When Does Humor Cross the Line?: A Response to Jason Biggs’ Tweets Regarding the Malaysian Plane Crash

By Christine M. Sellers,

Last week I had no idea who Jason Biggs was, this week it seems as though he’s all the entertainment industry can talk about. I’m not familiar with Biggs’ work on the American Pie films or the widely popular Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black, so my first impression of him is based off his comments regarding the Malaysian airliner that crashed flying over Ukraine. And now that he’s issued public apologies for his behavior, I still don’t know how to feel about him.

I would like to make something perfectly clear though; I’m not writing this to slander Biggs or label him as a “horrible person” for what he’s done. I am going to try to analyze his logic in the matter, however.

To “recap” the situation, Biggs sent out a tweet shortly after news broke of the Malaysian airliner crashed, asking his followers if they were interested in “buying his Malaysian Airlines frequent flier miles,” as reported by major news outlets like US Weekly. Biggs eventually sent out a second tweet, adding onto his previous comments, before he was met with heavy backlash.

Following this critical reception, Biggs tried explaining himself, claiming he uses “humor to deal with tragedy,” but it was evident that he only threw more gasoline on the fire, as he was eventually forced to delete the comments and issue a public apology, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Biggs took to The View to emphasize his regret, saying he didn’t “mean any harm” and now realized that the remarks were “poorly timed.” Still, I think this entire situation begs to answer the question, “When does humor cross the line?”

It’s obvious there’s more than one way to try and answer this, but I’d say that humor most clearly crosses the line in the wake of tragedy. It’s also not acceptable to use humor when it’s practically guaranteed to offend others. Why?

That’s simple; not everyone finds the same things humorous. What’s “funny” to someone may come across as having no “tact” to someone else, and what’s poorly timed is rarely ever seen as funny.

Add in the fact that the advent of social media has made it easier to connect people like Biggs with large audiences of listeners who hang onto his every word and more problems arise. Once one person reacts, ten more follow, and before long, the entire world—or pretty close to it—knows that certain comments were made and those comments were ill received. It’s a platform that can easily get out of hand if one lets it.

The backlash is also inevitably worse for “repeat offenders” like Biggs who seem to continually react to more serious situations by using humor. Biggs has previously offended social media users with things he’s said in regards to the infamous Chris Brown/Rihanna situation, the Republican National Convention, and the death of a former Bachelorette contestant.

So why does Biggs keep making light of such intense situations when all it does is get him trouble? That’s probably only something Biggs could answer himself. I’m sure he’s had to do it a few times already.

And if by some strange reason Biggs had no idea what he was getting himself into when he chose to react to the crash in more humorous way, he definitely knows now that he watched yet another set of his tweets go viral.

So what should he have done? Kept his mouth shut? Just because celebrities’ main purpose is to entertain doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to comment on other subjects, I just feel they should exhibit more caution when they do. Think before you tweet; how will your words affect others? And if you think they might cause a ruckus, what could you say instead? How would you feel if you were in the particular situation you’re commenting on? Be respectful about it.

To conclude, I’m going to say this—I don’t think Biggs is a bad person; he just made a bad choice (or some bad choices, if you look at the various occasions he’s chosen to publish hurtful messages). We can all give him the benefit of the doubt and accept his apology rather than continue to rage smear campaigns all over the Internet. Yes, Biggs used poor judgment when he decided to crack that joke, but haven’t we all done things we’re not proud of at one time or another? Don’t we all deserve “second chances?”

I’m not sure if I’ll regret it or not, but I’m giving Biggs one.

Image credit:INFphoto.com/Insight News & Features, Inc.



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