journalists are often mean, usually pretentious, always lack some hygiene, all unfortunate things.

The thing that really bugs me as a newborn journalist is the censor I have to put on myself. There is always someone who will be offended.

Journalism was once an honest profession, one to be revered and discussed with great gusto by grandmothers and little brothers. The media keeps the world honest. It spreads news of great triumphs and tragedies.

Today the luster has tarnished. The age of a notebook and a smart attitude a la “His Girl Friday” is long gone. We’re left with a population programmed to be offended.

Okay I may be losing you non-communications folk so it’s example time.

I consider GLAAD, or the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, to be a great organization most of the time. Their work in the past 20 years is invaluable to the LGBT community.

But, and I hate to put this so crudely, can’t you take a joke? Two weeks ago, American comedy staple “Saturday Night Live” ran a commercial parody advertising an estrogen pill for men making the conversion to women.

GLAAD is pissed. In a statement they said, “This segment cannot be defended as ‘just a joke’ because there was no ‘joke’ to speak of. The attempted comedy of the skit hinges solely on degrading the lives and experiences of transgender women. Holding people up for ridicule simply on the basis of their identity fuels a hurtful climate and puts people in danger, especially given how infrequently the media shines a fair and accurate light on the lives of transgender people.”

I am not a transgender woman, nor have I met one (that I am aware of). The only information I know about the transition from man to woman is what I have seen on TLC medical shows and “Oprah.”

What I do know is that the skit was funny. I don’t think the joke was ever intended to be on transgender women. Maybe more on pharmaceutical companies who push a pill that does anything fast.

I think this is just the latest in a string of events proving GLAAD lacks a funny bone.  I think that if something is so funny, it should transcend feelings. If someone made a mean joke about me and it wasn’t very funny, I would be greatly offended, but if it was good? You have to give credit where it’s due.

My aim as a journalist is not to worry about each word I type, but to type it especially when it holds such weight. With ethics boards and lawyers, there are too many strings to the web, some that need snapping.

This is my wish. Journalists, step up. Report like no one is watching. Use your own moral compass. And to America, take a joke. Know the difference between comedy and critic. I’m almost positive that “SNL” does not have an anti-transgender agenda, it’s just a comedy.

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Jamie Santoro

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