cartoon cow writing at a desk

Carol Burnett Insensitive to the Times (12.14.17)

The kids and I recently watched The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special. I love Carol Burnett and have read her autobiography. Carol is a tough cookie and I applaud her for her magnificent career in comedy and breaking a leg in a male dominated field. I was surprised and shocked to see a video clip during the 50th Anniversary television special showing Carol grabbing and tweaking Harvey Korman’s large breast when he was dressed up as a woman for a skit. This video clip was shown during the “Bloopers” section of the show. Carol is sitting on a sofa and Harvey is sitting in a chair across from her. From what I remember and understand, this clip was not part of the skit – it was a behind the scenes experience. Harvey’s costume is hysterical looking. He has enormous breasts as this larger than life female character. Carol reaches over from her seat and squeezes or “honks” the end of Harvey’s right breast and they both tilt their heads back and laugh. I didn’t think or feel that this clip was funny.

I know that comedy pushes the envelope and that actions and behaviors are grossly exaggerated for the genre. Comedy shakes us up, makes us feel uncomfortable, creates laughter, and inspires us to examine the absurdities in life. But at this particular moment in time, women and men are mustering up the courage to come forward and share their horrific experiences of being sexually assaulted in the workplace by co-workers, supervisors, and upper management. Giant personalities across the spectrum from television, to Hollywood, to the music industry, to politics are being exposed on a daily basis for inappropriate behavior towards co-workers and subordinates. It’s unacceptable for people to assault one another sexually, mentally, physically, verbally, etc. Carol Burnett was one of the Executive Producers for this 50th Anniversary Special. To me, Carol and the other people who produced this program should be held accountable for airing a “Bloopers” comedy sketch at this time that is offensive and jarring to people who have been sexually assaulted and molested. What may seem like a harmless, silly action to many people, creates a shiver, a nauseous feeling, triggering a horrific memory and frightening sensations in people like myself who have experienced sexual assault. It is not realistic for our culture to be hyper-sensitive and politically correct to try and not offend various segments of our society, however this misstep by Carol Burnett and company seems ill timed and careless considering the volcanoes that are currently erupting throughout our mass media landscape.