Out of Frame


About this show

Video essays that explore the intersection of art, culture, and big ideas written & produced by FEE's Director of Media, Sean W. Malone.

Is This Face Funny or Offensive?

August 6, 2020

Especially given the recent attempt to cancel *checks notes* Kindergarten Cop for “romanticizing over-policing”, it seems like a good time to address the idea of cancel culture. Despite what many people on both sides of the issue would have you believe, the notion of “cancelation” is actually pretty nuanced.

While freedom of speech necessarily comes with the responsibility to bear the consequences of that speech, it’s still important to nurture a society that is very tolerant of diversity of thought and opinion. No one should be considered a victim because they’ve been told that something they said was inappropriate or insensitive, but neither should they be silenced by the outrage mob.

Speech does not exist in a vacuum. Tone and context matter, regardless of how offensive or blasphemous the words might appear on the surface. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm of comedy.

Comedy relies on shocking, offensive, and uncomfortable portrayals of deeply sensitive topics, from religion to sexuality to race. The list of classic (and very funny) comedy movies that could never be made today is depressingly long. But a modern example, barely 12 years old, of a comedy that certainly couldn’t be made today is the brilliant satire Tropic Thunder.

Despite the film earning multiple awards, its hilarious send-up of Hollywood pretension and the action movie genre would certainly be condemned as “problematic” in today’s climate of wokeness.

So I hope you have the courage and curiosity to join me in a challenging discussion on the limits of acceptable speech and expression on this potentially funny, possibly enraging edition of Out of Frame.


Written & Produced by Sean W. Malone
Edited by Arash Ayrom & Sean W. Malone
Asst. Edited by Jason Reinhardt


--Resignations, Firings, and Controversy--

--Cancel Culture and Tropic Thunder--

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