Was 'The Office''s suicide joke over the line?
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention issued a press release this week criticizing The Office for its “graphic depiction of the suicide method” on last week’s Halloween episode. According to the organization, “‘there comes a point when jokes can go to far and are potentially dangerous and offensive,'” and they’re “calling on all within the entertainment industry to refrain from using suicide and mental illness for comedic entertainment.” (NBC did not respond to a request for comment.) Nothing in the release mentions the fact that Michael is trying — badly, yes — to promote a suicide prevention message. This is the scene in question:
Is it offensive? Maybe. But…that’s what Michael Scott’s entire deal is. He’s offensive. He says disparaging things about women, people of different races, the disabled, gays and lesbians, and basically everyone else. He’s ignorant about religious differences and he’s chronically inappropriate.
The AFSP and other suicide prevention organizations say that explicit depictions of suicide can have a “suicide contagion” effect, particularly on young people. But The Office didn’t depict a suicide or a suicide attempt: It showed a questionable haunted house gag from a generally offensive, unreasonable person.
PopWatchers, did you find this scene to be in poor taste?
The mockumentary-style sitcom chronicles a group of typical office employees working 9-5 at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.