Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, June 10, 2013

Open Letter to Roseanne,Re: Lindy West and your Twitter outrage

Dear Roseanne,

 As someone who has been a longtime fan of your comedy,I'm come to accept the more over the top antics and statements you make from time to time as part and parcel of appreciating your work. However, your latest bit of notoriety leaves me so ashamed of your actions that I can't even consider enjoying a rerun of your former sitcom any time in the foreseeable future.

What I'm talking about is your Twitter response to Lindy West,a blogger for Jezebel who recently went on the F/X show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell for a debate about rape jokes with comedian Jim Norton. Their discussion was pretty interesting and thought provoking,yet the aftermath of that talk had Lindy dealing with hundreds of vile insults and threats of violence from those brave souls on the internet who love expressing their freedom of speech so honorably there(and yes, I'm being sarcastic big time).

Granted, you don't have to agree with Lindy's position regarding this issue but your two hour Twitter rant at her where you insist that she was "advocating censorship of comedy" and that Jezebel is  a "woman hating" site that doesn't block offensive comments and " anyone who writes for Jezabel knows that" is not only less than helpful to the situation but it seems to be implying that Lindy "asked for it." Hmm,where have I heard that argument made before?

First off, Lindy has repeatedly said that she is NOT calling for censorship, rather for the comedic community to rethink their approach on the subject. Perhaps if you watch the segment in it's entirety(or re-watch,as the case may be), you'll be able to hear that loud and clear.

Secondly, the position that you and many other comedians take on this issue is that when it comes to terrible things in the world such as rape and murder, being able to laugh at them is a cathartic release and that those who have experienced these horrors up close and personal need to be allowed to make great art out of the tragedy in their lives.

While it is true that many legendary comedians have turned their personal demons into comedic gist for their mill and skillfully manage to blend tears and mirth that invokes empathy as well as good humor for their audiences, that is not what Lindy West and those in her circle are talking about.

Their problem is with jokes made for the most part by men(such as Daniel Tosh) that uses the victim as the punchline instead of the rapist,which can understandably reawaken the pain of that violation for those still suffering. Also, it seems to me that what some of these comics are really upset about is not the backlash from the feminist corner but rather the possibility of "repercussions",namely losing a job over something they said in a public forum because of boycotting.

Well,in my opinion, I think that there is a world of difference in taking away power from an aggressor through humor and somebody making a wisecrack that pours fresh salt into a wound. Also, if losing work over something you said is the worst thing you have to deal with, consider yourself lucky especially when comics like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin actually went to jail over their controversial routines. Sometimes freedom of speech has it's drawbacks and to want to say anything that comes into your head and out of your mouth without any negative consequences is a pretty childish stance to take.

 But back to you,Roseanne. Now you may feel that this is a bunch of whining on the part of Lindy West and other feminists and how you handled it back in your day was good enough for you and should be for them too. Well, no. How you dealt with similar situations in your time may have been your best option then but that doesn't mean the next generation can't step up and demand better. You may feel that your way is best but imposing that standard on younger women who might look to you for guidance and approval is an even worse insult than those made by the expected gang of louts in this debate:

 At the very least, the flood of verbal assaults against Lindy West for taking a stand should have secured your compassion,not your ire or ridicule. Even if you strongly disagree with someone else's view of the world and/or society, wishing them serious bodily harm over it is not the decent mature way to handle it and adding fuel to the fire as you did( I will assume that it wasn't intended that way) is beyond atrocious.

On a personal note, I did read over some of those disgusting statements(and watched Lindy's video where she read them aloud) and felt particular hurt at the ones saying she was "too fat and ugly" to even be a rape victim or have sex in the first place. I'm sure you as a large sized woman(as am I) have heard that one far too many times and while it won't stop any time soon, it is still sickening to hear.

I am far from naive enough to believe that the characters an actor or comic portray on screen are true depictions of their real selves, yet I can't help thinking that the fictional Roseanne would be more sympathetic to a target of abuse that you seem to be here.

 All I would hope for you to do in a situation like this is to respect Lindy West(who rightly blocked from her Twitter account) for standing behind her convictions even if you don't go along with them. You know,like Loretta Lynn said in an episode of your own show! I have no doubt that you could care less than a damn about my opinion here and that's fine. You should know,however, that I am not the only fan you've disappointed with your chosen course of conduct in this matter and who will no longer hold you in the same regard as they once did before.

 In other words, this was badly done,Roseanne! Badly done indeed!


Lady T and the rest of the folks leaving your audience:

P.S.: It is also a shame that you couldn't have offered the same support as the host of Totally Biased did to Lindy afterwards-guess that proves men aren't as insensitive as you always liked to claim in your former punchlines.

1 comment:

Thaddeus said...

I was up to my eyeballs in work and actually didn't hear about this incident. It's a damn shame, too.

I have been an amateur comedian since I was a kid. I have never and will never perform standup, but I've made too many jokes - and put too much care in them - to identify otherwise. And the truth is that there are some rules decent people should follow:

You don't make fun of people's physical attributes over which they have no control. Anyone could be born with a defective hand, or a large jaw, or be predisposed to being overweight. While many people break those rules regarding true scumbags (bigots, abusive folks), it's best to focus on the behavior and personality of someone and mock *that* instead.

And making *non-satirical* jokes about rape, ethnicity, genocide, child abduction - that's ground that has to be tread very carefully. With some thought and creativity, one can make whatever joke one pleases - but it takes no talent to display zero taste and try to get a cheap laugh. Mocking victimization itself means that the mocker should be (a) insulted in kind and then (b) ignored.

Gilbert Gottfried was making cracks immediately after Japan's super-disaster; it cost him his voiceover commercial gig. He had it coming. He had the freedom to say what he wished, he did, it was tasteless, and it cost him work. But he wasn't censored - just fired.

I remember some idiot who's always on Opie & Anthony (ugh) trying to defend Richards, the guy who played Kramer. But when Richards had his meltdown and threw the N-word at some hecklers, he wasn't making any *jokes* about or with or through that word - he was just slinging racist epithets. He had the freedom to say what he wished, and it cost him a lot of respect from fans.

Sadly, Roseanne is out of touch because of her age and success. To say that people in today's utterly-different environment should deal with things they she did in the past is beyond stupid. They shouldn't be obligated to face unacceptable conditions any more than African-Americans should face racial slurs in silence as they had to in the past.

And it's not just that Barr's age alone takes her so far out of this debate. Her success means that she's very much out of touch with what everyday, unsuccessful people must face. Her vehemence and vitriol then, are especially stupid and counterproductive.

Great entry, excellent points.