I like to think I have a sense of humor. My kids would probably disagree. Mr. Wordtabulous gives me props for being funny, but usually not when I am trying to be. Still, I have my own humorous take on things and for the most part that serves me well enough. The one area where I fully admit to NO sense of humor AT ALL would be the area of practical jokes. I have made it very clear to Mr. W, and am now making it clear to you as well, that if I ever get “Punk’d” the person punking me and Ashton Kutcher will be eating a camera. Each. There would be lawsuits and probably jail time, but mark it, that would be the straw that would break this well-behaved, good sport, camel’s back. Word. Are we clear? Good.
So now I am reflecting on the debacle with the New Zealand radio show hosts calling Princess Kate Middleton’s hospital staff and the horrific turn this tale has taken. If you are not up to clicking to nbc.com for the story, and don’t know what all has gone down, here it is as I understand it: Princess Kate was hospitalized for severe morning sickness during a pregnancy which has galvanized the UK, and as a joke the hosts of a New Zealand radio show called the hospital pretending to be Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth and asking for information and to speak with Kate. The nurse who spoke with them, Jacintha Saldanha, actually gave them some information and transferred them through even though the hosts were not convincing at all. There was a huge uproar over this and the hosts claimed they never expected the prank to work, which I find completely plausible, but the upshot was that nurse looked like an incompetent idiot. Reportedly, this woman who fell for the prank, a wife and mother of two, has now taken her life. In response, the radio hosts have been fired and the station has lost advertisers. Today, The Onion tweeted, “The other nurse thought it was funny.”
Normally I enjoy The Onion, but this was gross. Irreverence is one thing, but this is NOT FUNNY. The problem with many practical jokes is the unknown quantity; the mental state of the people involved. PEOPLE. Not cast members with scripts, who go in knowing they are being compensated for playing the loser, and are glad to do it. Real unsuspecting people who make mistakes and have problems. Maybe they have long-standing issues of inferiority, or addiction issues, or are facing loss and grief. Maybe you don’t have to have a ton of issues to hate life when your entire country turns on you. Now, I don’t believe anyone suspected suicide was a possible outcome when this gag was put to play, but I also think a certain lack of empathy is a job requirement for the industry. Do I think the radio show hosts should have been fired? Maybe not, but I have trouble caring about their situation. There are probably worse characters in this sad story scapegoating the clever and amusing radio personalities. There are much worse characters at The Onion, making a joke out of the dead woman’s extreme response and putting it out into the world to provoke a ripple of mockery. Killing yourself, even when faced with what seems like universal condemnation and ridicule, is an unreasonable response. So would be forcing some self-satisfied jerk to eat a camera, yet I still can’t see why people insist upon provoking these kind of reactions.