Hire Me, Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer has found herself pitched aloft on the tides of Twitter after a ringing endorsement of her comedy in The Guardian was topped off with a paragraph about Schumer’s “blind spot around race.”

I respect Schumer! Still respect her!!! I think she’s funny, an important voice in comedy right now, and her show is often brilliant. I think the points leveled against her are somewhat legitimate and others can be (and have been) refuted, but I don’t wanna be here all night. So.

Here’s Amy’s response.

Every. Single. Time.

What is so hard about this, comics? Why can’t you address this sort of shit with some care and aplomb? Is it because comedians are so shitty to each other that you grow this prickliness, porcupine’d forever as a career security blanket? Is it that comedy is all you feel you’ve got, and if it’s attacked in any shape or form your fight-or-flight kicks in? Are you simply serving it up to your main demo, pissy fuccbois who wanna see you be mean to those quee blac femal disabl whiners?

Why do my heroes keep making me think I’m dumb for respecting them? I don’t want to be mean or ranty, but shit, I keep getting burned! Authors don’t do this to me! Musicians? Artists? They don’t give me the same trouble.

AMY! You don’t have to kick this off with an insult! Who opposed to you is going to calm down when you imply they’re setting themselves aflame in their anger? Who has ever received condescension with a refreshed smile, prepared to guzzle all the fluff you’ve wedged into these one-and-a-half screenshots? (He wrote, condescending to a famous comedian.)

But it is. It’s fluff with a capital F-FF, you may as well have written “I’ve synergized my workflow into laughter moving forward.” How do you expect people will read “I’m a devout feminist and lover of all people?” Feminism is intrinsically about not using it as a shield. How does your statement of faith (so “devout”) come across to people who feel marginalized? Who can take you at your word– anyone at their word– when you say that you’re a lover of all people? Are you Jesus? MLK? They’re the last ones who really got away with saying that shit, people believed them so hard they were killed over it. I don’t think you’re reaching martyr levels for your global touchy-feels yet.

How can you, one of our preeminent comic voices, a woman who I REALLY DO TRUST to tackle bitter subjects with grace, still collapse under the lightest scrutiny I’ve seen in a long time? Remember Tosh? Michael Richards? Trevor Noah? (Two of ’em still have lucrative careers, and I’m sure Kramer lives on an island he owns somewhere, snapping through doorframes with only the breeze to join him).

Because Amy, here’s a really obnoxious part: you have SO many white feminists behind you, nodding in assent because they don’t want their TV show stolen by the angry minorities who’re always complaining so much more, making the proper, pure-to-the-point-of-albinism feminists look bad. The whitefems try so hard all the time that, like, can’t they just have this? Ugh- They’re the exact sort of feminists who will take after your example, believing they can ward off criticism by saying “guys. I really do it good. Im the femsisnism,”

Here, Amy, I’m your new PR flack. (Ain’t it just like a dude to assume a gal needs help?)

I read Heisey’s article on me in The Guardian, and appreciated all the great shit she had to say about me. Great shit about me is always welcome, same as bad shit about me. We all know where my compliment box is, but my complaint box is also always open (and it’s not my ass). That said, I have to disagree to a point with Heisey’s claim that I have a ‘shockingly large blind spot around race.’ Her example of my race-based stand-up is out-of-touch. I haven’t had racial material in my act for the past two years because of what I’ve come to learn from my audiences and our society. That said, it was shitty that me and the writing team for the MTV Movie Awards couldn’t come up with anything less hacky & race-based for a bit that combined both Selma Hayek, an incredibly talented Latina actress, and Selma, a film about a moment so crucial to the story of civil rights in America. We’ll have to do better next time, and I understood the criticism that followed. Besides, I pissed off J-Lo. Who would dare cross J-Lo twice? Affleck did. Now he’s dead, I think. I hope.

Ultimately, I do what I can to relate the messages I think are important, and I try to hear everything you guys share with me. I love what we’ve been able to take on with the show, we seem to spark discussion about racism, sexism, & jism all the time, and it sounds like Heisey and most of you agree. I may not hit the mark every sketch or joke, but I want to prove I’m listening. So I’ll keep trying for that, and I’ll apologize now, and apologize again in the future I’m sure. And if you want the show to continue giving us a voice, if you want the episodes to keep coming, I need you to chant it with me now: KEEP COMING INSIDE AMY SCHUMER!! KEEP COMING INSIDE AMY SCHUMER!!

Hit me up on Venmo if you wanna post this, Amy. It won’t come cheap; despite my continued hopes, care is still a rare commodity in the comedy biz.

Dear Coquette: On context

dearcoquette:

Okay. I heard this one the other day, but from someone who is normal and did not care exactly what the argument is. “Having sex in the context of the patriarchy is inherently sexist.” I wish I could inform you more so you could shred it to pieces.

Meh. In the context of the patriarchy, you…

This quick Dear Coke Talk update hits me at an important moment. For the past couple of weeks I’ve felt like I’m reaching the end of my rope when it comes to writing about *spooky voice* soooociaaa~aaallll justiiiiice. I never want to see my own tumblr as a chronicle of established cultural racist/sexist moments, I try to break new ground in every post I make. Convincing myself that I’m “learning” when I babble for 2000 words about topics like Shibe memes normalizing violence is a big part of why I do it in the first place (it’s not like I have an audience to sway). I’m at a point where, if I’m honest with myself, I’m hitting diminished returns: the specific topics that compel me are getting too nuanced to be practical for haphazard, non-organized discussion.

The timing makes sense, as most of the faceless tumblrinas I’ve argued with over the past weeks are egalitarians: members of a movement developed in reaction to the extremism of various meninists and feminists, regardless of the moderate tenets of either. It’s hard for me to find a fresher, contemporary shift in feminism… But it’s not like it’s bringing anything new to the table. It actually signifies the end of the line, as its existence is contingent on a crop of nemeses who have taken their respective movements too far. With the egalitarians (practiced as preached), we end up with a movement that respects and enforces reasonable aims on both sides and calls out those off the deep end.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, many self-identified egalitarians join the cause because they believe that right now, while we should all be equal, women are making way more trouble than men. Egalitarians and MRAs alike will take Dworkin-esque male-genocidal theoretical concepts like the one quoted and treat ‘em as the Feminist Ten Commandments. This always upsets me, because what’s my response to that? “No, that’s not real feminism!” or, even worse, “you’re taking it too literally!!!”

But Coke Talk gets it. She reminds me that you draw your own lines, that you realize, instinctually, when someone refuses to be thoughtful. That the idea of “all sex is rape” means that humans turned sex into a power play, and not “all women think men are rapists” (that’s where I stare at the MRA/egalitarian side of the room) or “every man is a rapist” (I turn my glare toward the stewing radfems).

I should only fight for my beliefs when my beliefs are challenged, and these days it happens less and less. Perhaps that’s why I’m goading people on tumblr lately: some last, painful gasps from my self-doubt.

Dear Coquette: On context

WAMPOHOLIC: in which i attack someone who wasn’t addressing me

heroinfriday:

A) As far as insulting you is concerned I don’t really care if I insulted you because I felt insulted when you placed words in my mouth with your condescending judgemental interpretation of my statement when you really knew nothing about my tastes or interests. Don’t want to be called a pretentious, self righteous little snob? Then don’t act like one.

When you say that “entertainment and art would go right down the shitter” if pop culture practiced empathy, I find it laughable (as do you, since you’ve already agreed that empathetic media exists and succeeds). Only a person who had a complete lack of awareness of their options would say something like that. So I imagined a hypothetical terrible person who might need that sort of advice, and I didn’t expect you to reply to me since you haven’t in the past when I’ve used y’alls views as talking points for my own thoughts. I do apologize for being vague enough that you took me to actually mean you.

B) You aren’t merely making a critique. You are suggesting cutting out anything potentially hurtful what so ever. That’s not suggesting improvement on artistic form but suggesting censorship. You aren’t looking at a piece of art and saying “hmm it could use more red” You’re looking at it and saying “you shouldn’t have made it to begin with, it’s dangerous, it’ll hurt people”

“Progressives find it futile, same as you do, to tell the creators what they can and cannot do.” Since I’ve already said that, I’m worried that you aren’t reading what I’m writing. I cannot cut anything out. I do not have the power necessary. No feminist does. Why would I try to censor when I know it’s impossible? Since you’re under the impression that I am, it’s clear that we’re operating with different definitions of feminism. To continue your metaphor, the feminist critique does not say “never paint anything with the color red!” It’s “I noticed you used some red here, and the technique you used combined with the red itself upsets me in a visceral, intrinsic way. Consider the effects of red in the future and the best way to play with it.” It’s cool though, you don’t have to believe that their hurt is any more valid than someone saying “red isn’t allowed by my culture, destroy all red” or “red is rude, it disgusts me and my senses,” but then other people, the people who feel hurt by red or support those who are, might think you’re a bad, hateful guy. That’s your choice! Same as the painter and everyone else on this beautiful Earth.

If your experience with feminists (and any other progressives [hate that term but it’s a good umbrella]) has left you thinking that the movement calls for censorship, I’d say that you’re engaging with members who don’t practice feminism effectively. You can choose to do that too, but I think it’s a waste of time when there are smart people and resources in other, less reactionary corners of the web than tumblr.

C) As for cutting out the hurtful stuff. Yes there will still be plenty of beautiful interesting content out there for people. But cutting out the hurtful and potentially offensive stuff, Which is what tumblr seems to demand is like cutting the color spectrum in half, there will still be beautiful colors in this world but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t still lament a world without red.

I did say “cut all the hurtful shit out,” but it was meant with the sentiment of an admonishing parent rather than scissors removing. I also did say “excise” in my initial response, but I was asking to imagine a world after the fact, once we have excised hate from life as opposed to excising particular contributions to discourse. Same with my use of “deleted.” Other than that, I’ve only ever said it’s a choice. I’m going over my words to make it clear that, regardless of word-choice ambiguity, I’m not asking for censorship.

I can appreciate the works of Franz Shubert, Tchaikovsky and Wagner but for god sakes  give me Ren and Stimpy, South Park and Tosh.O. Throw some fucking chaos in the mix. I love dialogues, all dialogues, even the hurtful and offensive ones, even if i’m the one being hurt because it challenges me to grow as a person and develop my own ideas. I would even be bothered by the censorship of feminist critique both moderate and radical, even though I disagree with a significant portion of the opinions and claims being espoused and often find a lot of it to be riddled with hypocritical sexism and hatemongering because again I feel like losing that expression of opinions would be like losing a color in the rainbow.

I would never say that someone should shut Tosh.0 down, where would we get our Web Redemptions? I would definitely say that Daniel Tosh contributes to rape culture (more than the vast majority of humanity, given his celebrity status), and I wish he would stop doing that because I choose to believe it upsets friends of mine because I trust them when they say they’re hurt. I sometimes find him funny, but I don’t respect or support him and it bothers me that he and his writing staff are given such a platform not because they shouldn’t have one but because we, all together, look past the damage he creates and provide him with power. I don’t want Daniel Tosh to stop making jokes, I want to share why he’s unfunny and how he upsets people in the hopes that others might understand and agree, and then he won’t tell rape jokes anymore because his audience won’t find them funny.

^—- That’s the feminist approach. Accept no substitutes. Unless you don’t believe me, in which case: whatever.

D)

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:

I’m sorry I didn’t realize that being a white male gave us the birth right of being immune to being hurt. I kinda thought being hurt and experiencing tragedies in life was more of a human trait than a racially gendered trait. Take one of my close friends for example. Average white male like me, but he lost both his mother and father to drug overdoses. Should we just censor any and all jokes or references pertaining to drug overdoses or parental death just to avoid hurting his feelings? Should we censor the dog mauling scene in Django Unchained out of sensitivity for victims of dog attacks? What about references to car accidents? Or Murders, Theft,  Adultery, Cancer. Let’s do away with war films and video games, we cant risk those veterans being accidentally triggered. Lets just wrap the whole world in emotional bubble wrap because hey we cant possibly risk hurting people with our ideas after all we all know how dangerous ideas can be to the public health.

-Morgan

Your examples are pretty sweeping, and ignore the nuance of what I described to you in drawing that distinction between offense and hurt. With them, you’re suggesting that feminists want to censor any discussion or joke about rape to avoid hurting rape victims’ feelings. As I’ve said, that’s not the case, and is really quite an unfair exaggeration.

Drug abuse, dog attacks, car accidents, murders, theft, adultery, cancer and violence are not inherent characteristics of one’s self that have been used to systematically oppress the people bearing them. It is unlikely that your friend will ever watch a TV show that implies he is built inferior because his parents overdosed. If he does, it’s unlikely that he’ll see another show do it the next night, the next week, or the next month. He will have a more difficult life, and that’s a shame, and also it’s not society’s fault; as sad as it is, the responsibility for that inequality falls on his parents.

What would you do if, hypothetically (even if it runs contrary to his real beliefs), your friend asked you not to tell jokes mocking dead parents or drug abuse? He wouldn’t mind you asking questions about them or making fun of drug culture’s pernicious nature & how the War on Drugs creates more users than it stymies or discussing the grieving process, but when it comes to jokes that use overdoses as punchlines for mere shock value or drug addiction as some kind of personal weakness, he’d rather you keep them to yourself. You’ve made it clear to me that this guy and his feelings are important to you, but so is saying whatever you want and whenever, so I’m very interested in what play you’d make.

If you say it’s a personal choice, that when you’re near your friend you will respect his wishes but then continue to speak freely in other contexts, then you’ve arrived at the root of feminism and similar movements: everyone has a choice, but not everyone is aware of that choice and the many reasons why they should consider the choice. The best way to make that choice visible is to use examples in pop culture of why it’s an important choice to make. And many times (like, for instance, my initial commentary), this shit can get emotional for its supporters, and they take on the appearance of force because they have none. So as they bear down on you and you assume the fetal position, realize that they do not hold violence; only a voice.

What’s the harm in listening?

PS If feminism was an effective tool for censorship, it would stand to reason that we would have examples of this over the past forty years. Since you’re so convinced, you must have evidence on-hand that feminism— no, fuck it, any progressive movement— has succeeded in censorship. I’d like to see it. In fact, given anything from the world’s Victorian-era take on sex to legislative attacks like SOPA/PIPA, I would tend to believe that straight white guys are, once again, in charge of something that fucks many others.

PPS While something can be “potentially harmful” if it can eventually be physically damaging, the phrase “potentially hurtful” is meaningless. Cotton candy’s potentially hurtful. Air is potentially hurtful. Everything is potentially hurtful. Culture cannot hurt until it is created and processed by the audience, who may then feel hurt.

I’m not pointing this out just to patrol word-usage, I’m saying that if you believe that feminism seeks something that does not exist… Your understanding of feminism is off-kilter.

PPPS “I love dialogues, all dialogues, even the hurtful and offensive ones, even if i’m the one being hurt because it challenges me to grow as a person and develop my own ideas.” No, you don’t love all dialogues, because when you “felt insulted when [I] placed words in [your] mouth” you told me to shut the fuck up and insulted me in turn. You, in fact, tried to silence this dialogue before it got started.

You call me pretentious but suggest that a black guy should “grow as a person” and “develop [his] own ideas” when someone yells a slur at him.

I’m not them, but I think sometimes people just don’t wanna feel hurt anymore.

WAMPOHOLIC: in which i attack someone who wasn’t addressing me

“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

I went off on some fuckers about Trayvon today

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It took approx. two hours from my life and, well, ruined my day, but I felt powerless and took it out on some folks. And looked like a crazy person. (Though to be fair I did cut out some non caps-lock parts that I posted).

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I tore into some low-hanging fruit, as you can see from the quotes. These guys were all “bootstraps!” and I was all “you hate life and love!” I’m not gonna post all of what they commented because this is a story about how I didn’t conduct myself well on the internet, not about why some people are dumb. trust: they dumb

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But I indulged, it was a guilty pleasure and this sort of thing never pays off. Look, I’m just turning their words around. I’m not trying to teach them anything, I’m not backing up what I’m saying…

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I’m keeping the capslock going…

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But I finished up after I made sure they weren’t going to give me the time of day and actually approach any of the things I was yelling about. (And I’m aware that I probably made some ad hominem attacks myself. Whatever. I’m a hypocritical dickhead.)

And I got told off by the status’ creator! Even though we were on the same side ideologically, she thought my approach (as well as the others, but I didn’t expect her to lump me in) took it too far into name-calling and childish back-and-forth. So I somewhat apologized and explained myself:

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And then wrapped up my discussion once one of the original offenders accused me of contributing nothing to the discussion:

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Because at this point, that’s what I do. Not once has anyone read statistics or research that I’ve provided them, that I have spent my own time verifying and studying. Nobody has come back to me with studies countering what I present in an argument, even after they’ve demanded I provide my own. I’ve argued on the internet for a long time, and I treat it as an opportunity to write better. So these days I don’t even try to teach, and instead turn popular opinion against idiots with humor and anger, and I promise this was the first in a long time that I’ve engaged like this (remember: feeling powerless). But the original poster of the status reminded me that people don’t learn from a closed fist, but rather an open hand:

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And … Yeah. Of course.

She’s right. I look just as foolish as they do, and nobody will take my platform seriously if I rave like a lunatic. The best thing is to maintain calmness and civility, even when one is not owed it, and I must take my time to work with all of God’s children one by one, treating them without any prejudice from haters past—

But wait. What’s this in my message inbox?

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YA I MADE A DIFFERENCE, INCENDIARY CAPS-LOCK BRIAN AINT GOIN NOWHERE, THANKS FOR READING THIS SELFIE IN ESSAY FORM XOXO

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I found myself getting wrapped up in several comment arguments attached to this one article about racism on Grantland over the past… three days?? oh god seriously it’s been that long I almost want to stop writing about this in shame

BUT I had a critical realization last night: even if the people I’m arguing with are parroting well-worn generalizations and refusing to consider anything I write to them, as long as I keep questioning what I know and double-checking my sources and actively searching for supplemental knowledge to make sure that my own words are as airtight as possible, then I’m learning something. Even if we’re just circle-jerking around the same topics and talking points, as long as I step back and do some cursory googling on whatever is being spewed at me (and then make sure to read enough of whatever paper I’m quoting as a retort,) my brain has leveled up. Even if my convictions don’t win, I win in myself.

What a pleasant feeling.

(and then I got to write that I won on my tumblr so take that racist fuckers)