Relatively recently, politically incorrect comedy has enjoyed a resurgence. The reason is simple -- people love to tell off-color jokes. They like to tell offensive jokes. They like to tell jokes in poor taste. Usually, they take measures to make sure no one that might find such things (at the very least) questionable are around. I work with a lot of different ethnicities and trust me, those jokes are very different than the ones they tell in mixed company.
Now, I want to emphasize I don't fault this. Everybody does it to some extent. There are women who tell jokes about how inferior men are, for example. But there was the question of doing it as a professional comedian or public figure. We live in an era where name is brand, and people can lose viable gigs. The solution? Make fun of everybody. Extend your target range to include everything and no one can accuse you of being discriminatory. It's their gig. Lead by such comedians as Sarah Silverman, humor shifted into a way to tweak the nose of the Establishment. But unlike the true greats who did it to challenge and change the minds of their audience (Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, etc.), getting the reaction was the goal. In a way, many of today's "edgy" comedians are no different than idiots like Andrew "Dice" Clay, only with a wider attack pattern.
Comedians who weathered the social chill when comedy became Big Business have found a second life. Among the comedians is Gilbert Gottfried. I've never been thrilled with his act. My first exposure to him was some station promos for MTV and hosting USA's Up All Night. Pass.
Gottfried's stock in trade (besides a very annoying voice) is being offensive. Three weeks after 9/11, he made a joke about it at the Friar's Club. His Twitter feed is chock full of jokes that offend women, Jews, Christians, gays, etc. Like I said, he spreads it around.
Well, he decided to make some Twitter jokes about the Japan tsunami.
Guess who just lost his job as the voice of the Aflac duck in commercials?
"Aflac announced today that it has severed ties with comedian Gilbert Gottfried.”Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” Aflac Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Michael Zuna said. “Aflac Japan – and, by extension, Japan itself – is part of the Aflac family, and there is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times.”
Don't get me wrong, I think it's too soon for this stuff. But I find it curious that Aflac had no problem with any of the other jokes on the feed or the 9/11 joke or the Aristocrats joke, but make a joke about a tragedy afflicting a country where Aflac does 75% of its business, and suddenly they're concerned about sensitivity.
Gottfried isn't the first to stick his foot in his mouth. I've already mentioned Alex Sulken and his reference to Pearl Harbor. 50 Cent made a surfing joke (they have both apologized). Glen Beck called the tsunami and earthquake a "message from God" on his radio show. He hasn't apologized. Only Gottried is getting his feet held to the fire. In very suspect fashion.