I’m sure glad this Daniel Tosh thing happened.
It’s got people talking and that’s important, I suppose. Whether anything good comes out of it…that will come down to how well people listen.
As a stand-up comic myself, my first reaction was to empathize with Tosh because I know what it's like to be...well, not in that EXACT situation, but dealing with an unexpected response, dealing with having said the wrong thing and regretting it, or having folks react badly to something I've said.
With all that said, if you narrow the subject to rape jokes specifically, I think that a lot of comics and comedy fans could stand to listen and think a little deeper about what the "rape joke critics" are saying. I thought the Jezebel article here articulated things pretty well.
I'm hoping the Tosh incident turns into an opportunity to make it clear why the people who were offended were upset instead of "They're trying to take our rape jokes away"
It’s difficult. My own jokes are…less than sterling when it comes to racism, sexism, or homophobia. I’ve made peace with that for the most part, but while I’m not bothered by the -isms that I know are there, it’s the stuff that sneaks in unawares that bothers me.
Interestingly, dealing with my own prejudices when joke writing has helped me. Its forced me to go into different directions when writing, to explore my own ambivalence, and given me new takes on old material (Whether or not it works on stage determines whether or not I keep any of it, but still...).
Who knew that examining your assumptions could make you a better stand-up comic?
OLAVE ROKNE and I have exchanged Facebook status updates over the situation. One of my comments to him summed up how I feel about mixing comedy with social justice:
“To a degree, social justice and comedy serve two different masters. One is trying to bring about the world we want and the other is telling the truth about the world we have. They flirt with each other, but try and marry them and they'll both be miserable. For me it's about trying to be a good friend to both, while not taking sides when one is telling me what jerk the other is."
I myself am a fairly ambivalent when it comes to social justice. I support it politically and intellectually, but in my personal life, I can be exactly as conservative you would expect when hearing the worlds “38-year old straight white male.” In essence, I’m willing to both vote and pay lip service to progressivism so long as I don’t actually have to give anything up.
So why ally myself with the political left at all?
1 - I want to be seen as the NICE white guy. I want sassy gay multi-racial friends to tell me how much better I am than those other white straight males. Plus, I’m sexually attracted to counter-culture type women and those sex pozzie types are wild in the sack, amirite?
2 - Frustrated entitlement. I’m straight. I’m white. I’m male. Why should I be begging for guest spots on Wednesday nights instead of ordering drone strikes and doing rich person things? Being successful was supposed to be my birthright. And if I didn’t get what I want simply by virtue of being straight and white and male, I so no reason why those other straight white guys should either.
3 - Because generally, especially on social issues, I agree with them.
Probably I should have put that third reason first.
Some might call me a hypocrite. I prefer the term “complex“ myself. I like to think the tension between who I am and who I want to be makes me interesting and compelling. Your mileage may vary, I suppose.
The thing is though none of these reasons were conscious choices on my part. I would never have realized what they were had the Tosh incident and ensuing discussion not propelled me look at them.
We hear what people say and we think we know what they believe. We hear what people believe and we think we know who they are. We judge comics for the things they say onstage, co-workers for the things they tell us in the break room, partners for words we hear (and sometimes mishear) in the throes of emotion.
But we don’t learn about others--or even ourselves--by what they say. We learn by how well we listen.
Dan's writing on Dating and relationships can be found at thegatewayboyfriend.blogspot.com
Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook
UPCOMING RCW WRESTLING
August 19 - RCW Freakshow (featuring Scott Steiner), Union Hall, Edmonton
August 25 - RCW Assault Darlene Fowler Memorial Show), Glengarry Community Hall, Edmonton