Defending ‘Goon’ From Fake Outrage and Hyper-Sensitivity

By Finesse

The Internet has empowered people to do a lot of things that they were unable to do before.  Before the Internet, for example, Artistry and I used to use U.S. Mail to send each other our thoughts on the Bachelor.  Different times back then.  Unfortunately, it appears that the Internet has morphed into a forum where a battalion of Sensitivity Czars have been self-deputized to patrol popular culture looking for anything that could possibly be construed as insensitive to some group of people.  And once the offending words or actions are uncovered, the Czar will immediately turn to his or her outlet — usually Twitter — to do at least one of three things:

Give me a moment to get up here …. Ok, thanks.

1) Patronizingly call out the alleged offender(s) by saying something to the effect of, “People, how about showing some class?” or “Folks, how about showing some class?” or “Come on guys, how about showing some class?”

2) Turn up his or her own outrage/sadness/disappointment meter to astronomical levels.  This usually turns in to a contest between Czars over who can be the most sad about a tragedy or who can be the most shocked and outraged when someone else does something inappropriate.  The contest will play out on Twitter with tweets such as, “There are no words to describe how I’m feeling right now.  I’m literally shaking” or “People, how about showing some class?”  It’s also common to see someone quote the tweet containing the news of the tragedy and adding insightful commentary such as “disgusting” or “awful” or “how disgusting” or “how awful” or, simply, “no words.”

Proper use of “no words”

3) Prejudge things that they think will be inappropriate because much like reporters seeking to break news, there is a race to be first with outrage.  This is dangerous.  And it brings us to a particularly concerning example from SB Nation.

[On a side note, maybe Twitter is just the wrong vehicle to express emotion.  Maybe, you know, find another live human being to do that with (or do a podcast about the Bachelor).  But if you want to say something funny or tell the world that Mark Letestu is a last minute scratch from the Pens lineup, please tweet it.]

Read on for the defense of Goon…

If you’ve been following our site the past few weeks, then you know that we went to see the premiere of the hockey comedy Goon in Toronto last week.  Goon is a hockey comedy about an enforcer (Sean William Scott) who is signed by a minor league team for pretty much one purpose — to fight.  It’s an R-rated comedy: there are jokes about sex, drugs, sex addiction, drug addiction and concussions.  It’s funny.
But not to everyone, including people who haven’t even seen it.  Travis Hughes, the founder of the Broad Street Hockey blog about the Flyers and the hockey editor for SB Nation, takes aim at the Goon trailer as he feels that the movie might “glorify” fighting and what he admits is an unproven link to drug abuse.  After watching this trailer ….

… he writes:

The one line that obviously stands out in the trailer, especially if you’ve been following the tragedy in hockey this summer with a watchful eye: “I’m high on painkillers!” … in a scene that involves heavy drinking. That’s enough to make everybody that’s ever heard Boogaard’s story more than uncomfortable. 

The trailer clearly illustrates a film that glorifies fighting in hockey and their lifestyle …

We only have bits and pieces of this film to go off of at this point, of course, so it’s too soon to make judgments. We don’t know if they address the serious problems that plague these men, or if they choose to only glorify them instead. 

Maybe I’m increasingly sensitive because I’ve been writing about death for the last several months, but the Goon movie trailer was extremely disconcerting to me when I first saw it Tuesday morning on Reddit. It’ll get me to see the movie, so maybe the job has already been done, but I’m not going to be watching it because I think it’ll be entertaining.

The first question to ask is why would you go to the movie if you don’t think it will be entertaining?  To be outraged, of course!!

Three hockey enforcers have died this offseason and there have been numerous enforcers who have died prematurely over the past several years.  That’s not a good thing.  But their deaths should not be used as an excuse to launch a moral assault on making jokes.  It’s not like Goon makes jokes about specific people —  you won’t hear S.W.S. say, “Haha, wasn’t it funny when Derek Boogaard was addicted to drugs?!?!” because that isn’t funny.  But creating a fictional character who mimics real-life problems and turns them into funny on-screen scenarios is what movies are all about.

Glorified fighting.

This problem is bigger than just Travis Hughes, so we don’t mean to single him out.  The vast army of Morality and Sensitivity Police are on a crusade to turn popular culture into a world of absolutes — either you’re shocked and outraged by something, or you’re the source of the shock and outrage.  To the MSP, there is no in-between.  But why can’t Sidney Crosby’s concussion be a serious call to action in real life while we simultaneously laugh at concussion jokes in Goon?  Oh, because that would require people to recognize nuance and distinguish between reality and fiction.  Too much to ask, sorry to bring it up.

Not funny (to us).

This is something that is far bigger than sports blogs — at any given moment there is a headline on CNN.com that “[Politician X’s] comment raises eyebrows” or “[XYZ Group] demands apology from ____.”  Every day it’s the same thing.  Obviously we aren’t the first people to point this out, but it’s spiraling out of control.  Just know that GTOG refuses to go down with the ship.  We won’t be shocked.  We won’t be outraged.  And we won’t participate in the race to be the most sad about something.

We suggest that everyone do the same.  And then go punch each other in the head repeatedly.  Just kidding. Sort of.

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2 thoughts on “Defending ‘Goon’ From Fake Outrage and Hyper-Sensitivity

  1. George, because you're such a loyal fan, I actually think I know what those three dots mean. Not even joking. Enjoy the weekend. And tell 5 people to follow us on Twitter.

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