Ted: Is offensive humour becoming more acceptable?

When I initially saw the trailer for Seth MacFarlane’s new film, Ted , I was looking forward to seeing it straight away. The concept looked entirely random and original, it’s got half the cast of Family Guy in it, and it seemed really refreshing to have a new comedy released amongst all the super hero hype going on right now. The minute we all saw that it was from the makers of Family Guy, one thing became immediately apparent. The humour will be offensive, and therefore an acquired taste for a certain type of audience.

Here’s a quick run-down of the plot incase you haven’t seen the trailer. The film surrounds John Bennett, your ‘average Joe’ sort of guy from when he is a boy. He makes a wish one night that his teddy bear companion will be able to talk for real. This wish is granted by the stars and Ted is born. The two of them grow up together and become inseparable. When John’s relationship with Lori starts to get more serious when he’s in his thirties, he decides that his ‘bromance’ with Ted is coming to an end and that the two of them need to grow up and move on.

Ted the movie

A review on deemed Ted: ‘One of the least funny and most offensive comedies you’ll see all year.’ It is certainly a film for particular tastes, and if you find Family Guy funny, then you’ll certainly enjoy this. One particular reason why this film, and also Family Guy, manages to get away with such humour is because everyone is fair game. In this film there’s jokes relating to homosexuals, overweight people, Asians, Mexicans, Jews, gender, disabled people and even 9/11. The jokes about 9/11 in particular stood out for me, because for a long time since the event happened there has been a lot of: ‘Is it too soon..?’ so it seemed more acceptable to laugh at the 9/11 jokes made by the Americans themselves. Surely if another country had made such jokes, they probably wouldn’t have been laughed at so much.

Another aspect of this simple film that makes it downright hilarious is that you have the idea of an adorable childhood toy acting really inappropriately. It’s hugely ironic and very basic yet effective humour. When the bear dances, it’s funny. When he’s caught having sex, it’s hilarious. When he’s seen smoking drugs, it’s side-splitting. There was always a thought going through my head when I was watching this film, and that was: ‘How far can this bear go?’ Ted is essentially a living being of that part all of us have in our brain; the impulsive part that knows no bounds and has no common sense. (The ‘Id’, if you will, for all you Freud fans out there) and I believe that a lot of viewers are rooting for the bear, because he represents an outrageous part that all of us have somewhere inside of us.

Another aspect of the humour in this film surrounds the same pop-culture references as Family Guy. The main references coming from the 1980s film Flash Gordon. I personally didn’t understand any of these references, but it didn’t really matter, as there’s plenty of other references in the film to understand. It’s become obvious recently that this kind of humour is popular because as an audience we feel like we’re part of the joke itself. We love being part of ‘in-jokes’ as it gives us a feeling of exclusivity and importance. So, by this theory, if you understand a reference made in this film, it’s like: ‘I get it! Only someone of my generation/gender/race would really, properly understand this joke.’

As a whole, Ted is a hugely enjoyable and funny film. It hasn’t got any other direct competition right now as there are no other films like it released at the moment, and as there are several different types of humour in the film, you’ll definitely find something amusing about it. This film could well clear the path of a whole new, acceptable form of offensive humour in today’s overly politically correct society.

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