So according to my socials this morning, this comedian guy has been thrown off Instagram for making a Barbie joke. Let’s pick it apart and extract the juicy vocabulary goodness within.
“A Mattel lançou uma Barbie com Trissomia 21, uma edição especial. Não é uma ideia original, toda a gente sabe que os chineses já vendem bonecas com defeito”
The what now?
Trissomia rang a bell but I couldn’t quite place it so I looked it up, but of course I should have just read the text below, because it’s explained there: Downs Syndrome. Oof. OK, well if you’re going to go there, you’d better make it a good joke, because people don’t tend to be very sympathetic if you’re just going to be pointlessly spiteful and cruel.
The joke hinges on the word “Defeito”. I looked it up in some Brazilian and portuguese dictionaries to see if there was a meaning of defeito that would make it gel into a joke. For example, is “defeito” a standard, non-insulting way to describe a learning disability? If so, it would still be a shitehawk joke, but at least we’d be able to see that he was going for an actual double-meaning and the the joke would just about work as a critique of Chinese manufacturing. It doesn’t seem to be though. Learning disability in portuguese is “deficiência mental”, which, if you translate it to it’s english cognates still sounds pretty off but obviously words have slightly different weights in different cultures, so I can only assume it doesn’t sound insulting to native speakers. When I look up “pessoas com defeitos”, all the listings relate to people who are arrogant or lazy or have some other character defect. So it doesn’t really work. I get that he’s having a pop at Chinese manufacturing but in the process I think he’s just saying people with Down’s are defective. Which just seems cruel to me.
So yeah, it’s just a shitehawk joke. I don’t think he should have been thrown off Instagram for it though. People like Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle have been making shittier jokes than that for years and they never seem to be short of work. Of course their jokes are also quite well crafted, so there’s that.
Instagram could have just left it there and let the lack of laughs and the virtual heckles act as their own negative reinforcement mechanism, but that’s not how it played out.