Sunday, April 29, 2018

Funny Ha Ha or Funny Strange? The Reactionaries Who Cry Wolf

The annual "oh, noes, they said mean things" event was this weekend, and I was able to watch the video from my comfy seat in Seoul.  There is lots of commentary out there, so I am not sure what I can add, but that has never stopped me before.  Plus I am a fan of comedy and have gone regularly to a show at the Just for Laughs festival called "The Nasty Show" so this is not my first time hearing a comic use dirty words.  I'd comment on her inconsistent delivery and some jokes that deserved to bomb, but that is not what folks are talking about.

To be fair, one should know the room and have watched past performances, so Wolf could have used fewer curse words, but one word she absolutely had to use is pussy.  This is the funny (strange) thing: all of the focus is on Wolf's comments about Sarah Huckbee Sanders and not on her calling the President a pussy. 
Of course, Trump isn’t here, if you haven’t noticed. He’s not here. And I know, I know, I would drag him here myself, but it turns out the President of the United States is the one pussy you’re not allowed to grab 

Let me explain as this joke worked at multiple levels:
  1. The Access Hollywood tape has done more than anything else to bring pussy into the daylight media.  That Trump bragged about grabbing women by their pussy.  So, using Trump's words against him is fair game and funny.
  2. Trump blew off this event and last year's because he is a coward.  Yes, we can quibble that pussy is a poor synonym for weakness for all kinds of reasons, but, again, given the context, it made sense and was the perfect word to turn against Trump.  Trump is a coward--he tries to get people to quit because he does not like confronting people to fire them, the Apprentice was so B.S.  Oops, I cursed.  Trump attacks those who have less power, such as at the rally that was happening at the same time as the Dinner where he incited hate against Hispanics.  So, calling Trump a pussy for not showing up?  For dishing it out and not being able to take it?  Fair and perfect and funny.
  3. A woman calling a man a pussy should be attention getting.  It is usually the toxically masculine who use that term as an insult, so turning it around should be news.  Instead, we get the focus on Sanders, who Wolf insulted via references to her lying, not her appearance.  Yes, people often misunderstand the target of the joke. 
  4. Oh, and the media may be upset in part because Wolf called them out by reminding everyone that the President has admitted to serial sexual assault yet they keep trying to forget about it and move on.  Funny how they didn't feel the same way about Bill Cosby.
So, yeah, Wolf's material was harsh, but mean?  Not really.  Punching up is not nearly as mean as punching down.  And she didn't attack people for who they are not--she attacked them for who they are.  It was not a perfect set of comedy, but it is a hard room and it is hard to say original stuff about Trump.  The man is a living parody of himself.  Still, Wolf hit the target often enough, so much so that the media is upset for being called out for enabling Trump.

Some folks worry that this will distract us from Trump's awfulness.  Nope, he will surely tweet something that is awful.  He will surely say something in a speech that is awful.  Trump's not normal and folks like Wolf are making sure he is not normalized.   There is no equivalence between Wolf calling out people for doing horrible things but using vulgar language and the many, many awful things that Trump and his crew say and do that do more than hurt feelings--they actually hurt people, people who can't defend themselves.  So, yeah, the only thing that is really unfunny about this is the cranking up of the false equivalence machines.

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