Gummy Bear Genocide

What does it mean when genocide becomes a punch line? Lately, we’ve had a bunch of opportunities to find out. Example 1: Monday’s Attack of the Show starts off funny enough, as an unsuspecting gummy bear is dumped into potassium chloride and an impressive chemical reaction follows. Jokes all around. “We can hear your screams.” And, honestly, the gurgling in the video doesn’t sound too far from it. Giggles.

Then it gets interesting. Host Kevin Pereira goes on about powering cars with the chemical reaction: “Screw the Prius, why can’t I run my car on that?” [more banter] “Running your car on gummy bears would be just like, well, genocide.” Uhm. Still funny, or did we just get a little sick?

Want more? Have a look at the review of Lost Planet in February’s Wired:

In the opening scenes of the gorgeous sci-fi actioner, a green-eyed alien or some such has killed your father and you’re ticked off about it. Vent your wrath by going genocidal on an army of insectoids straight out of Starship Troopers.

Then there’s the Zombie Genocider achievement in Dead Rising. Edge picked up on that, calling Dead Rising its “favorite zombie genocider.” And so on.

I know it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Hell, maybe it’s a coping strategy. Still, I can’t seem to find the word genocide amusing in any context. And I find it particularly sickening considering there’s a genocide going on this instant. Not to mention all those in recent memory: Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo.

Let’s be clear: these are largely good folks. (Any channel that shows Ninja Warrior can’t be all bad, for instance.) Being a tech person myself, I typically find the folks in my field more thoughtful than most. Still, when I hear talk like this, it really makes me wonder if we are quite as in touch with the difficult things that are happening in the world as we should be.

And, to some degree, we should be thankful for that. Most of us don’t have contact with genocide beyond the headlines. But imagine how those who aren’t so lucky might feel on hearing it used as a punchline. Every once in a while, we need a reminder.

So, that’s how I spent my Fourth of July. Giving thanks that we are to live in a country where large scale horror doesn’t visit us daily. And remembering that we need to do more to change things for those who don’t share our fortune.

image grabbed from wikipedia

4 Responses to “Gummy Bear Genocide”


  1. 1 Dongs

    Tell everyone the truth: you’re some elaborate troll using a PC gimmick to rile people up. No one is so emotionally damaged to actually be sensitized to something like this, right?

  2. 2 Thorgard

    Okay, I gave you the benefit of the doubt on the RE5 trailer, but between this and your anger over a comedic use of a mushroom cloud you cannot possibly be serious about any of this. I mean, you could be an extremely naive grad student and possibly be serious about all of it, but even I am not going to stoop to that level of personal insult.

  3. 3 Jason

    Dongs and Thorgard, I’m not particularly trying to rile people up but I will mention things when I find them disturbing. I honestly don’t think genocide is something to be joked about, and I think there are a good number of people who would agree with me.

    On the Mushroom Clown: Thorgard, you said it with “comedic use of a mushroom cloud.” It’s hard for me to find nuclear war funny, either.

  4. 4 Tom

    Was it acceptable to laugh about flying planes into buildings after 9/11? What about if the planes were filled with teddy bears and it was part of an SNL skit? Just because genocide isn’t happening to anyone you know doesn’t make it right to make light of it. Joking about genocide decreases the horror of the offense.

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