Politics & Policy

Cinnabon’s Carrie Fisher Tweet Was Okay, Jokes about Death Are Okay

Fisher at last year’s Force Awakens premiere (Paul Hackett/Reuters); inset: Cinnabon’s tweet
Humor is a healthy way to grieve.

Apparently, we have reached the point where actual, real-life, grown-up adults are spending their Wednesdays mad at a cinnamon-roll company’s Twitter account.

In case you haven’t heard, America’s favorite source of sugary-stomach-cement, Cinnabon, posted a tweet saying “RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy,” and people went nuts. Threatening to boycott, calling for people to be fired . . . you know, the usual stuff. And in response, Cinnabon did what companies all too often do when faced with an angry Internet Mob: It deleted the tweet and apologized.

That last part is the only thing that anyone should be upset about. Why would Cinnabon apologize? After all, anyone who knows anything about Carrie Fisher would know she wouldn’t have been offended by it — we’re talking about someone who once joked that she wanted her obituary to say that she was “drowned in moonlight, strangled by [her] own bra.”

But the truth is, most of this outrage likely isn’t even about Carrie Fisher at all. No, many of these people aren’t so much concerned about Fisher’s memory as they are themselves offended. They are uncomfortable with death, and they believe that it is the world’s responsibility to keep them comfortable. No doubt, our culture is one in which jokes about death and dead people are “taboo” — but I really don’t understand why that is.

Think about it: Other than our birth, the only thing that we all really have in common is death. Is it sad? Of course. It’s very sad when someone dies, but that is exactly why it can be so helpful to joke about it. Now, I’m not saying that that Cinnabon joke in particular has helped anyone emotionally. It probably hasn’t. But automatically responding to it with hysteria just because it involved a dead person contributes to a culture that takes away a coping mechanism from the people who may need it most.

#related#When my mom died, nothing helped me through it more than humor — and I cannot even begin to tell you how not helpful it was when I’d make a joke and people in the room would look at me like I’d just killed her. The fact that I was making a joke should have been sufficient proof that laughter was what I was looking for, but I was far more often met with looks of horror that prompted me to apologize for how I was handling my own pain and walk away feeling even worse. We have made death such a don’t-touch-it subject that I routinely saw people get offended on my dead mom’s behalf even though I was the one who was grieving.

I’m not saying that everyone handles their grief the way I did. But based on everything we know about Carrie “My Bra Strangled Me” Fisher, she was among those who understood and respected the value of humor in overcoming tragedy — and making her a poster child for the opposite is far more offensive than anything that any pastry company could have tweeted.

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