Words ≠Actions: A Defence Of Comedy In The Age Of Outrage

“Ain’t this some s**t” Larae Bennett – The Divisions

I had no plans to write today but then two unrelated events ignited a fire. First Kathy Griffin the comedian shed some light on the world she has been living in since she posed with what looked like a severed head of Donald Trump:

I urge you to read the entire thread on Twitter. Her story had me annoyed, but not enough to get me as heated as I am. About 20 minutes ago I came across this:

I was upset that Bee had to apologise, but for me to reach peak annoyance, I needed something to tip me over the edge. Enter Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump’s press secretary:

*Takes deep breath* As comedians as diverse as Patrice O’Neal and Stewart Lee have said, context is really important. Let’s look at Sam Bee. In her show last night (I watched it once this morning and TBS has pulled the video down, so apologies if I’m not completely accurate here) she lamented that because of the circus that surrounds Trump, and his hijacking of the media narrative, no one was talking about important stories like children being separated from their families at the border to the US. In that context, she criticised Ivanka Trump for posting a picture of her with her child on social media whilst remaining publicly silent on her father’s policy. Bee went on to call her a feckless c**t.

Cue outrage. if we are to be specific, no one is (or should be) denying that Ivanka Trump is feckless. She has, in her tenure as, *Googles*, Senior Adviser to the President of the United States, shown no ability to be a moderating force. If we are to be objective, then she has done nothing other than deliver useless platitudes. Someone get Richard Madeley to interview her, please. It must be Bee’s noun use that has caused apoplexy.

Let me ask a question: if I see a Nazi officer and call them a f*****g Nazi, am I more wrong for my language choice than they are for their actions? How about if I use my platform to call a government official a c**t for failing to act on a situation that sees families forcibly separated? Am I worse than the person that could stop it and doesn’t?

In normal times, I probably wouldn’t condone a comedian calling a government official a c**t. However, these aren’t normal times. Bee was justifiably angry. Children being separated from their parents is evil. A government official, whose job is to advise the president that chooses the middle of that furore to post a picture of herself with her child, is so tone deaf that it almost has to be seen as an implicit endorsement of the policy.

There are some that are drawing a comparison to Roseanne Barr. No. That is the laziest kind of whataboutism and I have no time for it. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but imploring someone in a position of power to do something and using an expletive for emphasis is different to Barr calling someone an ape.

Samantha Bee is a comedian. Her words can rile people up; they can make people laugh and cry. I don’t always agree with her, but I love that she presents a view that is almost unique in the television landscape. Will her words lead to death threats on the President’s daughter? Almost certainly not. Will the President’s words lead to death threats for a comedian? As Griffin found out, absolutely.

I mostly missed the Griffin backlash the first time round and catching up on it was another reminder of the differing standards that exist. Trump had mocked a disabled reporter, had suggested that Megyn Kelly had ‘blood coming out of her wherever’, decried immigrants coming from ‘s**thole countries’ and they are the things that I remember off the top of my head. But Kathy Griffin, that monster, dared, in the name of satire, to mock Trump.

How very dare she!!!

I’m not in any way a constitutional expert, but the President using his platform to attack a citizen which leads to them receiving death threats could conceivably be considered a denial of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. It could be something to look into (For the non-American audience, these words were lifted from the 1st amendment. Sadly, we still don’t have a sarcasm font – Ed).

One thing supporters of Trump love is that he ‘keeps it real’. But when comedians like Bee and Griffin keep it real, those same supporters cry foul. I’m not accusing them of rank hypocrisy…oh actually, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Griffin, like I said of Bee earlier, is a comedian. Ivanka Trump is a government official. She has direct access to one of the most powerful men on the planet and he (apparently) listens to her. Her (in)action has (in)directly led to deaths. But I guess since she hasn’t called anyone a cunt, that is fine.

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