Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Why So Serious? (Post-Script)
A follow-up to Monday's column in the Huffington Post (HuffPo: "John Gibson's Truly Tasteless Joke, and Why You Really Shouldn't Care"/1.27.08)
I've written at length before about the slippery slope involved in allowing any offended party the powers of censorship. For some time now, a trend has been developing in this country, one which dictates that all someone has to do is claim aggrieved status and shout it loud enough and to the right people and it'll almost certainly make whatever happens to be offending him or her go away.
Don Imus makes makes a crack you think is racist -- regardless of whether or not it was aimed in your direction? Pitch a fit and get him fired.
Paris Hilton says something cruel toward gays on a videotape you were never supposed to see to begin with? Start a petition.
John Gibson makes fun of the death of Heath Ledger? Off with his head.
Please understand, all three of the people I've just mentioned rank about as high on my list of likes as, say, colon cancer. The question remains though, who gets to decide what's offensive and what's acceptable art, humor, gossip, etc?
I bring this up because in my diatribe against Gibson's ineffectual idiocy, I viewed his comment not as an insult to any one group, but rather as generally insensitive. Apparently, not everyone has taken it that way. A quick look at the comments some have posted in response to my editorial would seem to indicate that some in the gay community considered it a slam against homosexuals specifically. I hope I can be forgiven for not seeing Gibson's tasteless joke in this context, simply because Ledger himself wasn't gay and to the best of my knowledge Gibson never implied as much. (For the record, there's no doubt in my mind that Gibson and his audience giggle like Beavis and Butthead at the entire premise of Brokeback Mountain, but once again, trying to bully them into evolving will accomplish absolutely nothing besides maybe eliciting a wholly insincere apology.)
Most interesting of the comments though, is one which not only rails against Gibson's "homophobic rants," but also includes a link to a petition being circulated by perpetually pissed-off gay-rights group GLAAD as well as a list of Fox News's advertisers, ostensibly ripe for boycott, provided by -- Perez Hilton.
Now if you can already see the laughably jaw-dropping irony of Perez Hilton demanding that someone have his forum revoked for being generally offensive, feel free to stop reading.
For everyone else, the balls on Hilton -- the erstwhile Mario Lavendeira -- are positively staggering.
This is a guy who makes a living, and a depressingly nice one at that, drawing semen stains on celebrities, models and anyone he damn well pleases. He literally lives under the protection of the first amendment and the imprimatur provided by a satirist's ability to claim that it's all one big, mischievous joke. No harm, no foul.
Fact is, Perez Hilton needs to shut the fuck up and sit this one out.
As for the overall belief that Gibson was specifically ridiculing the gay community in his targeting of Ledger, I'm not sure that's the case. Gibson was simply being what he always is: a juvenile asshole. In the interest of full disclosure, I could very easily be accused of having mocked the death of Kanye West's mother, Donda West, a few months ago (Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, Deader/11.12.07). I wouldn't be able to put up much of a fight if you called me an insensitive prick based on those comments. However, if you insinuated that I'm racist or sexist because I made an admittedly crass joke about the death of someone who just happened to be a black woman, I'd think you were an idiot.
Gibson wasn't making fun of gay people -- he was making fun of Heath Ledger.
And to those who think otherwise and insist on turning this into an opportunity to shout loudly about their own particular cause, I can only repeat the words that almost every girlfriend I've ever had has said at one point or another.
It's not always about you.