The Moral Ambiguity of Bathroom Humor

In the American media, we have these moral crusader advocacy organizations that aren’t above decrying moral indecency whenever the media depicts something that greatly offends them. Some can range from offensive depiction of certain groups or creeds which is understandable since many of conservative decency organizations tend to be religiously affiliated while liberal ones tend to represent ethnic or religious minorities.  Some could pertain to the depiction of sex and nudity which is also understandable to moral crusaders and parents alike (however, moral outcry over depictions of a homosexual couple just sharing their life together is just a major overreaction. Same for separate beds and showing pregnancy.) Sometimes it could be the depiction of drug use, violence, or profanity which is understandable as well since most people don’t want their kids using drugs, inflicting violence, or swear (though that may not be possible) and sometimes these three things can be shown as cool in the media. However, there’s a kind of category which many moral crusaders tend to see as non-family friendly or flat out inappropriate in general which I don’t see as something you should shelter kids from which is, you guessed it, bathroom humor.

Now I understand that the human body does conduct certain bodily functions that are typically seen as crude and disgusting as well as in poor taste to talk about them in a humorous context. And when such bodily functions are sometimes brought up on TV it’s usually in advertising pertaining to health as well as discussed as discreetly as possible. For instance, in an ad for Activia yogurt, you have a bunch of women saying how the two-week Activia challenge helped “regulate” their “digestion.” Of course, you’d have to be a two-year-old not to know that what these women are talking about are their bowel movements (a parody video of this has the girl on the toilet towards the end).  Still, I can understand why you’d put women in a commercial like that instead of men because they’d probably be much more blunt about it and perhaps use profanity. Then there are plenty of commercials for laxatives and adult diapers as well. Of course, you also got the fart jokes in Gas-X but still, many of these commercials that tend to be discreet and boring all aimed for adults. And whenever there is an ad that contains bathroom humor like the farting horse commercial from Bud Light, then people complain about it citing poor taste, indecency, disgust or not suitable for children. Sure bodily functions like urinating. defecating, or farting are in poor taste, disgusting, or even indecent but there’s no way that jokes about any of them aren’t suitable for children. For God’s sake do you think you can corrupt little kids by telling them poop jokes? No, for toilet humor pertains to certain things everyone does on multiple occasions every single day of their lives. Not to mention, toilet humor has been around for a very long time and is present in almost every culture on the planet. Besides, there are many children who make their own poop jokes and think farts are funny and don’t ask me why, they just do. Still, at least potty humor in a commercial is much more entertaining than a commercial devoted to a more serious discussion of bowel movements, especially in the format of a pharma ad.

Thus, we can’t always assume what is in poor taste is always considered  something we need to shelter our kids from. Basically the only thing what bathroom humor does to children is make them more likely to engage in bathroom jokes of their own. But if references to bodily functions aren’t something we need to shelter our kids from, then why aren’t there more scenes in the media depicting people going to the bathroom? Because going to the bathroom is such a mundane activity that the act itself doesn’t really contribute to the plot unless something out of the ordinary happens while in it. Also, the notion of privacy is an issue as well even though going to the bathroom wasn’t always something people did alone. Take the Romans who had communal public toilets, for instance. Still, this doesn’t mean that these characters aren’t going to the bathroom. Going to the toilet just isn’t that important in fiction and not many people want to see that sort of thing since it’s kind of disgusting, especially when the piece is set in historical times. And believe me, you may not want to know how they conducted their business.