Almost two months ago now I got into watching a long running internet video series called Doraleous and Associates. Jumping in at Episode 47 of the show due to a cameo from an internet personality I enjoy, I quickly jumped to the start and watched the entirety of this well animated, written and performed comedy world saving quest series. It had a likeable cast of unique characters, a series of well interwoven plot threads and it was equally accomplished as both a comedy and a serious action adventure series. I was hooked.
As someone with a decent sized Twitter following I rushed to go recommend the series to my followers straight away. I warned them of some occasional humor that was uncomfortable, such as the running “Wetald Village” gag where they slightly change the word retard and play on this to make jokes at the expense of certain characters, but I sought opinions from people more closely effected by the humor and it was made clear that that particular fight was not mine to fight. I’ve been made aware of a number of people already trying to make the creators aware of their issues with this running joke. When they made jokes centered around the kinds of language that they knew were inappropriate they tended to at least make some small attempt to change the word slightly and make it so that the humor came from the viewer auto-correcting something in their own mind. It wasn’t ideal, but I warned people in advance and I thought I could trust the series not to directly use slurs that might bother viewers who have been harassed using those words.
I was unfortunately wrong.
One week prior to writing this the penultimate episode of Doraleous and Associates, Episode 48, aired on hank and Jed’s Youtube Channel. Eagerly watching as the show came towards it’s conclusion, I was smacked around the face by multiple uses of the word Tranny in quick succession as the punchline to a new running gag. A derogatory slur used toward Transgender people which I have only personally been called by people meaning to make me feel unsafe, the term Tranny was repeated multiple times as part os a new running joke which will be referred to as the “Tranny Hole” running gag.
Here’s a rundown of the joke. The band of heroes need to find a magical transportation portal and reach it before it can be used to bring back an ancient evil from another plane of existence. These “Transportation Holes” are deliberately only called by their full name once, allowing them to for the rest of the episode talk in terms of seeking out “Tranny Holes”. No attempt to alter it in a way where the viewer is making the leap to the slur, they just outright repeat an upsetting Transphobic slur multiple times over the course of the episode’s remaining few minutes.
I finished watching this episode and felt understandably let down. As a vocal fan of the series I was upset to see the writers resorting to this as a source of humor and, as it personally effected me, I felt it was my duty to reach out to hank and Jed about the joke and see if we could have a polite on the record interview about the humor. Yes I was upset, but I was more than wiling to politely talk it through with them, giving them the benefit of the doubt that they may not know that the term they had used was as offensive as it was and why it’s integration in thew show bothered me as a viewer. I sent several tweets to their Twitter account mentioning my distaste at the humor and asking if they would be willing to talk with me further about the topic. I got no reply.
I then stepped my attempts up slightly. I went to Hank and Jed’s official website and sent a message through their contact form on the site explaining my concerns and requesting an interview. No reply.
I then stepped my attempts up one last time by reaching out to a colleague who I’ve worked with in the past and knew had been in contact with Hank and Jed before. I was given a personal Hotmail email address and told that they were known to check the account very regularly. I sent the same message as I had sent through the contact form. Once again multiple days passed and I received no reply.
I was almost ready to let this go. I was frustrated by their actions but I felt that at least they now had to know I was upset with the Tranny Hole running gag. They couldn’t plead ignorance after this and continue to use the joke, right?
So, tonight I opened up the series finale, Episode 49 of Doraleous and Associates, hoping that even though they had not replied maybe they would quietly cut the Tranny Hole gag from the final episode of the series. Not by a long shot. Before the video had even begun to load I spotted that the phrase Tranny Hole appeared in the episode title and video description on Youtube. You could maybe argue it being too short notice to cut a joke from an animated show during a week long run time, but they have to have seen my complaints and they still felt the need to write that in the description.
Watching the episode itself there’s an isolated use of the word Tranny two minutes in, not in the context of the phrase tranny hole but rather a discussion of “preparing the Tranny”. The episode then continues withh a string of four uses of Tranny Hole later in the space of a single minute of screen time.
Simply put, I will not be watching any more episodes of Doraleous and Associates and will be recommending my followers also avoid getting into the show if they have not done so already. I am very disappointing that the show’s creators declined a week of attempts to secure an interview or to address my concerns and if either of them read this article I want them to know they lost a very vocal fan today by their refusal to acknowledge any of my concerns. Humor is not above critique, there are legitimate arguments I wanted to make to you about the punching up/ punching down nature of making joke about minority groups versus making them as a minority group about the majority and I’m just upset that I was not given an opportunity to discuss with you my issues with the jokes you made.
(Disclaimer) – To those who will inevitably want to argue that no topic should be off limits for humor, allow me to make some of the arguments I wished to make directly to Hank and Jed. The fundamental difference between a Cisgender (meaning not Transgender) person making a joke using the word Tranny and a Transgender person making a joke at the expense of either themselves or a Cisgender person is the concept of whether your humor punches at it’s own size, punches up or punches down. Transgender people already face a lot of discrimination on a daily basis from Cisgender people who have a more privileged position in society (I know, I used the word Privilege but stick with me). The reason this is important to remember is a Cis person making a Tranny joke is punching down, they’re picking on a group that’s already the butt of their jokes, a group already seen as lesser than them in society. Making Tranny jokes reinforces this, it repeats the idea that just the mention of a Tranny is a funny thing. If I as a Trans person made a joke about being Trans that would be from a position of equal strength, making a joke about myself knowing where my line is for humor and taking ownership of that. If I made a joke about a Cisgender person I would be punching up, making a joke about a group with a more solid social standing than myself. I hope that addresses this issue as this is my biggest issue with the Tranny Hole joke, it’s a group of presumably Cisgender characters and actors making a joke at the expense of a group that already has a lot hate directed their way, reinforcing the idea it’s funny to use this slur when referring to Transgender people.