"Shock value" can almost be considered the way Hitchcock considered suspense--Ben wrote:It's all crude at the end of the day, but every now and then you do need to wash the palette from signing frogs and talking toys. While they're great - and superlative in their own ways - there's nothing like a bit of shock value to jumpstart things every once in a while (and to see topical moments so well skewered by people that have a point to make).
If a bomb suddenly goes off in a train car, who cares, if there's no context to why it goes off, or how long we expected it to?
And to apply the same formula to Edgy Comedy, being crass is not "shocking", being candid is:
If someone next to me deliberately belches loudly for a laugh, I don't gasp and reach for my smelling salts at his tweaking of social convention, I subconsciously over-personalize the issue by harboring a desire to sock him in the face, push him out the nearest airlock and get on with my public life as if nothing happened--Similarly, if FG has a character suddenly fall over and have a graphic stroke (oo, Fox won't let us do that! ), I don't feel it's actually said anything, just that someone's belched loudly enough to try and get Fox's attention.
What DOES "shock" me, and in a refreshing way, is trying to dig the soapbox-message out of a SP episode, or listening to Jon Stewart on the Daily Show break some political hypocrisy down with a withering one-liner that sums it all up, watching the damage be done, and realize that you now can't unthink that. (For ex., I live in a town with a sizeable college-gay population, and I still love to quote Stewart's one-liner about the Pride parade, which I gather would get more of a reaction in local company than if I'd belched loudly in a restaurant.)
That's the put-up-or-shut-up issue, and the one problem with shock humor: If you're "sophisticated" enough not to be shocked by it, then you've heard it all before.
What you haven't heard before is somebody actually Saying Something, and that unfortunately takes a bit more smarts and larger awareness of the outside world.