‘Community’: ‘We have to stop the people! Their freedom depends on it.’

Review: ‘Community’ Season 6 Episode 6

Jacob Judd, Staff member

What would you sacrifice in the name of free speech? This is the question posed by this week’s episode of “Community.” Also something about negotiating with terrorists, the episode’s thesis on these subjects feels muddled.

When an unfunny, blatantly racist comedian is booked to perform at Greendale, a hacker group threatens to release the private emails of everyone in the study group unless the performance is cancelled. Most are happy to oblige given the comedian’s reputation, but Britta, ever the champion of democratic ideals, rallies the group.

She inspires them to stand up for free speech and not cave to the hackers’ demands. Of course everyone comes to rue this decision when the hackers follow through with their threats.

The episode is funny from the beginning. First, we enjoy them snickering at others misfortune when the lunch lady falls victim to the hack. We laugh with them.

However, as the study group becomes targeted themselves, the tables turn and we start to laugh at them. Seeing those who once laughed at others distress punished for their cruelty allows the audience to feel superior to those onscreen, but it encourages us to re-examine the way we process breaches into the privacy of celebrities, or politicians.

The true centerpiece of this episode comes after the group has been targeted. Everyone agreed to ignore the leaks, but everyone read them anyway. Having read each others private correspondence about each other and seen everyone’s dirty laundry, nobody is happy with anyone else.

As the scene progresses, the polite veneer of people trying to work together slowly cracks, and eventually crumbles away into a free-for-all where everyone has a beef with everyone else. It’s like watching a speed-chess game of resentment where any given person’s complaint can be countered with an equally egregious offense on their part.

In the end, the comedian was awful and no one showed up to see him anyway. The episode seems at odds with itself as to whether certain fights are worth it. Obviously, free speech must be protected, even speech we don’t like.

But by the end, even the comedian doesn’t want to perform and the study group are defiantly forcing him to exercise his “free speech.” The message this week seems ambivalent. Free speech was protected … kind of. Nothing was really gained and everyone had a rough day.

Still, this is quite possibly the funniest episode of the season so far.

MVP this week goes to Chang for his response to the question “You were a teacher?”:

“That’s right, and frankly, haven’t been well-utilized since!”