TW FOR RAPE, RACISM, PHOBIAS ET ALL, AUSTIN ISN’T FUCKING AROUND.
This is something that I’ve talked about before, but the mass realization that Daniel Tosh (along with a whopping shitpile of comedians) is a horrible person has made me think about it in a little bit more detail. So:
Rape jokes, racist jokes, trans jokes, sexist jokes, ableist jokes - why we tell them and why we shouldn’t.
First of all, you have to understand that entertainment isn’t free from criticism just because it’s categorized as ‘entertainment’. The ‘get over it, it’s just comedy’ line forgets that systematic oppression requires a system. The system runs from congress to comedy, from federal law to small talk. It’s very important to understand that when I say that I blame the system, I’m not just blaming the government. I’m blaming us.
The ‘funny’ thing here is that it’s really easy to get how making light of oppression is oppressive in the first place. This is basic, simple stuff. ‘You’re not supposed to take this seriously’.
Also, because somebody will inevitably try to derail this, this isn’t to say that Dave Chappelle or Paul Mooney shouldn’t do comedy that deals with racism, or that there’s no place for real social examination in comedy when it comes to oppression. Chappelle and Mooney made racists the joke, not racism. Both Dane Cook and Louis CK did bits that pointed out the existence of rape culture (I can’t speak to whether or not they did so respectfully). Many female comedians point out examples of male privilege and sexism without using those ‘buzz words’. This is not a critique of those who critique systematic oppression, this is about the people who perpetuate it.
Like Daniel Tosh. But I’m not going to single out the demon of the moment and forget about the rest of us. A lot of us, and especially white able-bodied straight cis men, do this.
Rape jokes: SNL recently did a skit that guaranteed that I will never watch that show again. This is the link and it is massively triggering to rape victims so please be careful. Now, this is typically considered a ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ show, which might give you an idea of what bearing those words hold in 2012.
This was aired on one of the most popular and long-running shows on public television. This is rape culture, an aspect of it at least. The joke is more important than people. It always seems to be.
Also, rape culture is sexist. There are male rape victims, and they are erased because we’re taught that it’s something we can never admit, that our masculinity rejects it, but many many more women are raped than men. We’re taught that rape is something that happens to women. Don’t try to tell me that rape culture is so prevalent and rape is such a joke but that it has nothing to do with the fact that it mostly happens to women. Under patriarchy, if cis men got pregnant then there’d be an abortion booth on every street corner. If cis men were mostly raped, rape culture wouldn’t exist. But that’s not the case. And so: rape is a joke.
Racist jokes: I just finished up the first season of Wilfred, and there’s a scene where the mother of the character played by Elijah Wood yells ‘INDIAN CHIEF’ and then imitates some sort of battle cry that you might have heard in a 1940s film rendition of Custer’s Last Stand, then she says ‘that was racist, but it was fun’ and Wilfred says ‘how is that racist? Indians do that all the time.’ I’m not sure anything says ‘white privilege’ like voicing your racism though a white man playing a pet dog, the guy who says what we’re all thinking as adorably as possible.
I guess the question is: how do you deal with white guilt? Make racism hilarious. There ya go. Guilt resolved. Moving on. Nevermind that Mexican jokes perpetuate a system that oks white men with AR-15s patrolling our borders (except the Canadian border lol) looking for ‘illegals’ to murder. Nevermind that n word jokes lead to the murders of people like Trayvon Martin and Troy Davis or the imprisonment for self defense of people like CeCe McDonald. Nevermind, moving on.
I won’t bring out examples for all of these, but this is the main point. Jokes like this point out points of privilege. Racist jokes are delivered by people who deny white privilege but need to remind PoC very clearly that we, white people, control your image. We control everything and, even though somehow we don’t gain any privilege from that, we’ll remind you of it as often as we can.
As men, we’ll remind you that we could rape you. We won’t, because we’re such nice guys, but we could. We just need you to remember that. We make rape a joke so that you can appreciate us not raping you (even though a lot of people who make rape jokes, are rape apologists, won’t draw the line at jokes and we all know it). We make rape jokes so that, even if we’ve actually raped a woman, we can remind ourselves that it wasn’t a big deal. It was just rape, it was just a woman (or, let’s be real, moreso just a Black woman, a Native woman, just a ‘corrective’ rape towards a Trans* man who needed to be reminded that he’s not a man, a ‘corrective’ rape towards a lesbian who just needed one good dick, just somebody who doesn’t matter as much as we do, isn’t as much of a person, deserves it).
These things come from points of privilege. They are privileges that we know we have. And we don’t want to give them up. I’m a white, cis-presenting, straight-presenting, able-presenting, male-presenting person in Confederate Central, Virginia. You really think I want to give up my privileges? Even though I do my best to acknowledge them and, in doing so, work for the bettering of the conditions of people who can’t pass like I do, you really think that I wouldn’t have a mental battle if it came down to snapping my fingers and actually leveling the playing field? It’s easy to say that you want everyone to be equal. That’s easy. But the reality is a lot harder and, I’ll tell you right now, I’m not where I need to be.
So, why am I not lumped in with Daniel Tosh? With Sharon Needles? With Alexander Ryking? With fuckyeahtransphobia? With Jarl-Ulfric? With Communismkills? With Charlie Sheen? With Mel Gibson? With every known racist, every known sexist, every known rape apologist, even known ableist, every known trans hater, all of ‘em?
So now I have a joke for y’all.
How easy it is to not make jokes that oppress people?
And you’re the punchline.
And I am too.
Austin will you marry me?
In which Austin serves up truth, piping fucking hot.
And for the trans women who are told “you want to be a woman? here, then we’ll treat you like one”.