The Wendy Whiners are out in full on blasting mode lately. Film and comedy are being critiqued for far more than their entertainment value. And I gotta say, it is getting to the point where I almost avoid calling myself a liberal. I say almost because…well, who the hell would I be foolin’? But honestly, some people should really examine the possibility that they create problems where there needn’t be any. There are, after all, bigger fish to fry. And way too many of them.
For quite some time now, political correctness has tightened the grip on entertainment as well as everyday conversation. Sometimes it is appropriate; sometimes it is just obnoxious. Ironically, I noticed it becoming absurd when Bill Maher was forced out of his show, ‘Politically Incorrect’. And I happened to be watching as he gave the line which ultimately cost him his show.
Here is the scene:
What really struck me as I watched that was the fact that I said the same fucking thing within hours of that broadcast. News outlets were continuously using the word “cowards” to describe the 9/11 terrorists. And not from a political stand point (I wasn’t as into politics then as I am now) but from an English language standpoint – it just made no sense to me. There are plenty of terms which could have been accurately used to make their points of how awful these people were. But coward really didn’t fit.
Bill was right. But beyond that, he HAD THE RIGHT to say what he thought. And what killed me even more than his losing his job was the fact that he was forced to apologize – something I knew damn well he felt he shouldn’t do.
Sometimes humor about a sensitive topic is just stupid and uncalled for. But you can determine fairly easily if a talented comic is using irony or satire to make a point or if some hack is just trying to be shocking. Michael Richards and his racial slurs were not funny. He was not funny. And his anger was evident. That is not the same thing as a comedian who can write a funny joke, deliver it to the right crowd with the right timing and kill it regardless of how controversial the topic.
Seth MacFarlane is being skewered throughout America for his performance as host during the recent Academy Awards. Let’s face it; the Oscars are scrutinized more than the fruit coming in from South America.
As an example: my husband has no idea who Honey Boo Boo is. He cannot name a single judge on American Idol. He simply pays no attention to pop culture. Yet he came home on Monday night and asked, “What happened to Anne Hathaway’s nipples?” He must have heard snippets of a story and thought they were in a mechanical accident or something. I had to explain to him that this entire week will be filled with stories about dresses and jokes and hairstyles. Such (self) importance is placed on this one awards ceremony. For anyone to take it so seriously as though it is meant to represent our entire culture is purely ridiculous. Why give it so much value?
Don’t get me wrong. I watch award shows. Golden Globes are my favorite but I also enjoy the Oscars and Emmys. Do I watch it to gain perspective or knowledge or a sense of my own morality? Ummm NOPE. “Entertainment purposes only.”
MacFarlane is a comedian. He is the creator of Family Guy. He tells dirty jokes and pushes the envelope whenever he writes or performs. Honestly, I thought he was incredibly tame. Was each pitch met with a hit? Nah. But we also don’t know how much creative license he was given. The show does have its own writers, attorneys and rules.
But either way I am certainly not offended by his boob jokes. I know that his crack about Chris Brown was not excusing abuse. I fully realize the difference between something for which to take offense and that which is SATIRE.
In fact, I would argue that making fun of the most horrific facts of life (you know, the later ones…after Mrs. Garrett) sheds a light on them and helps strip away their power. Maybe we need the MacFarlanes of the world to remind us how stupid it is for actors to starve themselves for a role. Or how we adultize (is that a word?) our children.
There are similar recent critiques about the films nominated for these awards. I keep reading about the shameful inaccuracies in Django, Lincoln and Argo. Apparently by leaving out an entire history lesson in Argo gives it a racist undertone. Apparently Django makes light of slavery in American history. Apparently a few minute details altered in Lincoln ruined the whole film. Holy shit, people. Please get the Encyclopedia Britannica out of your ass.
It is not a filmmaker’s job to educate the public. It is not a filmmaker’s job to set our moral compass. It is their job to entertain us, make money for their studios and tell a story. That’s it. Even documentaries shouldn’t be counted on for thorough historical context or uncontested fact.
These are movies. And even though they may be BASED ON a true story or real people…this doesn’t make it a history lesson. These are comedians bringing humor to an ugly world. Not everything has to be picked apart and taken so damn seriously.
I would just like to encourage some of my liberal friends to chill a little bit. Enjoy the little things in life without always looking for controversy or a reason to be appalled. Grab a bucket of organic popcorn and let go this constant need to protect everyone’s feelings. We don’t live in Rainbow Lollipop Land and we never will. Let the rest of us laugh at the insanity once in a while. Let us be entertained without having to always learn something. I hereby declare that I will no longer feel the need to apologize for laughing my ass off (even if it is in between gasps) at Daniel Tosh, Sarah Silverman, Louis CK and many other comedians who “take it too far”.