THE MUSE

Instagram Comedy & Its Boundaries

Graphic by Chloe Girod

Graphic by Chloe Girod

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While scrolling through the Instagram explore page, one will often find recommended posts and videos to watch. Many of the video sections are pre-labeled from “Oddly Satisfying” to “Dogs” to “Comedians”, (some of whom are recognizable from the now-deceased platform, Vine).

After discussing sexual assault and harassment in the film and television industries in “Beyond Our Screens,” in Issue 2,  it is pertinent to explore how everyday people are consuming or producing content with inappropriate comedy. While some people consider this simply a darker brand of comedy, others have called out the sexual harassment and objectifying undertones present in some of the sketches. In many videos, there is cheating, belittling, and objectifying, which could lead viewers to believe that there is nothing more to women than her sexuality. Platforms are constantly evolving, but the “Comedians” section seems to have gone one laugh too far.

Other content creators have spoken against this phenomenon. In a Youtube video by Cody Ko, Ko introduces an Instagram comedian named Steven Spence, who frequently plays a character by the name of Esteban. This character often impersonates other people’s jobs in order to get sexual favors from the client. Most of Spence’s videos cross the line between humor and objectification. In one video in particular, the character Esteban poses as a yoga instructor in a shady parking garage to try and grope an unsuspecting client. When finally confronted by the woman, Esteban vanishes into thin air.

Ko has made other videos as well showcasing more examples of this same style of comedy. In one video by King Bach, the scene starts with a group of four people walking towards the elevator. One calls out to Bach saying, “Hold the elevator!” This is followed by a vulgar comment and the group proceeds to laugh it off. The video ends with a literal fist fight combined with Bach trying to take off his pants while the group tries to resist his actions and closes with the group partially unclothed and wiping their mouths in disgust. One of the guys in the group states, “I did what I had to do.” This video has barely even tried to pass off as comedy and could very well affect any viewer who has actually encountered a scenario that parallels to this one. It’s bordering on downright disturbing and many people in the comments either agree or find it to be humorous, however the problem is that many of these creators are getting paid to produce content.  This content in particular is endorsing sexual harassment and assault which should not be the punchline of any joke.

These people aren’t the only ones to make these kinds of videos on Instagram either, creating a catalyst for the loud cry for change. Whether it comes from viewers, creators, or platform guidelines, it’s clear that something must give.

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Instagram Comedy & Its Boundaries