Is Daniel Tosh a sociopath
4 questions & comma; People discussing rape jokes should ask themselves questions
There is no shortage of debate in the world that will never be resolved. At this point, hands off in my life, I have discussions about the death penalty, abortion and the existence of God because people are so ingrained in their opinions - right or wrong - that there seems to be no room for intelligent discourse. But in all of these arguments, at least I know what people disagree about. The current "rape joke" debate in the media, however, appears to be a fleeting convergence of deeply cherished beliefs minus the scope of any organized discussion. Quite simply, I don't quite understand what both sides are trying to prove. Yes, I generally but don't know if you have to nail down specifics like you should in any reasonable debate.
After all, every non-sociopath agrees that rape is terrible, and most people believe that in America, at least you crap what you say, even if you don't have a comic book. What else are we arguing? To answer that, let's jump back a bit. Although this debate is not new, it reared its head a little over a year ago when Daniel Tosh apparently told some rape jokes on stage. I don't know what that was exactly, but if he whistled from an offended woman in the audience, he replied that it would be funny if she raped. Who wants to defend that "joke"? I don't. I haven't met anyone who thinks this was a funny or smart thing to say. It doesn't make me laugh, and unlike much of the material on its harmless TV show, it's highly offensive.
Enter blogger Lindy West, who wrote an article, may I agree with almost entirely. She called Tosh on his shitty joke but also acknowledged that he had every right to tell a shitty, offensive joke. (Voice!) She is also advised that the words have consequences, anyone who was rightly offended by his hurtful hacks had the right to criticize him for doing so, even if that led to the termination of his show. (Voice again.) This was an article and debate that made sense to me because it was joke-specific. Could someone sit down and discuss the merits, or what Tosh had done missing (at least the gang rape comment). But in the months that followed, and especially recently after a debate with comic book Jim Norton, the discussion has lost all focus. It's broadcast in a pointless and independent screaming match between the First Amendment and "rape culture." It's an argument that neither leads to consensus nor lighting on either side.
That is why I urge everyone to focus this debate and pay attention to the following questions in the hope that all those who turn their wheels will at least find us somewhere helpful:
# 4. What are rape jokes?
Here is the first problem with this debate. What the consensual devil is a rape joke? I don't hear much about it. Are we talking about stand-up bits that involve the concept of rape? Are we discussing the word rape? In Lindy West's Original Content on Tosh, she links up some stand-ups talking about rape, which she supposedly doesn't find offensive. However, I am sure there are some who would have a problem with these connections. Here's a bit she's not linked with from the late Patrice O'Neal talks about how not to date a woman hot enough not to be raped. Is that a rape joke? (Jump at 4:58 a.m.)
To me, this bit satirizes how terrible the male psyche is. It is important by men who care more about the public perception of their friend as arm candy than their friend's own safety. That's what I take from that something anyway. But others see it differently and find it very offensive. I can understand that. We could debate it, but at least then it would be a dispute over a small work of art. We can discuss the intent, effect and execution of this bit, the concepts of rape, because we all know what we are talking about, even when we disagree.
OK, now let's remove the Patrice bit and talk about "rape jokes" in general. Pro or contra ?! What does that mean anyway? How can you answer without the specifics? I've heard that Jews make jokes that are hateful and those that are funny. Homophobic gay jokes where the punch line is little more than "Ha, bundles of sticks are funny" and rightly funny. Indeed, on every subject, I have heard jokes that I approve and disapprove of. There are jokes that heal and harm about anything. I can't take the merits of the "rape jokes" debate if you tell me what the joke is. And here comes the important part: neither can anyone else.
The rape joke debate is not like the death penalty debate where lethal injection versus electric chair make no difference. No matter, here special features. Art can treat any subject well and shamefully. Answer me this: how do you feel about movies about radical medical techniques? Oh, before you answer I should probably say when I speak where a family is working with a chemist developing an oil that holds a destructive disease, or where a mad scientist holds three people mouth anus stitches together. Seriously, before we start screaming can we go on a case by case basis and explain what specific jokes we are talking about?
# 3. Why rape only jokes?
Why are we only talking about rape jokes? There's no shortage of absolutely horrible, horrible things in the world that joke comics about. Why are we, rape, isolation? Here, contrary to the question above, at least I know what the answer is. Some have said it is because rape jokes add to rape culture. There are many women who have been raped. Those women could sit in the audience and continue to live in shame and fear by listening to this comedy.
There are men who reject this argument and do it for hateful, misguided reasons. These are the men who deny the problem of rape and who are unsympathetic to these issues. There are men like the pile of human junk, Ms. West brutal and disgusting like being attacked online with their big, powerful internet man muscles. Nothing these cretins should be saying matters or part of this debate. The cause is supported by the "anti-rape joke" contingent is noble and right-wing and not open to debate.
But I find a hole in the logic that we can limit this discussion to rape jokes. You can make an argument for how offensive jokes are bad for society. In the discussion, West says rape jokes are different from Holocaust jokes because there will be more rape victims than Holocaust survivors in the audience. Well, I think maybe, depending on the audience and the year of the show and a number of other variables that have already become uncertain and nebulous in this debate. But I'm not sure that type of math should be the linchpin of their argument.
Throw the film. Sacha Baron Cohen as the main character, Borat, describes an event happening after "The Jews caused 9/11." This joke is about perpetuating Borat bigotry or even believing to satirize this lie. I got the joke, but it made me uncomfortable. I knew the movie would be seen in places in the world, even places in America, where people actually believed it would. It would provide aid and ammunition to those who try to commit hate crimes and cause harm. Bad can come from this joke. But it's a joke. And where would I personally draw the line not the norm.
Or how about Chris Rock's something about the difference between black people and "niggers"? That's one of the most important comedy bits in the last 20 years. Couldn't that be hugged by that search for justifications for blacks hating? Or those looking for a justification to shout out certain black "niggers" and get away with it?
Jokes about the Holocaust, child abuse, rape, 9/11 racism, AIDS, there is no shortage of ways to trivialize serious problems and aid the worst people in the world. My personal rule in approaching these areas is that it's okay to joke about anything - as long as you make fun of it. Of course, the darker the problem, the greater the challenge, and the better the joke works. West is right when she says that most of the rape-themed comics are taken in purely hacky attempts that are not warranted. But a broader explanation that hack comics hit all of these topics in nervous attempts would also be true. And arguments can be crafted that doing so are made up of all sorts of ideas and cultures that are bad for society. Nothing is gained in a debate about the responsibilities of the artist and the appropriate responses of the audience, by limiting the discussion to rape solely.
# 2. Who is in power?
Over the past year I've spent a lot of time in comedy clubs, making friends with a number of comics, and I can tell you, by and large, comics are not the power elite directing the zeitgeist of the public's perception. Comics may be one of the few groups of people who get less respect than bloggers, and I feel confident (and depressed) to say that advertisers and reality TV stars rule more popular culture than the overwhelming lion's share of comics. In our world it seems only the coveted some comics are sublime and when they are just for something that isn't just stand up: a TV show, movies, books. For reasons that make no sense to me, the public is more captivated by handsome actors than the combined writer-actors that comics are, but there are.
Something different about comics: they want to be liked. Hopeless. It is their job to make you happy. Go to a comedy club. See how hungry the majority of comics are for approval. See the comics before continuing. Do you know what they are doing? You are watching the audience. Feel the atmosphere, what is always laughing, and who is seen in the crowd. They do that, so they say the kinds of jokes the audience wants to hear. They think about their sets, change their jokes, change their Demeanors, hire themselves. The audience is the boss. If you go up there and no one is laughing, you lose. Lose nine times out of 10 if a comic tells some "joke" where the punch line is "Ha, someone got raped," that comic book of that crowd. For the 10th time? Well, the comic sucks, telling terrible jokes seems to please a shitty, terrible audience, apparently shitty, terrible things. But most audiences will rightly hate you. I got boos on stage once for an anti-Canada rant where I said I would never compare Canadians to Nazis because Nazis are efficient and something is good. Personally, I can't find anything to say about UnPC Nazis were efficient and good at genocide, but that's the point. Most viewers are sensitive to even close to an edgy joke if nothing is done.
In support of the power of words, Lindy West explained to Jim Norton that 50 years ago there were more wildly racist jokes versus black ones, and now that we have stopped telling those jokes, society has become less racist. In science they call that a time allocation. Two things happen at similar times with no evidence of the actual cause of the damage. As you might read on the bathroom, there is no evidence that my prose causes bowel movements. (Anecdotal evidence doesn't count). Recognition for our society becoming less racist should probably go to men like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and - if you need white, funny guys to throw in the mix - men like Norman Lear and his socially relevant shows like and. Respectfully, Mrs. West has it backwards. Comics cleaned up their actions, since audiences would not tolerate mere racial hatred disguised as humor. Those hack comedians that Ms. West rightly finds offensive are incapable of being agents of social change. They are half-talents in bad tee grinds from livings, best in the basement.
#1. So what now?
What is so frustrating about this debate is the lack of a clear goal. What is wanted? In her original Tosh play, Ms. West's goals were clear: she wanted the right to criticize Tosh for his unfortunate remarks. She didn't feel his comic strip status saved him from the consequences of his words, and I totally agree with that. (We remember that we say all sorts of unspeakable things and only some of us have the misfortune to say spontaneously on stage.) At the beginning of the Norton-West discussion, she reaffirmed this point as the constitutional right to freedom of expression for both rape-joke -Narrators (undefined) and people calling for rape-joke tellers to spot tails. Again, I agree, and I'll go even further and say that I disagree with Norton, when he says that people threatening sponsors shouldn't pull ads of things they find offensive. Norton says the market should decide what is good or bad instead, but people threatening sponsorship is exactly what the free market is for. Do I find most protest groups want to restrict speech attractive? No, I usually don't, but that's company. It is a right we all have.
But something is lost in this discussion: Just like any good comic book should watch the ramifications of the words in mining dark territory for jokes, good protesters also have responsibilities. By the end of that Norton West discussion, it didn't seem West was content to simply call Hack Comics "Dicks." Instead, putting forth an undefined rhetoric that "rape jokes" are usually just bad for society and shouldn't be said to bring us back to the first point: what are jokes actually all about? It is not possible to speak in the abstract.
Unsurprisingly, trying to have this "debate" with no specifics has gotten incredibly ugly because feelings have filled the void. Unfortunately, the two biggest catalysts for accession causes are hatred and pain. Look at the monsters unspeakably ugly things to say westward. They are haters, and not in the 21st century bullshit vernacular, but in the truest sense of the word. Her hatred of this woman shows an obvious hatred of women in general and a clear hostility towards the undeniably correct cause for a safer world. And look at some of the activists referring to Norton as if he were some kind of barbarian being mentally impaired. They protest from a place of pain, in response to a hostile world.
At the end of the day, I don't feel comfortable with people making decisions about the validity of art when they come to places of pain or hatred. When you do that, it's really easy to go off the rails. Remember The Fat In The 80s? No? Ask your mother. That was this group of Tipper Gore who, despite perceptions, hardly started a square. Anyway, Kipper was surprised to learn that her children support cocaine use music lyrics and fuck like an animal. Things she didn't know until she bought the music. She wanted to start an organization to put warning labels on records advising parents about this content. Of course, from this noble or harmless intention came more and more adherents placing increasing pressure on artists to protect children. In the end, fat was a mockery. I remember taking particular pleasure in her press release that Eurythmics were a bad influence on children because Annie Lennox occasionally dressed as a man, but Michael Jackson was a wonderful role model for children.
It is absolutely correct: there are words and jokes so untenable they should be rejected. It should have consequences. Still, it's just as important that we be very specific with our criticism. It's no secret that everyone from geniuses like Jonathan Swift and Stephen Colbert to unnamed comics on average are accused of supporting things they were against by people who just didn't get the joke. And if we have to follow for humor then we better have specific charges. Because only in response to certain charges can comics defend their work and let the public judge you.If the court goes to public opinion to deem what is offensive without hearing the details of this offense, it will pass down sentences that are not based on the bad deeds but subjective beliefs about the unspeakable words and sacrosanct subjects. I want to live in a world where beliefs are based not only on good intentions and passion, but are evidence and reasoned discourse.
. And then there's his website, and Tumblr, too.
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