When life gets you down, there's always YouTube and it's "Fail Compilation" videos, faceplants, nut-shots and other videotaped mayhem. A guilty pleasure some would say, but to me there is nothing guilty about it, as I believe we all have this tendency to take pleasure through the form of humor from other people their misfortune and it can help us cope with the unavoidable misfortunes of our own.

Humor is an important tool for coping with life's darker moments, yet when it comes to schadenfreude, it's often considered a "guilty" pleasure.

What are your thoughts? Are there boundaries, are the "Darwin Awards" funny for instance, and does anyone feel guilty for enjoying other people's misery?

Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

Darwin Awards are prices awarded to people that have successfully removed themselves from the gene pool in such a manner that they deserve to be rewarded for it. 

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As Mike pointed out in Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, nearly all humour is based on the misfortune of others.

"Perhaps I don't grok all its fullness yet. But find me something that really makes you laugh, sweetheart… a joke, or anything else – but something that gave you a real belly laugh, not a smile. Then we'll see if there isn't a wrongness in it somewhere and whether you would laugh if the wrongness wasn't there."

I have never read Heinlein, but I do believe that he has a point there. I did find out that quite a few people somehow feel ashamed for laughing at other people their misery, and I wonder if this is common or not.

Schadenfreude ist die beste Freude. Don't let people talk you into guilt. That's what religion taught them.

Du hast recht, kOrsan. 

Guilt is useful for controlling people, make people feel guilty about sexual desire and you have 'em by the balls, so to speak.

I enjoy other people's folly, not misery.  Videos of serious injuries make me cringe - someone getting their bell rung by walking into a sign, however, well that's hilarious.  I do laugh at my own mishaps as well - particularly if I fall out of bed or fall flat on my back by failing to note some black ice while walking down the street.  I typically start laughing before I've even landed.

It's not that I feel better because of the misery inflicted as well as the series of unfortunate events that lead to them. The unexpected fails are the best ones in my opinion. When I hurt myself I can see the humor in that situation as well, for as long as the sequence of events was actually funny. 

Bumping your toe on something generally is not funny. Bumping your toe, because you stumbled over the pair of shoes that you were supposed to remove weeks ago kinda is. 

"Even with people that I dislike, I don't take pleasure in their suffering"

Aye, but I do enjoy the slapstick leading up to it. 

I hate to admit it, being brilliant and all, but I never knew before what “Schadenfreude” meant.  So I googled it.  For my money, in terms of my life, Google is the greatest invention of all time. 

The Darwin Awards, on the other had, I was very much aware of, the latest one having been earned by the guy who stood in the middle of the road in a sasquatch suit trying to frighten passing motorists, may he rest in peace.  And I must confess to just a smidgen of Schadenfreude whenever I read about one of these dolts having his genetic line abruptly truncated.

Ah, the pleasures of expanding my vocabulary!  Rest assured that this decorous word, which never in my life have I used in any form whatsoever, will appear again in my future rhetorical discourse and exposition (see below).

Thanks, Dr. Grixis.

P.S.   Something for people who are at all uneasy about feeling Schadenfreude:  the word is obviously of German derivation; so, should any of us have a sense of Schadenfreud (LOVE that word!) at giddily giving the Darwin Award to Hitler for removing his Teutonic DNA from the gene pool?


Dale - another new word for you here called Atheophobia - the fear of Atheism.

Well, the circumstances surrounding Hitler's suicide are not particularly funny, so a Darwin Award is not an option. If Hitler would have pushed the button for his final superweapon thereby accidentally detonating only the Fuhrer bunker and leaving everything else in tact, it would still somehow be less funny. Perhaps as for Europeans the death of Hitler was an symbolic end of the war, as such it is not something that people can take without thinking of that context.

I'm sure that Monty Python could've made it hilarious in a sketch though.

Take all of the Schadenfreude out of the Laural and Hardy, Three Stooges, Charlie Chaplin and Abbot and Costello movies, and what do you have? Titles and scrolling end credits --

And don't forget Tom & Jerry. Show me one child who will not giggle in glee while watching that poor cat get skinned, burned, cooked, maimed, beaten, raped and killed. Schadenfreude mixed with a little bit of sadism seems to be innate in humans.

I believe you're thinking of The Simpson's, "Itchy and Scratchy," Matt Groening's macabre parody of "Tom & Jerry," not something I'd allow a young child to watch.

In the actual "Tom & Jerry" cartoons, none of the above takes place.


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