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It’s not me, it’s Revue

| Monday, February 24, 2014

One of the best aspects of Notre Dame is the community. However, instead of serving as a witty and tasteful social commentary on the Notre Dame community, much of the Keenan Revue divides us. Many people argue that the Revue is meant to be all in good fun and anyone who gets upset is taking it too seriously. The fact is that the Revue deals with issues like gender, sexuality and relationships — things that are actually at the very core of many peoples’ identities. To create skits that deal with such material and to advise people to not take them seriously dismisses the groups and individuals who do, in fact, take these things seriously.

I felt exactly this way during the final skit, “Revuepoint,” which presented a “typical” Notre Dame girl complaining about the Revue in The Observer. Of course the girl was portrayed to be ridiculous and over-reacting. As I actually agreed with some of the points in this recited Viewpoint, I got the message loud and clear that I, too, am over-reacting. But I don’t think I’m over-reacting. More often than not, I think people are under-reacting, laughing off matters that are in fact pretty important.

You see, I’m not anti-Revue. I actually think it has a lot of potential. Humor can be used well, especially as a way to draw attention to things that we, as a community, should be talking about. We should be making jokes about the spectacle of Domerfest, the assumptions built into dining hall dates or what it’s like to be at Finny’s and drunkenly confront “your person” that you see walking to and from class every day. Making jokes points to the fact that much of what we do is socially constructed; humor invites us to think about the things we say and do and to consider why we say and do them. At the very least, we can bond over shared awkwardness. But the majority of the Revue does not use humor in this way.

The thing is, I think most of you — including those of you involved with the Revue — agree with me. I don’t think that you truly believe that Notre Dame girls aren’t beautiful, fro-yo is something to be ashamed of or that sex is meaningless. So why do these jokes exist, year after year, skit after skit? Perpetuating these stereotypes interferes with your ability to be insightful, creative and fresh.

Ultimately, I wrote this article to challenge, not to condemn. I wrote it because I love my Notre Dame community, the traditions we uphold and the messages that we send. So I want to challenge all of us as one student body to pay attention, to think, to be creative and to question. And like all good and valiant knights, the men of Keenan Hall can lead the way.

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