Amusing Abusers and Humourless Survivors: Analysing the Role of Comedy in Media Representations of Sexual Violence


Monkey Dust Family Guy Saturday Night Live Friends It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia comedy studies trauma theory television comedy childhood sexual abuse rape jokes feminist media studies

How to Cite

Lamont, B. (2021). Amusing Abusers and Humourless Survivors: Analysing the Role of Comedy in Media Representations of Sexual Violence. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 3(3), 344-373.


This article reflects on the importance of comedy when considering media engagements with sexual abuse themes. This approach is informed by how closely the study of humour is rooted in the analysis of power relations, with comic theorists, both historical and contemporary, grounding the work.The comic figures of both the child sex (CS) abuser and the sexual violence survivor are first identified, before exploring what exactly about these tropes evoke laughter, and what this means for wider conceptions of interpersonal abuse and victimology.

In analysing examples of CS abuser themed British and American comedy, animated adult comedies such as Family Guy (1999-present) and Monkey Dust (2003-2005) are considered in the context of early 2000s anxieties towards the suburban dirty old man and online child safety. In the case of the sexual violence survivor, Saturday Night Live’s 1993 ‘Is It Date Rape?’ sketch is considered within the context of 1990s anxieties regarding feminist campus politics, and is paralleled to the mid-2010s media panic surrounding British and American university students and trigger warnings through examples including The Simpson’s 2017 ‘Caper Chase’ episode and early to mid-2010s online academic polemics on the humourless feminist, such as Mark Fisher’s ‘Exiting The Vampire Castle’ (2013) and Jack Halberstam’s ‘You are Triggering Me!’ (2014). The article concludes by considering the changing consensuses for sexual violence themed humour in the Me Too era through the 2018 episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-present) ‘Times Up For The Gang.’


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