5 Reasons Why Hollywood Has Abandoned Edgy Humor

Good comedy movies are dead. Here's why humor in Hollywood is a thing of the past.
Why Good Comedy Movies Are a Thing of the Past.
Source: Unsplash

If you're anything like me, you've come to realize that you haven't seen a gut-busting, hilarious movie in ages. Monty Python, Blazing Saddles, and The Big Lebowski are all classics that could never be made and released today. Modern Hollywood movies give me a chuckle or two, but I can't remember the last time I cried from laughter at a movie; it just doesn't happen anymore. One must ask why? 

Good comedy movies are dead, and Hollywood has killed them. They are dead because of the culture, politics, appealing to a broader audience (money), fear, and their diminishing popularity.

Here are the 5 reasons why good comedy movies are dead in Hollywood.

1. Films reflect the values of society

Comedy Has Become Culturally Inclusive
Source: Unsplash

Films and culture have always been influenced by each other. Without a culture to derive context and ideas from, films would not be able to exist. Movie studios are always trying to appeal to not only American culture, but international cultures as well. When the culture in America shifts, Hollywood pivots in tandem. Studios do this so that their movies will always be relevant upon release.

Over the past few decades, America has become more and more inclusive and accepting of all different types of cultures. While this has caused the nation to progress rapidly, it has also left Hollywood scratching its heads trying to appeal to every different type of culture.

What one culture thinks is funny, another will consider offensive, and vice versa. The culture in America has diversified, which means Hollywood has retreated. Comedy is a challenging element to effectively sprinkle into a movie. So, to make it the sole purpose of a movie, it requires great consideration and cares on the writers' part.

Making people laugh is a whole lot easier if you know your audience, and because the culture is so dense and diversified, it is nearly impossible for Hollywood to truly "know" their audience. This is the first reason why Hollywood has chosen to abandon comedy movies.

2. Politics have influenced movies

Politics have ruined comedy in movies
Source: Pexels

Politics have an influence on the movie industry in the same way that they have an impact on clothing and music. Movies all have political undertones, and comedy movies are very polarizing in their humor. The film industry has adapted its movies to suit a broader political ecosystem as to not ostracize a portion of their audience. 

Politics have always been one of America's favorite topics to laugh at when they get the chance. Every late-night show on television places political humor at the core of their script. While political jokes are an easy win for late-night comedy show writers, it is a very different story for writers of blockbuster movies.

The main goal of directors in Hollywood is to appeal to as many people as possible with their movies. Adding political jokes instantly polarizes a portion of the audience. In addition, nearly everything is politicized these days so screenwriters are forced to walk on eggshells with all of their jokes.

Furthermore, the political landscape changes drastically when taking international audiences into account. Imagine writing a joke that the entire world would see or hear. The pressure is insurmountable, especially when the political landscapes differ so drastically between countries. 

Political parties and affiliates are simply too sensitive and aggressive against opposing views, so writing jokes contradictory to their beliefs might garner negative feedback on a film. These are reasons that politics has made the second spot on this list. 

3. Comedy was sacrificed for superheroes and blockbusters

Comedy movies are dead because of money
Source: Pexels

Superhero movies have been dominating the box office in America and internationally for over a decade. Two out of the five highest-grossing movies of all time are Avengers movies earning a combined total of nearly $5 billion at the box office. With the monumental success and money that Marvel has achieved, every other movie studio has pivoted in an attempt to piggyback off of their achievement. As a result, the comedy genre was put to rest.

Simply put, because humor is harder to generalize across the world, movie studios have decided to opt out of writing entire movies based on comedy. Humor is a risky thing to bank your money on, and Hollywood knows this.

Blockbuster action and superhero movies are far more profitable than any comedy movie ever was. Most movie studios exist for the sole purpose of making as much money as they can, and if that means changing genres to meet the current demand, they will definitely do that.

This is not to say that Hollywood has abandoned comedy entirely. I am simply meaning that Hollywood has long forgotten how to make good comedy movies. Most movies nowadays weave jokes throughout their script, just look at any Marvel movie.

Hollywood writers have taken a safe approach to add humor in their movies, and gone are the days of great comedy movies. The best we will get is safe jokes in superhero movies that have no chance of offending anyone. 

4. Reviews affect a movie's success

Why Hollywood is afraid of Comedy
Source: Unsplash

With websites like Rotten Tomatoes clearly displaying critics' opinions of a movie, reviews are more important now than ever. Audiences like to know if a movie is worth seeing before spending their hard-earned money on tickets or pay per view to see it. Include social media praise or backlash against a movie and the success of that movie can dramatically change. 

Cancel culture is on the rise in America, and Hollywood is cowering in fear. Making one offensive remark these days can lead to the backlash of hundreds of thousands of angry people posting on Twitter about it. 

In the video posted above, comedian Joe Rogan questioned: "have they made it so dangerous in terms of being canceled that comedy movies are something that you can no longer do?" The fear of being canceled is especially true in comedy, and even comedians know it.

With the rise of social media came echo chambers of people with ideologies and beliefs targeting and destroying anything that offends them. The goal of comedy is to laugh at ridiculous aspects of life, but these days, people take offense too easily.

Cancel culture has essentially ruined any chance of seeing amazing edgy comedy movies in today's age. This kind of culture that exists solely on social media seeks to protect itself and attack anything contrary to its beliefs. Cancel culture is so effective that Hollywood has waved the white flag and forfeited the entire genre of edgy comedy in fear of being canceled. 

5. Comedy movies have diminished in popularity

Comedy Movies are losing popularity
Source: Stocksnap

The comedy genre in the film industry has been in decline for years now. The highest-grossing comedy movie of 2019 was The Upside with Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston bringing in just over $100 million domestically and only $17 million internationally. Comparing that to the multi-billion dollar success of the Avengers movies, and it becomes clear that comedy is not a money-making industry.  

Have edgy comedy movies simply lost popularity as the years have passed by? Maybe audiences have become more sensitive to being "offended" because of social media. It is an interesting thing to consider. The declining popularity of comedy movies could be in part to how our modern age seeks to protect people from mental harm and offense. With the rise of "safe spaces" and "inclusive speech" on school campuses and in workplaces, one must wonder if these cultural changes have led to people viewing comedy as doing more harm than good.

In support of the arguments, comedian Joe Rogan recently begged the question on his podcast: "When was the last time there was a really good edgy comedy?" and further went on to say that "Superbad could never be made today."

In any case, there is no doubt that comedy movies have become a lost art, stuck in the confines of the past. Whether it's because of diminishing popularity with audiences, or for any other reason on this list.

I still miss the hysterical laughter that comedy movies of old brought me, and will rewatch the classics for decades to come. I can only hope that the genre will someday be resurrected and given new life in the movie industry.

I'm a mental health advocate, a poet, and an avid writer. I love to read, watch movies, and explore the outdoors!

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