Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On Tosh, Gottfried, and Why "Edgy" is for Teenagers and Steak Knives

Hi! Miss me? Or, more exactly...remember me?

By now, particularly if you are my Facebook friend, you have probably heard about Daniel Tosh and rape jokes to a numbing degree. Everyone from feminists to Tosh apologists to Gilbert Gottfried has weighed in.

That's right. GILBERT GOTTFRIED. Has an opinion. On CNN.com. For real. I suppose Carrot Top was unavailable? That or the Apocalypse is nigh and it's time to stock up on gin and firearms.

Here's the article.

So, what have we learned? We learned that Gilbert Gottfried, aside from being numbingly unfunny, has yet to learn a damn thing about anything. So far he's been called out for bad tsunami jokes, bad terrorism jokes, and just bad jokes in general - and yet, he thinks he's qualified to be an arbiter of humor and what others should and should not find hurtful.

Sigh. Did anyone else read this and imagine a petulant teen?

Look, I love humor. Wrote this blog for years. Dealt with trolls, harassing emails and all sorts of silly drama in order to come on here every day and hopefully make someone laugh. I adore comedy. The more ridiculous and inappropriate, the better. But the purpose of comedy is to take pain and turn it into laughter. It is not to be offensive and hurtful for the sake of being offensive and hurtful, and then pretend that it's just you being "edgy." Edgy is for teenagers and steak knives.

Moreover, if you realize that you've metaphorically poked someone in the eye, the correct response is to simmer down and reflect, and perhaps learn something from the experience. It is not to lay blame on the other person for having the temerity to have eyeballs in the first place. And maybe you'll hone your craft and be funnier the next time you put yourself out there.

Finally, the whole Tosh brouhaha isn't about heckler etiquette, it's not about "edgy" humor, and it sure as hell isn't about the First Amendment. At no point has anyone said the government should ban rape jokes. So please step off the silly "freedom of speech" arguments.

The issue is that rape is used as a threat to keep women in line - be docile, don't go out by yourself, be a lady, don't get drunk...because if you don't follow those rules, ugly things will happen and it's going to be your own fault. So when Tosh uses the threat of gang rape (even as a "joke") to dismiss and subdue a woman who disagreed with him, it's a whole level of ugly beyond "tastelessness," "offensiveness," or, silliest of all, "edginess." She stepped out of line, and he used rape to bludgeon her back into being a "lady." It's misogyny, it's real, and it's scary stuff.

Pretending it's just a "slip of the tongue" is pretending that misogyny is over, and you don't have to be a woman to know that's bollocks. You just don't get from rape jokes to rape threats without some serious underlying issues.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your comments. (Which, yes, is my way of saying I'd like to be coddled out of retirement.)

7 comments:

Brando said...

Comedy is a tricky beast--I can't control what I find funny, and some things I laugh hardest at are "funny" to me because of how ashamed I am to laugh at them (racist humor, dead babies, etc.). So while I think every topic should always be on the table, there's also the risk--that if your "joke" falls flat, you're just saying something horrible with no redeeming value. Lesson--make sure it's funny if you're going to cross that line!

Shannon said...

My husband commented! I have friend(s)!

I think one of the (many) things that strikes me as weird is the way so many are rushing to the defense of...rape jokes. Like a good rape joke is as important as Mom, apple pie, and free porn.

Brando said...

They tried to put rape jokes in the Constitution but Madison scrubbed it out at the last minute.

Shannon said...

Plus, the "no fat chicks" clause was roundly defeated by Benjamin Franklin.

Titania said...

Rape is not a joke. It has never been, and it never will. Period. Rape is a war weapon, it's not even about sex, but about control, power, and humiliation. As someone who was date-raped many years ago and had to live with it and knows how hard it is to get over it. THIS IS NOT A JOKE.

lacochran's evil twin said...

I never thought Tosh was funny so hearing that he's a jerk on top of that only reinforces my desire to not support him.

Welcome back! Long live Disaffected Scanner Jockey!

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