Friday, July 13, 2012

The Age of Outrage

My latest piece for the Daily Banter is now up, and it expands on and summarizes my thoughts on a conversation that's been going on pretty much nonstop here, via e-mail, on Facebook and on the podcast for the last few days: Daniel Tosh's rape joke and the reaction to it.

Here's the opening shot:

"There are a few subjects that I feel like I’ve written about so often that when they inevitably come up again, I’m at a loss to say anything about them that I haven’t said before. It’s one of the occupational hazards of blogging steadily for six years: You just run out of clever twists to put on the subjects you’re passionate about and which inspire you to speak up and so you essentially wind up recycling all your previous points and arguments while hoping no one notices how tedious you’ve become. (This is known as 'Greenwalding.') Among my cast of rotating regular topics, there’s Nancy Grace doing something despicable, Fox News doing something unethical and not giving a damn what anyone thinks about it, and the subject I’ve been embroiled in an ongoing online debate over for the past 48 hours: a comedian or entertainer saying something offensive and the whole world losing its fucking mind..."

Read the Rest Here


Stephen said...

I can't seem to find an apology from Chris Rock about his July 4th tweet. Others should follow his example.

Stephen said...

Also I clicked a suzuki ad on your page. Do you get money? If I buy a v-strom I'll give you a ride.

lakelady said...

another good one Chez.

Elsewhere I came across this and thought you'd appreciate it.

Claude Weaver said...

You know what's funny? People treated a known comedian's words as deadly serious, yet will treat some Tea Party congressman's intended-as-truth words and actions like a joke.

Seems there is a mixup of indignation here.

Here is my view on it: jokes about rape can be funny, and they are funny especially BECAUSE they are shocking. Jokes like that are meant to be outside the norm; the very act of processing such things is supposed to be inherently ridiculous, because no rational, caring human being should or would feel that way.

These people forgot that the offense is part of the joke; you are supposed to get upset, then realize how silly it is that this person said something so wrong.

Sure, there are comics who miss this point, and spout such idiotic nonsense as some sort of Seinfeldian observation. But the only way to parse out the difference is one of the most important parts of comedy: context. The punchline doesn't work without the context of the setup. And furious retweets do not a wellspring of context make.

The thing is, I think this isn't just people getting offended; I think this is an honest-to-God effort to squelch challenging comedy. The general public doesn't want hard, cranky and misanthropic, at least not like it was. They want tame, controlled, approving. Guys like Carlin and Pryor and Kinison wouldn't make it a day today. Hell, Louie CK and yes, even Tosh only manage to do what they do because they are on basic cable, safely tucked away from the mainstream. And it isn't just comedy, either. Just about anything challenging and harsh and fucking MATURE in this world is being pushed to the fringes, and the banal and safe is being piled upon more and more in the center.

We have to remember that while we enjoy our Louie or GoT or Breaking Bad, we are still living in a post-Two and a Half Men world.