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Movie Mom

Men, Women, and The Three Stooges

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks to Thelma Adams for her thoughtful discussion of two perennial questions: Why do men like The Three Stooges?  Why don’t women like The Three Stooges?

That’s Not Funny! Why Comedy is Different for Men and Women” is Adams’ post on why men find head-bonking and eye-gouging funny while women look on, mystified.

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Of course there are women who are fans of Moe, Larry, and Curly and men who don’t get the point.  But in general, men laugh at them and women do not.  As I told Thelma, there is scientific research showing that women respond to seeing others in pain with empathy while men take pleasure unless they feel it is unfair.

In other words, women empathize with the victim of violence (hence the wincing every time Moe pulls Curly’s hair out by the roots), while men experience schadenfreude when folks get their comeuppance. Men enjoy watching someone get whacked — as long as it isn’t them. Maybe it’s because every time someone else gets picked on, they get a reprieve.  It may simply be that women see pain where men see pratfalls.

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Or, it may be that women identify with the victims and men identify (or fantasize about being) the perpetrator.

We certainly have a lot to laugh about, and an abundance of potential story lines — as “Bridesmaids” proved so well. Just don’t expect us to howl at “The Three Stooges,” OK?

  • http://lileks.com/ stephanie grant

    I LOVE THE THREE STOOGES!! HAVE SINCE I WAS A LITTLE GIRL. WHENEVER HE COULD, MY DAD AND I WOULD SIT DOWN TOGETHER AND WATCH THEM. MY MOM AND SISTER COULDN’T UNDERSTAND WHY WE LIKED THEM {BUT THEY RESPECTED OUR COMEDY OF CHOICE, AND DIDN’T JUDGE US.-LEAST WAYS, NOT VERBALLY.}

    • Nell Minow

      Wonderful to hear, Stephanie! I love your story. What a terrific family.

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