Last night I wrote an open letter to WXEG – a radio station in Dayton, OH. I’d taken offense at the sexist tone of their station ID spots. (It’s worth noting that their morning DJ, unlike many others, does NOT substitute sexism for humor.) In my letter, I said that kind of behavior wasn’t edgy. In fact, I said it made them out to be posers.
Sure, it’s their sense of humor. Yeah, they’re probably trying to be funny. But it’s still sexist crap.
And it still means they’re complete posers.
It’s not the fact that they’re picking on people. That’s not what does or does not make them “edgy”. Look at Bill Hicks if you want edgy. No, really, watch his stuff. Look at Susanna Lee. Look at Dave Chappelle. Hell, look at George Carlin. They’re all funny. They all pick on people and point out stupidity, sure. But here’s the difference: they point out how stupid the powerful are . That is edgy.
I saw a clip of George Carlin doing the “words you can’t say on the air” sketch from 1978. (You can see it here.) Take a close look at it. Watch Carlin up there skewering our nonsensical societal morés… and the vast numbers of people in the audience who were just laughing because they were hearing naughty words. Maybe that’s why his standup got so mean in his later years – that disconnect between the comedian who stayed edgy and the audience who wanted fart jokes.
All humor isn’t created equal. Sometimes humor empowers – and is edgy as all hell. And sometimes humor just reinforces the same crappy social inequality – the kind that lets, say, a huge media conglomerate pretend that it might be cool.
 And if you don’t catch how Dave Chappelle is making fun of the powerful and dominant ideology in this country, please go watch all of Bill Hicks’ stuff again. All of it. In a row. Without stopping.