The Impact of Comedy in Forrest Gump

The movie Forrest Gump is a light-hearted comedy that many people are familiar with. What many people don’t see is how the comedy in the movie is used to enhance our understanding of the world.

Aristotle defines a good comedy as “a story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character.” This movie definitely fits this definition as the main character, Forrest Gump, goes through a very unexpected yet remarkable life journey. Even though it is a comedy, there are various life lessons within the movie that show the importance of comedy when discovering larger meanings in life.

One commonly known part of the movie is Forrest Gump running. When I first watched it, I definitely found it comedic to see him start sprinting after he gets his heart broken. He continues to run for an extremely long period of time but within his journey, he explores the world, learns about himself, and grows as the main character in the film.

The unrealistic parts of the movie are what make it truly a good comedy, while it still comes across as a meaningful piece of film. Through comedy, many other larger themes are explored in Forrest Gump such as love, family, optimism, and being appreciative of life.

Meaningful Comedy in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Aristotle believes that in order for a comedic work to have meaning, the protagonist should have a rise in fortune, while a tragedy should do the opposite. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fits both of these criteria perfectly. In 1958, Miriam “Midge” Maisel had the perfect life. She had a great husband, two beautiful kids, a spacious apartment in New York, and a high social status. However, after finding out her husband is cheating on her with his secretary, she gets extremely intoxicated and ends up finding a hidden talent for stand-up comedy. After getting discovered and working hard to hone her act, she ends up getting discovered and becomes the opening act for a famous singer. 

While this show is meaningful because it meets the terms that Arstole has set up, I believe it is special for a whole different reason. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel teaches women that there is meaning in life besides men and they can be successful without them. After telling her parents what happened, Midge is blamed for her husband’s actions and is told to go win him back because she will be nothing without him. They tell her to put on a sexy dress and makeup so she can win him back. While she was scared about her husband leaving and what everyone around her was telling her, she did not go back. Even when her husband came back to apologize to her, she did not accept it. She had faith in herself and used it to fuel her comedy.

In today’s society, there is more of a push for women to be independent. There is still some pushback from men saying that women will be nothing without them. However, we are seeing the opposite. More and more women are becoming successful without men backing them up or supporting them. Midge seemingly lost everything that was important to her. However, she got something better out of it. She gained faith in herself and the ability to be her own person, not a wife or a mother. 

10 Things I Hate About You

10 Things I Hate About You is a classic romantic comedy set in Tacoma, Washington. The film stars Julia Stiles as Kat Stratford and Heath Ledger who plays Patrick Verona. Kat is adverse to mostly anyone and anything, including her sister, Bianca Stratford, who is the complete opposite of her. A new student, Cameron, is enamored with Bianca, however, her father has a strict rule on dating (unless Kat has a boyfriend she is not allowed to date), which is where Patrick comes into play. Patrick has girls falling at his feet with his bad-boy air and Australian accent, but these (of course) do not appeal to Kat. The movie is centered around a plan Cameron has, where he would pay Patrick to date Kat, to ultimately date Bianca.

According to Aristotle, “A comedy is a story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character.” In this movie, that character would be Kat, her mother is no longer in the picture and she’s struggling to find her identity, not to mention the overwhelming decision about where she’s attending college in the fall, which her father is of no help. If that’s not enough, Joey, a boy from Kat’s past is trying to get with Bianca, which leads to the central conflict in the story. At the prom, Kat learns that Patrick was paid to date her, resulting in their “break up.” The movie title is from the title of the poem that Kat writes for her English class about Patrick, who is also a student in the class; the scene ends with her in tears and rushing out of the classroom. In the final scene, Patrick gifts Kat her dream guitar and confesses he’s fallen in love with her. This ending is representative of a romantic comedy as, “The… two sympathetic and well-matched lovers are united or reconciled.”

Kat and Patrick coming back together at the end represent the power of vulnerability, the acceptance of differences and a valuable character strength: forgiveness. Stiles plays a strong female lead, who acts according to how she wishes and does not back down to other males in the movie, although viewers learn that she was once heavily influenced by her peers and society’s expectations. Now, Kat has broken out of that shell and despite Patrick only being interested in her for the money at the beginning, he never criticized or judged her character or interests, unlike others in the film. Many people can relate to the ups and downs that Kat and Patrick face in the film, whether it be their relationship or the personal discoveries and challenges they experience.

While this film is not necessarily realistic, a romantic comedy is not meant to be. The ending is always supposed to be a happily ever after, which this one definitely is. When people choose to watch this genre, they are not looking for a tragedy or mirror of real life, but rather a feel-good ending.

The Impact of Comedy in Aggretsuko

Aggretsuko is a Japanese animated comedy (available on Netflix) centered around a 25 year old girl named Retsuko (the “Comic Hero”), who grows tired of her boring office job and hostile boss as she struggles to balance the responsibilities of adulthood. Throughout the 5 seasons of the show, there is a common theme centered on the idea and ugly truth about capitalism and how difficult it is to merely provide for even a simple lifestyle in today’s environment.

Retsuko is commonly getting into rough situations, such as needing to repay the debt for accidentally backing into someone’s car while parking, being overworked by her boss and given an excessive amount of paperwork to complete in little time, struggling to afford proper food due to her shortage of money after making too many online purchases, more. While these events are portrayed in a comedic light, the show does so in a way that doesn’t necessarily undermine or brush off these common struggles that many people today face, but it’s able to present it in a way that’s relatable and something that people can learn to laugh about instead of so much letting it ruin the joys we have in life. This can help the audience feel more seen and lifted up rather than succumbing to the harsh reality of how to sustain a decent lifestyle in today’s society, and through seeing the characters learn to manage and work through their struggles, they can learn to apply those skills to their own lives and well-being.

Family Guy and Taking Comedy to the Extreme

Since 1999, Seth McFarlane has led one of the most iconic cartoons in television history. Family Guy takes place in the fictional town of Quahog, Rhode Island. The main cast includes a stereotypical American family with an idiotic dad, a rich high-pitched mom, a neglected daughter, a self-conscious son, and a talking baby and dog. From the outside, the show already seems to have a lot going on. Still, every episode feels original with different jokes and lessons, and while the show misses sometimes, it has a very strong legacy in the entertainment industry.

What makes Family Guy so special is the absurdity and randomness of its content. The show is known best for using cutaways that extend metaphors or jokes. The cutaways typically occur after one of the characters says, “This is just like/even worse/even better than that time..” A joke featuring a historical character/event, celebrity, or pop culture is shown on the screen. Family Guy’s cutaways are by far the most popular aspect of the show, with thousands of cutaway compilations all around the internet. The jokes can feel random to many, but the product of Family Guy has always attracted a specific audience.

Still, the jokes can be taken the wrong way at times. Family Guy has had a history of making racial, gender, sexual, and religious jokes, and the results have not always been the prettiest. As society continues to get softer, Family Guy is canceled much more often. Sometimes, people just find the jokes not funny, claiming they’re “cheap and low effort” and “appealing to 14-year-olds.” The jokes sometimes don’t age very well, and some question, “Is this even comedy, or is it just a slew of offensive marks?”

Despite all the negativity and controversy surrounding Family Guy’s products, the comedy has, in a way, saved the show. The rise of YouTube in the last 15 years and TikTok in the last 5 years has shone a light on Family Guy. Family Guy has reached quite literally every corner of the internet. “Family Guy Racist Moments”, “Family Guy Offensive Moments”, and “Family Guy Funny Asian Jokes.” The internet has feasted on every second of Family Guy’s content, and the show’s popularity has risen to levels it previously had never been at.

Overall, Family Guy has remained one of the most popular shows in entertainment, and whatever jokes they end up making will reach a certain audience. From Donald Trump’s animated baby hands to Tiny Tom Cruise, the use of satire and offense has brought Family Guy to a genre of its own.

Dear Miss Trapeze

Dear Miss Trapeze,

I have often struggled with using the bathrooms at OPRF due to social pressure and anxiety. Do you have any advice for getting more comfortable using them or alternative methods?

Dear Writer,

Similarly, I have found myself bored, disgusted, or overwhelmed using our bathrooms, but fear not, I have a variety of solutions. These are distractions for taking your mind off of the panel dripping unknown liquid from the ceiling. For the creator or writer, take note of each mark on the walls. Studies have found that coloring can help reduce stress; use this to your advantage. You, too can contribute to our collaborative art pieces in the bathroom. Bring a pen or marker with you and the sky is the limit; feel free to draw or write on the stalls, floor, ceiling, or even mirrors! Some wonderfully meaningful words I have seen in the stalls are as follows: “<–poop alone poop with friends–>” If you aren’t artistically inclined, there are still plenty of other pastime activities. This next one is only for those who use the women’s restrooms: press those little buttons on the menstrual product dispenser. These are free, so using them excessively is encouraged; for a fun game, see how fast you can make the dispenser run out of inventory (my personal record is 28 seconds.) Make sure to tamper with all of them before throwing them away so that people can’t use them. This next activity involves peer cooperation, but can boost morale and companionship between you and your friends. Using a vaporizer in the bathroom not only helps make the room wonderfully fragrant, but also adds lovely fog for ambience! Passing the vape around betwixt your peers makes them think of you fondly during this bonding session. Sharing is caring, after all! I hope fun adventures await your next bathroom visit, dear writer.


Miss Trapeze

Why Satirical Newspapers are an Excellent Idea

On the 15th of February, 2023, the satirical news source The Onion published an article on the train derailment in Ohio. The article serves to criticize corporate lobbying, money in politics, as well as the materialism in American culture. To do this, The Onion uses parody and understatement.

The article addresses both the concerns people have about the crash, such as product delivery times before the health of East Palestine residents, as well as the lack of consequences for Norfolk Southern in addition to the poor government response. One of the questions asked is “What is butyl acetate?” with the answer “A sweet-smelling, colorless liquid that shouldn’t be inhaled, ingested, or federally acknowledged.” This is a criticism of the idea of harmful substances not being classified as harmful due to poor regulations, as strong regulations could harm profits. Another question asked was “This won’t delay my shipments of cheap consumer goods, will it?” which was answered with “God no, this is America!” The question and the answer both serve to criticize materialism, with the question making a statement about how the main concern of the person was their order, instead of the lives that may have been affected, and the answer serves to criticize America as a whole, being a statement about how the disaster won’t cause any changes to the system that could affect delivery times.

Overall, the article criticizes both the factors that led to the disaster in addition to the poor response to the disaster, making it a very effective satire because it is pointing out the consequences of modern society and how people don’t care, instead of simply mocking the railroad workers, the company, or the government.

Society and Gender in Raising the Red Lantern

In the move Raising the Red Lantern there are very key moments and times that clearly show the society and how they operate and what the roles of men and woman had. Songlian a young woman who father had just died moves to the masters household and becomes the fourth mistress one out of four. After she settles in she begins to live the life of a mistress and fight over the masters attention and his time. But after a year of living the live she goes insane. Which shows how important roles that effect the woman living in a society created for men.

At the beginning of the movie when Songlian becomes a mistress she doesn’t understand the point of having the master around her and being around him. She just does her own thing and learns about the other three mistresses and the household. There is a shift in her ideals and mindset when she finds her servant sleeping with the master in her bed. When this happens a big toll gets put on her and how she thinks of the master. But the master uses his power over her and he knows that she needs to stay there because her family is poor and has to marry rich. Knowing this fact Songlian starts to sabotage the other mistresses. She even lies to the master which is against the rules of the household.

Overall the movie was a very good movie, it was something different and a movie that was very unique and the way it told the story was very well and directed very well. It was very noticeable of the ideas of the movie of how the society worked and how it benefited the mistresses, but mainly the men who was the master and it works in patriarchal society even though it would benefit the woman’s lives who live there.

Dramatic Comedy in Schitts Creek

The tv show “Schitts Creek” aired from 2015 to 2020 is about a very wealthy couple Jonny and Moira Rose who find themselves completely broke. The only asset they have left is a small town called Schitts Creek, the couple and their two older children David and Alexis relocate there living in a motel. We follow them as they adjust to their new life without wealth. Based on Aristotle’s definition of dramatic comedy, Schitts Creek is definitely one. the creator Dany Levy wrote this show to see and kind of represent how wealthy families like the ones on TV would react if they lost all their money.

Through the comedic aspect, as Aristotle defines “A comedy is a story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character“. While it is a little bit of the opposite in Schitts Creek, as the Rose Family losses their fortune. We see something even bigger. We see how they rise to the fortune of seeing a different meaning in life. As Dan said when he created the show seeing life without the wealth they had. At the same time, they use a lot of comedy to engage the audience while showing their story. This aspect allows the audience to see the important topics that are being brought up about society, wealth, and the meaning of life while making us laugh at the same time. In a sense, it is a bit of Ordinary people’s comedy but it is also at the same time the complete opposite.

Furthermore, as Aristotle uses tragedy “Tragedy depicts the downfall of a basically good person through some fatal error or misjudgment, producing suffering and insight on the part of the protagonist and arousing pity and fear on the part of the audience“. The Rose family has a downfall and their whole life changes. We see how this change affects them and how they adjust to it. Schitts Creek is the definition of dramatic comedy it takes aspects of comedy and tragedy of showing the downfall of a character, but later shows their rise and change. All of this while using comedy to make the audience laugh.

“The Good Place” and a Comedic Afterlife

“The Good Place” is an NBC comedy that ran from 2016 to 2020, and it deals with the question of an afterlife from a mostly comedic perspective. The main premise is that the main character, Eleanor, has been sent to the “Good Place” which is basically heaven in the show’s universe. However, very quickly, Eleanor and the other residents begin to suspect that not everything is what it seems in this so called “Good Place”. The show follows the adventures of Eleanor and her friends as they discover the truth about the afterlife. There’s plot twists, romance, inside jokes, and plain old slapstick comedy all over the place. On the surface, the show deals with some serious topics regarding ethics, class, and the existential nature of what happens after you die or what it means to live on earth. However, the show keeps a comedic tone throughout all four of its seasons, providing some seriously interesting commentary to the viewer without taking itself too seriously. The show is sure to take plenty of moments to point out the trivial or humorous points of an “afterlife”, and even the most powerful, god-like figures in the show are portrayed as very human-like characters, each with their own mannerisms and weaknesses.

In addition, the main characters, Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason each have their own unique characteristics that the show constantly plays off of; Eleanor being the sort of entitled, brash suburban women, Chidi being the very technically correct ethics professor, Tahani being the elitist, definitely entitled type, and Jason being the “Bortles!” failed Jacksonville DJ/crashes his jet ski into a manatee, Florida-man type. The show uses the more absurd and humorous elements of these characters (and others in the show) to cleverly point out how, despite their very different outward appearances and reputations, each character’s lifestyle has come with its own weaknesses and strengths in terms of how they are “evaluated” post-death.

I won’t go too in depth here, but basically, (spoiler alert), the four main characters find out that they are actually all in the “bad place”, and have been fooled by Michael, the kind neighborhood designer, that they were actually in the “good place”; this comes as a shock to characters like Chidi and Tahani who were sure that they actually deserved to be in the “good place”. Michael, the seemingly gentle neighborhood designer, is actually a demon who has designed a torture scheme that pits people with incompatible personalities together, where they will inevitably argue with one another about everything. In an effort to perfect his unorthodox torture scheme, Michael continually resets the memories of the characters, only to have them always figure out they are really in the bad place. The show takes off from there and explores the nature of a binary afterlife system, and the inherent flaws in such a setup. Eventually, the characters reconcile with Michael/the other afterlife gods/beings and are able to prove they are capable of improvement post-death, eventually ending up in the real “good place”. The show also generally keeps a playful vibe in terms of music, colors/sets, etc, throughout, helping the viewer engage in this existential topic in a light-hearted way.

In addition to the more blunt, traditional humor in “The Good Place”, I think it also fits the definition of a romantic comedy. This is because throughout all of the jokes and existential wonderings, the show always comes back to Eleanor and Chidi. No matter how many times their memories are wiped and no matter how incompatible they may seem with one another on the surface, Eleanor and Chidi keep finding their way back to one another, no matter the enormity of whatever post-death scenario they have encountered. In this way, the show ties a lot of its strings to the romance between Eleanor and Chidi, therefore making its comedy and effectiveness dependent on said romance.

Like any TV show, there’s a lot going on in “The Good Place”, so if you have the chance, I’d recommend watching some of it–it’s very thoughtful and also very funny–in order to really understand many of the deeper things it may be trying to say. At the very least, though, “The Good Place” definitely proves the effectiveness of comedy to create both an entertaining and thoughtful show.