God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

A Joke Too Far

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The Avengers is the movie of the summer. It has six super heroes, plenty of action, one amazing battle scene in New York…and one adoption joke.

A little background. One of the superheroes in the movie is Thor, and the villain of the film is Loki, Thor’s adopted brother. Loki was raised as his brother without their knowledge that he was adopted until recently. We could talk about the effects of springing that kind of information on him late in life, but that’s another post.

As the rest of the Avengers were sitting around a table discussing what their next move with Loki would be, Thor stood up to defend his brother and his people. When they noted that Loki had killed 70 people, Thor responds “Well, he’s adopted”.

There was some uproar from the adoptive community. They thought it too offensive. If you translate that sentence out long form, it would read like so :

Our people are a vastly good people. While I consider Loki to be my brother, you present me with information that shows he’s not a good person. Therefore, I have to consider why he doesn’t fit in with the rest of my people, and determined that because he doesn’t share our people’s blood, that explains it. He’s adopted…not one of us.

At least that’s how I interpreted it.

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Msnbc did a poll. Do you think the joke is politically incorrect, or are people too sensitive about it. Take a moment and think to yourself what percentage of people went with the too sensitive side.

…..

….

…..

…. Got a number in your head…..

….

.. 96%

96%!

In these times, it’s hard to get 96% to agree on anything. I’ve noticed that some commenters on-line have latched onto that number and began saying that 96% of people think it’s OK to make fun of adoption.

This upsets me.

I really dislike it when people misuse statistics. Let me break it down what is wrong with that statement:

1. It’s 96% of all folks on-line, who happen to read MSNBC, who happened to read that article, who bothered to click on the link. Not everybody.

2. There were two options, so it left no gray area in between. This could discourage the middle voters.

3. Perhaps they felt that in comedy, no subject is taboo. Some people find comedy in things said that shouldn’t be said (have you ever seen Tosh.O?)

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I haven’t decided where I fall on the topic. What’s the difference between these statements and the adoption one?

Your sister is so ditzy. Well, she is blond.

Your grandma still uses a landline? Well, she is old.

He’s so well mannered. Well, he’s from Iowa.

Each of those statements relys on our preconceived stereotypes. Blonds are ditzy, old people have old technology and Iowans are well mannered. We all understand that stereotypes might match correctly some of the time, but they aren’t all inclusive. There are jerks in Iowa, Betty White tweets and Daniel Craig is no ditz.

Going back to the adoption joke, are we as the adoptive community afraid that there is a stereotype about adoptees becoming homicidal war lords? Or, more generically, are we afraid that people think that adoptees will turn bad?

I don’t get that impression. Most fears that I hear from my non-adoptive friends/ co-workers usually deals with bonding. The bond between child and Us, but more often the bond between the child and their birth parents. I’ve never heard anyone worry that our child is going to be bad just because she’s adopted.

Perhaps Thor would take it back if he could. He’d just been presented with the fact that his brother was a murderer and said the first thing that would wedge them so that the rest of the Avengers would not think him a killer as well. Maybe I’m going too in depth defending a line that the writers put in because they probably thought it was funny.

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When you have a flaw, there are certain stages of acceptance with it. I think the last stage is being able to joke about it. Maybe we as a community are too sensitive about the subject, and maybe it’s because of our own unease.

However, it still was an un-pc joke. So yeah, I’m still stuck in the middle somewhere.

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I finally saw the movie. With my pre-existing knowledge of the joke to come, I wondered how I would react. The joke came, and I didn’t laugh.

The audience did though, very much so.

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