I don’t know how to say this, so I’ll just put it out there in the most straightforward way possible: There is a show called Retarded Policeman. And it’s funny.
Written and directed by husband-and-wife team Kim Evey and Greg Benson of Mediocre Films (one of the most subscribed to content producers on YouTube), the basic premise of the series is pretty much laid out in the show’s theme song: “He is a cop and he’s learning-impaired. He’s the retarded policeman.”
But, believe me, it’s so much more. Well, sort of.
Retarded Policeman, which is, incidentally, also the name of the main character in the show played by Josh “The Ponceman” Perry, is a scripted series about a delightful, adorable, completely corrupt, coked-up and cuddly LAPD officer with Down syndrome.
At this point, you should be either totally intrigued, incredibly disgusted, or both.
###In each of the six episodes currently streaming on YouTube, the Retarded Policeman pulls over an assortment of non-offenders for various reasons – he just wants to say hi, he has an itch that he can’t reach, he has a bag of apples that he wants to show off. Or, as is the case in episode four, he pulls over a guy just because the guy is black, and the Retarded Policeman, ever-innocent in his explanation, has learned that black people should be pulled over just because. Is this satire? Not really. Just very offensive. In fact, this particular installment should be problematic for anyone for a number of reasons.
Still, some of the funniest jokes ever told are offensive. And while there are those who maintain that the abhorrent, no matter how hilarious, always has a tinge of hatred, the trend in recent mainstream comedy (most notably with Farrelly Brothers movies, Curb Your Enthusiam and Family Guy) is to test that theory.
But we’ll get back to that in a moment.
In a statement on their YouTube page, Mediocre Films says of Retarded Policeman, “Before you leave mean comments, just know that our friend Ponce (the Cop) is an awesome and talented young dude who loves performing and making light of his Down syndrome. He’s a smart and funny guy, and has complete awareness of his actions and decisions. And we all had an awesome time shooting Retarded Policeman!”
Truth be told, Perry (who was recently cast in American Cowslip with Val Kilmer and Peter Falk) does seem to be having a good time with his character – there is no question that he he’s talented and gets into the role (aside: His MySpace profile reads, “I’m the #&$%n’ master!”). And it makes for more comfortable viewing when you come to terms with the fact that his character always has the upper hand in any given situation.
The really interesting thing about this series, however, is how we (and YouTube commentors) react to it.
Isn’t it wrong to portray the mentally disabled as drugged-up, racist and horny simpletons with a fondness for peeing in refrigerators? Isn’t it incredibly insensitive to allow Josh Perry to seemingly betray himself and others with his syndrome by playing a completely id-driven and absurd character, whose sole purpose is to amuse and shock us? Isn’t it unfair to give mean people just another reason to snicker at the mentally-challenged? Isn’t it uncouth to say ‘retarded’ in this day and age? In other words, isn’t it horrible to laugh at Retarded Policeman?
The humor in Retarded Policeman, and other popular comedies that challenge societal norms and political correctness, has a clever way of turning the focus of the viewer inward. A powerful device, if you get it.
Of course, there will also be people who will laugh just because of the way the Retarded Policeman says, ‘Byeeeeeeee,’ when a car drives off.
Either way, though, it works.