I’m not entirely sure exactly what Key and Peele set out to do in this “School Bully” sketch, but when I first watched it, I immediately thought of pathology, the search for origins and causes, meaning. Pathology is deeply ingrained in how people, especially college-educated people, understand the world, and though there is nothing inherently wrong with pathologizing, it’s a mode of analysis that’s easy to abuse, assigning meaning and offering explanations to things without acknowledging its own fallibility.
This sketch exposes that fallibility, showing how silly and absurd our messy world looks when we tidy it up through our search for singular meaning.
Every bully isn’t secretly a victim of abuse. Every internet troll isn’t a lonely virgin, sitting in a room full of Lucy Liu posters and empty bags of Cheetos. Every angry person isn’t secretly sad and rejected. Every homophobe isn’t secretly gay.
Some people are just assholes.
Cameron Kunzelman, Thinking About Trolls with Foucault.