I like to mess with people.
At the pre-funk before our last podcast Arthur was observing that telling someone “I hope you die in your sleep” is a very kind thing to say to a person. It may be one of the kindest wishes one person can have for another. Yet, this would be a deeply disturbing thing to say to a person.
And now I want to say it to every person I know.
I have always been fascinated by dark humor and crossing social taboos. I had some t-shirts made up when I was in college that said things like:
-“You can’t squeeze blood from stones, so I use hamsters”
-”Children are easy to scare, because parents never believe I am under the bed”
-”Taping a plastic bag over your head while cutting onions will keep you from crying”
I like dead baby jokes. I like racist jokes. I like jokes that make people get a little green around the gills. I just do, and I always have. I like being disturbed and I like disturbing others.
I am not a violent person. I am not a hateful person. If any of the things in my jokes actually happened in real life I would be sick and horrified. I do not enjoy tragic things happening to people, so why do I like really dark humor? Well...there are some positive reasons and some negative reasons for that.
Let's start with the bad first. I like to disturb people. It makes me feel a little powerful. It makes me feel like I matter. I like to be the fly in the batter and the wrench in the machine. There is a special type of joy in stirring some chaos into carefully prepared order. That dark joy resides in a dusty little corner of my heart. It is a cranky, petulant little toddler that cackles maniacally when it has an opportunity to spread its foul mood.
I am a bubble bursting, balloon popping, button pusher. I love taking people down a notch while establishing my own superiority. I am a puppet master. I am a bully. I am a jerk. I am the reason you cannot have nice things,
I am not saying these things are ok. They are not something I am proud of, but that uglyness exists, and while I work to change it, it is still there, and a part will probably always be there. So I am not afraid to just let all of that hang out there. Because all those desires are a very common human characteristic. Everyone on this planet has at least a little of that in them somewhere, it is just that most people don’t want to acknowledge it is there. Which leads me to the positive reasons I enjoy being disturbing.
I try to be honest about the nature of this world. There are many things in this world that are beautiful, and wonderful and precious. However, there are just as many things that are ugly, horrible and putrid. We like to pretend those things don’t exist. We live in a society that decided to Disney-fy everything. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is power in positive thinking. There are many instances where being an optimist really is valuable. Believing that good things will happen really does seem to get better results than pessimistic thinking. There is a balance to that however, and many people seem to be WAY out of whack.
There is a fine, blurry line between choosing to be positive, and giving yourself permission to adopt naivety and ignorance. I have often witnessed people do really, really stupid things because they chose to ignore all the warning signs that indicated what they were pursuing was dangerous. In the moment they would argue, “I am just choosing to be positive,” but from an outside perspective they had actually chosen to blind themselves to the negative. Which is not the same thing.
Here lies the positive power of the bubble burster. I can work our way beneath people's blindfolds. Many people are terrible at anticipating the negative consequences of risky behavior. Dark humor has a really beautiful way of reminding people that the world can be ruthless and terrible. It is able to do it in a way that sneaks into their sub-conscious much more effectively than a lecture or confrontation. It is a much gentler and more effective way of knocking people out of their ruts, so they can gain a broader perspective on the world.
Because I really do care. One of the hardest things in the world is to watch someone tie a metaphorical blindfold over their eyes and walk directly into a buzzsaw. There is often a kind of quiet desperation to help in much of my teasing and taboo breaking. It is so hard to watch people let themselves be ignorant to the consequences of their actions. I hate saying “I told you so”. When it happens I genuinely tend to feel way more frustration than any form of joy.
Punk on Purpose
This type of confrontational, compulsive obsession with the darker side of life is one of the core foundations of Punk Theology. We curse around conservatives, use trigger words around liberals and are generally trying to wreak as much havoc as we can on all the pretty little lies of our society. We do this for two reasons.
Reason one: It is fun to watch you get upset. Collapsing a little piece of the fantasy world you live in makes us a bit giddy.
Reason two: We are trying to get you out of your rut. We want you to start to see the danger you are playing with. See the damage you do to yourself. See the damage you do to others. You are weak and human, just like the rest of us, but you seem to want to ignore that. We are trying to wave your humanity in your face. We do that because we want to love you. All you seem to be presenting is a mask, and it is so hard to love a mask. It is just cold and plastic. So we try to chisel some of that off, so we can get to the warm human being beneath the mask. The human you is much easier to love, and we love you not in spite of the flaws, but because of them.
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