Friday, June 14, 2013

Patton Oswalt on Joke-Thievery, Heckling and Rape Jokes

May I direct your attention over here to Patton Oswalt's honest and self-reflective analysis of the rape joke debate.  It's pretty long, here are few excerpts:
...See if any of these sound familiar: 
There’s no “evidence” of a “rape culture” in this country.  I’ve never wanted to rape anyone, so why am I being lumped in as the enemy?  If these bloggers and feminists make “rape jokes” taboo, or “rape” as a subject off-limits no matter what the approach, then it’ll just lead to more censorship.  
They sure sound familiar to me because I, at various points, was saying them.  Either out loud, or to myself, or to other comedian and non-comedian friends when we would argue about this.  I had my viewpoint, and it was based on solid experience, and it…was…fucking…wrong. 
Let’s go backwards through those bullshit conclusions, shall we?  First off: no one is trying to make rape, as a subject, off-limits No one is talking about censorship.  In this past week of re-reading the blogs, going through the comment threads, and re-scrolling the Twitter arguments, I haven’t oncefound a single statement, feminist or otherwise, saying that rape shouldn’t be joked under anycircumstance, regardless of context.  Not one example of this. 
In fact, every viewpoint I’ve read on this, especially from feminists, is simply asking to kick upward, to think twice about who is the target of the punchline, and make sure it isn’t the victim....
There is a collective consciousness that can detect the presence (and approach) of something good or bad, in society or the world, before any hard “evidence” exists.  It’s happening now with the concept of “rape culture.”  Which, by the way, isn’t a concept.  It’s a reality.  I’m just not the one who’s going to bring it into focus.  But I’ve read enough viewpoints, and spoken to enough of my female friends (comedians and non-comedians) to know it isn’t some vaporous hysteria, some false meme or convenient catch-phrase.

Alright, if you're reading this blog, you don't need Patton Oswalt to tell you any of this. But I think it's awesome that he's written it, and I hope it gets widely read.

On a side note, I wonder if he's friends with Diablo Cody (who wrote Young Adult, and Juno, and that book, Candy Girl, about stripping in Minneapolis). Probs.

H/T Russ Rogers

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Badass of the Year: Lindy West

Lindy West, you are our hero.

Thank you for standing up for the power of comedy to shape our world. 

In case you haven't heard, Lindy did a rape joke debate with Jim Norton on Totally Biased.  The crux of this argument is basically the same thing we've been writing about here for years- Lindy says comedy influences culture, a point Jim denies ("as long as you're trying to be funny, you're okay.")

She did an amazing job. My favorite of Lindy's lines:
"I'm sure it's super comfortable and nice to believe that there aren't systemic forces affected by speech, but it's not true and those of us who are affected by those forces know that that's not true.... you don't get to say that comedy is the sacred, powerful vital thing that we have to protect because it's speaking truth to power and also be like, 'oh it's just a joke, I mean, language doesn't affect our lives at all, so shut up.'"
YES. So much love and appreciation for her. To be fair, this match was fixed. Lindy's straight up smarter than Jim. And she's right.

And everyone on Twitter thanked her and comedians who make shitty rape jokes realized the error of their ways and apologized! We wish. Actually, enter hundreds of hateful tweets aimed at Lindy.

In response to the backlash, Jim Norton made a ridiculously wimpy half-hearted suggestion on Opie and Anthony that his fans not write her hateful messages. Actually, he said "you can write whatever you want, but you're not helping the argument" but mostly he just sat around while the hosts of the show mindlessly trash-talked Lindy. Keep it classy, Jim! [Update: A way classier note from Jim was posted and can be found here.]

We love her work at Jezebel and look forward to all the awesome things she will no doubt do in the future.

Thanks, Lindy, for doing what you do.