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How Bo Burnham Can Teach You to be a Good Dude

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

I don’t trust celebrities. As a general rule, I try not to assume famous figures are benevolent in any way, or that the way they behave is who they are at their core. I mean, I’ve met fake people who don’t have a public image for the masses to judge and interpret. It only makes sense not to trust celebrities.

There are a few exceptions, however, because I am an imperfect human. I’ve said before that I’d give my legs to Shonda Rhimes if she just asked. Still true. Lorde? Oh my gosh, I want to be her best friend. And I’d say my only celebrity crush is Bo Burnham.

I know. It’s naive to absolutely adore a comedian. It’s naive to absolutely adore any entertainer. I can’t help myself, though. Bo Burnham has been my inspiration in a plethora of ways. He’s taught me to embrace from introspection. I’ve found comfort in his performance of “Left Brain, Right Brain” where he struggles between balancing his creativity and his logic. His comedy is what influenced my humor almost entirely.

But what’s arguably my favorite attribute about Bo is that he advocates against systemic social issues. For one, he acknowledges that it’s male appreciation week every week. On the other hand, he creates a dialogue regarding mental health stigmas within the male population. The best part? He doesn’t take the microphone away from marginalized communities speaking about their own problems. Rather, he elevates their voices using his platform as a comedian and the pinnacle of privilege.

First and foremost, he acknowledges that he benefits from the systems of white supremacy and patriarchy. It’s inherently comical because you’d think he’s the last person to do so. I mean, he’s a lanky, conventionally attractive, skinny white boy. All jokes aside, I think it’s crucial that Bo exhibits his understanding of privilege. Many will deny their own privilege to invalidate the experiences of marginalized people. When a public figure like Bo reinforces that straight, white men really aren’t oppressed, it paves the way for other straight, white men to scratch their head and maybe think harder about their place in the world.

Also, he discusses the issues within his own community. He sees that men pit themselves against other men.  It’s influential of him as a male comedian to be vulnerable because it destigmatizes men who don’t front that they’re emotionless robots. On multiple occasions, he’s talked about the damaging behaviors of his father treating Bo with contempt because Bo was passionate about the arts. He extends this treatment to being called homophobic slurs by his peers throughout high school. While he presents his experiences in a comedic way, he has a deeper message of stopping toxic masculinity. He himself fights toxic masculinity by opening up to his audience about his personal problems, particularly in his special “Make Happy,” which you can watch on Netflix.

Finally, it’s refreshing to have someone both talk about important issues without speaking over marginalized people. He sheds light on widespread troubles but does so through his lens. For example, in his songs “RANT” and “God’s Perspective” he uses his experience growing up surrounded by Catholicism to discuss how socially organized religion is another tool for systems of oppression to thrive. In this way, Bo opens a conversation regarding issues using his platform without overshadowing firsthand narratives of populations who are oppressed.

All in all, despite the endless jokes about genitalia and profuse swearing, I’d say Bo Burnham is a great example of someone in the media who uses their privilege for good. I think that’s something every person should put into practice.

Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor