Wednesday, June 7, 2017
A Day In The Anti-Life - Head Shots!
The recent brouhaha about Kathy Griffin's head-holding stunt with a knockoff noggin in the spittin' image of our current Prevaricator-In-Chief features a number of aspects of modern culture which I find revolting. And you might surprised that implied decapitation ain't one of them.
She's a comedian and to my mind has only one job -- to be funny. The only aspect of this prank this would-be "Queen of Hearts" should ever apologize for is that it was not funny. And that's the rub. Had it been funny, then folks would've absorbed it as the satire it was intended, processed it as a commentary on the larger issues that a decapitated head-of-state might imply. That she pulled the prank and failed to make anyone laugh, left her open to criticism from all sides. It came across as just gruesome and mean, not provocative and revealing. That fault lies in her construction and presentation of the joke.
She should though not apologize for the content of the joke. It's the function of comedians to puncture the powerful and especially those of power and means who put themselves forward as public servants. Comedians are not supposed to ask permission, nor are they to beg forgiveness. They are to use their intellect and wit to be funny and incisive. If they fail in that mission, then it is only insofar as they have failed their craft that they are liable.
Many seem to think the prank was disrespectful and I'd agree. That's the point. Many suggest that if that head had been an Obama head then the lefties would be howling about that and I'd agree. But so what! The problem with mocking Obama was that it could quite easily slip into a rancid racist mode and that is still verboten and properly so, even within the confines of modern comedy. Violence or the implication of violence is not so much. Take a gander at any demonstration and at the many effigies of Bush II and Obama which would be used readily. Such grotesque representations of high-profile leaders are part of the game of hardball politics and if those presentations can stay in the lane of commentary on the nature of the leadership and the ideas being promoted, then I say go for it full steam.
For the record, the recent controversy over Bill Maher's use of the "N-word" strikes me as an example of what I was saying about Griffin. Maher's use of a socially unacceptable word was pointed and in specific context and was even a little bit funny, though clearly drawing out some of the most cruel aspects of historical American culture. It's crass and rude for sure, but that's satire's milieu. I always wonder when folks get so irate about these utterances, is it the reference itself or the referenced events that causes the angst. If it's mostly the former, then you really don't have much of a point.