Looking Back: Realizing the Cruelty of Humor
Today, I just thought I would share a story from This American Life from a few years back. I'm a regular listener of the popular podcast program and I was shocked at the time to hear them cover an event that took part in the late nineties on Japanese TV. The story talks about Denpa Shounen, one of the most popular shows of the time, and their running series where they forced a young comedian named Nasubi to live naked in an apartment. He would then have to write different to postcard campaigns to try and win products that he would need to live on. (It's common to have these kinds of contests where consumers can win products in Japan) At the time, as an exchange student new to Japan, I was enthralled with the completely original program and laughed along with everyone else watching Nasubi struggle to survive while a humorous narrator and celebrities in studio reacted to the video clips. While watching this show I gave no thought at the time about how cruel and dehumanizing the plan was toward Nasubi. The This American Life story covers this well and made me reflect on the show and its direction. It shocked me how I could laugh at it at the time and then later look at it from a completely different angle. Take a listen. It's really worth it. The story is entitled "I am the Eggplant" and it's part of the episode called "Human Spectacle". Below you can see several shots of Nasubi from the TV show at the time.