I know that post title makes it sound like I'm about to go off on a diatribe about how food allergies are not funny, but I honestly mean the question sincerely and would be very curious to hear your thoughts, especially if you (or your child) do not have food allergies. I am always interested to hear the viewpoint of people not so immersed in the allergy world as I am.
I've noticed that it's apparently okay in popular culture to poke a little fun at food allergies. This recent post over at Dooce, (which largely has nothing to do with food allergies), just reminded me of the topic. Clearly, she wasn't trying to offend people with food allergies, she was just trying to make her point in a humorous way by poking a little fun at herself.
I can also think off the top of my head of episodes of The Office, 30 Rock, and Modern Family that have all incorporated food allergies as part of the plot within the last two years. Being sitcoms, the situations shown are meant to be funny of course, but I find myself clenching up and having trouble appreciating the humor. I literally sit there having an internal dialogue with myself going, "Kate. Do not be so uptight. It is just a joke, for crying out loud." And in the category of "any press is good press," one could argue that even poorly portrayed images of food allergies raise food allergy awareness amongst the general public. (I'm not so sure I agree with that theory in this case, but I'm just throwing it out there. In my opinion, a truly inaccurate portrayal of food allergies can do a real disservice to people dealing with them. For example, a portrayal of a buffoon with a fake food allergy might fuel doubts about whether other people's properly diagnosed food allergies are real.)
Anyway, I'm mostly not offended by sitcom portrayals of food allergies, or people using food allergies in jokes, I guess, because I have to admit, it does just go to show that with food allergies on the rise, they are much more a part of the viewing public's consciousness than they would have been 5, 10 or 15 years ago. And that apparently makes food allergies acceptable fodder for comedy.
The more uptight part of me has to wonder, though: would it be okay to poke fun at someone with cancer, diabetes, autism, or some other affliction in the same way? Would the viewing audience find it as funny? Why are food allergies so funny? Sadly, I think it's because a lot of people secretly find it sort of annoying to have to be bothered by the food allergies of those around them, so jokes are a way to let off steam about that.
I don't know. Those are just some ideas I've been pondering. What do you think?
I do believe that in life it's critically important (regardless of the situation) to retain some ability to laugh at ourselves. So I'm really striving to foster the part of me that is not offended by attempts to humorously portray food allergies, and to tone down the part of me that is admittedly still a little uptight about it. It's all about finding the right balance, I guess.