Joan Acocella: A New Translation of Boccaccio’s Decameron

The Decameron is hilarious (accidental necrophilia), bizarre (deliberate necrophilia), and, above all, varied (there’s more than just necrophilia). It’s a book of 100 stories displaying thematic arcs and including a group of narrators (with a story of their own), written three centuries before Shakespeare hit the scene. If you want to talk to me about pre-Renaissance comedy (even though this book may very well have kicked off the Renaissance), you’re gonna hear about this or Lysistrata. Both use comedy to explore the relationship between sex and power, and both are done so boldly as to be endearing— there’s nothing coy or squeamish in either —that I suspect Bocaccio and Aristophanes would have been shocked at how little our sexual politic has progressed, standing arm-in-arm with feminists, kinksters and swingers.

At least read the article as far as the tale of Peronella. It’s practically a scene out of Workaholics.

(Oh man and even further down Acocella refers to the book as a precursor to Much Ado About Nothing, my fave Shakespeare. Goddamn y’all it is scarily gratifying to see someone trace the literary lineage of these qualities, because it’s those same qualities in those same books that I followed in my thesis. If other [real] critics see the same evidence as I do, my predictions for the future of comedy hold a little more water for myself.)

Joan Acocella: A New Translation of Boccaccio’s Decameron

savetheworldlikekeanu said: obviously I have to recommend Bill Burr too. Patrice O’Neal never hurts either.

This may be a great time to make it clear to anyone, because I think I’ve talked him up enough on my other social meltdown platforms but not Tumblr: Patrice O’ Neal is now one of my favorite comedians of all time. Him and Doug Stanhope are my exciting comedy discoveries from this year. Patrice was honest, deeply honest, he didn’t care at all about what people thought of his act, and it comes through in content (some of the dirtiest sex jokes I’ve heard, all told with depravity maneuvered into the eye of the beholder and not inherent to himself) and behavior (listen in the link to those throaty gasping grunts he looses at some cleavage as he walks onstage). I draw a lot of inspiration from this great these days, and I came across him far too late.

in which i attack someone who wasn’t addressing me

heroinfriday:

You don’t fuckin know me. I enjoy a wide variety of wonderful foreign entertainment that I would recommend to anyone like La jetee, grave of the firefly, old boy, turtles can fly, spirited away, let the right one in, Howl’s Moving Castle etc. so

[macro from the dawn of the internet reading: “how about a nice cup of shut the fuck up”]

You pretentious, self righteous little snob.

So we agree that there is plenty of art out there, regardless of creator, that succeeds and moves you without reminding folks of their own oppressed status in a destructive way. If that’s the case, then if we were to cut all the hurtful shit out, you would still have these things that you like, right? (And I agree, pretty much all those movies kill it.) Because this isn’t about “oh dumb white boy can’t appreciate other cultures,” it’s about the laughable and pitiful fear that once the hateful shit is deleted we’ll only have unenjoyable dregs left.

If you’ve already got “a wide variety” of things you like, why defend the things you like that hurt people? It ends up looking like you choose to not compromise your own entertainment for the sake of others’ feelings. You would choose to laugh at a TV show rather than… Help people feel good. You would like to feel good at other peoples’ expense. And that’s truly your choice to make, but distilled to such a point— it doesn’t seem like a good way to conduct yourself, right?

And that’s not even bringing up the insults you’ve tossed my way (which, let me jump the gun here since I’m almost certain you’ll say I insulted you first, is so far removed from the inference I made about you through your writing. Calling me a “pretentious, self-righteous little snob” is only warranted if I called you a “hateful selfish ruiner” or something along those lines. But I didn’t and I still don’t. I just gave my thoughts on yours).

But it totally is Harpys screeching “you cannot do this, this can’t be allowed”.  It ALWAYS comes down to feminists telling writers what they should or should not produce based off some frail sense of moral idealism.

(Before I launch into what you’re getting at, please note that I said “feminist critique,” as in the concept, rather than feminists themselves. I did this because I don’t want anyone drawing up a strawman radfem in this conversation.)

(Also how could a sense of moral idealism ever be “frail” if it’s self-reinforcing? erk, careful)

Progressives find it futile, same as you do, to tell the creators what they can and cannot do. That’s why people don’t write letters to Fox Studios and Shady Enterprises, they write on tumblr. Even if a progressive rant is structured as “the writers of Let’s Murder Blacks should not make a show about killing black people” instead of “I don’t like Let’s Murder Blacks,” that show’s writers ain’t ever gonna see that tumblr post. You know it, I know it, and so we can assume the poster knows it. Both those hypothetical posts have the same meaning.

It will instead be read by that tumblr’s followers, who’ll think “oh, my friend was upset by the killing of black people. Even though she addressed her feelings to the writers of the TV show, I am able to examine the context and realize that it’s a writing device meant to share my friend’s feelings with me. If my friend feels upset about something, maybe I should check it out and see where I can show solidarity with my friend and be aware of my friend’s issues in the future.”

But if you don’t read between the lines, you think that this is some sort of advance and mount a defense: “that tumblr poster is telling writers to stop writing.” No, bru. She’s saying “in a perfect world I could say this and people would listen to me and respect my voice, but all I’ve got is the yawning void of the internet and my immediate social circle so I’ll do what I can to feel good about myself and let my friends know what makes me feel good.”

If it was just feminists saying ” i’m just not going to give you money” then they would just not give them money to produce that work and leave it at that. It’s that easy! no one is forcing you to pay money for the media you watch! No one!

I find it telling that you latched on to the financial part of the line rather than the emotional. You have it backwards. It’s not about the act of withholding money (though that is crucial) but sharing why one is withholding that money. And I’m pretty sure you’re against stifling speech/thought.

Is modern entertainment vulgar, violent, obscene and offensive? God yes! And my opinion of it? GOOD! I hope entertainment remains offensive! I hope it remains hurtful and obscene and moronic and absurd! I hope it constantly challenges our personal senses of morality and normality. As Louis CK  put it

“Offending people is a necessary and healthy act. Every time you say something that’s offensive to another person. You just caused a discussion. You just forced them to have to think”

Dudebro, I love Louis C.K.! Which is why I have this much more recent quote of his on hand and ready to counter yours:

     If somebody has the opposite feeling from me, I want to hear it so I can add to mine. I don’t want to obliterate their point… for me, any joke about anything bad is great. Any joke about rape, the Holocaust, the Mets… But I’ve read some blogs during this whole thing that have made me enlightened to things I didn’t know. This woman said how rape is something that polices women’s lives. They have a narrow corridor. They can’t go out late, they can’t go to certain neighborhoods, they can’t get a certain way, because they might get- That’s part of me now that wasn’t before.
  Source

That’s right: Louis C.K. wants to hear when people are offended by him because he might learn something.

Demand to be offended! Demand to have your emotional and moral tolerances tested and pushed to their limits so you can grow some god damn skin and learn to laugh at the inherent absurdity of this world!

Us white dudes, Morgan, we have a weird approach to the idea of “offense” because of our birthright. Here’s something I wrote back when Daniel Tosh told a woman it would be comedy gold should she be gangraped:

Lately I have come to a distinction between jokes that offend and jokes that hurt. Many people conflate the two, believing that the audience’s reaction to comedy is a simple choice made by the audience in that moment; for nearly all subject matter, this IS true! Swearing a lot or sick morbid cringe-worthy humor can dredge up “MY WORD!” responses from those who might be offended, but that offense comes from a cultural holdover, a relic of a simpler time. The offended thinks to himself “this is indicative of a degrading society” and gets angry about that.

Hurtful jokes are a little different. When an audience member is hurt by a joke, he is reminded that there are some things in his own life that aren’t funny, and those things are not a choice. Then, as if that’s not enough, the hurtful joke pushes that member outside the rest of the audience (“Oh, you were raped and so you don’t find this funny? Well, we all do, we all find this joke super normal and not painful at all cause we haven’t been raped, weirdo.”)

This exists because white men drive comedy, both in terms of consumption and production. White men are the least empathetic people in the world. We can afford to make fun of others’ race, gender or history of rape because we are so far removed from it. We simply cannot fathom being upset about these things because there’s no frame of reference. (Even though it’s presumably rife with edgy material, not many people joke about the horrors of war because even white dudes suffer in war.)

“That’s not to say that comedians cannot approach the subject of rape etc. It’s just that the [assholes] of the world don’t give a shit about comedy’s effect on society so long as they hit their quota of gang-rape mentions, so they defend “free speech” and that’s the extent of their argument. I found that the best comedians always ask “why” about their topics, and, in turn, shape their message. Tosh, after responding to his heckler, had the opportunity to ask the audience why they, as a body of people, are somehow able to laugh at the idea of a woman SITTING IN THE SAME ROOM AS THEM being gangraped— but rather than approach a real question, a dangerous question that may have turned the audience against him, a question that would take some real comedic chops to work with… He took the easy way out.

I don’t ever want to get onstage and remind someone that they are suffering. Especially if dickfucks would defend my material by saying that rape victims are “oversensitive.” jesus christ

Can it hurt people? Alienate them? Hell yeah it can. But it`s still better than the alternative. A dry, grey, child proof, overly politically correct spoon fed pile of easily digested shit!

I’d remind you of all those wonderful movies you listed above that are anything but bland & sterile and still somehow manage to hurt way way way less people than so much of pop culture. It’s almost like attempting to be sensitive correlates little to the success of art. whoa.

By the way, even if you don’t agree with that, you’re still objectively making a slippery slope argument. Poor form.

Instead of sifting through every fucking piece of entertainment with a fine toothed comb to point out every single remotely low brow or offensive joke or reference that could ever be uttered by the human mind just to politely inform people that

I am not going to give you money if you keep hurting people because this does not fit with my outlook.”

how about you just stop giving them money, change the fucking channel, watch what ever the hell you want and stop trying to tell artists what they should or should not produce. 

-Morgan

Or, how about I stop giving them money, change the fucking channel, watch whatever the hell I want and go ahead and share my thoughts on anything with anyone because (and, as mentioned before, I’m certain you would agree) there is NOTHING wrong with speaking freely. tho you did start your post telling me to “shut the fuck up” so maybe you believe there are some people who aren’t allowed to speak idk

I’m glad you’re willing to engage with me on this because I was disappointed when you didn’t reply to me after this post. I’m looking forward to your reply to either!

“Racists React To [thing]” posts are just passive white supremacy

To sum up a very well-written and thought out piece: public shaming both a.) puts focus on the racists rather than the oppressed deserving appreciation and b.) still positions minorities as the Other, associating their accomplishments with a “struggle.”

And while I agree that these type of shaming posts are largely shared in order to circlejerk, it can’t be dismissed that shaming is a powerful and contemporary tool for equality. It shows one person and, by extension, everyone else in his/her life, that certain behaviors are going to rain down as much disapproval as yelling slurs does. Pretty much everyone featured on Public Shaming deletes their twitter accounts soon after. The problematic part isn’t the concept behind the lists, it’s how people consume the lists.

That said, now that Buzzfeed realized that there’s an audience for them, we will likely see many more easy-to-pass-along social media invocations of our own purity that offer little commentary on the actual content. I personally don’t share them on Facebook, and the only time I’ve reblogged Public Shaming was to vent about Steubenville. My reasoning is that my friends are great people who likely will not glean anything new while I only page through them because I think keeping these sorts of issues at the front of my mind helps me conduct myself with empathy (which I think is another way that shaming can positively influence the individual).

so basically i’m not complicit and the best person lol

But this article showed up on my tumblr dashboard at a good time. Mere minutes before finding it, I laughed at someone’s observation that “being a mermaid would be great because you have no period, no legs to shave, and you can lure men to their deaths.” It bubbled up a frequent self-evaluation of mine, the worry that I enjoy this sort of humor and progressive topics in general more because I like the feeling of being smarter/better than others instead of real desire to help.

Thankfully, framing the question in comedy (and reading this article) helped me arrive at a (gloriously self-serving) conclusion.

When I laugh at some variation of the phrase “kill all men,” it is not out of a place of male (or white, or cis, or swag) guilt or separation from the plebes or even hoping some feminist will appreciate my rhetoric enough to whip them thangs out. It comes from the surprise of hearing a fresh joke, a joke that could not be made until very recently.

I like to read jokes. My thesis traced a particular genre of humor from the Roman Empire to Louis C.K. I’m realizing now that maybeI dig this stuff so much because I’m a little bored with the jokes straight white dudes have been making for the past few millennia, and, up until the internet, there was no platform or audience for comedy attacking straight white dudes. (Please note, I don’t consider “black guys do this but white guys do this” as an attack. It’s a subversive observation, but it ain’t biting.)

I haven’t read every joke in the world; I know there have been feminist humorists throughout history. (I’ve even studied some!) It’s not about whether the jokes were told, but whether they were successful, processed, understood or accepted.

It so happens that they finally are (as evidenced by my own reaction to “kill all men” and the sudden arrival of its prevalence as a punchline [which also may get boring real soon, who knows?]) which I hope indicates a major change: the genre of humor I followed in my thesis is “utopian” (self-coined, source me if you refer to it in an academic paper dawg). Comedy that attempts to elevate humanity and asks us to consider other points of view. Lenny Bruce. Richard Pryor. Bill Hicks. George Carlin. Louis C.K. Bizarro World Daniel Tosh.

My conclusion then and now is that the direction comedy is heading, the value that will soon be at heart for the highest-regarded comedians, is a call for unity. That humanity is so connected these days that we’re finally kinda able to put ourselves in others’ shoes. The jokes shouldn’t be touchy-feely and kind-hearted, they need to shake us. They require the daring required to break from thousands of years of tradition. They’re jokes that, despite everything you’ve been told about jokes, actually matter.

Damnit, y’all. I’m choking up.

“Racists React To [thing]” posts are just passive white supremacy

2 Chainz Takes In Improv Comedy At Cipha Sounds’ Weekly Show – XXL

I had the opportunity to meet Cipha at Hot 97 when he interviewed my boss and then chatted with him a little bit between MC bits at Caroline’s. He’s a low-key performer who still excels at working off the audience, never letting on to the many onstage calculations going on behind his eyes. It makes sense that this thoughtfulness would draw his attention to the racial divide in improv comedy, and the audience member’s excited “PRISON!” suggestion related here is a perfect example of what he’s up against.

2 Chainz Takes In Improv Comedy At Cipha Sounds’ Weekly Show – XXL

I’m hitting up at least one open mic tonight. My first performance in Los Angeles.

I don’t think I’m gonna do it yet, but one stand-up bit that I’ve come up with in the past few months (pun intended) follows the logic that, if you like home-made porn, there’s a good chance that you’ve masturbated to a dead person by now. But you don’t see her as dead, so in a way, you’re remembering her in a more perfect way than even her own family. It’s kinda sentimental, but, y’know, I’m just a big softie. (The idea didn’t come from the picture above, I just found it last week and liked the feeling of seeing my joke happening in real life).

And then since I doubt anyone else will find the humor in something so dark and gross and real I pre-empted y’all’s response with the second image. I have a few friends who have deleted their Facebooks, and it’s always funny when I’m told that, actually, nobody cares about what I posted even though it looked like someone did. And on the rare occasions that multiple since-deleted friends engaged me in conversation, I look like a crazy person carrying on a looooong conversation with myself. (ALL I’M SAYING IS THAT IT’S RUDE MAGGIE AND ANGELA)

The Difference Between Shibes and Rape

Anonymous asked: something I don’t understand about people who say rape jokes normalize rape and make them feel it’s okay, they clearly don’t feel this way about other stuff. Like the popular shiba inu on tumblr that will “bash ur fukin head i swear on me mum” does that normalize violence and make people think it’s okay to bash people’s heads in? OF COURSE NOT

If rape was normalized it wouldn’t be the subject of dark humor. There aren’t very many jokes based on taking out the trash or cleaning the dishes and other normal day to day chores. The reason dark humor like rape jokes elicits the reaction that it does is exactly because the subject of the joke is not normal. It’s absurd, it’s shocking, it’s offensive and it forces a gut reaction. If rape ever became normal then it would cease to be the subject of jokes.

-Morgan

This was an ask response on a tumblr titled “Gender Egalitarians,” run by a guy, Morgan, and a girl, Liv. Directed there from a friend’s reblog, I found that they pick and choose the worst strawmen from the feminist movement under the guise of equality and, what a surprise, really frustrate me. I then hit this post, which concerns my two favorite topics (jokes and shibes) so I figure it’s my best chance to not flail around like a fool in my reply.

Even though Morgan is under the impression that dark humor works because it offends, I’m not going to rehash the difference between offensive and harmful. I’ll link it instead. I’d rather talk about why it’s ridiculous to compare this picture:

image

to rape jokes. It’s not as straightforward as it seems, and even shibe cannot blind me from the truth of the matter.

I went to an open mic down the block from me last week, to watch and take in the atmosphere before I make my grand debut a couple decades from now. Out of the twenty people I saw storm the stage, maybe four of them could get real laughs from the crowd, and nobody killed it for their entire 180 seconds. I was shocked at the wasted stage time (and like, even a little offended bc i’m an artist), but took the opportunity to figure out why so many comics were in trouble. Obviously none of them rehearsed enough since avoiding work is the whole reason people assume the comedian mantle, but I found another consistency: from the multiple comediennes who related catcall stories to the guy who stammered about how stoned he was and then abandoned his set with a third of his time remaining, nobody was convincing me of anything.

Watching American: The Bill Hicks Story the next day only hammered it home. Hicks is my favorite comedian. My love is always focused on a different quality whenever I binge on him, and this time I paid attention to his sales pitch. The sort of shit he successfully pushes on his audience is amazing. This is a guy who would plead for ad-men in the room to kill themselves and then, not one to be outdone by himself, plead for everyone in the world to kill themselves. If the mind is a house, his was three stories of dark, unfinished basement, but the power of the mic and the stage and his presentation of his ideas always kept the audience on board. That second video isn’t even a joke, it’s him exploding at a heckler, and there are still real belly-laughs underneath his throat-ripping screams. The kind of laughs you get with you, not at you.

It’s not because his intense hatred stirs up “a gut reaction.” If dark humor only needed to “shock,” the Kings of Comedy would be literal gibbering street-preachers rather than figurative ones. Instead, the true talent of Hicks came from the vast gulf between how venomous he could be during his dark, black, midnight comedy and, despite that, how he managed to appeal to all of us, keeping us feeling something like happiness (his guiding love for humanity winds through all of his material, but I’ll admit that taken piecemeal like above it’s hard to tell).

The vast majority of (good) comedy begins when the comedian shares an unorthodox opinion. The fun for the audience comes from watching the comedian justify and rationalize this opinion— “oh boy, how’s he gonna get outta this one?” This can be as violent as Hicks suggesting ad-men chomp a Glock or as chill as Jerry Seinfeld telling you that handkerchiefs are ridiculous (btw “There aren’t very many jokes based on taking out the trash or cleaning the dishes and other normal day to day chores?” uhhh the entire genre of observational comedy would like to introduce itself to you). So, like, in a weird way, we all go into comedy shows looking to be convinced. It’s ingrained in the medium.

A joke normalizes its subject by casting a light of acceptability on it. If you use rape as one of your convincing justifications, you’re suggesting, to some degree, no matter how infinitesimal, that rape is okay. It’s something that came to your mind in the development of the joke. Even in a joke, it is a solution. An audience member needs a solution to his obsessive lust or a solution for her dry spell, and, some time later, when he/she is trying to come up with one, the comic’s voice might turn up. The voice could be a whisper or a scream, it could be one of many or a monologue, but all the voices are inadvertent contributions by what we know as rape culture, and eventually the voices might get loud enough to be heard: “it is a solution, we’ve been saying that all along.” Not to mention that a comedian holds more power to sway opinion than nearly everyone else in the world, lending their words a lot more gravity. (as long as they don’t suck)

Compared to the Shibe (which is also not a living, breathing orator and is, in fact, a dogge), a comedian should be held a lot more responsible for the normalizing affect of his words.

But here’s the blow-your-mind plot twist: the Shiba picture actually does normalize violence. It’s not overt, since it frames the aggressor as a silly lil shibe, but it’s far from satirical and it suggests that violence can be entertaining. Same as Tom and Jerry, American Gladiators, Yeezus and The Lord of the Rings. And there are people out there who care about the damage of violence culture on the same level as rape culture: if I had photoshopped out the “fookin” and brought a printed copy of that shibe to my Quaker middle school to hang it on my locker, I would possibly have been sent home for the day while they figured out a suitable week-long punishment, minimum. All because of the violent sentiment of the message. Hell, they had a blanket rule of “No Touching” just in case someone’s bullying was disguised as play.

Are you thinking to yourself “that’s fucking crazy?” Good. Because that’s exactly what people think of you when you take the necessary measures to fight violence. That’s how normalized violence is. Quakers look fucking insane for a zero-tolerance violence policy because everyone else’s lives are 100% tolerant toward violence! We live in a world where bullying can possibly be indistinguishable from child’s play because violence has pervaded everything, kids’ games and interactions included. (heh “fight violence”)

(“Who could ever have trouble telling bullying and playing apart?” Imagine a bully slinging an arm over his younger, shorter victim’s shoulder, and giving a shit-eating grin as he explains to the teacher “we were just messing around, teach. Isn’t that right, Jacob?” He pulls Jacob in closer with mock camaraderie, demonstrating his strength and intimidating the younger kid before he vouches for his own antagonist. Then they go back to “play” and hopefully the teacher keeps a closer eye on the bully. That’s the sorta shit I’m talking about. I’ve worked with children of all ages for over a decade, so please trust me.)

So the shibe doesn’t really normalize violence because violence has been normalized. The shibe does maintain the status quo, which isn’t good, but you have to pick your battles. I vote for people who support global nuclear disarmament, but I don’t bring up my support in discussions about international relations because I won’t be taken seriously: nukes are the norm. Feminists, in challenging rape culture, are pushing back at something that isn’t quite entrenched and actually finding success. (I like to imagine the public being like “ugh fine we’ll finally stop being flippant about rape, you can have that one, whatever”) Which is wonderful, because imagine a dystopian timeline where humanity is as infatuated with rape as it is with violence. Summer blockbusters. Video games. Ads on Spike TV. I shudder.

That’s the danger of normalization. We, as people, all of us, somehow, maybe through a Facebook poll that I missed, decided that the physical expression of evil was more integral to our lives than peace. If we’re capable of that, why, there’s nothing we can’t normalize!

I think violence (and, namely, war and soldiers) will be comedy’s last idol to topple. But that’s another essay for another night to waste.