Last Updated 31 Jan 2023

Critical Analysis of Humor in the Comedy the Rez Sisters

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The Rez sisters is not considered a comedy anymore because the controversial humor in the text is offensive in the modern society. In the text, Pelajia Patchnose, Philomena Moosetail, Marie-Adele Starblanket, Annie Cook, Emily Dictionary, Veronique St. Pierre, and Zhaboonigan Peterson share the common interest of creating a stronger community as well as a stronger personal live. All the women strive to attend the World’s Biggest Bingo in order to win the financial prize, so they can create a healthier community. Through this process the author Tomson Highway demonstrates the growth among sisters in a comical way during the time period it was written. Although this text is no longer accepted as comedy, being viewed as tragedy.

The abuse among the women on a reservation creates a bond between sisters. This bond is created from sharing similar traumatic experiences. Issues that the sisters face bring them closer because they are able to relate with each other. Problems on the reserve such as the neglect from the men on their reservation, this neglect also stems from the alcoholism and physical abuse. Not only is their alcoholism and abuse, but women are also being raped throughout the reservation. These horrible experiences, among others bring the sisters closer. They all desire to have a better and more peaceful reservation. This desire is seen when all the sisters want to attend the World’s Biggest Bingo, in order to win the money and start a better life.

The seven sisters grow closer due to the similarities they face throughout the reserve. The alcoholism on the reserve led to an abusive husband for Emily. Her husband tried to attack her with an axe, coming close to striking her in the spine. Pelajia then complains about being woken by Andrew Starblanket and his brother who are arguing about a women at four thirty in the morning. She states that she, “heard what sounded like a baseball bat landing on somebody’s back” (Highway 5). This proposes alcoholism throughout the reserve is intended to be humorous. With the increasing deaths related to alcohol the topic is becoming less funny and more serious. “Since 2002 alcohol related deaths have increased by 37%” (Heitz). With the increasing deaths due to alcoholism, this exemplifies the outcome of alcohol abuse.

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Even though this topic may have been perceived as comedic during the eighties, today humor surrounding alcoholism is viewed as a much more serious issue. There are many examples of modern television being controversial because of substance abuse. A very common modern television show called “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia” involves alcohol or substance abuse in nearly every episode. “Beyond the controversy and wild and crazy antics “The Gang” manages to get into regularly, there’s a common overarching theme running through nearly every episode of the show: drugs and alcohol” (Thomas).

This program is known for how controversial their humor and subject matter truly is. Thomas goes on to explain how serious alcoholism is today. “While often used to humorous effect on the show, the reality is not a laughing matter. Roughly 17 million American adults currently have an alcohol use disorder” (Thomas). With millions of Americans struggling with alcohol use this subject is not humorous. Alcoholism and abuse stemming from alcohol should be taken seriously with the large amount of civilians effected today.

The author specifically does not just blame men on the reservation for the issues throughout the text. Zhaboonigan endured a sexual assault by two white men, then Philomena was abandoned after she had an affair with her Caucasian boss. Zhaboonigan, while dealing with mental disabilities, was taken advantage of by two young, white men after asking her if she needed a ride. “They took all my clothes off me. Put something up inside me here… many, many times… They put the screwdriver inside me. Ever lots of blood” (Highway 47-8). This image is conflicting with Annie’s belief that “white guys are nicer to their women” (Highway 86).

In Philomena’s case, she was willingly with her significant other and was aware that he was a married man, although she was still taken advantage of. He led her to believe he cared for her more than he really did. “Nice man, I thought… Loved me. Or I thought he did. I don’t know. Got pregnant anyway… I don’t even know to this day if it was a boy or a girl” (Highway 81). Philomena was forced to give up her child for adoption because the white man chose his wife over her. Highway continuously shows us that the only support these women can truly count on is from one another.

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