Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 11.18

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. There’s no way around it: I like a good rape joke. I don’t know if there’s any way I can justify it, but maybe that’s sort of the point. I’m not sure what sort of actually funny and valid comedy isn’t about someone’s pain and suffering, and about things that make us at least anxious and uncomfortable. There’s often an element of horror in comedy, which is the flip side of watching a scary movie where you’re startled and then you laugh.

    Then again, that’s just my sense of humor which is rather warped and twisted.

    1. Ah, but the trouble is in determining what exactly is a ‘good’ rape joke. Surely it’s not all of them that are good. I’ve got a pretty macabre sense of humor myself but too many people (not necessarily you) seem to think that as long as the subject matter is macabre then any old joke about it automatically becomes ironic or edgy or whatever.

      1. Yeah, and the potential for bombing is pretty high. Just saying something boring and using rape as a spice is just lazy, and lazy is automatically insulting and offensive in the bad way.

        I thought Sarah Silverman’s rape joke for “The Aristocrats” was fucking brilliant, because it was funny and horrible and horrifying all at once. It was like the ending of that movie “Brazil” in a way.

    2. You like Louis CK right? You must if you like a good, morbid joke. He is so amazing at it. I just saw him live here in Phoenix, and he was horribly awesome.

      Apparently there was some lady sitting behind a friend of mine, who was in a different row, who would put her hand to her mouth and gasp at every offensive joke he told.

      Which was just about every joke.

      I was like, lady … next time youtube the comedian before you see him live haha.

        1. Basically! He can also say some pretty terrible things about his own kids, and it is hilarious. And so honest.

          And, yay, Mesa! I’ll be in Tempe tonight, very close! (I live in Central Phoenix.) I think we might be the only Skepchick commenters in Arizona!! :)

    3. How am I not surprised you enjoy rape jokes too?

      Is it funny because you don’t have to think about having been through rape, and worry constantly that it could happen again and that this time, you might not live? Is it funny because telling and enjoying hearing those jokes means you get to cement rape culture just a little more firmly?

      It doesn’t seem so much “warped and twisted” as “steeped in privilege”.

      1. Or, you know, just because it is funny. Not rape, but a good clever rape joke. I laugh at jokes about cancer and death and war and heartbreak and accidents and getting fired and all the other bad things that happen… and so do you, so get off your high horse.

        1. Except that death and war and cancer are actually recognized as Bad Things, and not just a fact of life. Murderers get jail time. Rapists don’t very often. And hey, it’s not like it’s unlikely that you yourself have been told a totes funny rape joke by a rapist, and made sure he felt assured in knowing rape is a joke. (Try this: http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2011/03/feminism-101-helpful-hints-for-dudes.html )

          Or maybe you just don’t give a fuck that you’ve likely had a good laugh about rape in front of a survivor? How dare those bitches on their high horses have no sense of humour, amirite?

          1. Really? I’ve read Feminism 101… have you ever read anything else?

            It’s clear that you just don’t like me for whatever sad little reason. You’re agreeing with my points when other people make them, so this isn’t about what I said but the fact that I’m the one who said it. So how about you just grow up and stop. I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, and your attitude and accusations towards me are not only rude and obnoxious, but also misguided and misplaced.

          2. BTW… not “bitches” because I don’t think of people that way. Just you. Someone can disagree with YOU and not hate women. Someone can say things you don’t like and don’t agree with, and that doesn’t mean they even hate YOU, let alone every member of any group you might belong to.

        2. Joe … I get you and what your points are, and I actually side with you here, but I’d suggest not telling a grown women to “grow up” just because she disagrees with you, even if that disagreement might be personal. It’s dismissive, something we women have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s not going to help your situation at all.

          1. I don’t mind disagreement, it is that it ISN’T disagreement, it is personal attacks on me. There’s tons of agreement with what I said when it came from you and other people. I find that sort of misdirected anger immature, and it wouldn’t matter if it were coming from my grandfather or Methuselah or Lazarus Long .

          2. And at that point, I think it’s time to admit that you two aren’t going to agree, for whatever reason, and just move on.

            Noooot that I always listen to my own advice. Cough.

          3. You’re right, and I’m going to take your advice and just let it go. I really prefer for people to like me, but I get that not everyone will, and that’s cool(not really, but I’ll cope!). I’m sure that BeccaTheCyborg is a perfectly decent human being, and whatever I said to set off this problem was some sort of honest misunderstanding and not a negative reflection on either one of us, so why fight about it?

      2. It’s all about content, context, and delivery.

        Not everyone is going to find the same things funny, though. And that’s fine.

        You probably wouldn’t like Louis CK. He’s got a few rape jokes. I find him hilarious. Everyone is different. And I’m a woman, btw.

        He cuts through all of the bullshit.

        He jokes a LOT about his kids and about how boring being a parent can be, and how annoying he finds his own kids sometimes. Some people would find joking about your kids like that highly offensive, but they would be denying their own feelings on the mundane-ness of parenting. He’s just so damn honest, and I love it.

          1. One of the best shows out there right now, actually. It just feels like reality … a surreal, dark reality. I love how non-linear it is, and that he tends to change up the actors/actresses who play the other characters. It’s kind of like a sketch-sitcom.

          2. OH, man, I really wish I could go to New York and see some live stand-up there! Stand-up has been one of my favorite things ever for quite a few years now. I’ve seen far more live stand-up than I have seen music concerts.

            I saw Garfunkel and Oates back in October. One of my favorite shows!

            Gabriel Iglesias is probably my favorite comedian. He’s so genuine and LOVES his fans. He’s also like a mischievous little boy. His comedy is much lighter than most of the other stuff I enjoy. It’s a nice change.

            But Dave Chapelle, whom I saw not long after his Comedy Central show started, was perhaps the best show I have EVER been to, and that includes theater and concerts. He is probably the most talented, technically sound stand-up act out there.

            Oh, and Bob Saget. Offensive novelty stand-up all the way. I got soooo drunk for that show, which seemed fitting. He’s tall!

        1. I’ve heard some pretty excellent jokes where rape is the subject matter, including a lot from Louis CK. The difference there was that the joke is about the rapist, not just the usual “lol people get raped”, which is the majority of what rape jokes seem to be.

          1. “I’ve heard some pretty excellent jokes where rape is the subject matter, including a lot from Louis CK. ”

            I’m a little confused. You’re admitting here that some jokes where rape is the subject matter are excellent, yet you’re railing against Improbable Joe … who was basically saying the same exact thing, if not as directly. Your reactions to his comments lead me to believe that you don’t like any joke at all that has anything to do with rape — I thought you made your feelings on that pretty clear. And yet … in reply to someone else, you contradict that.

            :/

            I like you, Becca. I LOVE your passion. You remind me of me in that way. :) Always love reading your comments.

            But I do think you might have something personal thing against Improbable Joe. I can’t seem to remember him very clearly, though I know he’s commented here before. So it’s possible he deserves it (like my ire toward the assmunch that was just banned). I can’t really say. But it just seems misplaced here, especially when you start agreeing with other people who basically said what he just said.

          2. And that Carlin joke isn’t really about the victim at all. It’s about the absurdity of the idea of envisioning Porky raping Daffy. It has more to do with Porky, the rapist, than Daffy, the victim. So it seems to fit your idea of when a rape joke would be funny, but because Improbable Joe is the one that shared it, you weren’t really able to see that (I’ve been guilty of such things, too).

        2. Yeah, how the “sausage gets made” in terms of comedy fascinates me. Lately I’ve been listening to Riki Lindholme (of Garfunkel & Oates) on her podcast about making it in Hollywood and The Nerdist with Chris Hardwick. They delve a lot into the world of stand up, sketch, and improv comedy. Plus, it’s amazing how much writing help I’m picking up through osmosis.

          On a recent Nerdist, they had on Dave Attell (also the headlining comedian when I went to the Comedy Cellar that first time). Part of the discussion was somewhat related to the topic above…the politically correct landscape in comedy and its ramifications.

  2. It’s more valid to how their religion shapes their views and what their views are. Two people who call themselves Christian do not have the same views. However too many Americans place values on simple labels and ideas. Politicians simply elected on slogans and labels, not their real stance on issues.

    I will say this though. Mormonism in general is a crackpot religion. However I’ve seen no evidence that Mitt will use the more extreme portions of his religion in his decision making. If he’s wearing magic underwear, I’ll take a step or two back but as long as he’s trying to ruin the country I’ll be okay. When he says Joseph Smith is talking to him and telling him to bomb Iran is when I will insist the men in white coats show up.

    PS I am not voting for any Republican candidates so far, and I’m not looking for a political debate. The article and picture are highlighting Mitt here.

    1. Mitt Romney is probably the least insane major Republican candidate out there, which is saying something and is kind of scary. Also … he won’t be elected. A mormon won’t be elected. The fact that he’s really the only viable Republican candidate means that Obama will be elected again. Guarantee it. As I said to someone else: The only choices we have are some shit, with a side of shit, and a desert of shit covered in shit sauce. Republican or Democratic … our choices always seem to be shitty. But Obama is still better than any of the Republican candidates, but a long, long shot. (My opinion!)

      Anyway. This: “Mormonism in general is a crackpot religion.”

      Is it really any less crackpot than any other religion though? Nearly every single Republican Candidate, particularly Cain (ugh), Bachmann (uuugh), and Perry (uuuuugh) all claim that god spoke to them, and that god wants them to be president. To save America or something. But … each and every one of them claims god spoke to them. If that’s not crackpot, I don’t know what is!

      I think the only difference with how America feels about Mormonism is that it’s “different” and not “their religion.” In the end, it’s all the same craziness.

  3. I think it gets a bit silly when comedy is broken down into acceptable and unacceptable. I’ve heard comics talk about their process including Sarah Silverman and it goes something like “I write the jokes I think are funny and I reuse the jokes that the audience thinks are funny.” I’ve never heard any comic say “Rape jokes are in this year so I use lots of them.” All I really care about Sarah is she makes me laugh hard. She’s probably my second favorite comedian after Mitch Hedberg.

    1. I gotta agree with you.

      Remember the homophobic jokes that Tracy Morgan got into so much trouble for? That’s a good example of an “offensive” joke just not working, and those who were upset had every right to be upset. They were awful and just not funny. It wasn’t a joke … it was a rant. It wasn’t done right at all. I think Eddie Murphy had the same thing happen in the 80s (and apologized for it in the 90s).

      It’s all about content, context, and delivery.

      Louis CK has a few rape jokes and they are all hilarious, because he recognizes and acknowledges the awfulness of rape in his jokes. Just like he recognizes and acknowledges the awfulness of murder (I just saw him live and it was AWESOME). Same goes with his gay jokes. It’s not just a hateful rant, meant to shock. Louis CK is really great. He does “offensive” right. He is very, very aware of the world we live in. And that is what makes his offensiveness hilarious, rather than just a hateful rant.

        1. Louis CK did defend Tracy Morgan on Twitter (easily found via google). I see his point, though I don’t necessarily agree with him. But comedians don’t like being told what they can and cannot say. It makes them uncomfortable. And I get that.

  4. Comedian Jen Kirkman retweeted this from LaughSpin.com

    “NY Times wrote ANOTHER piece on women in comedy. because pointing out they’re funny TOTALLY doesn’t reinforce the shit idea that they’re not”

  5. Speaking of women comics, and how much humor depends on delivery and context… this Morgan Murphy video on YouTube(search: “mencia steals yet again”) is the funniest goddamned thing I’ve seen in a long time. Mostly because it is smart and sharp on a couple of levels, and makes her my hero. :)

  6. From Article VI of the US Constitution

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

    Cristopher Hitchens should know better (I know he’s not an American), but I’m not surprised. His willingness to put personal politics ahead of ethics is part of the reason I have always been a bit bothered by him. But that’s beside the point.

    Mitt Romney is not Mormonism, he is a Mormon; there is a difference. His Mormon faith informs his opinions to be sure but it is his policies that make his a terrible choice, not his faith.

    1. Doesn’t the whole “no religious test” thing just apply to the government imposing one? If individual voters consider the religion of candidates as part of how they decide who to vote for that isn’t, strictly speaking, a religious test. I may not like it that voters may prefer voting for co-coreligionists simply for the fact of their shared religion, but it is each individual voter’s choice what characteristics are important in their representatives.

  7. Working through the articles….

    I think one element of the whole “rape joke” issue is similar to racial humor–what’s side-splittingly funny from Dave Chappel is offensive, racist drivel when it spews from that white guy with the puppets (seriously, I don’t remember his name and don’t want to). Women, as the primary victims of rape, are more able to make the joke work than men, simply because it comes across not as an attack, but as an in-group way of using laughter to ease tragedy (which a good bit of comedy IS about).

    The importance of a presidential candidate’s religion is inversely proportional to the respect he has for the wall of separation. If his policy advocacy is likely to be driven by his faith, then his faith is a vital component to knowing what to expect from him.

    The football coach was simply awesome. People like that are rare, and should be cherish and applauded.

  8. I think a whole lot about the issue of when jokes about “taboo” subject matter are okay or not okay boils down to the issue of whether the comedian is punching up or punching down.

    There’s a definite line between satire and bullying, and it has a lot to do with relative power. It can also have a lot to do with at whose expense the punchline comes (that is such a grammatically twisted sentence I’m just gonna leave it like that).

    1. P.S. I also adore Louis C.K. and think he’s a great example of doing “offensive” material properly. He never comes across as genuinely dismissive of the pain or discomfort associated with the subject matter.

      There’s this great live clip I saw of him where he’s just having this really great, manic, weird set, and as an aside just says “let’s see… what other horrible things can I think of ways to defend…”

      I think my favourite rape joke of his is “but I do believe there are situations where rape is justified… like what if you want to have sex with someone and they don’t want to?”

      And I say that as a woman and as a survivor of sexual assault.

      1. “boils down to the issue of whether the comedian is punching up or punching down.”

        Yes! And Louis CK does it right.

        This is the joke you are referring to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loOTAw5GyI8

        One of my favorites from him, actually. Raping Hitler? Oh, dear.

        Louis CK makes me uncomfortable, but in a good way.

        And I also say that as a woman and as a survivor of sexual assault, and as a survivor of a 2-year long sexually abusive relationship.

    2. Like my favorite English teacher used to say: the grammar’s fine if the point gets across.

      It is sort of interesting, because I seem to recall us disagreeing on a similar point on a different subject. I think the difference comes from your emphasis on relative power, while I see it as being power plus intent. I don’t mean “intent” in the sense of some jackhole saying something obviously cruel, and then hiding behind saying “it was a joke, I didn’t mean any harm.” I also don’t mean the casual bigotry of people who have no ill intent because they simply don’t care about the people who they might hurt.

      I might be wrong, but I don’t think Sarah Silverman is trying to hurt people with her jokes. I don’t think Louis C.K. is “punching down” with his jokes either. Satire bites, and sometimes it stings more than other times, but there’s a world of difference between someone using language that nips at your heels, and people who are trying to tear off a pound of flesh.

      1. And honestly? Some people just aren’t going to find certain stuff funny. It’s okay if you don’t liker ape jokes of any kind. I don’t like when people talk down to women who dislike rape jokes. They have a right to not find that sort of stuff funny, and it doesn’t mean they are humorless. It just means they have different tastes.

        I don’t find Dane Cook funny, and I’m not going to judge you if you do … okay, I lie. I will totally judge you if you find Dane Cook funny.

        Know who I really like that not all women like? Daniel Tosh (from Tosh.0 fame). He talks a lot of crap about women, but it seems (to me at least), that he is does it because of the absurdity of it, not because he actually believes it. He also has a high ratio of gay jokes, many of them at his own expense, which are almost always silly and juvenile, and I love them. He also makes fun of doofus-brain men, too. I don’t recall if he’s ever done any rape jokes, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he has.

        I feel like Tosh is what Dane Cook wanted to be, but just couldn’t quite make it… (Dane Cook’s material is so bland, bro-ish, and uninspired, imo.)

        1. Everyone has a right to like or not like whatever they prefer. It is a different thing to try to insinuate that if someone likes a relatively harmless thing(that they also admit is kind of funny sometimes), that person is in league with violent criminals or condones that sort of behavior outside of a comedy routine.

          You like Daniel Tosh(who I find tedious, but that’s just taste), and I like Kevin Smith who a lot of people find to be sexist/homophobic in various ways. I just see him as being almost pathetically insecure and often able to channel that in funny directions.

          And the amount of shit I eat being an American and a fan of European comedy…

          1. Kevin Smith is fantastic! What you said about his insecurities is spot-on. I’m a pretty outwardly-confident person, but internally I’m constantly struggling with my own insecurities (I actually find that faking confidence is a good way to gain real confidence). I completely identify with Kevin Smith. His awkwardness. His black-sheepness. I was basically him when I was a kid and teen: Awkward and insecure.

            I don’t think he is at all sexist or homophobic. I think women confuse/scare him sometimes, and that’s clearly in his work, but homophobic? He is the farthest from homophobic! I think he’s probably one of the most gay-friendly comedians out there, actually.

          2. I hate to say it, because it sounds so stereotypical bigot, but:

            Kevin Smith’s brother is gay, and one of his very best friends is gay. :) Nevertheless, I’ve read some seriously nasty stuff about him from certain folks, especially regarding “Chasing Amy”. I think a lot of people thought that Banky or Holden were stand-ins for Smith, when ultimately both were there to represent parts of him that he was unhappy with and trying to grow past. His stand-ins, as always, were Jay and Silent Bob… who thought Holden and banky were frelling idiots.

          3. I knew that about his brother and close friend, but I didn’t say it because I also didn’t want to be like, “He has gay friends and a gay brother, how can he be homophobic?!” LOL

            “His stand-ins, as always, were Jay and Silent Bob… who thought Holden and banky were frelling idiots.”

            Yep!!

            Not everyone liked Chasing Amy, and there are some valid criticisms out there of it. I liked the movie, though it’s not my favorite.

            I really liked the “Make a Porno” movie, actually, even though many people didn’t. I thought it was sweet.

            Have you watched Red State? A couple of weeks ago, my good friend landed on some wonderful magic mushrooms (this is a very, very rare treat in my old age lol) and we decided to watch it as we were coming up, and then we came to the scene where the teens are being murdered, and we realized it was THE WRONG MOVIE to watch in that state. Ahahahaha. So I’ll need to watch it again. I’ve heard good things about it. We put the movie Serenity on instead. Much better. :P

          4. Oh gosh, yes I watched Red State drunk off my ass, and the last bit where ***SPOILERS*** that tactical dude starts offing teenagers as they are surrendering got me yelling loud enough to wake my wife upstairs. John Goodman was pretty awesome though. And I’m a huge fan of Zack and Miri, which was really cute and romantic-in-a-good-way under all the smut.

            That’s the thing about Kevin Smith movies, really. There’s a lot of heart under the foul language and profane themes, which is why he gets away with it in the first place. If you put the heartfelt subtext on the same level as the text, you get one of those crappy rom-coms named after a holiday like “Valentine’s Day” or “New Year’s Eve” that Garry Marshall keeps putting out.

          5. I get the feeling we have gotten into it in the past, and here we are … a mutual love of comedy bringing us together. ;)

            John Goodman is an underrated actor, imo.

            I have heard of neither of those “crappy rom-coms” you mentioned … but I think that might be a good thing, lol.

            Kevin Smith is dirty, but he has a lot of heart. And he’s cuddly.

            Did you know he only started smoking weed a couple of years ago? I find that hilarious for some reason. He was such a stereotypical stoner but he wasn’t really a stoner until recently!

          6. I always think it is weird when people get into it with me and carry it with them… maybe because I’m shallow, maybe because I’ve been arguing online since 1992, or maybe just because I’ve tried to learn to disassociate with what happens online so I don’t wind up crying in a corner three times a week. I can disagree with anyone about anything, but at the end of the day I really do think that most people are mostly good. When I cut people off it is because it hurts my feelings too much to go on, not because I hate them or anything.

            Comedy is a seriously wonderful thing, and no joke… pun intended. You’ll want to avoid the rom-coms though. Nasty stuff, even though I’ve seen neither, I can feel the stank coming off of them, like a hobo a few months from his last shower.

            And yeah, I knew Kevin Smith is a new pothead. You can tell by his enthusiasm. I wish it worked on me like that, I haven’t bothered to get high in like 11-12 years. I’ll stick to the alcohol, that has never failed me yet. :)

      2. I think one of the disagreements I have with people fairly regularly, regarding intent, involves the fact that I don’t see intent as having a privileged position in the overall equation of meaning. For me, Meaning = Intent + Understanding + Context + Consequence. There’s the intent of the speaker, and that is important and needs to be considered, but how it is understood and comes across to the other person is equally important. As are the overall context and effects of whatever was said. If I say “mayonnaise” but what I *mean* by “mayonnaise” is “horseradish”, I can’t just hide behind my intent when someone passes me the wrong condiment. Although we have a responsibility to consider the probable intent of other people’s words, we ALSO have a responsibility to consider the probable manner in which they’ll be interpreted, the overall context and social power dynamics, and whatever consequences our language may have. Failing to consider such things is…well… inconsiderate.

        1. P.S. I hate to say it, but I *really* hate Kevin Smith. I think his “offensive” comedy, unlike Louis C.K.’s, just comes across as crass, insensitive, immature, sophomoric, and demonstrates poor understanding of the issues and people he’s dealing with. In his case, the punchlines usually are the victims: “hyuk hyuk gay is funny”, “ewww, trannies are gross”. The jokes are usually not about the subject itself or at the expense of the bigots or bigotry. In other words: he’s punching down.

          The homophobia and transphobia that shows up in his movies shows up in what to me are genuinely repulsive ways.

          It’s hard to articulate, because these lines are really subtle, and really subjective. It’s one reason I usually try to avoid talking about things in terms of “offensiveness”. “Offensiveness” is subjective, and not necessarily a bad thing. It seems like a red herring, and is usually introduced by those *defending* the “offensive” terms, sometimes as a bit of a straw man. It shifts responsibility from the speaker to the audience, and redirects focus away from the implications of whatever we’re looking at and onto the supposedly thin-skin of whoever objected to it. I’d MUCH rather talk about implications, and whether or not something is discriminatory or represents problematic ideas or assumptions about sexuality, gender, race or whatever, than to talk about whether or not certain individuals happen to be offended by it.

          1. P.P.S.

            But since it’s subjective, I can’t unilaterally say something like “Kevin Smith is a transphobe!”. All I can say is a dislike him, and I find his work to be problematic. But of course everyone is welcome to disagree and come to their own conclusions about it.

          2. Its a fair criticism, I guess. I know his stuff comes off that way. I think that he goes about what he does with a very insular attitude, assuming that everyone knows what he means because they know him personally. I don’t know if his movies work for people who also don’t read his blog and listen to his dozen or so podcasts, or at least listen to the metric shit-ton of commentary tracks that come with most of his movies.

            And no, no one is responsible for consuming that much of his stuff in order to make a decision about his movies. And maybe he’s made a giant misjudgment by not spelling out his own context inside his movies, rather than assuming that everyone would know him and his issues. It is a tough situation… and one I identify with, because I have the same tendency of mistakenly acting as if everyone knows my whole history when I say something, and then feeling unfairly judged because I’m actually a stranger to everyone.

            So yeah. I respect your opinion of his movies, and I also respect that you can separate judgment of the man from judgment of his movies.

  9. Kevin Smith and I both grew up overweight comic book geeks who loved hockey and movies and spent way to much time at suburban malls here in Jersey. So, yeah, he gets on my nerves on occasion, but I can’t bring myself to ever totally quit on him.

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