Monday, April 30, 2012

Humor I don't get

Okay. I realize that (a) I am not big on/not familiar with "roasts" and similar things and (b) I am probably reading this through a very specific "filter" of my own. of the highly-publicized jokes from the Correspondent's Dinner was Obama riffing on Hillary Clinton "drunk-texting" him from Cartagena.

As I said: I don't always get this kind of humor but that seemed kind of hostile to me. Kind of undermining. (Don't get me wrong - I'm no big fan of Mrs. Clinton).

I just think, what if I were in the same situation? If I were her, I'd really seriously considering sober-texting the President and saying, "If you happen to win a second term, don't look to me to go make nice with foreign leaders any more. I quit." Of course, I also don't have the same level of ambition Mrs. Clinton has. And a sense of dignity is important to me.

As I said, I may be viewing this through my own filter. There is one upper-level administrator on my campus who seems to enjoy either angering faculty or trying to make them look ridiculous in front of other people. (He has regularly tugged the beard of one of my colleagues in public. I said to my friend and colleague, aghast: "Some people would consider that to be assault." My colleague just laughs it off and says, "That's just how the guy is." Yeah. A jerk.) This person has said stuff to me - fortunately, only in private - but has said stuff to me that is very rude and demeaning. I can totally see him making a "drunk texting" joke about a faculty member.

(He once made a joke - again, it was in private, or I might have gone to the dean asking for her to demand an apology from him - that I had faked my Ph.D. I was offended but luckily was able to think fast enough on my feet not to show it, because this person is the kind of person who lives for making people upset)

I think part of the reason I find it so distasteful is the power relationship that is implied. Many of the faculty on this campus kind of cringe and do that fake-laugh thing when the guy makes one of his cracks.....because while he's not in the direct line that influences tenure and promotion, he still could have the power to make a person's life hell if he wanted to. So there's this sense that he's kind of like a dog, marking his territory - or really, more like a dog aggression-mounting another dog, going "I control you and I can do this to you." It's very distasteful to watch, and when it happens to you, it's aggravating and frustrating and makes you (or makes me, at least) feel like trash. And I know that's what this person wants and enjoys.

(And no, before you ask: this is not a case of someone being somewhere on the Asperger's spectrum. I know people like that. They may say things that are blunt or awkward or that sound rude, but the higher-functioning people, if you "call" them on it, they go "Oh, that was rude" and apologize. And when someone with AS is blunt or rude, it's not CALCULATING. With this person, stuff is calculated to upset people).

I don't get why people feel the need to do that. Insecurity, I suppose. (That may be why Obama made the joke he did). I can be kind of insecure but I don't feel the need to make other people look small to make myself look bigger...I mainly deal with my own insecurity by working really hard and, like the old claim some women make, being twice as good as some other people so they can (or my own inner critic can) think me half as good.

My main strategy in dealing with the administrator in question is to avoid him as much as possible. So far, that has mostly worked.

1 comment:

Sheila O'Malley said...

I think that drunk-text quote was a joking reference to this Tumblr which exploded in the last couple months - something Hillary is fully aware of, and actually participated in with great good humor!