I found a $15 price sticker for a balloon inflator in my sweater pocket and yes, this is on-brand.
This past weekend, Louis C.K. returned to his “home stage,” The Comedy Cellar. He’d taken a hiatus from performing since admitting to sexual abuse at the end of last year.
“I understand that some people will be upset with me,” said Noam Dworman, owner of the Comedy Cellar, who described Louis C.K.’s 15-minute standup set as “typical Louis C.K. stuff” including riffs on race and tipping at restaurants. But, he added, “there can’t be a permanent life sentence on someone who does something wrong.”
His return has raised the undying question of whether famous sex criminals should be allowed a path to redemption. Was Louis apologetic enough? Should he be welcomed back sooner if he’d donated to RAINN? Would we be more willing to applaud his comedy if he attended sex therapy and spoke on what he’d learned? Is there salvation in him supporting the women he’s traumatized or raising up women he’s never met? These are all weighed and debated by women individually when it comes to forgiveness.
Women are doing their own thing. But men must come to a much simpler conclusion:
If a man is excommunicated, he’s not guaranteed a path back to the limelight. “But that’s not fair,” says Michael Ian Black in more words. I don’t mean to denigrate compassion, and he did seem to eventually get the picture, but he’s also correct: us men had the unfortunate chance to end up living during the first era of retribution exacted by victimized women. Yep, for you, and me, and any man who might have stumbled up our forefathers’ ladder in decades past, to be born now, no longer during a time when pretty much any misogynist aggression, from macro to micro, could be waved away with enough money or clout? Shit timing.
Because if we can admit that Priapus’s sun is setting after mere millennia, we can recognize who suffered for being born sometime during known human history. If it is difficult for men right now, it has been as difficult–at minimum–for billions of women. The majority of those women didn’t survive to see this day, all they knew was a crushing patriarchy. And men can relinquish that in many ways, but shutting up on topics like forgiveness is an easy one. The women of today deserve the choice to hold the reins and the bullhorn and the flaming whip, because, if we’re talking fairness, that’s a stab at it.
The banishments (banishments), permanent or not, are growing pains. There’ll be celeb “casualties” like Louis, those who are no longer given the chance to comfort us with their (still valuable) contributions to culture. There will be art lost, whether immediate (I Love You, Daddy) or potential (any future seasons of Louie). I’ve watched every stand-up special by Louis and marveled to witness a drop-in at Los Angeles’s Comedy Store. For my undergraduate thesis, I situated him in a long line of utopia-seeking comics, from Lenny Bruce to Richard Pryor to Bill Hicks to him, here and now, the promise of shifting the entire comedy paradigm progressively. And yet his loss, like that of Ansari and Hardwick and other cusp-of-comeback kids of this moment, is maybe necessary for an eventual equality, and that goal is worth all the earth-shaking boner jokes in Louis’s head.
So when Noam Dworman states “there can’t be a permanent life sentence on someone who does something wrong,” I have to insist that actually there can, it can just happen, the third law of thermodynamics isn’t “the dickflasher must be given stagetime.” It’s “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” and buddy, we’ve still got a hefty dose of reaction before we’ve hit equal.
That said, I don’t figure that the women of today wish to go Amazonian on our asses. It’s not that I think of women as gentler or kinder (imagine if that’s the turn this essay took), but rather the effort required to yonically oppress for just as many years seems too much for any human. Men fell into it, right? Our monkey brains kept “might makes right” at the forefront and only recently have come to understand that there are other things that make right! Even as we reaped the rewards, most humans aren’t evil and so most men aren’t evil. Just bumbling and ignorant, and the tides may be turning on that front too. When it comes to the exiles and re-configuring our gender’s expectations, my mewling men, I’m guessing it’ll take three generations. That’s what I expect. Not for me to decide, but what I expect.
So just chill, my sweet dudes. Our input isn’t wanted or needed. Isn’t that freeing?
But if your pity still swells for Louis, shoving his victims from the frame; if you can’t grasp the damage wrought by asking “what about the men,” then consider perverts and misogynists who don’t possess the comedian’s clout or resources. Louis with his Comedy Cellar and adoring fans, Mario Batali and his restaurants peppered around the globe, Matt Lauer and the bulwarking upper echelon of Manhattan media. Their redemption comes far easier than that of a man from your high school who’s abused women (as we all have to varying degrees) and, upon reflection, dedicates himself to righting it. He can’t make the huge donations, he can’t afford the Beverly Hills therapist or the PR spin-master. Without access to a blacklist, his victims (and bless them for their vindictive power) may bring charges against him, and he may end up irreparably damaged, sexually or otherwise, by a stay in prison himself. To say nothing of the imprisoning outcome of the offender registry, restricting where he may work or live. Oh, and perhaps he’s not white as a bleached harp seal cub. That too.
This nobody-man still deserves his punishment however it unfolds, but if you’re dedicated to your psychopathy and seek for anyone to care about other than the women: why do you give a shit about Louis? He could leave the country today and live in comfort until death. He thinks nothing of you; there are millions of you. Even in your misogyny you can do better.
Perhaps it’d be more worth your time to care about the women.
I intend to share some more music videos from this playlist and dig into the songs as they’re highlighted. And I’ve already covered a few. More to come! 6ix9ine and SOPHIE and Kirin in particular, if you want to prepare yourself, do some advance studying.
The most important reaction to this entire month’s playlist is my anger that the breakdown from 2:15 – 2:28 of Drake’s “In My Feelings” isn’t a whole song.
“I can’t recalled how many buttcheeks and fronts I rubbed,” a “FAN” of Tropical 128 wrote on Yelp, about a January evening at the establishment. Some of those cheeks belonged to “hot chicks which was okay I guess.” Other cheeks impressed him less.
From this New Yorker blurb about my favorite bar in New York City. Ah, man, this takes me back. Er, uh– front? Hm.
I’ve spent about three weeks telling friends that by the next generation, face tattoos are going to be acceptable. They all scoffed. Good news: I trust old-ass newspapers when it comes to trends more than I do my same-aged friends.
Let’s cover some options:
The Duplitat, meant to confuse and ward off attackers.
Bregashi 7evenZer0, because Tekashi 6ix9ine has 69 tattooed on his body sixty-nine times and I can’t let him win.
Pride Day, because sometimes a Facebook filter just isn’t enough.
Ponce Lyfe, which, unfortunately, I have to wait until he dies before getting it inked. And he will never die, so…
In April, I challenged myself to write five sketches in one week. I succeeded!
They’re all about two roommates with strange names on a journey of self-discovery and self-injury. Click each title to read the full PDF.
I’ve seen some acquiescence surrounding our pending Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch. For the Left-inclined folks out there that watch his nomination process, shrug, and say “Well, Gorsuch ain’t so bad,” I have some strategy for you. It shouldn’t be beyond comprehension for anyone who thinks themselves House-of-Cardsian enough to vote strategically for Clinton (rather than voting for what they believe in ahahahahah sorry i merely wish that argument wasn’t past its prime because it was so fun and never tired or old hat anyways moving on–please don’t stop reading):
It’s not our responsibility to let anyone off the hook in the name of civility. In fact, it’s harmful to our goal of progressive utopia. If we’re thinking strategically, as our fellow Leftists demand of us so often, then the only people who should consider civility are our politicians. Since they’re playing a game that they’re practiced in, and the country’s not on the verge of a military coup or something, ᵒʳ ᵃʳᵉ ʷᵉ maybe there’s no need for them to stonewall the hell outta Gorsuch and stage hunger strikes and lay their bodies behind his car’s rear tires so that he’s stuck in his driveway like a total putz. I do not know what’s best in politics, I’m not a politician. Unless you’ve been a politician your whole life, I’m also skeptical on whether you know what’s best.
But that takes a weight off our shoulders.
Besides direct action like voting, or being elected, or storming the Bastille to hang the plutocrats, there is only the discussion. We get to dissect and antagonize and rant as much as we please. Political discourse is discourse. It’s the talking. And as private citizens, that’s all we’ve got.
But that’s valuable when the core of this conflict between the Left and the Right–as far as I can tell, given that this is a huge sweeping statement with no particular evidence, only what I’ve gathered and coalesced over my lifetime, so here’s where some trust comes in– is: Nature vs. Nurture. “Everyone is capable of anything with effort” insists Conservative thought, to be countered perpetually by the Liberal “not until they encounter the roadblock that is the biological function of their own brains.” This is THE Gordian Knot. I’d love exceptions, but it def feels like any field of study can be reduced to puzzling over this humdinger. Religion grasps at it too, when circling around free will and divine intervention.
We’ve been dancing around it for centuries, and no point of datum, no thousands of data sets, can resolve it. There’s too much evidence for either side, and too much room in the middle. You can hold the simultaneous beliefs that people can teach themselves valuable skills and someday exchange the performance of those skills for money… But also that the same people do not deserve to die of an infection at age 25 because a cat scratched them and “with all these bootstrappy classes i’m paying to take, who can afford gauze these days? oh no im bleeding out.”
So this conflict between America’s two political forces can’t be won by science. This is a battle of hearts, not minds. Like we aren’t going to whip up an irrefutable equation that the Left is better than the Right. “Errm according to my calculations, Democrats average a 258 Pure Soul score, while Republicans only manage 207.” Nope, not happening.
Though we do have to use science to prove what works at changing hearts! Well… Coercing hearts. torturing the hearts into doing our bidding
We know advertising, as a concept, works. Anything you would call propaganda is advertising, and vice-versa. There is a social aversion to both that keep them in check (see Tim Wu’s The Attention Merchants on that), so it’s not like a single entity can just bombard populations with a message over and over until they’re forced to accept it. ᵒʳ ᶜᵃⁿ ʸᵒᵘ
BUT when was the last time you saw an advertisement that gave an inch?
“Come on down to Comfy Jim’s Mattress Shoppe! Since 1983, we’ve lived by our slogan: ‘I only have two mattresses for sale!'”
When was the last time propaganda hedged its message?
“Join The Army: The Medics Are Really Well-Trained”
Want the best example ever? Remember the ads for the Marines where the soldier fought a (presumably-Afghani) lava colossus? And not with a gun, but with a sword? Regular TV ads are required to feature small print or a manic recitation of side effects; no such restriction here, it might as well have featured screen-length font reading “KILLING SHIT IN REAL LIFE? IT’S ACTUALLY A VIDEO GAME. NOBODY SUFFERS, ESPECIALLY NOT YOU.” (I’m not linking the video because subjecting you to propaganda is the Marines’ job.) And this worked, or they wouldn’t have run the ad. It worked to convince young men and women to sign up en masse to put their lives on the line.
So if we want to warm someone’s heart into beating the same rhythm as ours regarding healthcare, the environment, welfare, equality, needs & wants and what’s deserved & what’s earned, we have to stick to what works: absolute unbending pressure behind our message.
You can even imagine it, a conversation stripped of all intellectual pretense.
Roger says “I like the Republicans.” Danny says “Shut up, you’re wrong.” Roger: “No, you shut up, you’re wrong.” Okay— impasse. How does anyone come out on top? A teammate arrives.
Roger: “Shut up, you’re wrong.”
Danny & Dolores: “Shut up, you’re wrong”
Roger: “Shut up, you’re wr-“
Danny & Dolores & Derrick & Debbie: “Shut up, you’re wrong.”
Roger: “sh. . sh”
A ton of D: “Shut up, you’re wrong.”
[Exeunt Roger to woods, where he lives alone, ashamed, forever]
Shame is so powerful! Feeling as though he’s being kicked tf out of society is gonna either make Roger change his mind or get kicked tf out.
But maybe Roger’s squad shows up. And they have their own #squadgoals. The opposing sides build and build in number until they consist of the entire population of these United States. With such an overwhelming hypothesis, which team wins? How can we possibly figure out which unified voice ends up drowning out the other at the grand conclusion of this all-consuming screambattl—
We have a message and it needs to be the loudest. I’m uncertain of the best way to convey the message. The scale ranges from “kys trump and kin and all trumpkins” to “I have sixteen sourced research studies, each conducted impeccably. Read them all and you’ll be convinced.” You do you.
But if the goal of those actions and any in between is empowering our message until it seems as inevitable as tablets carried down the mountain, the only possible silencing or refutation of that message comes from internal naysayers.
Which brings us back to Gorsuch, and the moderates’ points in his “favor,” which can be reviewed with fresh eyes from the position I’ve described.
“Reagan named a supreme court justice and he didn’t turn out so awful!” First off: it was awful considering the alternative is anyone you can imagine who would be better. It’s awful to not get what you want from the world you live in when we have the capability and resources to make it any measure easier. It’s fucking awful and unfair and there’s no reason life should be like this. Don’t talk down to yourself. (I’ll do it for you, obvs.) Secondst off, who cares? I will remember your advice when I next stumble down a timetube into the 1980s. (no i won’t, like they didn’t even have spotify or cars back then, i would throw myself in front of a horse-and-buggy if that happened)
“He will probably have rulings I disagree with, but that’s okay.” Why not disagree with all of them? They will never be perfect. Ginsberg and Sotomayor ain’t perfect (though they’re closer). Until our world is perfect, disagree with every ruling that doesn’t elevate us, and demand more from the ones that do. Why not? What do you stand to lose by demanding the things you want? At worst, you don’t yet get the things you want. What do you stand to gain? … The things you want.
“He’s intelligent and civil. There’s no denying he’s fit for the job.” Sociopaths can be intelligent and civil. These are not hallmarks of any sort of moral or character or soul. He is not fit for the job because he is not perfect. Find me perfection and I’ll quit whining; until then, we have rhetorical work to do and the sleeves remain rolled up. Oh, and Gorsuch is neither intelligent or civil. He stands behind corporations over people (the opposite of civil) and he made the decision to do so (the opposite of intelligent).
“Save your energy for the next round of protesting!” What?? you don’t need to tell people to save their energy. When people run out of energy, they stop without your say-so. No one feels proud of it, so they do it in private, watching TV or whatever, so you can’t prove that folks are even capable of running out of energy. We may all have massive energy reserves that we still don’t tap because maybe every single human is a lazy bag of meatslush & dreams & shame (as if their inherent nature is in conflict with their lifelong nurture? huh). Who knows? So just never say this again, the advice has no positive effect and may have a negative one.
All of the quoted comments above strengthen the opposition’s message. Fuck that! Don’t stop being an advertisement for what you believe in. You’re Coke and they’re Pepsi. Why say anything that could give them market share? Especially when our drink tastes like grape socialism and theirs tastes like the icy runoff from the corpses of the poor thawing out on the sidewalks as winter snowbanks finally melt into spring a.k.a. LaCroix.
I get that what I’m suggesting is unnatural behavior. These tactics don’t lend themselves to friendly conversation. People might accuse you of an intellectual blind spot. Good. They’ve already lost. We’re going to win. ᵒʳ ʷⁱˡˡ ʷYES. WE’RE GOING TO WIN
tl;dr You can only bring people to your cause with individual communication and understanding of others’ humanity plus the unceasing support from and collaboration with your community. Everything I’ve described above is rooted in empathy and non-violence. Namaste.