Sarcastic Saturday :: on “the tumblr sense of humor”

16 Jan

There are some weird-ass posts on tumblr.  Some of them are structured enough to have entire blogs dedicated to them (fandom incorrect quotes i.e. quotes from other fandoms attributed to the first fandom’s character[s]; fandom Texts From Last Night; different meme animals/etc.) and some of them just spring up out of nowhere and develop lives of their own.  Some of them develop meme status (Spiders Georg, the breadsticks thing, craving that mineral, our friend doge) and some of them just stand on their own and occasionally circulate around.  I could chronicle the history of tumblr humor posts and it could be a book, a fascinating dadaist psychology book.

But that’s not what I’m talking about tonight.

I’m talking about the habit I’ve noticed with many personal blogs to reblog posts that utilize “the tumblr sense of humor” with commentary tags saying something about how tumblr has ruined the blogger’s sense of humor, now they laugh at the stupidest things.  Some posts that pop up on tumblr that get tagged thus are pretty stupid, but the realization I’ve come to is that this… kind of makes me confused, and here’s why: the sense of humor I see on tumblr is the exact same sense of humor I personally have always had.

My family and friends have always taken jokes to meme level (variations on the “put the bunny back in the box” line from Con Air and when the butterfly in the My Little Pony: Friendship Gardens computer game says “you have to move your pony out of the way” remain eternally relevant).

I’ve always laughed about attributing some quotes to other quotes or putting faces from one thing on another thing (I’ve told you about our adventures recreating Rocky Horror with Beanie Babies, Polly Pockets, and The American Girls Premiere, but maybe I didn’t tell you about the time we recreated the first Harry Potter with Beanie Babies and also musical interludes just because we wanted to).

I’ve always had a big giggle about puns that come out of left field and observations related to language or fonts or etymology (honestly, the scene in Agents of SHIELD where Fitz and Hunter actually argued about the correct way to spell the name Fitz spelled “Katelin” might have been my favorite joke on television last year, and I’m not even sure it was a joke).

I have actually read “My Immortal” more than once and in fact one night one of my best friends and I listened to the entire thing read aloud on YouTube by a Scottish man.  Completely sober.

I spent the majority of third grade writing and rehearsing terrible plays with my friends, as I’ve mentioned before, and about half of them didn’t have plots to speak of, or not so that I remember, but I did recently remember that in one of the ones I was responsible for I played a preadolescent hippie named Sadie, and you could tell she was a hippie because her handwriting was Wingdings.  I don’t remember why or if this was explained.

Tumblr humor has always read to me as kind of familiar.  Not because I’ve looked at a particular post and necessarily said “oh my god, I say that all the time” but because tumblr humor is “here is a list of weird things that Puritans named their children,” it’s “look, The Phantom of the Opera and The Room with quotes exchanged,” it’s weird absurdist things that derive humor not from putting someone down (unless that someone is Jar-Jar Binks, in which case that’s fine) but observing weird things or observing normal things in a weird way or phrasing weird observations in a normal way (another example is the “xyz fandom explained by tumblr user[s] with no knowledge of it beyond tumblr” structure, which may be one of my favorite things ever because I take great joy in plainly stated observations about strange things, or for that matter in explaining things plainly but out of context [try this with details about Penny Dreadful it’s delightful]) or deconstructions of a normal thing that point out how in fact weird it is.

(Also, I try not to self-deprecate about things like that, which is funny since I self-deprecate about the things I like and the way I like them on the regular, but the fact that my sense of humor is more Buffy than Big Bang is, in my opinion, something to be proud of, and also, it’s just how my brain works and I didn’t realize I was supposed to find it weird for most of my life.)

Anyway, I guess my point is that maybe I should write a psychological analysis of tumblr humor  someday and in the meantime I will just smile about the fact that, self-deprecation or not (I understand the in a general sense), I found a place to laugh about the kind of strange shit I’ve always laughed about with other people who aren’t going to look at me with abject confusion.

–your fangirl heroine.





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