Lately, Instagram has been expanding its explore page to allow users to discover all sorts of new, interesting material. When I occasionally skim its selection, I’ve come across channels dedicated to unusual pets, bodybuilders, and Twenty One Pilots concerts. Among this wide variety of random channels, one genre sticks out as very different than the others: the “comedian” section. The comedian segment of Instagram can be described as a handful of internet personalities that rack up millions of views on their sketches, usually about relationships, both platonic and romantic. It seems innocent enough, but after watching a couple videos, it’s plain to see that most of these Instagram comedy sketches are ridden with themes of sexual harassment and the sexual objectification of women.
You might be familiar with some of these “comedians” who continuously disgrace the name of comedy. Ex-viners Lele Pons, Amanda Cerny and Anwar Jibawi are just a few of the individuals responsible for the repeated exploitation and degradation of women through their videos.
Some of the videos in the comedy section are so blatantly disrespectful, it’s hard to believe that someone genuinely believed that it would appeal to a large audience. For example, one video that I found depicted a woman asking her boyfriend for money to buy shoes. At first he refuses, but after she offers to let him play with her breasts, he rains cash down on her. What kind of message is this supposed to give young, impressionable viewers? Besides the fact that the video is plainly not funny, it displays a woman who objectifies herself as nothing more than a pair of breasts in order to get some money from her boyfriend. Videos like this one promote the sexual objectification of women; a disgusting concept that modern feminism has been trying to put an end to for quite some time.
Some Instagram comedy videos cross the line of sexual objectification right over to sexual harassment. Social media personality and Youtuber Cody Ko recently posted a video that perfectly describes the perverse humor that is rampant in many of these videos. Ko introduces Steven Spence, an actor who occasionally portrays a character in his sketches named Esteban. Ko describes him as a “horny con-artist,” and that pretty much sums it up. The premise of Spence’s videos featuring Esteban consist of a man who works odd jobs in the hopes of getting women to provide him with sexual favors. Esteban undresses and touches women without their consent, but claims for it to be okay since he is a “professional.” Once Esteban is on the verge of being caught- POOF! He disappears. I realize that Spence is just trying to joke around, but sexual assault is something that should NEVER be joked about.
The main problem with Instagram comedians is their attempt to connect with their audience through the utilization of sexual jokes that end up more offensive than funny. Instead of resorting to belittling women, it would be nice to see more effort being put into the actual writing of these sketches. If I could tell any of these comedians one thing, it would be that the world needs more content that is authentic and entertaining, rather than content that is distasteful and degrading.