Comedy, entertainment and other shenanigans

The politics of rape jokes is something that’s been in the news a bit – both in the UK due to Richard Herring joking about Rohypnol, and in America where Louis CK has defended Daniel Tosh’s right to make rape jokes. It seems to be one of those things that isn’t funny, but comedians purposely rebel against the boundaries of good taste and often against censorship. My own feeling is might we look back at comedians making jokes of this type in the same way we look back at how unfunny Roy Chubby Brown is?

To carry on with the entertainment theme, here’s an interesting article on how the public seemingly hasn’t condemned Chris Brown following his assault of Rihanna.Chris Brown’s album getting to number one kind of passed me by, but it is surprising that someone who¬† beat up one of the most famous women in the world’s album got to the top spot.

In the New York Times there’s been a debate about whether men are manly enough. Really? Quite why men need a yardstick to measure their manliness against, as heaven forbid they might be feminine, escapes me. Morgan Spurlock’s Mansome sounds good though, reviews haven’t been kind though.

Zoe Williams has written about discrimination against pregnant women, she’s bang on the money about it not being an issue solely for women:

About 93% of babies are born into two-parent families. If you’ve made the decision to pool your genes, the chances are that your¬†finances are pooled too, so any salary or withdrawal thereof rebounds equally on both parents. Given that 51% of babies are male, in nearly half of all households where maternity leave applies, the affected males actually outnumber the female

Well worth signing the petition for shared parenting leave then!

Only 26% of Councillors in Wales are women according to the Electoral Reform Society Cymru, bugger. But how to encourage women to sign up to the glamorous world of Local Authorities? Unsurprisingly, the paper concludes that the parties have a strong role to play in this.

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9 thoughts on “Comedy, entertainment and other shenanigans

  1. The Thrifty Mum says:

    I feel quite sorry for men, as well as needing to be manly enough(?) I believe it is still assumed that they will be the breadwinners in the family: earn more, take charge etc. It’s all a hefty responsibility. As much as us women like to protest our independence, sometimes we do just want to be looked after. (Don’t flame me for saying that!)

    Personally, I like a feminine man as well as a manly man, but maybe that’s just me (and maybe I’ve shared enough on your blog and maybe I should shut up:))

    (Cannot understand the whole Chris Brown thing – I’ve seen it kick off on Twitter with his fans/obsessives jumping on anyone who dares to mention the whole domestic violence thing. Very bizarre).

    • Don’t think it’s possible to share too much on this blog!

      I think I kinda just believe that everyone needs to be giving the opportunity to be what they want to be. The freedom for people of either sex to be independent or reliant on others, depending on how we feel at the time! I think articles asking whether men are manly enough is just not helpful, and I think they same thing is true with women, whose appearance and tastes are currently scrutinised to a crazy degree.

      The Chris Brown thing is bizzare! Don’t think I can put it in any better a way than that!

  2. Rob says:

    “My own feeling is might we look back at comedians making jokes of this type in the same way we look back at how unfunny Roy Chubby Brown is?”

    If you’re going to say that, shouldn’t you also say why? I mean, if I were to stop you mid-conversation and say “what you just said will be construed as sexist one day”, you’d want to me to give some evidence. Y’know, rather than claiming I’m so moral I can see through time.

    • Wowser dude, don’t think I’ve ever laid claim to being morally superior. I definitely don’t think of myself as being so, but I do wish that I could see through time!

      Fair point though in terms of needing to elaborate. The comparison to Roy Chubby Brown was just in purposely saying offensive things to be funny. I recognise that comedy often works by pushing boundaries and looking at how we see certain things, but I just don’t think rape jokes are funny personally. Making jokes at the expense of victims of a violent and horrific crime just seems rough to me. I personally think these jokes will become less socially acceptable, but that is just a personal opinion at the end of the day.

      • Rob says:

        Thanks for the reply. You didn’t claim outright to be morally superior, but I’m afraid that it comes across like that when say “this will seem wrong in the future”. Hey, I’ve also claimed that opposition to gay marriage will look pretty ridiculous in 50 years, and in that case, yeah, I’m asserting my moral superiority over people who oppose it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with claiming the moral high ground, since morality isn’t a constant: some people and beliefs are more moral than others, and we only make progress towards something better through discussion.

        I think this issue is less clear cut, though. If Herring’s joke is seen as offensive in the future, I don’t know for sure if we will have moved forwards or backwards. That’s because I don’t think his joke is really misogynistic, or targets a minority group. I don’t think it’s really about rape. People hear words like “rape” and “rohypnol” and assume that the target of the joke is rape. That the comic is laughing at rape victims, somehow. But the target of this joke is not rape victims, it is talkative hecklers. The fact that it references rape is neither here nor there for me. Stewart Lee’s opening section of – I think – his Stand Up Comedian show was “about” 9/11, but he wasn’t laughing at 9/11. It was just a peg on which he hung a story about multiculturalism. He wasn’t not making jokes at the expense of victims, and neither was Herring.

  3. Thanks Rob, I think you’ve made a lot of good points here, especially about my use of time in this. I do think Richard Herring’s a funny guy, and I don’t think he did mean to target rape victims, but I also think that his choice of words was unfortunate in as much as choosing a rape drug as a potential way to silence a woman is dodgy.

    I definitely think of comedy as art, and the problem with art is that once the artist puts their work out there, the artist’s idea is only one view, but each audience member is also free to read the work in their own way. In no way am I trying to paint Herring as an uber-dodgy unfunny guy, but I do personally find this put-down distasteful. I freely respect your view on it though, and I can definitely see that at no point was Herring’s intention to offend rape victims.

    • Rob says:

      This is all true. I’ve heard a lot of comics talk about their desire to challenge an audience, but none of them enjoy it when someone walks out because then everyone loses. So, yes, you don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable.

      I can also see that, when a heckler is persistent, it’s sometimes necessary to shut them up before they ruin the gig. So the comic has to tread a fine line there. If I have any concerns about Herring’s gag, it’s that it only works on a female heckler. The rape element is subverting the expectation of what rohypnol is for, and that’s why it’s funny for me. Although I don’t like the fact that put downs aimed at women generally tend to focus on sex and appearance.

      • Good call on the subversion of the expectation, think that’s a really good point. Although I don’t personally find the joke funny, you won’t find me disagreeing with anything else you’ve said here!

  4. [...] don’t thing this review could have happened to a better candidate, as I’ve previously blogged [...]

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