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When comedy was actually funny


Jason Smith


  I miss the good old days.

   More specifically, I miss the funny ones.

   When I was a kid, we didnít go to the movies very much. Part of that was due to having deaf parents who couldnít hear what was being said by the actors on the big screen. We usually had to wait a few months until a film was released on VHS at the local video store Ė remember those? Ė before we could sit down together as a family and enjoy a few laughs from a good movie on the VCR.

   We loved laughing together while watching comedies featuring actors like Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Chevy Chase. My parents still had to be careful, though, in case the humor turned into something they didnít want us watching.

Fast-forward about 30 years to today, and itís no secret that times have changed.

   That old, beaten-up VCR has been replaced by a DVD player, Blu-Ray player or some handheld device that does your taxes for you while you watch a movie. The aforementioned actors have effectively been replaced by whoever is more in vogue today.

   I donít really have a problem with that, I guess. After all, the actors I loved as a kid only became famous after their predecessors were seen as old news themselves. Thatís just the way of the world, at least in show business. I get that. Itís called progress.

   More alarming, though, is the kind of movies that are deemed as comedies in todayís Hollywood. Aside from the fact that I barely know the names of the current comedic heavyweights, I can scarcely watch a 30-second commercial for one of their movies without sensing myself becoming dumber by doing so.

   Now, itís fairly commonplace to see advertisements for films loaded with crass humor, innuendo and the kind of supposed ďcomedyĒ that just isnít funny Ė all in the name of freedom of expression. At the very least, it isnít the kind Iíd feel comfortable watching with my wife and my little girl.

   Call me crazy, but I donít think thatís progress. That may make me a little old-fashioned, and thatís okay. Still, Iím at least relatively sure Iím not the only one with such concerns.

   Before I go any further, Iíll admit that some of the movies I saw in my younger days contained scenes with so-called ďbathroom humorĒ or something else that wasnít exactly family-friendly. The difference is that in those cases, we could skip those scenes without losing the plot of the movie itself.

   Doing so today would take us straight to the end credits.

   Am I suggesting that we should go back to the days of nothing but G-rated movies, including those that donít involve cartoons or cute, furry animals? I know thatís unrealistic in todayís world, and itís not an effective solution anyway.

   What we can do, though, is to demand better from Hollywood. This is actually easier to do than itís ever been.

   Along with refusing to see a film, we can make our voices heard on various social media outlets, start a blog or speak up on a filmís website if weíre not on board with whatever is being promoted. Freedom of expression still goes both ways, the last I heard.

   Simply turning our heads the other way isnít good enough anymore.

   Hollywood seems increasingly far-removed from the lives of the viewing public. So, itís up to us to remind them that without an audience to watch their movies, they donít have jobs.

   Otherwise, there wonít be anything to laugh about.

  Jason has worked in newspapers since 2005, spending the majority of that time in Henry County. He lives in Covington with his wife and daughter.




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