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Unacceptable Targets

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"Some of the papers ran slanderous stories saying the nuns cohabited with the marchers, and I made a bad joke about how I'd come down to get a little of that action, and Harry Belafonte grabbed me by the throat. He was not amused."
Alan King on why you should rethink inviting a stand-up comic to your civil rights march

This is Unacceptable Targets; the flip side of Acceptable Targets, things that simply are not done. Doing so may result in anything from "Dude, Not Funny!" to the entire audience staring at you in Stunned Silence for a split second before breaking out the Torches and Pitchforks. Comedians, critics or others who gladly cross all the lines will still stop at this one, no matter how bold they are. In short, some things are just unacceptable.

A Black Comedy will demonstrate its meanness (depending on the writers behind it) by mocking these mercilessly; this can cause the cancellation of particular series for jokes considered too offensive or tasteless. If Unacceptable Targets is somehow made funny, it almost always belongs to the Crosses the Line Twice category. Not to say that there is no such thing as Affectionate Parody. Humor can be constructed in a way that reveres and respects its targets or makes them appear all the more awesome. Still, comedy is a difficult business and sometimes even jokes meant to be respectful can be misinterpreted. As a result, it can sometimes be better to simply not try.

It should be noted that for some (but not all) Unacceptable Targets, it's sometimes considered okay to use them as a vehicle for a joke, as long as the joke is not at their expense. Even so, a comedian will get attacked if the joke is perceived as too mean. (For example, a joke about how Warner Bros. mistreats Watchmen {below} is okay; a joke about the comic itself is not.) One should also consider that what would be an Unacceptable Target for one culture would be an Acceptable Target for another, not to mention those contrarian enough to make fun of something because it's an Unacceptable Target.

Contrast with Acceptable Targets. Some situations can result in heavy Unfortunate Implications, Double Standards, and Values Dissonance in which The Rival or the counterpart of the Unacceptable Target can become Acceptable Targets.

Can sometimes be difficult to separate from former Acceptable Targets in cases where the subjects in question were mocked at one time by one people in the dark annals of history. Perhaps a good rule of thumb to distinguish between the two is "Oh, you're mocking the Once Acceptable Target? How behind-the-times you are. I will laugh derisively at you." vs. "You're mocking the Unacceptable Target? You Monster!!!!"

Concepts related to unacceptable targets:

See also: