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"Pretty direct karma."
September 10, 2010 4:31 PM   Subscribe

A day after stand-up comic Louis C.K. posted a series of drunk tweets from an airplane, including a series of ribald tweets about Sarah Palin, he found himself sitting next to Palin's daughter Bristol on the Tonight Show. At a screening for his new comedy special "Hilarious", he talked about the experience and compared Palin to an early Hitler.
posted by Rory Marinich (273 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry, currently our video library can only be streamed from within the United States .
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:35 PM on September 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


I looked for a Youtube video, but it had already been removed for copyright violation. I'm sorry!
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:38 PM on September 10, 2010


I love Louis C.K.

That is all.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:42 PM on September 10, 2010 [13 favorites]


Sorry, I don't watch the Tonight Show anymore.
posted by mullingitover at 4:43 PM on September 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


No worries; these things happen, it's a small penalty to pay for having universal health-care. I was hoping for some lulz, because that entire family gives me the heebie jeebies. That said, I was introduced to Louis C.K. right here on the blue though, and think he's pretty good. Those tweets, not so much, but then, I'm against the entire Twitter concept anyway. This is just one example of why it's a really bad idea.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:43 PM on September 10, 2010


Sorry, I don't watch the Tonight Show anymore.

It is with complete sincerity that I state this: I honestly thought that, after everything shook out, there was no Tonight Show of any kind any more. I'm kind of shocked to find out otherwise.
posted by davejay at 4:44 PM on September 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Wow. Them are some tweets. I have twat while drunk, but plainly I've been doing it wrong. Tweeted? No, I like "twat".
posted by everichon at 4:44 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I love Louis C.K. too. I noticed some of these when he posted them and consciously tuned them out. I'm so glad I have some sort of safety catch that keeps me from posting stuff when I'm drunk.

Most of the time.
posted by brundlefly at 4:45 PM on September 10, 2010


I love Louis C.K.

I've got to say, I don't care about him much one way or the other, and I'm about as far from a Palin fan as you can get, but anyone who talks about wanting to rub his father's genitals all over the breasts of a woman he doesn't know, and talks about "chinese poor people living in her cunt hole" is pretty much instantly shunted into the "fucking douchebags I don't want to know" category.
posted by dersins at 4:46 PM on September 10, 2010 [47 favorites]


Nothing really happens on the video. Louis CK doesn't edge himself into Bristol's shots and mug for the camera, she doesn't haul back and punch him in the dick (HOW MANY PALESTINIAN FAMILIES DID I JUST KILL PUNCHING YOU IN THE DICK, LOUIS?!), and Jay doesn't make either of them get naked.

The DwtS guy does make a random grab for Bristol's boobs, but he does that on every episode and, to be perfectly honest, he went for Jay's and Louis' too.

Anyway, not much to see there. The good part is Louis' reaction to it all. You did a good job. That's not easy.
posted by carsonb at 4:48 PM on September 10, 2010


Considering he was on a plane at the time, I'm guessing that the low air pressure meant that he probably got pretty blasted on two or three rum and cokes, without realising it.

That makes his train of thought: "Oh, shit. Am I… Yeah! Yeah, I'm fuckin wasted. Whelp, better tweet Sarah Palin!"

Which is an indescribably awesome train of thought.
posted by dudekiller at 4:50 PM on September 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


I will no longer use the word 'karma' without specifying whether I am referring to the direct or indirect kind.
posted by variella at 4:51 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


While Palin is an awful politician and both these qualities make her fair game to comedians, C.K. comes off as a jerk and can't seem to either make his point or be amusing. At least he was civil with Bristol and managed to wring some self-deprecating humour out of the encounter (in the second paragraph).
posted by ersatz at 4:56 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the synopsis carsonb. I'm not surprised to hear that thhere really wasn't much to the clips. As much of a dip-shit as Bristol Plain is, she really still is just a kid; and with a mother like hers, it's a wonder she's not even more insufferable.

It really doesn't cost Louis C.K. anything to be civil to her, that's just the default way to act if you aren't a douche-bag. Hell, I'd be polite to her, if I happened to meet her. Now her nightmare mother? THAT would be a different story. That woman is dangerous.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:57 PM on September 10, 2010


If you don't like comparing Palin to Hitler, there's some dried up novelist named Steven King who once publicly called her "Greg Stillson in a skirt." And while Stillson might have been a fictional character, I don't think even Hitler started a global thermonuclear war for the lulz.
posted by localroger at 4:59 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Not exactly a protip, but as my tipsiness quotient increases, I like to confine myself to Tweeting about innocuous thoughts about kitties, or, say, dubstep.

It's smart to reserve deployments of tricky words like "cunt" for when you're very sober. In fact, I've never been that sober. Unless you're from the UK, in which case, as you were.
posted by everichon at 4:59 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those tweets are just... ugh.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:00 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK. I wrote mean things about Sarah Palin on Twitter. And not because I'm political. But because it's fun. I do think she's Hitler. But that's not why I do it. I do it because it's fun. But I let myself have fun at her expense, because she's Hitler. Her being Hitler allows me in my head to say mean things about her, but that's not the reason. The reason is because it's just fun. Because she's just an amazing, beautiful perfect villain. She's just crystalline. She says things that are at perfect right angles to truth and reason, and that blows me away. It's poetry when that woman speaks.

This is on the mark. The rest of it... eh. The worst sin a comedian can commit is bombing. Security should have met him at the end of the flight.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:01 PM on September 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


Tweeted? No, I like "twat". --everrichon

It really is the preferable verb. I'm all about calling "Tweeple" twats, too. Tweeple is too twee for words. I have to groin it back down to my level.

But more on topic, what a weird situation to be in. You insult the ever-living hell outta someone's mother just a couple of days before, and then you sit next to her on tv. What do you do with that elephant in the room? "I'm sorry you're mom is Hitler?" You can't win.
posted by wires at 5:01 PM on September 10, 2010


Taken from the last link:
And I knew I was paying some kind of penance, for what I'd done, I'm standing there like this, me, Bristol Palin, fucking Jay Leno, and some dude from Dancing with the Stars, and I'm standing there kinda like this, and I'm like, this is totally karma. Pretty direct karma.
If only my karmic unbalances were re-set by awkwardly learning to dance on national TV, I'd be more of a dick. Right, make that "awkwardly learning to dance next to the daughter of someone I publicly mocked in a pretty harsh way" - still, not terrible punishment. Is awkward dancing some kind of comedian kryptonite, which then sucks their ability to make people laugh?
posted by filthy light thief at 5:07 PM on September 10, 2010


I think the tweets make a bit more sense after seeing this. Clearly Louie just cannot handle himself on planes and develops some kind of nonsensical Tourettes.
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 5:10 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oooh he said the "C-Word". So fucking edgy. Cunt. There, I said it.
posted by jontyjago at 5:11 PM on September 10, 2010


Actually the part I'm talking about starts at 2:10. Try this link.
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 5:13 PM on September 10, 2010


Considering he was on a plane at the time, I'm guessing that the low air pressure meant that he probably got pretty blasted on two or three rum and cokes, without realising it.

I love flying.
posted by desjardins at 5:14 PM on September 10, 2010


I've got to say, I don't care about him much one way or the other, and I'm about as far from a Palin fan as you can get, but anyone who talks about wanting to rub his father's genitals all over the breasts of a woman he doesn't know, and talks about "chinese poor people living in her cunt hole" is pretty much instantly shunted into the "fucking douchebags I don't want to know" category.

Can't watch the clips here in Canuckistan, but I did see the ill-advised but awkwardly, who-hasn't-been-too-drunk-to-say-some-dumbass-shit hilarious tweets roughly when they were happening.

For me, it breaks down like this: Louis CK is one of the funniest comedians working today, whereas Sarah Palin is the worst thing to happen to American politics since Joe McCarthy. Louis CK trades day to day in joy and hysterical laughter and amusing insight, whereas Sarah Palin has built her miserable little temple of narcissism of a career on fear and hate and ignorance.

Based on these metrics, Louis CK has a grace zone twice the size of fucking Alaska when it comes to saying things a little unpleasant about Sarah Palin or anything even vaguely associated with her grotesque carnival of spiteful fame.
posted by gompa at 5:20 PM on September 10, 2010 [84 favorites]


develops some kind of nonsensical Tourettes.

If you think that's particular to planes, you should check out his show...
Something about Louis CK's delivery just makes him seem really non-offensive to me, but he is constantly saying stuff that is borderline.

I was actually at that screening - he almost rolled his eyes when the guy asked the question, like, oh not this again, but was very good-natured about it, and then even kinda got into the story. Still I think he preferred talking about the craft of stand up and what he does in the editing room and stuff like that.
posted by mdn at 5:21 PM on September 10, 2010


"chinese poor people living in her cunt hole"

WTF. Somehow I wouldn't have expected shit like this from the "Being White" guy.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:28 PM on September 10, 2010


Also, whatever your opinion of Louis CK, you should watch this clip. He addresses his fondness for the term "cunt" about four minutes in, before proceeding directly to his broader argument about the arbitrary power of words. It's an epilogue to Lenny Bruce's riff on the subject and it's really goddamn funny and if you disagree you can go suck a bag of dicks.
posted by gompa at 5:28 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I should say that one of the things I love about Louis is his seeming inability to tell a lie or even resist saying things he thinks that are offensive. A part of "Hilarious", his new routine (which screened in Philadelphia two nights ago), deals with his inability to get laid and his appreciation for the younger women who hit him up after his shows, and it kind of astonished me that a comedian would be willing to say such pathetic things about himself in front of the sorts of people he talks about being grateful for. That honesty, mixed with the fact that sober he seems genuinely to be one of the most thoughtful, considerate people I've read or heard talk, makes me forgive him for a lot of the really awful things he says. Particularly because a part of him live always seems so apologetic for the fact that he thinks these miserable things.

His use of the word "cunt" does kind of irk me, though. He uses it a few times in this special and it kind of set off a twinge in me each time. But then, it took me a lot of reading personal accounts of women who are really uncomfortable about the word to finally decide it was too offensive/ignorant for me to keep using; when other people don't show the same sensitivity for the word it strikes me as the default social position, and not an outright dealbreaker on its own.

(This new special is something worth seeing, by the way. Lots of social and linguistic criticism on a level I think George Carlin would be proud of. Louis is, I feel, not just one of the best but also the single most ambitious stand-up comic, and he's constantly pushing to improve himself and his work. I admire that.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:30 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Misogyny, misogyny
i pass you to my progeny
The fate of birth
justifies your mirth
in cerain society
posted by Mblue at 5:32 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


wires wrote: "But more on topic, what a weird situation to be in. You insult the ever-living hell outta someone's mother just a couple of days before, and then you sit next to her on tv. What do you do with that elephant in the room? "I'm sorry you're mom is Hitler?" You can't win."

I have a sneaking suspicion that Bristol thinks her mother is a crazy idiot. Most people that age think such things about their mothers. It's the American way, donchaknow?
posted by wierdo at 5:36 PM on September 10, 2010


Perhaps Louis C. K. on NPR is more metafilter's speed.
posted by smcameron at 5:37 PM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


deals with his inability to get laid and his appreciation for the younger women who hit him up after his shows, and it kind of astonished me that a comedian would be willing to say such pathetic things about himself

That's the act of like of 80% of comedians ever. Dude is like Andrew Dice Clay with a better publicist. It's just that tired, cliched "ranty" stuff about women and his dick that got old about 1986, but somehow he gets lauded as a genius.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:39 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, technology. It give so much with one hand, yet with the other it allows us to make complete jackasses of ourselves to the entire planet (and posterity as well - tweets are archived by the bloody Library of Congress). Once upon a time, you'd have just been talking to some poor bastard in the next seat who would try like hell to let you know they were more interested in their book than you by turning their shoulder a little more ever time you spoke.
posted by Mooski at 5:42 PM on September 10, 2010


He addresses his fondness for the term "cunt" about four minutes in

The issue, for me, is the word choice so much as the implicit (also, explicit) y'know, sexual violence. He's mad at her politics so he wants to (presumably forcibly) rub his father's genitals on her? That's not edgy, that's not challenging our preconceptions about the offensiveness of certain words-- that's straight up fucking misogyny.
posted by dersins at 5:47 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


The most desired woman: Sarah Palin as Raquel Welch
posted by homunculus at 5:50 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


That honesty, mixed with the fact that sober he seems genuinely to be one of the most thoughtful, considerate people I've read or heard talk

So, you're saying that A: he's always drunk when performing, or B: that saying he wanted to "blow 20 guys in an alley with bleedy dicks with AIDS so I can fuck a deer and kill it with my AIDS" makes him more thoughtful and considerate than, i dunno, Gandhi?
posted by dubold at 5:51 PM on September 10, 2010


He should either not drink or not tweet. He should apologize for one or the other, and not play it off as just a grand old time. Because it makes him look like he doesn't know comedy, and that's an unfortunate thing for a comedian to go public with.

I like him all right, but comparing him to Lenny Bruce is like comparing Beatrix Potter to Lewis Carroll.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:51 PM on September 10, 2010


Drjimmy11, I'm not sure how to say this, but ranting about "women" and "my dick" is a staple of comedy that...I mean, if you don't wanna hear that stuff, just don't listen to comedy. Ever. Because I promise that in six hundred years, whatever comedians are foraging in the ruins of civilization and telling their sad, desperate little jokes in hopes of appeasing guys like the Toecutter into letting them live one more day and maybe getting an ancient-but-edible Twinkie out of the deal, those guys will be telling jokes about women and their dicks. Their...own dicks. Not women's dicks. Well, probably jokes about those, too, but you know.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:51 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Alls I know is that the "God" episode of Louie deserves like every Emmy ever.

Dude is like Andrew Dice Clay with a better publicist.

That is the wrongest thing I have ever read on the internet. Kudos!
posted by Sys Rq at 5:56 PM on September 10, 2010 [20 favorites]


Misogyny, misogyny
i pass you to my progeny
The fate of birth
justifies your mirth
in cerain society


I cannot help but hear this to the tune of "Yesterday."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:56 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


And I'd like to point out to people who think he's a terrific comedian that he had a lot of his routine notorious stolen from him by Dane Cook. Now try to imagine that sneering frat boy stealing a Steven Wright routine.

Louis CK has his moments, but it's worth remembering that his jokes can be lifted intact by the guy you'd see pressuring a girl to have one more drink at a party.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:58 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


What I don't understand is why the Tonight Show invited Bristol in the first place. Don't they have actual stars, musicians, politicians, authors and other assorted notable people lined up 10 deep clamouring for a spot on the show? Or has it descended to c list afternoon talk show draw levels?
posted by Mitheral at 6:01 PM on September 10, 2010


I've got issues with Louis CK too, but his show is amazing. I really wish he wasn't so damned hateful against women.
posted by spiderskull at 6:09 PM on September 10, 2010


dersins: "That's not edgy, that's not challenging our preconceptions about the offensiveness of certain words-- that's straight up fucking misogyny."

I think it's a little ignorant and unsavory of him to use words like that so lightly, and while I think he's funny, I also think it's kind of bullshit when people try to justify using offensive words because "they're just words", or the meaning has been co-opted, or whatever. Words mean, at any given time, what we all basically agree they mean; and usually, we all know it. The usage and intent can vary over time or within groups, but some dude talking to a crowd is talking about the generally understood current usage. It's old hat for comedians to talk about the power of words or the meanings, and it's all fine and interesting to think about and sometimes really funny, but I don't think it's that great when people try to lighten the import of the current meaning. You find so many people (especially, though not exclusively young men) on the internet parroting that sentiment, that "they're just words". Funny when words are most of what you are on the internet.

I think it's also funny that I originally wanted to respond about the meaning of a word you used that I think has been co-opted, or is maybe changing in meaning through usage in a certain context: misogyny. I kind of doubt the guy actually hates women, I'd think it's more that unreflective, culturally integrated sexism that's so insidious and self-perpetuating— and sadly normal. But misogyny is the word that gets drawn like a pistol now. I don't know if people are becoming more trigger-happy, or if the word is turning into a cap gun.
posted by Red Loop at 6:11 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've watched various clips that total to about 40 minutes and I barely cracked a smile. I don't find him particularly offensive; he's just not funny, at all. I don't get the appeal.
posted by desjardins at 6:20 PM on September 10, 2010


Louis CK has his moments, but it's worth remembering that his jokes can be lifted intact by the guy you'd see pressuring a girl to have one more drink at a party.

Uh... So can any other comedian's jokes. Yes, even Stephen Wright's. Hell, Mitch Hedberg is probably the most beloved comedian amongst the demographic you describe, and what was he but a Stephen Wright wannabe? Denis Leary stole mountains of material from Bill Hicks, but that doesn't mean Bill Hicks was just Denis Leary with glasses.

You know what kind of material immensely successful hack comedians don't steal, though? The stuff that isn't funny.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:21 PM on September 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


1) Wasn't Louis CK the guy who had that rant about how airplanes are actually amazing and how it's ridiculous for people to complain about them?

2) Was this one of these planes with wifi? Or was he illegally using his cellphone?

3) "wow. when you take the M out of policemen, you get policeen. That's so different". Interesting point.
posted by delmoi at 6:21 PM on September 10, 2010


So, Max, any comedy that isn't surrealist one-liners can't be great? The second I mention women or children I'm second-rate?

Cook didn't lift Why?, or any really melancholy routine of C.K.'s. None of his sublime work. And he mangled the part he did steal.

You think mediocre comedians didn't rip off Carlin and Bruce? Come on.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:22 PM on September 10, 2010


Oh Jesus, people, go back to bland reruns of "Big Bang Theory" already. Every occasion that someone uses the word "cunt" in humorous fashion does not automatically represent an assault on feminism that needs to be stamped out before it spreads like a virus. Get over your sanctimonious asses already
posted by squeakyfromme at 6:24 PM on September 10, 2010 [34 favorites]


I have no opinion about this particular kerfuffle (particularly as I'm in the UK and can't watch the videos) but I saw Louis CK live last year, and was struck by how much of his material is explicitly about ethics and morality—though of course instead of pointing at other people and condemning them for doing "bad things" he uses himself as the example.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:30 PM on September 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


As a side note: dear god Jay Leno is terrible. After Bristol talks about how she's a bad dancer saying: "I'm so uncoordinated and have no rhythm, so we're starting from scratch"

Then after a bit of banter jay says "I was about to say, that's how you get pregnant" And of course everyone is like all shocked but... What exactly is the joke? I mean, obviously sex is better if you've got rhythm but how good the sex is doesn't determine if you get pregnant or not.

The only thing I can think of is that you need rhythm in order to pull out in time. But that's really the guys job so it still doesn't make any sense.

Anyway, the rest of the interview is terrible. Without knowing how awkward for Louie it was, there would be zero interest in watching this. It would be mind numbingly boring. (Of course, knowing how awkward it is makes it somewhat entertaining :P)
posted by delmoi at 6:33 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have no opinion about this particular kerfuffle (particularly as I'm in the UK and can't watch the videos) but I saw Louis CK live last year, and was struck by how much of his material is explicitly about ethics and morality—though of course instead of pointing at other people and condemning them for doing "bad things" he uses himself as the example.

Exactly. I've never been able to understand why - after decades and decades of abrasive, vulgar humor being out in the ope - there are still so many who still insist on taking jokes at their face value, as if to laugh at something means that you yourself condone the joke in its most literal possible sense. You don't have to think Louis CK is funny, but to paint him as a mere "shock jock" comedian and deny that he is making any real social commentary says more about you than it does about him.
posted by squeakyfromme at 6:36 PM on September 10, 2010 [15 favorites]


I've really enjoyed the first season of Louie, which reminds me of the rare balance of pathos, discomfort, and humor that I loved about One Foot In The Grave. It delves into alienation, isolation, and self-hatred, but doesn't tip too far into surrealism or build a character that's so dumb, hateful, or alien that it stops feeling like a person on the screen. As a guy who was a kid who was bullied mercilessly, I found the "bully" episode (here on Hulu) made me viscerally uncomfortable, and still made me laugh and wrapped it all up with a nice, real-life kind of moment. That's rare, these days, so I'll forgive Louis C.K. the occasional ventures into the stupid.
posted by sonascope at 6:39 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


As a side note: dear god Jay Leno is terrible

I admit I've never been a huge a huge fan but I've seen enough Tonight Show over the years to recognize that Leno is way off on a Larry King-like slide into occupational impotence. Which just makes it all the more maddening that his selfishness disguised as "aw, shucks, just doing what the network wants me to do!" was responsible for shuffling Conan O'Brien off into basic cable Siberia.
posted by squeakyfromme at 6:39 PM on September 10, 2010


Louis CK has his moments, but it's worth remembering that his jokes can be lifted intact by the guy you'd see pressuring a girl to have one more drink at a party.

Except for intact.
posted by dudekiller at 6:42 PM on September 10, 2010


I agree with squeakyfromme. They really are just words, and the fact that a certain shrill demographic chooses to get all offended by them actually tells us a lot more about those people's sensibilities than it does about some drunk dipstick who uses them. In England ( you know, the home of the English language), that word carries no-where near as much weight.

My own guess is that, ( in the US, at least) because this is construed as being about the most offensive thing that one call a woman, those who get their panties all in twist about it have likely experienced a higher incidence of its pejorative use than those who take it more in stride.

Mind you, I fully convinced that Freud got it all wrong anyway.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:42 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and re: Lenny Bruce. Could someone please point to the funny? To the genius? I don't really even understand how he was considered edgy, even for the 1950s. Anyone?

I'll grant that he was "out there," and I'll grant that he's an important touchstone in terms of freedom of speech, but I've yet to find that comedic genius I keep hearing about.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:45 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've watched various clips that total to about 40 minutes and I barely cracked a smile. I don't find him particularly offensive; he's just not funny, at all.

Flagged as offensive
posted by The Gooch at 6:49 PM on September 10, 2010


What exactly is the joke? I mean, obviously sex is better if you've got rhythm but how good the sex is doesn't determine if you get pregnant or not.

Look up "the rhythm method"
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:51 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing Jay's joke was referring to the rhythm method.
posted by eye of newt at 6:52 PM on September 10, 2010


gompa: For me, it breaks down like this: Louis CK is one of the funniest comedians working today, whereas Sarah Palin is the worst thing to happen to American politics since Joe McCarthy. Louis CK trades day to day in joy and hysterical laughter and amusing insight, whereas Sarah Palin has built her miserable little temple of narcissism of a career on fear and hate and ignorance.

Based on these metrics, Louis CK has a grace zone twice the size of fucking Alaska when it comes to saying things a little unpleasant about Sarah Palin or anything even vaguely associated with her grotesque carnival of spiteful fame
How do I favorite this more than once?

Personally, I love Louis CK but find him something of a mixed bad. He's very likable and sincere in interviews, along with being funny. And some of his bits are among the funniest things I've ever heard.

That being said, I find his full stand-up routines somewhat less enjoyable when taken as a whole. Many routine have unfunny and obscene elements, but obscenity is a lot easier to tolerate when it's also funny. Unfortunately, long stretches of unfunny obscenity can be a deal killer when you're trying to introduce him to, hypothetically speaking, your wife. When he starts a stand-up routine with (seemingly) five minutes of increasingly extreme descriptions of how hideous his crotch looks? That will get the channel changed. A stream of c-words that don't produce a laugh? That's a good way to turn off people (women especially) who don't know him from, say, Andrew Dice Clay (as well as get him unfairly compared to ADC).

I suspect this is part of what is keeping Louis CK from breaking out more fully into the mainstream. That and his painfully poor acting ability.

And the thing is, I don't think less of him for it because I see it almost as a cultural difference. Let me explain. I had co-workers from Australia who dropped the C-word almost as a term of affection. People explained to them how offensive the word was considered here in California, and they tried to be more careful about it around people who didn't know them. But when they were around smaller groups of people who knew them, they let it fly (because they knew we knew how they meant it). I think something similar is true for Louis CK and his established fan base. It's just part of his vocabulary. Most of the time, it works pretty damned well. It is however a barrier to expanding that fan base.
posted by Davenhill at 6:53 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Remember, kids, it's not the man using horribly misogynistic language to put a woman in her place that is the problem, it's the people who object to it!
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:57 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'll grant that he was "out there," and I'll grant that he's an important touchstone in terms of freedom of speech, but I've yet to find that comedic genius I keep hearing about.

Comedy doesn't always age well, particularly styles of comedy that have been absorbed into the vernacular by generations of subsequent comedians. I've never really found Lenny Bruce all that funny either, and if I just wanted to bash the guy I could say "well, I love the Marx Brothers, and they predated Bruce by several decades, so if the problem is that comedy doesn't age well why would I like Groucho Marx but not Lenny Bruce?"

But here's the difference: the witty, pun-laden style of humor purveyed by the Marx Bros fell largely out of favor prior to WWII and has never really staged any kind of large scale comeback in the years since. Lenny Bruce's humor, on the other hand, still informs a pretty large chunk of the comedians that have worked over the last 40+ years, so it's a lot easier to compare him to a guy like Bill Hicks or even Jon Stewart and find him wanting. With the Marx Brothers you just about have to fall back on their films for that style of humor because there just aren't any modern examples to choose from (with the possible exception of the early 90s John Turturro vehicle "Brain Donors", which was a conscious homage to "A Night at the Opera").
posted by squeakyfromme at 6:57 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter does discussions about comedians extremely badly.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:07 PM on September 10, 2010 [8 favorites]



Sys Rq: "Oh, and re: Lenny Bruce. Could someone please point to the funny? To the genius? I don't really even understand how he was considered edgy, even for the 1950s. Anyone?

I'll grant that he was "out there," and I'll grant that he's an important touchstone in terms of freedom of speech, but I've yet to find that comedic genius I keep hearing about.
"

Speaking of offensive words and funny...or at least, kind of funny. It's such an odd bit.
posted by Red Loop at 7:08 PM on September 10, 2010


Remember, kids, it's not the man using horribly misogynistic language to put a woman in her place that is the problem, it's the people who object to it!

If using offensive language in and of itself constituted a "problem" you might have a point... as it is, keep padding your post stats, I guess.
posted by squeakyfromme at 7:13 PM on September 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


In England (you know, the home of the English language), that word carries no-where near as much weight.

Bear in mind that over here it's used somewhat differently. As I understand it, in the US it's essentially a stronger form of "bitch," and mostly applied to women. Conversely, in the UK, it's punctuation.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 7:13 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bear in mind that over here it's used somewhat differently.

Yeah, but we had to have gotten it from somewhere
posted by squeakyfromme at 7:20 PM on September 10, 2010


There are these religious hypocrite assholes like Jerry Falwell. If I was going to insult him I might include in the insult the fact that he's fat. This doesn't mean that I have anything against being fat. I have something against him and I think calling him a fat piece of shit would be something he wouldn't like very much so take that. I don't dislike the fact that he's fat. I dislike the fact that he's him.

I think a lot of insults of sarah palin that are misogynistic operate on the same wavelength. You just want to show the level of your contempt and the extent of your disrespect by totally ignoring the rules of decorum. I get that and that's what he's doing.
posted by I Foody at 7:21 PM on September 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


I don't know how many people actually got to see "Hillarious", but I think it puts Louis CK squarely among the greatest standups ... ever. Yes, a bold claim. But I haven't seen anyone who's got quite the same handle on craftsmanship as Louis CK does - the show takes you through these progressive levels of initmacy, until you're right there on the level with him, and he's being as intimate with you as he possibly can. It's funny because it's so freaking honest.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:22 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


If using offensive language in and of itself constituted a "problem" you might have a point... as it is, keep padding your post stats, I guess.

Is it okay if I use the dreaded n-word when insulting Barack Obama? What about Alan Keyes, if your politics swing that way?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:24 PM on September 10, 2010


And the thing is, I don't think less of him for it because I see it almost as a cultural difference. Let me explain. I had co-workers from Australia who dropped the C-word almost as a term of affection. People explained to them how offensive the word was considered here in California, and they tried to be more careful about it around people who didn't know them. But when they were around smaller groups of people who knew them, they let it fly (because they knew we knew how they meant it). I think something similar is true for Louis CK and his established fan base. It's just part of his vocabulary. Most of the time, it works pretty damned well. It is however a barrier to expanding that fan base.

This is very similar to the reasoning some people like to use about the word "nigger" (or "nigga"). For many people it is "just part of their vocabulary" and for others it is a term of affection. But it's still a word that's wrong to use in general society because most of the people to whom it commonly refers consider it to be offensive regardless of who uses it or under what circumstances. Same thing with "cunt". There may be many men for whom it is just part of their vocabulary, and there may be women who use the word themselves. But for the most part it is still a highly offensive word to most women and is still not ready for prime time. The word "bitch" had to make a slow transition to generally acceptable public use; perhaps the c-word will too. (But then men will just have to find another word replace it, no?).

On a related note, I recently started listening to comic Bill Burr's weekly podcasts and have been amazed at how often and easily he uses the c-word. Sometimes he directs it toward women as a sharp insult but other times he just uses it in a general sense like "jerk". I know he does shows like Letterman where he has to clean up his act but as someone mentioned above about Louis CK, I wonder if this is part of what's keeping Burr from making it out in the mainstream. Otherwise, he's pretty funny and insightful.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:26 PM on September 10, 2010


Is it okay if I use the dreaded n-word when insulting Barack Obama?

Depends. Gimme an example.
posted by squeakyfromme at 7:35 PM on September 10, 2010


I'd rather not. Instead go look at people who said nigger today and let me know if any of those are acceptable to you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:36 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


@ Pope Guilty: yeah, that's EXACTLY what Louis CK does. How could I have failed to see?
posted by squeakyfromme at 7:38 PM on September 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


But here's the difference: the witty, pun-laden style of humor purveyed by the Marx Bros fell largely out of favor prior to WWII and has never really staged any kind of large scale comeback in the years since.

Mel Brooks? Carl Reiner? ZAZ? Woody Allen?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:42 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing Jay's joke was referring to the rhythm method.

Before Leno got the Tonight Show he was a very quick and pointed comedian/smartass. This joke makes me think he hasn't lost it, he's just not using it much in public.

But I still hate him.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 7:43 PM on September 10, 2010


I adore C.K. and am trying to formulate my reasons why, exactly, for this crowd.

I think, largely, it's because he doesn't filter out his id, at all, when writing his material. Rather, he notices it, thinks, "yes, that's the dark part of my soul, take that," and then refines it. And all of his anger is so clearly (to me, anyway) directed at himself that it comes across as fearless and brilliantly funny. But then, I subscribe to a very dark variety of comedy.

I've written about this here before, somewhere, but I think it makes sense to define comedy in the same sort of terms as we define musical genres. Not all are going to be everyone's tastes, and they fit different moods, but even though I can't get into metal, and am never in the mood for it, that doesn't say anything to me about the people who make it or enjoy it. I tend to go for the darkest, most shocking comedy available, provided that it's also smart (meaning that I dig C.K., David Cross and Patton Oswalt, but not Stern.) Part of the difference is that what I've heard of Howard Stern's rants seem truly and gleefully, ignorantly hateful, while the other three are dredging up shit to expose it to the light.

To put it another way, when Dr. Laura says "nigger" seven times in a row on her radio broadcast, I wonder what the hell she was thinking, and hate her even more for her believing that was in any way okay when addressing a black woman calling about dealing with racist comments from her husband's friends. When I hear Chris Rock use it, I still cringe a bit, but it becomes a tool against those in black society perpetuating a stereotype that harms other African-Americans. When I hear C.K. use it, it's almost cute, because there's no hate or history there behind it at all - it's emphatically just a word meant to shock, said by a Boston White Dude trying to rob the word of any value.

That he can pull that trick off is amazing to me. Those close to me would describe my own sense of humor as "terrible." Not as in, "he's not funny," because I am, at least in person, but as in "he's a terrible person." I walk a fine line of very dark comedy in person, and keep a close group of friends because I need it understood that much of what I say is meant to be a parody of the awful people I'm referencing, but C.K. says things that I would still never say. And I respect him for that, being the guy willing to make comedy out of things that are only funny because they are so transparently wrong.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:57 PM on September 10, 2010 [20 favorites]


But it's still a word that's wrong to use in general society because most of the people to whom it commonly refers consider it to be offensive regardless of who uses it or under what circumstances. Same thing with "cunt".

"Wrong" is, I think, the incorrect word to use here. There is nothing inherently "moral" in language, it's entirely about how it is received. If, in private, you recite a racist joke - in any context - to a close friend who knows from experience you don't have a racist bone in your body, that's not by any means the same thing as meeting an African American stranger on the subway and calling him "my nigga" two minutes into the conversation. It's just not. You can just as easily offend someone without using a single taboo buzz word at all just sheerly through the your choice of words in disagreeing with that person. So there's no point in trying to make a moral imperative out of a person's speech choices, it's purely a matter of social convention (as the varying international reactions to the use of the word "cunt" attests).

Now that doesn't mean there is no value in social conventions... but one of the values of COMEDY is that it seeks to dig beneath those social conventions and explore the rationality and potential for hypocrisy behind them, and for that I think comedians deserve a little extra leniency that we might not grant someone in, say, a formal debate. Louis CK has used the words "nigger", "faggot" and "cunt" on a number of occasions in his act, but I think he's also spent a lot of time providing the context behind his motivations for doing so, and I just think it's disingenuous to go ahead and tar him with the Michael Richards brush in spite of all that.
posted by squeakyfromme at 8:00 PM on September 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Metafilter does discussions about comedians extremely badly.

Metafilter does discussions about an increasing number of topics extremely badly.
posted by blucevalo at 8:05 PM on September 10, 2010 [19 favorites]


Horribly misogynistic? Oh, please. This is a value which exists only in the minds of those weak enough to insist that their manufactured outrage needs be the norm. It's not, actually. The etymology of the term nigger is completely different from that of the word cunt. Self-secure, rational humans won't run screaming from certain words. This is why the immature and ignorant can so easily use these words for their shock value. But some people intend to shock you, as an example ... comics. From Lenny, through Carlin, Rock and Cohen, the schtick is to take you outside of your comfort zone. That some people deem an adherence to an antiquated Victorian lame sensitivity about labia merely indicates that they can't psychologically deal with the existence of sexual organs in women. This is fully their own problem.


Politically Correct
meet Self-Righteous. Self-Righteous meet Politically Correct.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:05 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mel Brooks? Carl Reiner? ZAZ? Woody Allen?

Mel Brooks is probably the most comparable to the Marx Brothers' style of quick hit witticisms, and he's good, no doubt about that, but my point was more about market saturation and how that accelerates the aging of comedy more so than making a case for the unparalleled genius of the Marx Bros specifically. I'm also not saying that people are wrong to think Lenny Bruce is funny, just that it's easily understandable why many who are under 40 don't.
posted by squeakyfromme at 8:06 PM on September 10, 2010


"they're just words"

They are just words. Words are pretty clothing for thoughts. People will still have the thoughts. People who get upset about saying one word over another that has the exact same meaning but is 'offensive' are people arguing that the serial killer next door is OK if he puts on a nice shirt. You want to get rid of the nasty thought. But you can't. So pick a word. Any word. Then fret about it and use a prettier one that means the same thing. And think you've gotten somewhere.

Also, Louis CK is a loudmouth drunken asshole. He pours drunken rage onto fish in barrels. He's capable of occasional funniness. Many drunken assholes are.
posted by umberto at 8:16 PM on September 10, 2010


Self-secure, rational humans won't run screaming from certain words. This is why the immature and ignorant can so easily use these words for their shock value. But some people intend to shock you, as an example ... comics. From Lenny, through Carlin, Rock and Cohen, the schtick is to take you outside of your comfort zone. That some people deem an adherence to an antiquated Victorian lame sensitivity about labia merely indicates that they can't psychologically deal with the existence of sexual organs in women. This is fully their own problem.

So what you're sayin is...feminists are hysterical? Right?
posted by Ouisch at 8:16 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I follow Louis CK on Twitter and I read those embarrassing tweets as they went down. Eh, too bad. He shouldn't have done that. He's still an incredible talent, simply incredible. Seeing him live, in a small club, is to understand the comedian's complement of "killing." He's a master of the art.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:19 PM on September 10, 2010


an antiquated Victorian lame sensitivity about labia

Labia? I hardly know ya!

I'm here all week, folks,
posted by padraigin at 8:21 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is a big difference between calling a woman "a cunt" and referring to a vagina as "a cunt"

The N-word is a derogatory term for a class of people, while "cunt" refers to a body part. But if you refer to a woman as a cunt, it's like you're reducing her entirely to her vagina. Or something.

Anyway CK wasn't calling Palin a Cunt, he was referring to her actual vagina.
posted by delmoi at 8:21 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, I won't feel sorry for Sarah Palin over anything.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:22 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Louis CK makes race easier for America to swallow.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:27 PM on September 10, 2010



So what you're sayin is...feminists are hysterical? Right?


No. What I am saying is that some people place way too much emphasis on certain symbols. Every woman, ( and most men) I associate with socially are , in point of fact , "feminists". Only one of them, that I know of, is offended by that word. Doctrinaire flash-points do not a sensibility make. I am not defending his use of the word. I said before that it leaves me cold because it is weak. It's not different, or creative, in any way. It's drunk rambling.

Which gos back to my thesis that Twitter is a horrible idea.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:30 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I generally think Louis CK is hilarious. He's seriously my favorite comedian.

That said, this was disappointing, basically for all the misogynistic reasons others have mentioned, and then also because it wasn't very funny even aside from that. I actually don't care much about the word "cunt" and I hate Sarah Palin, and I'm not quite sure what to do with the Chinese comment, but it gets really tiresome when people decide that it's okay to make fun of a woman they don't like by saying she ought to be sexually defiled in some way. For one, yeah, it does contribute to a pervasive misogynistic culture where women are to be put in their place sexually and jokes like that serve to remind many women of everything they've gone through, and two, it's not original or clever by this point, if it ever was.

For that matter, I don't think it's cool or original to make jokes about raping guys either, just in case anyone wants to say women aren't the only target of it. There's less cultural baggage for most men than for women, but whatever; still shouldn't be done, still isn't clever.

If anyone wants to argue otherwise about its contributing to a misogynistic culture, go ahead; we've done this same thread dozens of times before and I don't have the energy to argue with people who don't have the ability to distinguish between liking a person versus condoning their every action. Anyone who really cares to learn more about what women have to go through and how these things impact them can easily find the resources on MeFi itself, not to mention a million other places. Anyone else isn't at a point where it will do any good to argue with them, though I commend anyone who tries. For me, at this point, it just feels like arguing with people who think the earth is flat.

Anyway. He was drunk. That's a pass from me for the unoriginality. It's only a partial pass from me for the misogyny; I don't think Louis CK is a bad guy who genuinely hates women or anything, and if someone could fiat that he understand the implications of his words I do think he would regret it, but that's just it: no one can fiat that, and he hasn't given the issue the thought it takes because, on face, it doesn't seem serious to him, and it's hard to keep someone's attention long enough to convince them when they've already dismissed you. A lot of guys fall in that category, and a lot of it has to do with the privilege of never having to think about those things; I have several friends like that, and I still like them because the shitty thing about privilege is, to a large extent, it's really not their fault that they have it. At the core, you only have your own experiences and it's natural to assume that others have similar experiences, and it's difficult to fathom that things you take for granted aren't a part of other people's realities. It's especially difficult to get guys to understand the ways in which they undermine women when they know they don't have any particular animosity towards women; the idea that they could be inadvertently causing harm is baffling to them, they think you're accusing them of something much worse, they get defensive, etc. Self-awareness and empathy for people who are not like you is not built overnight, and it is difficult and probably never-ending process for everyone, and I am patient. I don't dislike the guy, and I'm still a fan. I hope that one day something will click and he'll be more receptive; I've seen that happen often enough, and one reason I like Louis CK is because in his stand-up he often walks a fine line where he shows above-average understanding of some of his privileges -- which seems difficult to pull off, given his style of humor.

So I hope he gets it, eventually. I would respect him more if he was able to recognize why he should find other ways to insult Sarah Palin, and if he expressed regret and understanding instead of justifications. So yeah, I'm disappointed. It's not the end of the world; inevitably the people you admire won't be perfect, but it's always a bit of a buzzkill anyway.
posted by Nattie at 8:31 PM on September 10, 2010 [42 favorites]


Louis CK - Offensive Words from the special Chewed Up.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 8:31 PM on September 10, 2010


While I find the entire Palin clan pretty loathsome in numerous ways, the only way to counter Sarah Palin is to mercilessly smack down her inane polemics and pseudo-ideologies. Anything that crosses the line into black humor like this is only going to make her look like the better person, and it will only strengthen the resolve of her legions of orcs to defend her.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


That said, this was disappointing, basically for all the misogynistic reasons others have mentioned, and then also because it wasn't very funny even aside from that.

Errrrrrg. People, you can't say it's OK to use misogyny, racism, etc as long as it's funny and then hold the comedian's feet to the fire the minute he fails to knock one out of the park. It doesn't compute. You can examine the intent if you want to, or you can say you disagree with such usage no matter what the context, but what good does it do to rest the moral verdict on something so nebulous as "funniness"?
posted by squeakyfromme at 8:43 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


umberto: They are just words. Words are pretty clothing for thoughts. People will still have the thoughts. People who get upset about saying one word over another that has the exact same meaning but is 'offensive' are people arguing that the serial killer next door is OK if he puts on a nice shirt. You want to get rid of the nasty thought. But you can't. So pick a word. Any word. Then fret about it and use a prettier one that means the same thing. And think you've gotten somewhere.

Also, Louis CK is a loudmouth drunken asshole. He pours drunken rage onto fish in barrels. He's capable of occasional funniness. Many drunken assholes are.


You do understand your first paragraph is an astute paraphrase of Louis C.K.'s N-Word bit, right?

And did you miss the bit in his drunken tweets where he says he nevve gets drunk? Being an asshole while drunk does not a drunken asshole make.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:46 PM on September 10, 2010


What Nattie said. Flagged as fantastic.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:49 PM on September 10, 2010


> but it gets really tiresome when people decide that it's okay to make fun of a woman they don't like by saying she ought to be sexually defiled in some way

That same disappointing sentiment was all the rage a few years ago when Ann Coulter was everyone's favorite villain. Hate makes us all ugly, it seems.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:52 PM on September 10, 2010


Anything that crosses the line into black humor like this is only going to make her look like the better person, and it will only strengthen the resolve of her legions of orcs to defend her.

I think you're bestowing way too much power on one man's drunken tweets... which is ultimately the crux of the matter here. Some people seem to believe that every mention of a word deemed offensive to a large group of people, no matter how off the cuff in context or how unimportant the speaker is, by nature chips away at the fabric of our country's morality. Which is pretty ridiculous... if society were that fucking fragile we would have been doomed centuries ago. You can't ban every little thing that might conceivably embolden an extremist.
posted by squeakyfromme at 9:04 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter does discussions about an increasing number of topics extremely badly.

This is getting so tiresome.
posted by Justinian at 9:07 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why is "cunt" considered such a terrible word? Not asking to be snarky, just curious. I thought of cunt as just a gross/crude word but something I should take offense to.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 9:07 PM on September 10, 2010


> You can't ban every little thing that might conceivably embolden an extremist.

Chill out. I didn't say anything should be banned.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:08 PM on September 10, 2010


Chill out. I didn't say anything should be banned.

Riffing off your general sentiment to the extent that it echoes what's been said previously, not necessarily rebutting your views exclusively. Sorry for the lack of clarification.
posted by squeakyfromme at 9:11 PM on September 10, 2010


not that i think i could explain exactly what it is that makes louis c.k. click for me, but i think he honestly captures the anxieties of being a man of his age in this time; and the voice he uses is, to me, like the voice in my head before it is sanitized for public display. i think charges of misogyny are silly considering that he deprecates himself more than he does anyone else and that he doesn't come across as holding himself as superior to anyone, or his sex as superior to the opposite. and i think the way he talks about gay men--that he comes across as someone who can joke without being degrading, and as a straight man who is not threatened by gay male sexuality--is incredibly endearing. while a lot of comedians rely on being able to point at someone else and saying how fucked up they are, he points to himself along with the rest of us and comments, humorously and often touchingly (and oddly compassionately), on our shared fucked-upedness, and kind of celebrates it.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:28 PM on September 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


and sometimes the stuff he tries doesn't work--pretty much like the rest of us. it takes nothing away from the stuff that does.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:29 PM on September 10, 2010


Yes, even Stephen Wright's. Hell, Mitch Hedberg is probably the most beloved comedian amongst the demographic you describe, and what was he but a Stephen Wright wannabe?

Eh, yes, there are similarities. But Stephen Wright puts me to sleep; Mitch Hedberg did not. I guess I'd rather watch the hack (until the end, when Hedberg was so drugged up that he did become Stephen Wright).
posted by justgary at 9:49 PM on September 10, 2010


Throwing accusations of misogyny around like confetti? Metafilter does that really well.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:52 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Huh. "Your favorite comedian sucks" AND arguably bean-plating misogyny.

Metafilter, when you're Metafilter, you're REALLY Metafilter.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:52 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I didn't mean to suggest that Hedberg was a hack. He was just clearly heavily influenced by Stephen Wright. Leary and Cook, though...

I love Stephen Wright, but I have to admit that I too prefer Hedberg.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:53 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Errrrrrg. People, you can't say it's OK to use misogyny, racism, etc as long as it's funny and then hold the comedian's feet to the fire the minute he fails to knock one out of the park. It doesn't compute.

I apologize if I was unclear, though I don't think I was. I said I was disappointed, and that disappointment was for two reasons: 1) it was misogynistic, and 2) it was not funny. Those reasons are independent of each other, and I would be disappointed if only one of them -- either of them -- had been the case. I did not say it wasn't funny because it was misogynistic, for example -- I said it wasn't funny because it wasn't clever or original. I except Louis CK to be on top of his game, so it disappoints me when he says something unclever or unoriginal, regardless of the content.

I did not say it's permissible to be misogynistic if it's funny, either; I don't understand how anyone could have gotten that from my comment, especially when I explicitly said it simply shouldn't be done whatsoever, but again, if I was unclear then rest assured I don't think that's the case.
posted by Nattie at 10:34 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The three big scary words in the U.S. are "nigger," "cunt," and "faggot," probably in that order. When you use these words, what you really shouldn't forget is the history of hate and terror that they are linked to. Aside from suffering the random little miseries and humiliations of general bias and prejudice, people are or have been routinely murdered and/or tortured simply for being black, female, gay, or some combination thereof. So when you call a guy a "dick," okay, it's somewhat obscene and transgressive, but under most circumstances, most guys aren't going to have to wonder if the person really would like to see him dead, raped or otherwise tortured because he has a penis. Can these words not, then, be used? Of course they can, but I think that it's really, really hard (especially for someone outside the oppressed group) to use them in a way that makes them funny and subverts or nullifies for a moment the threat and horror of what they implicitly represent*. Someone who can do that is a brilliant genius.

The Palin tweet jokes weren't funny or clever at all, but what's worse is that they can only work for her, especially among those whose hearts may normally be barren, rocky soil for any seeds of Palin sympathy, but who feel like when the combination of "evil" and "woman" is addressed, and the attack goes directly to some sexually humiliating/degrading ideation of "woman" instead of "evil," it's scary and wrong.

* and if they didn't represent this, they wouldn't be the top big, scary words
posted by taz at 12:13 AM on September 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why is "cunt" considered such a terrible word? Not asking to be snarky, just curious.

The latest debate on this was a MeTa in March. (Comments 1, 2, 3, 4, are my personal favourites on this topic, but others' preferences will of course vary.)

Though really, the "chinese poor people" part of that tweet bugs me more, because I wasted five minutes wondering, "Why Chinese? Why poor Chinese?" Stereotypes of filth, strange off-putting smells, disease, generally distasteful habits etc. were the only way I could make sense of that particular insult to Palin.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:33 AM on September 11, 2010


Is it okay if I use the dreaded n-word when insulting Barack Obama?

It can be done. Boondocks (which has been pretty nimble and occasionally brilliant in its criticisms of Obama, not to mention the black community and entertainment industry) has done it well a few times.

The "Racist Records" episode was pretty over the top, but I still didn't detect any hate there, other than perhaps disdain of stupid people. And that's the real measure of whether it's okay or not: is there hate inside there somewhere, or not?
posted by rokusan at 12:39 AM on September 11, 2010


Something about Louis CK's delivery just makes him seem really non-offensive to me, but he is constantly saying stuff that is borderline.

I like Louis CK, because unlike so many comedians and comedy formulas, he still surprises me. (Insert something about true artists and terrorists here.)

That bit he has about how we could save the lives of more children if we were more tolerant of pedophiles... that's pretty much the essence of his telling-truths-while-making-me-uncomfortable thing, to me.

Can't find it on YouTube, sorry.
posted by rokusan at 12:44 AM on September 11, 2010


"Why Chinese? Why poor Chinese?" Stereotypes of filth, strange off-putting smells, disease, generally distasteful habits etc. were the only way I could make sense of that particular insult to Palin.
I thought the joke was she was a good person because she was providing shelter to poor people, which contrasts with the reality of her being a horrible person, with the vagina thing being a kind of random surreal addition.
posted by delmoi at 12:47 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone who can do that is a brilliant genius.

Or, you know, a comedian. I find it hard to believe that any woman familiar with Louis CK's work in the slightest would have taken his flippant use of the word "cunt" here as an affront on all womankind. They may not have thought this particular instance was clever but I doubt many women at all locked themselves in the closet, curled into a fetal position and suffered wave after wave of domestic abuse flashbacks just because Louis CK fired off a drunken tweet.

The point being just because there are a broad range of circumstances where those types of taboo words are clearly used in a hurtful manner doesn't mean that they are both employed and received in that manner 100% of the time. Each case should be judged on its own merits... gagging a comedian who almost never literally means precisely what they say doesn't really protect anyone in any meaningful sense.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:08 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to like Louis C. K., but he just referred to 42 as "old." Fuck him.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:10 AM on September 11, 2010


I'm surprised there's so much activity over this-- these are actually the tame ones. He got drunk on a plane previously (May?) and really went after Palin. I was watching them go down and considered saving them because his drunken fervor was funny. I should've because he deleted them the next morning and apologized for his drunkeness. Someone had to have archived those, right?
posted by sharkfu at 1:14 AM on September 11, 2010


Hey, squeaky, thanks for supplying all the words I accidentally left out of my comment! I knew I meant to include the reaction of curling into a fetal position, intending and taking offense 100% of the time, and comedian gagging! Silly me!
posted by taz at 1:19 AM on September 11, 2010


I apologize if I was unclear, though I don't think I was.

In hindsight maybe I read between the lines incorrectly, but it seemed kind of pointless to posit a twofold objection - the second of which centered on the inherent funniness of the joke - if you would have been equally offended just based on the misogyny alone. That, coupled with the unlikelihood of Louis CK being your favorite comedian when virtually all he DOES is push the boundaries of good taste and maybe I made one too many assumptions about where you were going with your post. My apologies.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:19 AM on September 11, 2010


I used to like Louis C. K., but he just referred to 42 as "old." Fuck him.

Give him a break. He's a hard 42, almost as if it were measured in dog years.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:23 AM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why Chinese?

Because they're Communist and non-white, which would make them especially unlikely targets of Palin's generosity, and therefore the act of generosity is that much more surprising; it's irony for the purpose of satire.

Well, that, or because Chinese people are kind of small, so you could maybe fit more of them in there than, say, Swedes.

Why poor Chinese?


Because rich people would not need the shelter of an evil-but-accommodating former governor's genitalia. The joke is that Sarah Palin is actually good and helpful to some people, would not make one lick of sense if they weren't poor. A more polished version might substitute "needy."

You may well ask why they're in her vagina.

Misogyny? Nope. It's because you can't see them up there, and that's why no one's ever actually witnessed Palin being kind or generous.

It's not a perfect joke--he was pretty drunk, after all--but I'll be damned if it ain't close.

Stereotypes of filth, strange off-putting smells, disease, generally distasteful habits etc. were the only way I could make sense of that particular insult to Palin.


Um, are you sure you aren't racist?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:30 AM on September 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hey, squeaky, thanks for supplying all the words I accidentally left out of my comment!

Oh for fuck's sake, always fun when somebody pulls the "you objected to something I said using words that were not quoted verbatim from my post, so you clearly misunderstood!" bullshit. You were arguing for sensitivity, I was exaggerating to illustrate the limitations of that ideal. Is it really so hard to understand?
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:30 AM on September 11, 2010


because she's Hitler.

Har. It's so funny because it's true, amirite?

Yep. Sarah Palin killed 6 million Jews, and @4 million gypsies, homosexuals, Poles, and Catholics. Even funnier! What a laugh riot, in fact, to not only compare Sarah Palin to Hitler, but.....and here's the punch line, people....she IS Hitler! HAhahaha! Asshole.

What a skewed, nonsensical, and un-funny view for an apparently well-respected and much-enjoyed comedian to take. I don't care if he's drunk on a plane, sober on the ground, or tripping on a fucking spaceship to Mars - LOL's at the holocaust are pretty tasteless, especially when you're equating a Republican vote for less taxes to killing ten million people.

I hope this guy gets far worse service on his next flight.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 1:31 AM on September 11, 2010


Yep. Sarah Palin killed 6 million Jews, and @4 million gypsies, homosexuals, Poles, and Catholics. Even funnier! What a laugh riot, in fact, to not only compare Sarah Palin to Hitler, but.....and here's the punch line, people....she IS Hitler! HAhahaha! Asshole.


Oh, hello.

You might want to read the links before you comment.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:34 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Specifically, this bit:

And by the way, once, I wrote on Twitter that she's the new Hitler, and I got this immediate -- like, immediate -- email on the same device, from somebody that I kinda, whatever, I don't want to say who, who said, 'You gotta take that down. You can't compare a person in the public eye to someone who killed six million Jews.' And I said, 'Well, I'm not saying that she's that Hitler. She's the early Hitler, when he was building power. I don't know how many Jews he was going to kill. But I know that she's building power the same way. Hitler was voted into office through this weird, like he took a bunch of seats, and he got this party going, and he just started intimidating people, and that's exactly what she's doing.

posted by Sys Rq at 1:39 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I did read the links and: A) I'm not seeing how this guy is funny, B) I"m also not seeing how Sarah Palin=Hitler. The comedian in question did not do a very good job connecting the two. Is there something in particular I should be looking for?
posted by deep thought sunstar at 1:39 AM on September 11, 2010


Oh, your latest comment just showed up. Still not especially convinced. Has she been voted into office (after her resigning office) yet? By "like [s]he took a weird bunch of seats?" These are the words of a stand-up "comedian," and while I may or may not fall to the ground laughing, I'm still not necessarily going to base my core political beliefs on this gentleman's hilarious jokes.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 1:44 AM on September 11, 2010


deep thought sunstar: sounds like you're way too literal for comedy to be your forte. There was no direct equivalence made between modern Sarah Palin and Holocaust-era Hitler... he made it pretty clear he was saying that, if left unchecked and supported by the right amount of numbskulls, Sarah Palin has the potential to "Hitler up the place", which in itself was an obvious exaggeration of Palin's penchant for evil and oppression, not a literal estimation of how many Jews she was likely to wipe out... exaggeration is, after all, what comedians do. But if you insist on being so obtuse that you constantly need to have the punch lines explained to you, then no, you will probably never find the jokes themselves retroactively funny.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:46 AM on September 11, 2010


These are the words of a stand-up "comedian," and while I may or may not fall to the ground laughing, I'm still not necessarily going to base my core political beliefs on this gentleman's hilarious jokes.

That's probably a good idea, considering he said over and over again during this diatribe that he "wasn't political", and the article made clear that the remarks you are referring to were made during a Q&A session and were not a scripted part of his stand up act in any way, shape or form.

Of all the things people have gotten worked up about in this thread, I believe you take the prize for specious indignation
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:51 AM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah. OK. I wrote mean things about Sarah Palin on Twitter. And not because I'm political. But because it's fun. I do think she's Hitler. But that's not why I do it. I do it because it's fun. But I let myself have fun at her expense, because she's Hitler. Her being Hitler allows me in my head to say mean things about her, but that's not the reason. The reason is because it's just fun.

In fact, squeakyfromme, there was a direct equivalence made. About as direct as one can get. I'm getting this from the third link, BTW. And kindly do not suggest that I am far too stupid to get "comedy," as it were. I am going to guess you have a great sense of humor, and that being the case, you will recognize that one of the keys to hilarity is that it is, in some way, true. In other words, "Sarah Palin is Hitler!" (expressed above in a direct quote) is NOT funny because the truth just isn't there. It would be like if I said, "Squeakyfromme is a hobbit from MiddleEarth and has hairy feet....." well, that wouldn't be very funny because it has no ring of truth to it.

Palin's penchant for evil and oppression sounds serious! Quick, act before Palin &c take away our very selves! Come one. Let's not invest goblins with power as though we were four years old.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 1:58 AM on September 11, 2010


I should say, come on. Sorry.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 1:58 AM on September 11, 2010


He sounds like an idiot. Nothing about Sarah Palin is reminiscent of Hitler at any stage of his career. It's just a lazy analogy and exactly what Godwin's law was invented for.

He's just lazy. Ooh her cunt is so big she can fit a poor Chinese family in it, har har. She has a "cunt face" ha ha. I want my dad to rub his oh kill this noise. It's lazy nonsense. And some of it is misogynist. None of it is funny or clever.
posted by Danila at 2:02 AM on September 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


considering he said over and over again during this diatribe that he "wasn't political"

So if you equate Sarah Palin with Hitler, all you have to do is attach a disclaimer saying, "I'm not being political" and you get a free pass? To say whatever, in the most distasteful manner possible? To say that Sarah Palin "has a family of Chinese poor people living in her cunt-hole?" You're right - now that I realize it's not political, it's HILARIOUS.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 2:05 AM on September 11, 2010


None of it is funny or clever.

Danila has it right here.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 2:08 AM on September 11, 2010


one of the keys to hilarity is that it is, in some way, true. In other words, "Sarah Palin is Hitler!" (expressed above in a direct quote) is NOT funny because the truth just isn't there.

Yes, because there is certainly no place for hyperbole in humour. But, frankly, a comparison of Sarah Palin to--again, this must be stressed, because you are totally not getting it--EARLY, PRE-HOLOCAUST Hitler isn't all that much of a stretch at all. They're both far-right deluded xenophobic cult figures with failed careers who happily mislead their followers down a very scary path. It might not be quite as close a parallel as Glenn Beck and Joseph Goebbels, but, hey.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:13 AM on September 11, 2010


None of it is funny or clever.

Unless it is. Ah, comedy.
posted by iamck at 2:14 AM on September 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Louis CK is one awesome cunt. This discussion is not.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:20 AM on September 11, 2010


OK - I may not be getting it. I have thus far failed to giggle, and this may or may not be a serious failing on my part. Let's set aside, for the nonce, the question of what is or is not funny, and let's work on these analogies/comparisons.

In what way does Palin=Hitler? Let's have some specifics, and then later we can talk about what's funny.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 2:26 AM on September 11, 2010


The sadness continues. As a comedian I'll be using this thread to remind me why I don't give a toss for the modern educated person's tryhard oversensitivity. It's all so mannered and pretentious to the extreme. Especially because that sensitivity magically goes on hold when magic words are spoken. Which proves many sad things about these righteous torch-holders of hurt feelings.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 2:28 AM on September 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


Holy Christ, I think some of you need to remember this isn't his act. He's a stand up comedian. They perform on a stage with a microphone. These are just some drunken tweets from an airplane. This isn't how he makes his comedy. He usually only uses twitter to announce tour dates or the air dates for his TV show.

Go watch some of his stand up DVDs or, better yet, see him in concert. He's incredible on the stage. Many in the comedy world consider him one of the best working stand ups in the US. In recent years he's challenged himself to do a new hour of material each year, film it, throw it out, and start over. In the comedy world, that's incredible. If he was lazy, he could travel around the country and milk a set for years and years. You might not like his style of stand up, and that's cool, but he's definitely not lazy.
posted by sharkfu at 2:29 AM on September 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


And as a progressive I'll point out that this is the shit fuckheads are talking about when they complain about political correctness. Way to feed ammo to fuckheads.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 2:32 AM on September 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know what, squeakyfromme, you may be correct. On the "specious indignation" front. I hate to say it, but you have a bit of a point...ish...OK, fine, you win.

*Specious* is one of my favorite words ever.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 2:35 AM on September 11, 2010


He's a hard 42

True. He looks as old as me, and it's a been long time since I was a young buck of 42.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:43 AM on September 11, 2010


Let's set aside, for the nonce, the question of what is or is not funny, and let's work on these analogies/comparisons.

I've got a better idea - you go do the work, we'll be over here laughing at something we saw on the internet. It is the weekend after all.
posted by Ritchie at 3:50 AM on September 11, 2010


It is indeed the weekend, and good night. Make sure you look for me on TV this weekend, as I will be at the Steelers' home opener...I'll be the tall, dark-haired girl holding up a sign reading "Big Ben's Defenses are Specious!"
posted by deep thought sunstar at 4:02 AM on September 11, 2010


Nothing about Sarah Palin is reminiscent of Hitler at any stage of his career.

This is absolutely true. Especially once you take away the cult of personality, rabble rousing, hatred of minorities, and mild mental retardation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:06 AM on September 11, 2010 [19 favorites]


And as a progressive I'll point out that this is the shit fuckheads are talking about when they complain about political correctness. Way to feed ammo to fuckheads.

Nonsense.

I'm not even going to debate what's funny or not, it's a red herring and I won't be sucked into it. Everyone here has a sense of humor, we are all human beings and we all laugh. So let's just throw that right out and talk about what he actually said.

This link about sums up what I think of all the male progressives who constantly defend misogyny because it's funny waah political incorrect blah blah blah: Bill Maher’s a liberal. That means he supports your right to suck his dick.

BTW this - I want to rub my father's cock all over Sarah Palin's fat tits

is where the misogyny comes in at. I mean, he's pretty much wrong on every count with everything he's said and done re: the Palin women, from the Hitler comparison to calling her "cunt-faced", but this allusion to an unconsensual sex act is where he just becomes creepy to me. Why do they always have to go there, with the rapey jokes?

This is why it's not okay, even if Sarah Palin is a powerful political mover and shaker and he's just a self-deprecating comedian genius whatever. This is where the sexism comes into play, by using the threat of rape and by reducing her to a sex object like his own personal sex toy. That's the power even the lowliest man can wield over any woman, to put her right back in her place, on her knees or in his lap. Why is that the only thing these clever dudes can ever think of?

Incidentally, this discussion has come up on Metafilter several times before.
posted by Danila at 4:18 AM on September 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


Oh, and make sure to take away the best-selling book full of lies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:19 AM on September 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


"by using the threat of rape"

Yeah, see I find that kind of talk disgusting. You're happily conflating an act with loose, drunk talk.

Good grief, I'm sooo fucking sick of this shit.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:46 AM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Louis CK has his moments, but it's worth remembering that his jokes can be lifted intact by the guy you'd see pressuring a girl to have one more drink at a party.

Not to derail this, but: Dane Cook doesn't drink or do drugs. Hate him all you want, but he's not the date rapist people seem to want him to be.
posted by tantrumthecat at 5:54 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm just glad someone's willing to take a stand against saying mean things about millionaire ultraconservative demagogues.
posted by Pants McCracky at 5:55 AM on September 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yep. Sarah Palin killed 6 million Jews, and @4 million gypsies, homosexuals, Poles, and Catholics. Even funnier! What a laugh riot, in fact, to not only compare Sarah Palin to Hitler, but.....and here's the punch line, people....she IS Hitler! HAhahaha! Asshole.
I'm a little confused here, when do you think Hitler actually became Hitler? CK Said she was an early Hitler. The guy didn't pop out of the womb and kill tens of millions of people like some kind of atomic Baneling.
posted by delmoi at 6:03 AM on September 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


That Tonight Show is unwatchable.
posted by zzazazz at 6:16 AM on September 11, 2010


Not to derail this, but: Dane Cook doesn't drink or do drugs.

Dane's key failing is that he's not funny.
posted by doctor_negative at 6:21 AM on September 11, 2010


People have a blind spot for condoning misogyny when they don't like the woman that is its object. People have a hard time admitting it when someone they love does something wrong. People around here like Louis C.K. and don't like Sarah Palin; this would be a quite different thread if Larry the Cable guy made these drunken tweets about, well...I was going to say Hillary Clinton, but I recall now all the nasty shit that people tossed around about her during the last primary.

Now I am remembering all the valuable contributors who used to show up in this sort of discussion but don't any more, or hit the big red button, because they didn't feel like Metafilter was a safe place for women.
posted by Kwine at 6:25 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


At some point, someone will actually be the next Hilter, and we should probably call them out on it before they've killed ten million people.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:26 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The guy didn't pop out of the womb and kill tens of millions of people

That doesn't happen till 2050 when the Hitler clones mate with the machine maidens and the kinderkrieg are born. Sarah Palin has traveled back from the future to ensure their safety.
posted by doctor_negative at 6:29 AM on September 11, 2010


Not to derail this, but: Dane Cook doesn't drink or do drugs.

I didn't say he did.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:47 AM on September 11, 2010


I remember being at a party once and getting blasted. And then I look over. And what do you know, Fiona Apple is there. A few drinks later, I approach her. She looks at me as I'm gonna lay the I'm you're biggest fan thing on her. And so I say, "David Blaine? What the fuck were you thinking? Har har." And she tells me to fuck off, understandably.

Point being, drunk people aren't funny. I think we can all relate to that.
posted by fungible at 6:59 AM on September 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think the Maher piece is interesting because of this: "He’s a short, unfunny half-wit who looks like Spuds Mackenzie with Dan Cortese’s hair."

So Maher does not posses height, an attribute that is traditionally attractive in a man, so he should be humble. He thinks too highly of himself for a short ugly fellow. This is a big feminist doing this, she dislikes Maher for maybe legitimate reasons (I sort of doubt it given how prone to hyperbole the author seems (for comic effect?)) but how does she choose to manifest it? By making fun of his physical appearance.

I'm pretty confident the author doesn't go around insulting random short men. But when it comes time to try and hurt a man she knows that that is a good way to do it.
posted by I Foody at 6:59 AM on September 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


The first scene of the second episode of "Louie" - where the guys are playing poker and talking about if it's okay to use a certain slur - is one of the best things I've ever seen on TV. That is all.
posted by jbickers at 7:06 AM on September 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


This bears careful explanation. Before Hitler was Hitler, he was widely considered a buffoon whose extreme nationalism was considered endearing and a tad crazy. He published a book which became popular because having a copy on your coffee table showed your allegience to this nationalism that was comfortable and reassuring in a world that had not too long ago crushed your nation and was still demanding reparations for that. He made an effort to take over the government that was cartoonish in its degree of overreach, but all the while he was collecting followers and at a certain point he had enough of them to become the focal point of a broad enough coalition to take power.

And then, quite suddenly, people learned the hard way that he really meant all those rambly half-crazy things he wrote in the memoir everyone had a copy of but nobody bothered to read. And the small army of crazy followers he'd collected were willing to break windows and heads on his behalf. And suddenly the comical buffoon who nobody had taken very seriously, except for a few who thought he might make a good figurehead around which to unify the country, was really running the place and Hitler became Hitler.

But before that moment Hitler was just Charlie Chaplain playing Hitler, and nobody took him seriously. Forget that at your peril.
posted by localroger at 7:08 AM on September 11, 2010 [47 favorites]


People around here like Louis C.K. and don't like Sarah Palin; this would be a quite different thread if Larry the Cable guy made these drunken tweets about, well...I was going to say Hillary Clinton, but I recall now all the nasty shit that people tossed around about her during the last primary.

It's not really a double standard.

Larry the Cable Guy made his career around making fun of Hillary Clinton, even after she was in office. Not during drunken tweets, but right in the middle of his act. There's nothing he says in his act that suggests that he's anything other than a homophobic, sexist xenophobe. And his act is all just an act. Larry the Cable guy is a persona. From his comedy you have no way of knowing what he really thinks as a person.

Lous CK's act, on the other hand, clearly demonstrates that he is sensitive both the structural imbalances that exist in the world as well as his own moral and personal failings. His comedy is deeply personal.

I'm not crazy about the fact that he tweeted these things. But that doesn't change who he is, which is someone who fundamentally isn't a misogynist.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:25 AM on September 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


I mean, the people up there, wandering about lost, you know... it was pathetic.
posted by flabdablet at 8:16 AM on September 11, 2010


Metafilter does discussions about an increasing number of topics extremely badly.

I have to disagree with this. I still think Metafilter is the "go to" place on the internet for discussions just like this. That's why I come here. Mileage obviously varies.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 8:17 AM on September 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Louis hangs out with Ricky Gervais to a certain extent, and Gervais really loves the word cunt (as demonstrated in his recent emmy stint where he told the audience that they were all a bunch of Bucky Gunts.) I realize that it's a different usage than when you're talking about a woman's vagina. Anyways, I used to refer to it as the c-word, and after listening to Gervais tell Pilkington that he's a orange headed cunt about a zillion times, the word just loses its ick factor for me.

Anyway, Louis C.K. is brilliant, part of his brilliance is his honesty, and I would rather have that paired with some offstage drunken comments about Palin's vagina and his father's dick than Louis C.K. not honest
posted by angrycat at 9:06 AM on September 11, 2010


[Me:] Stereotypes of filth, strange off-putting smells, disease, generally distasteful habits etc. were the only way I could make sense of that particular insult to Palin.

Sys Rq: Um, are you sure you aren't racist?

I certainly can be racist. In this specific instance, I doubt it, since I know those stereotypes from having them thrust upon me. Not, as your question implies, from the turdflinging end.

Danila: Ooh her cunt is so big she can fit a poor Chinese family in it, har har.

Thanks, Danila. Yeah, that's just as likely as the "filth" association. Somehow I'd forgotten the Yellow Horde stereotype and the "roomy cunt" insult.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:47 AM on September 11, 2010


Nuanced discussion with Louis C.K. about racism:

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw34J3R9kRg&feature=related

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJPsh4RyoEY&feature=related

3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8PSiQcbVxU&feature=related
posted by grumblebee at 10:04 AM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


The best insult to Palin is to call her a Loser. Conservos cant stand that.
posted by lslelel at 11:18 AM on September 11, 2010


Now I am remembering all the valuable contributors who used to show up in this sort of discussion but don't any more, or hit the big red button, because they didn't feel like Metafilter was a safe place for women.

If you can't deal with people who won't obey you, then the big red button is appropriate, and insisting that you have the right to determine whether certain words can be used or not is just that: insisting that you must be obeyed.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:34 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like Louis C.K. alright (I don't watch much comedy, so I'm not a huge fan, but I've enjoyed some of his jokes).

I also like the word cunt's utility and Anglo-Saxon brevity when referring to that actual part of the body. Not that I drop the c-bomb at random in polite conversation or anything, but it has its uses.

Nonetheless, when a man says cunt, unless we've already established a certain level of trust and I know the guy pretty well, I get this DANGER DANGER DANGER vibe because I've been in loads of situations when "you cunt" was followed by a boob grab or a fist. It's not that the word itself has some sort of talismanic power. It's that guys who call women cunts are frequently violent assholes, and if you don't have any handy way to tell if the specific gentleman you're dealing with is a threat or not, then it's prudent to assume they are and avoid them. This may seem unfair -- oh no, if I call the waitress a cunt my date won't go home with me, women are so sensitive -- but, you know, you pay a social penalty if you speak in a way that is indistinguishable from the way violent assholes speak.
posted by joannemerriam at 11:43 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


and insisting that you have the right to determine whether certain words can be used or not is just that: insisting that you must be obeyed.

Gosh, what an uncharitable reading. Here's an alternative: Insisting on the right to say anything, no matter how hurtful around a group of people who have historically been given a pretty poor deal, and having that thing that you insist on saying reference their difference, or turn them into their genitalia, or insult them based on things they cannot control, such as the gender they were born into, is an expression of privilege.

Yeah, you have the right to say it. Doesn't make you a good guy, and behaving like people asking for a little common courtesy and a hint of sensitivity are probably better off just leaving makes you a bit of a bully. And, hey, we've had this discussion a million times, which you would know if you had bothered to look, but another expression of privilege is deciding whether you want to pay attention to the discussion or just shut it out.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:57 PM on September 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Poker scene from "Louie" that jbickers mentions above: Louie Poker Scene. Do I even need to mention that it is NSFW?
posted by acheekymonkey at 12:59 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


and insisting that you have the right to determine whether certain words can be used or not is just that: insisting that you must be obeyed.

Gosh, what an uncharitable reading.


Here's how I look at it: the folks who say you shouldn't say X, because millions of people have been abused by being called that (or by people who called them that) is extremely reasonable. I think it's easy to translate it to a personal level: if, as a kid, you were called Fatso throughout elementary school, that term becomes linked to horrible memories. And if someone knows about your upbringing and says Fatso around you, they are being callous. They know the effect it has on you, and yet they're saying the word anyway. They are either trying to hurt you or, at best, they know that you will be hurt as a side-effect of their actions and they don't care enough to stop.

Meanwhile, it sucks to be censored. For some reason, it affects some people more than others. I know there are people out there who feel like, "Hey, if there are ten or twenty words I'm not allowed to say, that's fine. No big deal..." For whatever reason, for some of us, that restriction is painful. (I don't use that word metaphorically -- it really IS painful.) If you're not one of those people, you probably won't be able to understand that, but I hope you'll believe me that it's true.

I am not saying it's AS painful as being forced to sit on the back of the bus (and of COURSE it's not as painful as being a slave), but it's painful all the same. And, since it is, it's natural for people to rebel against that pain. Maybe if I was a more mature person, I'd say, "Well, their pain is greater than my pain, so I should just deal with my pain." I can say that and vow to do it, but if I'm in pain for too long, I will probably break my vow eventually.

I don't think being the kind of person I am necessarily has anything to do with privilege. I've met rich and poor people, black and white people, men and women... who have trouble with others dictating what they can and can't say.

As for me, if you tell me I can't say the n-word (or the c-word or whatever), I suddenly YEARN to say it, even if I didn't want to before. The more taboo it is, the more I want to say it. It's like this pressure builds up in my chest. I have no desire at all to hurt black people. But I do have a desire to say a word I'm not allowed to say. That desire is deeply, deeply powerful.

(This goes back to early childhood issues I have with authority. A "don't walk on the grass" sign makes me want to walk on the grass.)

I deal with this by surrounding myself with a close group of friends (black, white, gay, straight, male, female...) who are just as foul mouthed and irreverent as I am. We totally trust each other, and so we're all okay when we blast each other, and, in our juvenile fashion, try to outdo each other with the most racist, sexist, antisemitic, homophobic crap we can say. It's an AMAZING release. This allows me to get it out of my system and behave myself in public.

My point here is that if we want to solve this problem -- as opposed to just yelling at each other -- it's worth keeping two things in mind: (1) certain words CAN hurt. (2) being censored can hurt. A good solution will be respectful of both issues. Not because that's what's fair. But because if you discount (1) or (2), the problem will keep coming back. People aren't going to suddenly be okay with being called n*****. People also aren't going to suddenly be okay with being silenced.

Telling a black person "it's just a word" doesn't help. (Even if it's true.)

Telling someone who says that word that he's "privileged" doesn't help either. (Even if it's true.)
posted by grumblebee at 1:16 PM on September 11, 2010


Asking somebody to be civil is not censoring. If we're going to discuss language, let's start with that word. Telling somebody that's asking for a little respect that they are making a demand for censorship is ending the discussion, not opening it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:27 PM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


The best insult to Palin is to call her a Loser. Conservos cant stand that.
posted by lslelel


Even better: Quitter. So much for that rough and tumble pioneer can-do spirit, you quitter.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 1:34 PM on September 11, 2010


"Asking somebody to be civil is not censoring. If we're going to discuss language, let's start with that word."

You are right, of course.

However, when you start hearing "X is a bad word from the time you're three," and you go on hearing that for decades, it has an effect on you. (To some people, the effect is, "Okay, then I won't say that word. No problem.")

When I was a kid, no one was just asked to not say certain words. If you said those words, you were punished. You were sent to the principals office, your parents were called, and in some cases, you were beaten.

Now I'm in my 40s, and I STILL connect to those memories. When I say "fuck," somewhere in my mind there's a gownup who is much bigger than me, standing there with a paddle.

Having said that, you're STILL right. But it's not as simple as a bunch of polite people calmly asking me to stop saying certain words. There's more history behind it than that, at least for me. And it's connected (in my mind -- not logically) to all sorts of other things I wasn't allowed to say: that I hated school, that I was an atheist, that I'm not patriotic, that I'm a sexual being and so on.
posted by grumblebee at 1:42 PM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


You do know these are all your issues, and if you are to engage in a reasoned discussion with somebody else, you need to disabuse yourself of them? It's impossible to have an adult discussion with somebody who is still responding with anger they felt when they were a kid.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:47 PM on September 11, 2010


Insisting on the right to say anything, no matter how hurtful around a group of people who have historically been given a pretty poor deal, and having that thing that you insist on saying reference their difference, or turn them into their genitalia, or insult them based on things they cannot control, such as the gender they were born into, is an expression of privilege.

Gosh, what an uncharitable reading.

people asking for a little common courtesy and a hint of sensitivity

Perhaps I'm being uncharitable, but the people who won't come around here because of certain words aren't asking for sensitivity, they're insisting on obedience. It's a control thing, not a sensitivity thing. And if they can't bear being exposed to people who disagree with them, they're better off not coming around.

It isn't the words that are bad, it's the intention of the words.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:49 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


You do know these are all your issues, and if you are to engage in a reasoned discussion with somebody else, you need to disabuse yourself of them? It's impossible to have an adult discussion with somebody who is still responding with anger they felt when they were a kid.

Yes, they are my issues. I thought I made that clear in my post, but I guess I didn't.

Are you totally free of issues from your childhood? Stuff that happened in your past never effects your adult conversations? If so, that's awesome. I don't mean that sarcastically (though I am a bit skeptical, because I rarely meet anyone who is free of their childhood). It's really awesome for you (and the people around you) if it's true.

Unfortunately, for you, you're forced to live in a world with broken, immature people like me. That sucks for you. It really does. But it's a fact. And thing thing is, telling us that we're wrong, bad or have issues accomplishes nothing. There IS a way to accomplish something, but it's not that.

Unless your goal is to vent or judge. I can see how you've accomplished something if that's your goal. But if your goal is to help solve some problems in our culture, I don't see how what you're doing is working towards that end.

You say "it's impossible to have an adult discussion with somebody who is still responding with anger they felt when they were a kid," and I assume you mean me. But I'm not quite sure why you think it's impossible to have an adult conversation with me. I may be saying all sorts of things that are wrong, illogical and ill-informed, but I'm quite calm. I'm not at all angry. I am very open to hearing reasoned arguments. I am open to being shown the error of my ways.

What have I don't to make you think I can't be part of an adult conversation?

You said I was wrong to use the word censorship, and I admitted I was wrong.

I am, in public, a supremely polite person. I never say the n-word, the c-word and all sorts of other words that have a single letter and a hyphen in front of them. I have chastised other people for using those words. I have no friends that use those words (other than as a private joke), and I would instantly de-friend someone who did.

So in what way is my childhood making me act out that offends you? In what way is my childhood causing me to do wrong in public or in this thread? I seriously don't understand. Can you explain it to me?
posted by grumblebee at 2:01 PM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Perhaps I'm being uncharitable, but the people who won't come around here because of certain words aren't asking for sensitivity, they're insisting on obedience.

I think it's a lot more likely that those people, if they indeed exist, might simply prefer not to be kicked in the emotional crotch on a regular basis. I don't think that's such an unreasonable demand.

It isn't the words that are bad, it's the intention of the words.

That's true. It's also true that it's not the words that are good. Indeed, such words tend to diminish goodness when they're bandied about carelessly.

(Note: With the exception of the drunken tweets, I've yet to see Louis C.K.'s use such words carelessly.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:22 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


they are my issues

Don't you understand? Your issues don't matter. Only the issues of certain people matter, and they aren't you.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:22 PM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


those people, if they indeed exist

Ask Kwine.

kicked in the emotional crotch

There's sensitive, and then there's over-sensitive. If certain words make you feel like you've been kicked in the crotch, you're over-sensitive.

I know we've been over this ground a million times, and I've yet to see an argument that persuades me that speech codes are a good thing.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:29 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't you understand? Your issues don't matter. Only the issues of certain people matter, and they aren't you.

My BEHAVIOR matters to other people. Other people shouldn't care about my issues in an "Aw, we're so sorry for you" sort of way. Why should they give a shit about me in that sense?

They should care about my issues, because my issues prompt my behavior and my behavior affects them. Chastising me, ignoring me, or just telling me I have issues isn't likely to alter those issues, and so it's unlikely to alter my behavior.

If people want to alter my behavior, they should either deal with it directly (e.g. lock me up or restrain me so I can't behave in whatever way is offending them) or they should deal with my issues, so that the issues go away (or get diverted) and no longer prompt my behavior.
posted by grumblebee at 2:32 PM on September 11, 2010


Even better: Quitter. So much for that rough and tumble pioneer can-do spirit, you quitter.

Don't jinx it.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:40 PM on September 11, 2010


I know we've been over this ground a million times, and I've yet to see an argument that persuades me that speech codes are a good thing.

How about the fact that we've been over this ground a million times?

That shouldn't convince you it's a good thing. Someone hammering at you over and over can't make something a good thing. It's either a good thing or it's not. In general, hammering a point over and over doesn't work.

But note you said "WE'VE been over this ground a million times." So you're hammering, too. Hammering doesn't necessarily mean you're being illogical. Maybe you have an completely cogent argument. But if it didn't convince people the first time, it's unlikely to convince them the thousandth time, either.

It's pretty clear that the state of things now is "some people want other people to stop using certain words; other people want to be able to say any words they want." Which is where we were the last million times we discussed this. And yet everyone keeps acting like they're going to convince someone of something.

Why not, instead, view the fact that people ARE going to get offended by the n-word (or whatever) as a force of nature? Why not view the fact that other people are going to want to say whatever they want to say as ANOTHER force of nature?

THAT'S the world we live in -- a world where those two forces of nature exist. Even if you convince one or two people here that "speech codes aren't a good thing," those two forces are NOT going away. You are going to live in a world that contains both of them for the rest of your life?

So doesn't it make more sense to work on solutions that involve some kind of compromise -- or at least a recognition that other side isn't composed of inhuman monsters?
posted by grumblebee at 2:41 PM on September 11, 2010


they're insisting on obedience. It's a control thing,

No it isn't. No more so than leaving a movie you don't like is a control thing. If people feel unwelcome here, they are going to leave, and behaving like that is somehow an attempt to control you is ridiculous.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:41 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


And yet everyone keeps acting like they're going to convince someone of something.

Go back and reread those discussions. People do get convinced. People change their minds. It's not just angry people at loggerheads all the time.

And the discussion will keep happening. Because it's an important discussion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:43 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


People change their minds. It's not just angry people at loggerheads all the time.

I don't understand how you square that with this?

It's impossible to have an adult discussion with somebody who is still responding with anger they felt when they were a kid.


Or is it just me? Are there lots of reasonable people (without childhood issues that bubble up into their adult life) in these threads, but I'm not one of them?
posted by grumblebee at 2:45 PM on September 11, 2010


There's sensitive, and then there's over-sensitive. If certain words make you feel like you've been kicked in the crotch, you're over-sensitive.

You're wrong, but whatever. Personally, I find the supposedly real, non-metaphorical pain of being asked to behave civilly requires some much more sensitive instrumentation.

(Grumblebee, that well of youthful rebellion you feel is called spite, and it is indeed--and I really hate to use this stupid word, but your anecdotes have dragged it out of me--childish. It's too bad your would-be censors don't use reverse psychology, 'cause it seems like it'd work like a charm.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:51 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Grumblebee, that well of youthful rebellion you feel is called spite, and it is indeed--and I really hate to use this stupid word, but your anecdotes have dragged it out of me--childish. It's too bad your would-be censors don't use reverse psychology, 'cause it seems like it'd work like a charm.)

Yup: It's spite. Yup: It's childish. Agreed.

the supposedly real, non-metaphorical pain

It's actually "real, non-metaphorical pain." It is caused by childish spite.
posted by grumblebee at 2:54 PM on September 11, 2010


If you're responding with childish spite, you are not one of the reasonable people in this discussion, no.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:06 PM on September 11, 2010


Why not, instead, view the fact that people ARE going to get offended by the n-word (or whatever) as a force of nature? Why not view the fact that other people are going to want to say whatever they want to say as ANOTHER force of nature?

Because they're inextricably interconnected. Your second question (your position, presumably) conveniently omits the phrase, "as if they're shouting into a vacuum of their own narcissism where those other people don't exist or matter or command any respect whatsoever."
posted by Sys Rq at 3:11 PM on September 11, 2010


Do I seem to be responding with childish spite? Can you give me an example?

What I said is that even though I DO silence myself every day -- out of a horror of offending or hurting people -- doing so causes me a certain amount of pain. That's just true.

I am armchair psychoanalyzing myself, hypothesizing that my pain comes from some events in my childhood. I certainly don't feel anger at anyone from my childhood who silenced me. I don't feel anger at all. I am just aware of the pain.

I am still trying to understand what childish things I'm doing in this thread? If you explain them to me, I'll make every effort to stop. I realized I have blindspots, but as far as I can tell, I'm calm, listening to whatever you have to say, and I even admitted that something I said (that you corrected me on) was wrong. I felt no anger at being corrected. You were quite right to correct me, and I'm glad you did.

I believe you that I'm being childish, but I can't see it. Can you help me to see it?
posted by grumblebee at 3:11 PM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, they're just words, like I-love-you-Mommy or you-are-an-ignorant-pigfucker are words; you put them together and they say things that mean something. How about, "don't be an asshole"? It's unfortunate that most comics who are so funny are also kind of assholes.
posted by Red Loop at 3:12 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Your second question (your position, presumably) conveniently omits the phrase, "as if they're shouting into a vacuum of their own narcissism where those other people don't exist or matter or command any respect whatsoever."

No. I admit this. I agree with it. When did I say otherwise? Are you under the impression that I think it's okay to say the n-word around someone who might be hurt of offended by it? Because I don't think that and I've never said that.
posted by grumblebee at 3:13 PM on September 11, 2010


For anyone at all serious about standup (yeah, yeah), and pretty much anyone who is a standup themselves or cares about the discipline, Louis is regarded as pretty much the best around. Seriously. Ask some local comics who they think is the best standup working today, and his will likely be the name mentioned more than any other. You may also hear of Zach Galifianakis, and some of the lazier criticisms of Louie could be applied to him as well.

It is cool if you don't think he is funny cause he uses mean words for ladies, but it is kinda like not liking The Godfather because it is "too violent" and only being able to explain your stance in broad, dismissive, personal-preference terms. Many folks who are serious about films think it is one of the best films around and you should really be able to criticize it with the same sophistication they do if you want to sound relevant. Same with Louis.
posted by Theodore Sign at 3:16 PM on September 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


> Or is it just me? Are there lots of reasonable people (without childhood issues that bubble up into their adult life) in these threads, but I'm not one of them?

The difference is that most people don't present them on the front end like that. True, everyone has issues that they are both aware of and blind to, and that will influence how they discuss things with others. But, that doesn't make it particularly useful or even interesting to put them in front of the subjects at hand unsolicited.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:18 PM on September 11, 2010


For me, the issue here is that comedians do have a special dispensation to publicly use language and words and ideas in a way that the rest of us can't (in so-called polite society). Much like the method actor who goes a little nuts, or the musician who takes the rock and roll lifestyle a little too far, the problem arises when the their job bleeds over to their lives off the stage.

Was Louie tweeting as a comedian, or just as a drunk guy with something to say? I'm guessing that for him that line is not very well defined. Did his choice of words come from some sort of deep hatred for women and Chinese people? Or was it about choosing the words that would most effectively paint a certain picture?

I would hope that people who are sensitive to the hurtful nature of certain words are also understanding of the usefulness of those words in the hands of those who make art. I'm sensitive to casual usage of the word nigger, but that doesn't stop me from recognizing Chris Rock's "Niggers vs. Black People" routine as some of the best social commentary in recent memory.

I'm probably biased in this situation though, because I've been a big Louis CK fan for a long time. The past few years has convinced me that he's maybe the best standup working today, and the show "Louie" has elevated him to the highest level of artistic respect in my eyes.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:21 PM on September 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


You're the one who raised childish spite, grumblebee. I would characterize the response that started this as "Somebody is asking me to be more considerate, so they are oppressing me," and don't especially care what part of your psyche it comes from.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:23 PM on September 11, 2010


The difference is that most people don't present them on the front end like that. True, everyone has issues that they are both aware of and blind to, and that will influence how they discuss things with others. But, that doesn't make it particularly useful or even interesting to put them in front of the subjects at hand unsolicited.

I'm confused. I didn't come in here and say, "Hey guys! My dog died when I was six!" We were discussing a conflict between people who are requesting that others stop saying certain words and people who don't want to stop saying those words.

I suggested that BOTH groups are dealing with some intense forces. As a member of the latter group, I attempted to explain how those forces affect me. Why doesn't that belong in this conversation? If I explained how, as a Jewish kid, it hurt me to be called a kike, would that also be beside the point? Isn't that precisely what we're talking about?
posted by grumblebee at 3:24 PM on September 11, 2010


And now we're discussing you. I'm not especially interested in doing that. If you want to discuss this in a general way, I am open to that, but if it's all about your childhood traumas, or whether or not you are wrong in your assessment of the world -- well, this thread isn't about you, and so I am going to back away from discussing the specifics of grumblebee more than I have already, and regret making it as much of a personal discussion as I have.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:28 PM on September 11, 2010


> Isn't that precisely what we're talking about?

Not really, we're now more precisely talking about your own machinations rather than the post's subject. I'm sorry, but you don't seem to be grasping that and the more we pursue it the further embedded you become.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:29 PM on September 11, 2010


You're the one who raised childish spite, grumblebee. I would characterize the response that started this as "Somebody is asking me to be more considerate, so they are oppressing me," and don't especially care what part of your psyche it comes from.

Good. You shouldn't care where it's coming from.

I have clearly totally mangled my point. I don't expect any special treatment. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. I don't think I have special rights. I don't matter.

What matters is this conflict. What matters is that people are getting hurt. And I'm talking about the people who get called "n*****" or whatever. It's outrageous to me that people are saying those words around people who can be hurt by them. My goal is to try to help stop that.

That has been my goal from the beginning.

Why are some people saying the n-word and what can we do about it? Well, presumably some people are saying it because they are racists. That's a tough problem to solve. I think it's solvable, but I won't discuss that here, because I don't think it's the core of what we've been talking about.

There are other people who say the word -- not because they are racist, but because they are acting out, probably due to some sort of early childhood fear or hatred of having to obey taboos. If the n-word stopped being taboo, they would stop saying it.

I am NOT one of those people, because I DON'T say the n-word. I have never in my life called anyone that (or even wanted to), and I can't imagine what would make me want to. But I TOTALLY understand the URGE to say the word. I understand how -- for SOME people -- avoiding taboo words is stressful or painful. I have experience that stress and that pain.

It is my job to deal with that stress and that pain, and so I do it. SOME other people don't.

My point is that it's a bad strategy to get those people to deal better by telling them they're assholes or childish people. In years of dealing with this, I have almost never seen that strategy work. I HAVE seen some other strategies work, but it's pointless to even talk about them while people are more interested in blaming and calling people names than facing the problem square on and trying to deal with it.

I apologize to anyone who IS trying to deal with it -- but who just disagrees with me about the way to do that.
posted by grumblebee at 3:36 PM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


And now we're discussing you. I'm not especially interested in doing that.

Not really, we're now more precisely talking about your own machinations rather than the post's subject. I'm sorry, but you don't seem to be grasping that and the more we pursue it the further embedded you become.


Okay, since two people think I'm making this all about me, it's probably true that I am, even though I sincerely think I'm not. I hope you believe that at least form my point-of-view, I have genuinely (though maybe stupidly) been trying to help. In my view, this (racism, sexism, bigotry) is the biggest cultural problem we face.

But I'm clearly not helping, so I'll leave.

Sorry if I derailed the thread.
posted by grumblebee at 3:39 PM on September 11, 2010


Do I seem to be responding with childish spite?

No, but you seem to be defending others' childish behaviour, using some kind of Right To Spite argument.

Now, as for pain, I'll just link to a clip from Louie.

You apparently received corporal punishment as a child. That sucks. Really, I'm sorry that happened to you. But lots of people receive corporal punishment, as it were, for simply existing, and by simply continuing to exist, risk further violence.

The distinction here is that you are no longer a child in the care of abusive adults, so as bad as the pain was at the time, whatever "pain" you may feel when The Man is keeping you down is purely a memory of childhood trauma. On the other hand, when words like "cunt" or "nigger" or "faggot" are thrown around willy-nilly, members of the respective groups to which such epithets correspond are not only forced to relive any past trauma they've survived, but may also read those words as a very real threat of future trauma, or at the very least as a clear reminder of the very real potential thereof. It is, to use a loaded word that I'll probably take flak for but nonetheless fully mean in its truest sense, terrorism.

See the difference? Personally (and I mean personally), I give the latter scenario more weight. YMMV.

Yes, context matters. Yes, intentions matter. But, like, come on. Are those words so important to you that they really need to be expressed, even in private multicultural venting sessions?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:59 PM on September 11, 2010


I'd like to point out that Louis deleted all those tweets the next morning. He hasn't kept them standing as representative of his work.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:59 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is that what a conversation between adults was supposed to look like? Because if so I'll stick to talking with children.
posted by Ritchie at 4:07 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jokes. What do people see in them?
posted by Ouisch at 4:26 PM on September 11, 2010


Is that what a conversation between adults was supposed to look like? Because if so I'll stick to talking with children.

Is that an example of doing so? Because it seems like, instead of acting on your stated goal, you actually joined in the conversation, just to express contempt of it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:56 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was at the Lincoln Memorial, and there was this guy standing on the steps wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt. Now, he didn't say the n-word, but as far as I'm concerned, he was doing something that was a hell of a lot more offensive.

But you know, he wasn't saying the n-word, so it's all OK.

That's what focusing on particular words does. It takes the focus away from intention and meaning, and puts it on a sequence of sounds or letters, as if they were some sort of magic spell that calls down evil.

I grew up in a community where there's a commonly used word for white people that's often used in a confrontational way (and it's sometimes translated as "person without a soul"). If it's used that way, I get angry. Otherwise, I'm OK with it. It's all in the way it's used.

And then we have the control freaks. They really love speech codes, because those are nicely enforceable rules that they can use to demonstrate their control.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 5:59 PM on September 11, 2010


And then we have the control freaks. They really love speech codes, because those are nicely enforceable rules that they can use to demonstrate their control.

Unlike you, who clearly has pinned down exactly why people do things, I cannot read intention; I can only respond to behavior.

But feel free to continue to use examples from your own life that nobody else in this thread has had to demonstrate that we have opinions that none of us have expressed.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:09 PM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


... it seems like, instead of acting on your stated goal, you actually joined in the conversation, just to express contempt of it.

If it comes down to a choice between expressing childish contempt or delivering an adult lecture, I'll do the one that seems more fun.
posted by Ritchie at 6:14 PM on September 11, 2010


My problem with what Louie CK said isn't that he used a particular word but the way he used the words.

I'd like to point out that Louis deleted all those tweets the next morning. He hasn't kept them standing as representative of his work.

Thank you this is a good point. So all of the defenses of him as a brilliant comedian aren't really relevant, in my opinion. This wasn't his comedy. This was just lazy misogyny. Those tweets were no different than the worst youtube comments. I get that he was drunk, but what I don't get are all the people in here defending the drunken statements.

Why not go after Sarah Palin for what she has done rather than what she is? That's why the comments are sexist. The instinct to reduce her to a degraded sex object is a sexist, hateful instinct.
posted by Danila at 6:24 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes. We figured that out. I am sure there are children who would appreciate that approach to conversation. Run off to talk to them now. Adults are talking.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:25 PM on September 11, 2010


That was intended for Ritchie.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:25 PM on September 11, 2010


Thank you this is a good point. So all of the defenses of him as a brilliant comedian aren't really relevant, in my opinion. This wasn't his comedy. This was just lazy misogyny. Those tweets were no different than the worst youtube comments. I get that he was drunk, but what I don't get are all the people in here defending the drunken statements.

I think that people liked his tweets more than he did. I certainly got a laugh out of them when I read them. Not the Sarah Palin ones, but the two about Jews cracked me up.

The fact that he deleted them doesn't invalidate their comedic worth. But it does say that to him, they weren't worth keeping. So perhaps you're right and they're misogynist instead of just tasteless — though I disagree, considering how much he discourses on this subject in his routines alone — but the argument that he's just a conscious asshole falls flat when you think that he apparently regrets saying the things he did.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:06 PM on September 11, 2010


And then we have the control freaks. They really love speech codes, because those are nicely enforceable rules that they can use to demonstrate their control.

I think one of the things that gets lost in conversations on this subject is that anyone is free to say whatever you want. This was my main beef with the Dr. Laura situation. Say it all you want, but if you do, don't expect a pass on the consequences.

The problem isn't the guy wearing the confederate flag, the problem is when the guy tries to pretend it's something different than what it is.

The defenses of CK's comedy are relevent if you're attempting to gauge his intent. Within his act he uses those words with full recognition of what they mean and the power they have. His drunken tweets were not working on that level, and were not even working on the "i'm a comedian, and will say anything to get a laugh" level. As a result, the words overpowered the delivery. When that happens, people get upset. I think that's fair.
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:15 PM on September 11, 2010


Run off to talk to them now. Adults are talking.

Sure thing. Off to the mouthbreather thread!
posted by Ritchie at 8:52 PM on September 11, 2010


It's unfortunate that most comics who are so funny are also kind of assholes.

A lot of leverage comes from the act of actually saying what many in the audience may have thought, but would never have dared put into words, or would have self-censored and sanitized before airing in public.

Nobody ever says "You're not allowed to think that.", but since childhood, most of us have been told, reminded and re-reminded that we're not allowed to say certain things.

So if you think of these comedians as uncensored inner voices (or drunk ones) it's less surprising.
posted by rokusan at 8:54 PM on September 11, 2010


But it does say that to him, they weren't worth keeping. So perhaps you're right and they're misogynist instead of just tasteless — though I disagree, considering how much he discourses on this subject in his routines alone — but the argument that he's just a conscious asshole falls flat when you think that he apparently regrets saying the things he did.

I wish he'd apologize for them. I don't like just deleting them and trying to erase the record without comment. I think if he is really as sensitive and understanding as so many of his fans have argued, then it would behoove him to actually apologize. It does say something good for him that he deleted them and isn't standing by them.
posted by Danila at 9:06 PM on September 11, 2010


Please, re-read Nattie's comment. Expressing your dislike for Sarah Palin with "har cunt put her in her place with sexual references" is LAZY. We know you can put women down by talking about their vaginas or what you want to do to them sexually. It's boring and doesn't, in fact, tell us anything new about society.*

*I like Louis C.K. and am disappointed, but will get over it in about five minutes. The infuriating thing is not Louis C.K.'s tweets, it's the brush-off women are getting in this thread for saying "hey, lazy sexist comments aren't really humor".
posted by lillygog at 9:12 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Uh, not directed at Danila. A general expression of frustration with this thread.)
posted by lillygog at 9:19 PM on September 11, 2010


I apologize if this is a pointless prolongation of a dead derail, but I think a couple of people have been pretty unfair (and uncomprehending) in their responses to grumblebee's posts. He wasn't saying "I have permission to sling hurtful epithets at people because of my bad childhood experiences." In fact, he repeatedly said that he has never used and would never use those epithets except in very specific, non-public, non-hurtful circumstances. He wasn't saying "The pain of being told what not to say is equivalent to the pain of being threatened with violence." In fact, he went out of his way to make it clear that he wasn't saying that.

He was trying to explain, using his own experiences as an example, why some people who aren't hateful neanderthals nevertheless might use taboo words in hurtful, offensive ways. Those people's motives are neither rational nor admirable (grumblebee has said as much, repeatedly), but they are not the motives we sometimes assume must underlie any public use of such words. Some people think (and have said in this thread) that the only good response to any form of racist and sexist behavior is immediate, vociferous condemnation. But if grumblebee is right (and it seems to me that he is) about the motivations that often lead to certain kinds of racist and sexist speech, that response just makes it more likely that some people will want to use racist and sexist language. If we actually want to make it so that that people are less like to use such language, then we should consider the motives of the people who do use it.

I'm not defending Louis C.K. (a funny, thoughtful person who did something very stupid, spiteful, thoughtless and unfunny--this will seem paradoxical only to people who have never known a human being or read a good novel). I'm not defending anyone who uses offensive language in stupid, hurtful ways. But using such language out of spite is not the same thing as using it out of racism/sexism/homophobia/etc. It's not a question of defending or excusing anything, but a question of understanding where a behavior comes from, so that we can figure out what to do about it.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 9:50 PM on September 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


But using such language out of spite is not the same thing as using it out of racism/sexism/homophobia/etc.

That doesn't even approach making sense. If you're legitimately angry at somebody, use language appropriate to their actions. Using misogynistic language to tear Sarah Palin down, instead of attacking her politics, tears her down for being a woman, not for having terrible politics, and establishes the legitimacy of tearing a woman down as a woman.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:15 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not defending anyone who uses offensive language in stupid, hurtful ways. But using such language out of spite is not the same thing as using it out of racism/sexism/homophobia/etc. It's not a question of defending or excusing anything, but a question of understanding where a behavior comes from, so that we can figure out what to do about it.

It really is the same. Using sexist language out of spite aimed at some higher authority (i.e. the adults who wouldn't let you use dirty words) is a way to re-assert your own power at the expense of someone else. This is exactly how sexism, racism, etc. work. It is also why they still work. If everyone realized "we're all human beings" and stopped trying to dominate one another then these hateful ideologies would pass. It is only by denying the humanity of others that we can justify dominating them.
posted by Danila at 10:25 PM on September 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


To piggyback on what Danila just said: using sexist language out of spite is almost the definition of privilege, because there's always that other group on which you can vent your anger, even if you're not really angry at them.

I do get what you're saying, DaDaDaDave, and I appreciate grumblebee's contributions, too. If I understand correctly, the gist is that there are people that aren't sexist per se, that aren't necessarily feeling a hatred of women when they use those words but rather a "you can't tell me what to do!" sort of fury. In their hearts they don't hate that particular group, but are just looking for some way to lash out, or prove their independence, or something.

But that's their responsibility. It doesn't matter if they're not feeling sexism in their hearts, because they're using the same power sexism gives them, feeding into and benefiting from those same structures, and quite possibly making women feel just as shitty as any other sexist out there. And it is their responsibility to take care of it.
posted by lillygog at 10:54 PM on September 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you're legitimately angry at somebody, use language appropriate to their actions. Using misogynistic language to tear Sarah Palin down, instead of attacking her politics, tears her down for being a woman, not for having terrible politics, and establishes the legitimacy of tearing a woman down as a woman.

I completely agree. Note that I didn't say "using such language out of spite is not as bad as using it out of racism/sexism/homophobia/etc." As an act, it's exactly the same, and its consequences are exactly the same. But grumblebee's point (which is what I was addressing, not the general issue of whether it's okay to use offensive epithets (it's not)) was about people's motives. You don't have to be interested in people's motives, of course. But it seems likely that an effective political strategy, whether anti-misogynist or any other kind, will try to take into account the motives of the people you're working against.

People sometimes talk as though the only reason to discuss a person's motives is to exculpate them. This is obviously not true. There are bad, stupid motives. Spite and misogyny are both bad, stupid motives. But they're not the same motive.

It really is the same. Using sexist language out of spite aimed at some higher authority (i.e. the adults who wouldn't let you use dirty words) is a way to re-assert your own power at the expense of someone else. This is exactly how sexism, racism, etc. work.

This argument only works if you think that every attempt to reassert your own power at the expense of someone else is illegitimate. I don't think so. For example, as a feminist, I support women reasserting their own power at the expense of illegitimate male privilege. The point, of course, is that racism/sexism/etc enable people who already have power to wield that power at the expense of people with less power. Anyway, I hope it was obvious that I really meant it when I said I wasn't trying to excuse Louis C.K. Those tweets were offensive and straight-up misogynistic. But a person can commit a misogynistic act without being motivated by misogyny. Of course, one can say "I don't give a fuck about his motives, what I care about is the act." Ultimately I think that's the right attitude. A motive is not an excuse. But again, if you want to fight prejudice, it behooves you to think about the motives of the people who avail themselves of prejudice.

On preview: lillygog, I think we're in complete agreement. I think Louis C.K. should take responsibility for his actions and, at the very least, apologize. Again, the question of motives is not really relevant when it comes to judging acts that have already been committed; it might be relevant when it comes to preventing similar acts from being committed in the future.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 11:18 PM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's wonderful that metafilter has so many willing educators working around the clock to keep other adults on the straight and narrow. Not in a fun way, or with a sense of humor, but with a sense of importance. Importance: keeping busy people busy since civilization began.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:23 PM on September 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Man I'd love to know who Louis CK is supposed to be apologizing too. The Butthurt Community?
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:26 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


> It's wonderful that metafilter has so many willing educators working around the clock to keep other adults on the straight and narrow. Not in a fun way, or with a sense of humor, but with a sense of importance. Importance: keeping busy people busy since civilization began.

Aren't you now doing just exactly what you're lamenting, though?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:26 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, it's like you turned my words against me! MY OWN WOOOOORDS!
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:34 PM on September 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


See, the thing is, it's "like" he did that because he actually did do that. It's like, there you were all self-importantly pontificating about how you thought other people were self-importantly pontificating and BAM! Burhanistan calls you on it. Funny how that works.
posted by dersins at 11:53 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aren't you now doing just exactly what you're lamenting, though?

Well, no, he's cutting us down for being so serious and self-important as to object to the use of language he doesn't object to. When we have our standards and principles, and express them, we're joyless prigs, but when he does the same, he's clever and fighting the power!
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:09 AM on September 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nothing about Sarah Palin is reminiscent of Hitler at any stage of his career.

I'm still aghast at how incredibly wrong this statement is. She is pretty much the definition of an "early Hitler" in a variety of disconcerting ways, by word and deed.

Why not go after Sarah Palin for what she has done rather than what she is?

Why not both? Ridiculing her for what she is — let's face it, she's a smug, dishonest opportunist with dictatorial ambitions — may be the one thing that keeps her and her extremist collaborators in the Republican Party and Tea Party from taking over the country, saving Muslims and gays from getting thrown into concentration camps, preventing World War III, etc.

To essentially imply that Louis CK's ribald statements are the be-all and end-all of any and all ridicule that has and can be directed at Sarah Palin is false — there is so much ground to cover there that I hope the only reason comedians won't have to find new material is when Paiin retires or shuffles off this mortal coil.

Better that, than that she manages to get her hands on the Constitution and make comedy and, for that matter, any dissent illegal, among other things:

Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor.

Being a woman does not absolve her from ridicule. If it keeps her from reaching her full potential for doing evil, she deserves whatever sensible derision comes her way, funny or otherwise.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:02 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"When we have our standards and principles, and express them, we're joyless prigs, but when he does the same, he's clever and fighting the power!"

Couldn't have said it better myself.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 3:20 AM on September 12, 2010


Blazecock, when danila says "Why not go after Sarah Palin for what she has done rather than what she is?" what she is in that sentence = "female"; I totally agree with you that it's fine to attack what she is where "what she is" = "a smug, dishonest opportunist with dictatorial ambitions."

She's not disgusting because she's a woman, she's disgusting because she's a smug, dishonest opportunist with dictatorial ambitions.

"Being a woman does not absolve her from ridicule." Absolutely.
posted by taz at 4:12 AM on September 12, 2010


Blazecock, I respectfully decline to get into any kind of debate with you on Sarah Palin's politics and whether or not she is an "early Hitler" as I do not find your style of discussion a good match for my own. I still think it was hyperbolic and silly for Louis CK to say that, and combined with everything else he has said about and to her I just think he has no credibility on this topic.

I don't think she should be free from criticism because she's a woman. I haven't seen anyone say that in this thread or quite frankly anywhere I have ever seen Sarah Palin discussed. What I am saying is that the criticism should not be based on the fact that she is a woman.
posted by Danila at 4:13 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I still think it was hyperbolic and silly for Louis CK to say that

An observation isn't hyperbolic just because someone you don't like says it. Facts about reality cannot be hyperbolic.

Whether you choose to address your own very strong claim is up to you — your opinion about me or my "style" is not really pertinent to that, however — but your comment as it stands is not supported by fact.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:28 AM on September 12, 2010


"What I am saying is that the criticism should not be based on the fact that she is a woman."

No, what you are saying is that any criticism should not include any reference to her being a woman. I think, I dunno, it's hard to see clearly through the blazing glory of the ultra-PC-ness.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:12 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just agreeing here with what Danila has said. Louis CK was out of order & anti-woman here. You can also wave your unproven "historical knowledge" around all you want, but calling someone an early Hitler is hyperbole. Pure & simple.

At the best, you're falling for the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. At worst, you're well aware that defining Palin as an early Hitler is implying that if she gets power, the things she will do will be just as bad as the things Hitler did. That's hyperbole.

I don't know you BP, but I'm tempted to think you're aware of this latter implication, and by denying it you're just trying to cover your increasingly tenuous argument.
posted by seanyboy at 5:45 AM on September 12, 2010


And I'd like to point out to people who think he's a terrific comedian that he had a lot of his routine notorious stolen from him by Dane Cook.

Holy shit. Thank you, Astro Zombie--I saw a comedian on Letterman fifteen years ago and thought he was the funniest thing my sixteen-year-old self had ever seen, but didn't remember his name, even though a bunch of his jokes have been stuck in my head ever since. That link you posted led me to a video of the Letterman episode, and the comedian turns out to have been Louis C.K. all along. "If you want pants, you'll come to me!"
posted by EarBucket at 6:58 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


At the best, you're falling for the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. At worst, you're well aware that defining Palin as an early Hitler is implying that if she gets power, the things she will do will be just as bad as the things Hitler did. That's hyperbole.

To be fair, we don't actually know it's hyperbole, because she has no power currently. Hitler-crazy is a big pair of crazy-shoes, but it's certainly safe to say that she would be a disastrous president on every possible level, which doesn't exactly make her NOT like Hitler. "Sarah Palin: She Won't Kill the Jews" is far from a compelling bumper sticker, even if it's true, and in that regard, sure, not Hitler. I'm glad we cleared that up, and I hope we all feel a lot better about Sarah Palin now -- I know I do!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:05 AM on September 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


...Upon further reflection, though, "early Hitler" seems a less apt comparison than "a Britney Spears who somehow lives to be fifty."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:13 AM on September 12, 2010


I have steered clear of the mysoginism thing because I understand it does bother some people, but I also understand that if you think you're criticizing Hitler Mk II you might thing any tactic is worth using. Both viewpoints have merit.

It is absolutely not hyperbolic to compare Palin to Hitler. There are some very exact parallels. Palin wouldn't go after the Jews but, like Hitler, she and her TP cohorts have telegraphed who they would go after -- Latinos, who would all be suspect all the time of being illegal immigrants, those uppity black people, non-fundamentalist-Christians, and anybody who can't find work. No doubt the list would expand, as it did when the Reich consolidated itself. In fairness Palin's dystopia would probably resemble The Handmaid's Tale more than the Third Reich. I don't consider that an improvement.

What I tried to make clear upthread is that Nobody knew the early Hitler was the early Hitler either. Only a few observers, mostly foreign journalists like William Shirer, saw the madness for what it was and even they were shocked by the totality with which it was embraced and remade German society. When you look at it that way -- how much does Palin ca. 2010 look like Hitler ca. 1920, rather than Hitler ca. 1938? -- the parallels are stunning.

While this doesn't mean that Palin will pull it off the way Hitler did, it does mean she has a nonzero chance and attentive people should probably be taking measures to prevent it from happening.
posted by localroger at 7:38 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Sarah Palin: She Won't Kill the Jews" is far from a compelling bumper sticker

I think it works.
posted by EarBucket at 7:41 AM on September 12, 2010


Theodore Sign: "It is cool if you don't think he is funny cause he uses mean words for ladies, but it is kinda like not liking The Godfather because it is "too violent" and only being able to explain your stance in broad, dismissive, personal-preference terms."

This. A million times this.

There's no problem with violence in films per se (assuming they're being watched by adults), there is a problem with violence that doesn't have violence's natural consequences attached (that glorifies violence, and also isn't honest). In other words, the violence in The Godfather serves a defined end (giving an accurate portrayal of Mafia life), the violence in the A-Team doesn't (look at all the asplosions!).

There are ways to make horridly racist / sexist standup (cf the Obama Money thread) but the reason why that standup is awful is that it perpetuates privilege by routinely using those terms to overgeneralize and beat up on people of different races and sexes - they're stupid, they're weak, they are silly, whatever.

In many ways, Louis CK's work is about privilege, a privilege he speaks of on stage all the time and has addressed on Louie both in the poker table discussion linked above and more recently in the episode where Louie unsuccessfully hits on a black woman who works at his grocery store. In Louis CK's work, racism and sexism are connected to their consequences - you look and feel like a jackass. If you can't address race and sex in that way, then stand up (or, for that matter, any art) becomes less about the world it's supposed to be commenting on.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:27 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"If you want pants, you'll come to me!"

Wait, he wants to control all the pants in NYC? Louis CK = fashion fascist and obviously an early Abercrombie & Hitler. Or a Hollister Nazi Co.

It's a good thing for all of us that he didn't make 45 billion dollars since that aired in 1995 like Bill Gates has.
posted by acheekymonkey at 9:58 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think there are really two different threads going on here. Some people are addressing the drunken tweets, and some people are addressing whether he's a good comedian. I won't speak for anyone else, but the fact that I thought "Sarah Palin has a family of Chinese poor people living in cunt hole" and "kudos to your dirty hole" was unfunny and sexist doesn't mean I don't think he's a good comedian.

It is cool if you don't think he is funny cause he uses mean words for ladies... blah,blah Godfather is supposed to be some sort of putdown about how we're just not sophisticated enough to "get" his humor, but we're responding to the remarks "Sarah Palin has a family of Chinese poor people living in cunt hole" and "kudos to your dirty hole," not his ouevre — because the post was about the tweets, not "Louis C.K. is a Good/Bad Comedian: Discuss!"
posted by taz at 10:00 AM on September 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think taz has a great point. And I know that topics like sexism and racism and homophobia are difficult to discuss, but I think taz hits on part of the problem. At least two female commenters here said that they liked Louis C.K., and will probably continue to like Louis C.K., but didn't like his comments. And I feel like we then have people responding as if we've said "He's a terrible comedian, and anyone who uses the word 'cunt' should be shot".

We're just discussing a few tweets. If you can use hot-button words to create incisive, funny comedy that might also teach us something about society, fantastic. Unfortunately, that's not what Louis C.K. did here.
posted by lillygog at 12:49 PM on September 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are some very exact parallels. Palin wouldn't go after the Jews but, like Hitler, she and her TP cohorts have telegraphed who they would go after -- Latinos, who would all be suspect all the time of being illegal immigrants, those uppity black people, non-fundamentalist-Christians, and anybody who can't find work. No doubt the list would expand, as it did when the Reich consolidated itself. In fairness Palin's dystopia would probably resemble The Handmaid's Tale more than the Third Reich. I don't consider that an improvement.

If we cannot make this and similar factual, critical observations — if the messenger is being shot because he said some stupid things while drunk — then our society is headed for very real and very serious trouble (Metafilter's problems with certain types of outrage notwithstanding).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:46 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


[Palin] and her TP cohorts have telegraphed who they would go after -- Latinos, who would all be suspect all the time of being illegal immigrants, those uppity black people, non-fundamentalist-Christians, and anybody who can't find work.

Elephant in the room alert: Palin et al have already and quite obviously set their sights on Muslims as the New Scapegoats. Everyone else you mention is merely in a supporting role.

Are they up to death camps yet? No, but do we need to wait for Krystallnacht?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:25 PM on September 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


That whole {x} is like Hitler thing was tired when Palin and her buddies were tweeting it about Obama back in June, and it's just as tired now the left has decided to pull it out of the hat with regard to Palin herself.

If you think there are parallels (and I'll point out once again the Texas sharpshooter fallacy), then bring them properly and intelligently into play and we'll have a look at them.

"Palin is like Hitler" is not factual observation. It's a schoolyard chant made more childish by the fact that you're repeating it back at the opposition. "You're like Hitler." "No. You're like Hitler."

Also - The handmaid's tale??? WTF? Where in hells name did that come from? What does it even mean?
posted by seanyboy at 4:30 PM on September 12, 2010


really, seanyboy, if you want to argue about the circumstances under which America might slide into dystopia, you might try becoming familiar with some of the literature on the subject. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, you might want to check out It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis and of course 1984 by George Orwell. Then for RL context read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer.

As for why Lady Sarah reminds us of Adolph, it could have to do with things like her broad emotional appeal, legion of adoring and often armed fans who might be willing to follow her into extralegal territory (was Kristallnacht a "second amendment solution?"), rhetoric placing blame for broad societal ills on certain subgroups (Muslims, of course, d'oh on my part for forgetting THAT but I've got Angle more than Palin on the brain right now), cartoonish appeals to nationalism and selfish personal interest, and an absolutely stunning sense of self-importance that is not borne out by her actual skills or experience. Sure there are differences too, but this ain't the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy; these are real things that have been repeatedly observed, and match much too closely for comfort with Hitler's early career.
posted by localroger at 5:16 PM on September 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


And I feel like we then have people responding as if we've said "He's a terrible comedian, and anyone who uses the word 'cunt' should be shot".

Maybe those people weren't responding to you, but rather to other people who, you know, actually did say stuff like that.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:39 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe those people weren't responding to you, but rather to other people who, you know, actually did say stuff like that.

I re-read large portions of this thread, and see a few people coming out strong and calling Louis C.K. himself a douchebag, or suggesting the tweets were "straight up fucking misogyny", but I don't see a whole lot of people saying that we can never use the word "cunt". I think people were pretty specific in directing their anger towards the tweets, rather than certain words or edgy comedians as a whole, and got dismissals like this in return.

(And now the phrase "directing their anger towards the tweets" is really making me chuckle.)

But honestly, I haven't gone back and exactly tallied who first responded to what. However, one of the things I've really taken away from all the Racism 101 and Sexism 101 discussions I've seen on the internet is that if someone's angry, we could at least try listening to why they're angry first. So, like, you listen to why I'm angry, and I listen to why you're angry, and we, like, communicate.

I've also just watched some really shmoopy and well-done TV, and now think it is time for us to just listen, man, and hold hands and love each other and have hot chocolate.
posted by lillygog at 7:47 PM on September 12, 2010


OK. So now we're pretty much done with CK's racism and misogyny, how about we move on to his ageism?

I also parent a 5 year old girl, so a lot of his schtick obviously rings true for me. But I can't really laugh at him doing it, because I can't help but wonder how she is going to feel in another few years when all her little friends start giving her grief about how she's the one whose own Dad says, all over the Internet, how much she sucks.
posted by flabdablet at 9:09 PM on September 12, 2010


she's the one whose own Dad says, all over the Internet, how much she sucks

Don't forget cable!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:12 PM on September 12, 2010


I have read Handmaid's Tale. I just don't see the significance WRT Palin.

Anyway... Thanks for the list.

List of things which apply to pretty much all successful politicians:
- broad emotional appeal:
- selfish personal interest
- stunning sense of self-importance
- cartoonish appeals to nationalism

List of things which apply to right wing politicians (e.g. Reagan)
- legion of adoring and often armed fans
- rhetoric placing blame for broad societal ills on certain subgroups

List of made up things:
- might be willing to follow her into extralegal territory

If that's the best that you've got, then I think this argument is over.
posted by seanyboy at 11:16 PM on September 12, 2010


So as far as Louis C. K.'s tweets go, it's pretty obvious he was brainstorming a gag, with the handicap of being drunk. The tweet about Sarah Palin having a Chinese family in her cunt hole was the classic turn-around gag, where one makes a surprising statement, and then justifies it with something too ridiculous to be believed. If he'd been a little more sober, he would have either tuned the gag a little better, or given up on it.

We got a look at the inside of the process of comedy, and of course the usual suspects got their panties in a bunch about it, because that's what they do.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:17 PM on September 12, 2010


There's a lot of conversation thuggery going on here. A lot of sputtering, baton-wielding enforcers (METAPHOR!) lumbering about delivering body shots to those trying to have a measured discussion, all in the name of free speech. Which nobody is actually challenging. The bunchiest of panties seem to be worn by those actually trying to shut down the conversation.

I have to say that with friends like that, Louis C.K. doesn't need enemies.
posted by taz at 1:42 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


seanyboy, I live i southern Louisiana, and if you don't think that a lot of the people who mindlessly adore Palin would pick up their guns and try to implement a second amendment solution on her say-so, I'd say you don't get around much.

Anyway, I would disagree that all politicians use cartoonish appeals to nationalism (I don't think you could fairly say the current occupant of the white house got there on chants of USA! USA! USA!) and the last time a major political party took up the blame the _____ game there were riots and a lot of people thought we were heading for a civil war. (Growing up in the South in the 60's, what fun.)

And if you don't see the significance of Atwood's book to the kind of society we could expect to be created by Palin, who is a fundamentalist nut job on top of everything else, and her followers, I'd say maybe you didn't read it closely enough.
posted by localroger at 5:25 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


she's the one whose own Dad says, all over the Internet, how much she sucks

It's a little more nuanced than that. Louis CK on being a father. But yes she will have the extra burden of having a relatively loudmouth and famous parent. Just like Bristol!

Geez, I feel like the Louis CK defense fund over here. Ba-da-boom! [rimshot]
posted by acheekymonkey at 7:16 AM on September 13, 2010


localroger: OK. I'll warrant that Handmaid's tale is set in a dystopia initiated after a Muslim Terrorist attack and includes a world ruled after a rise in religious fundamentalism. I suppose this is what you're trying to get at when you ask me to read the book closer.

For me, the details of how the dystopia was arrived at is secondary to the actual story which (to my mind) is about the subjugation of women.

The current president didn't get in on chants of USA, USA. I agree with that too, but is "Yes We Can" really any different? Cartoonish Nationalism is pinned to the lapel of every American Politician, and it's as common as folksy meetings with "real-hard-working-'mericuns".

Finally, the blame game thing. There's little that Palin says that Bush didn't say. There's little Bush said that his Dad or Reagan didn't say before him. You want a specific blame game phrase. How's "Evil Empire" or "Welfare Queen" work for you?

I'm referencing American Politicians for your sake, but I could just as easily do this with British Politicians. I have no doubt that Britain is not heading for a "Krystallnacht", but your indicators apply now (as they always have) to pretty much every political party I've ever seen.

There was no chance Thatcher was going to start Ethnic Cleansing, and for all his war-mongering ways, I doubt Blair would have gone that way either.

And no - I don't get around Louisiana much. Being European and all.
posted by seanyboy at 8:05 AM on September 13, 2010


For me, the details of how the dystopia was arrived at is secondary to the actual story which (to my mind) is about the subjugation of women.

Well there is a great deal of implied background in THT about how the situation came about. You might have noticed the female character based on Phyllis Schlafly who was instrumental in rousing women to their cause, only to be quite bitter that she is now being taken seriously about her apropriate role in the new order.

is "Yes We Can" really any different?

Absolutely. There is a large difference between rallying people to lift themselves up and improve their standing in the world, and rallying them to think of themselves as the only deserving people in the world and that we should prepare to crush anyone who opposes us. Yes, the Republicans have used rhetoric that drifts in that direction, but none to the extent that the Tea Partiers have taken it, at least since the John Birchers and KKK faded from the scene in the aftermath of the 60's.

There's little Bush said that his Dad or Reagan didn't say before him.

Actually, I'm pretty sure Bush Sr. was far too mature to ever have said "Fuck Saddam, we're taking him out," especially before the evidence against him was fabricated found. There has been a steady progression, which I think is a direct reaction to the suppression of these things in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement, toward more hostile and violent rhetoric. And lately we've had at least two incidents when lone nuts who were clearly inspired by Glenn Beck tried to take it out on groups of liberals. You really didn't see that sort of thing, even here, from the early 70's to the late 00's.

How's "Evil Empire" or "Welfare Queen" work for you?

The Evil Empire was an external threat, and it later became clear that Reagan was guided by people smart enough not to really give him the button. (The same was very definitely not true of W. And "welfare queens" are not an ethnic group you can single out to burn their neighborhood. I don't think Reagan ever threatened that the welfare queens would kill your kids. And if you were really worried about it as an individual you could take steps to not look like a welfare queen; it's kind of hard to do that if your race is the target.

And no - I don't get around Louisiana much. Being European and all.

Yes, well then you have no idea about the gun culture here. When our kristallnacht comes it will not be done with baseball bats and knives.
posted by localroger at 8:42 AM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have no doubt that Louis loves his kids. He's said so on any number of occasions, on stage and off, and since honesty is what his whole public persona is built around, I have no reason to doubt him.

And I have no doubt his kids love him, because that's just what kids do.

The fact remains, though, that taking cheap shots at his five year old for a living is cheap and unworthy behaviour.
posted by flabdablet at 3:44 PM on September 13, 2010


When our kristallnacht comes it will not be done with baseball bats and knives.

Thank god we're not being hysterical and hyperbolic or anything like that when it comes to discussions of Sarah Palin.
posted by dersins at 3:59 PM on September 13, 2010


Thank god we're not being hysterical and hyperbolic or anything like that when it comes to discussions of Sarah Palin.

Oh, that wasn't about Palin, that was about mouth-breathing America in general.

It wasn't Hitler Sinclair Lewis had in mind when he wrote It Can't Happen Here, it was Huey Long, a man still worshipped in parts of this state. Sarah is running for the role of Huey but she doesn't have the part yet; Sharron Angle and Rand Paul and several others are in the running.

We do have our Father Coughlin though; Glenn Beck is the man.
posted by localroger at 4:11 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fear, Ignorance, Hatred.
posted by EarBucket at 4:22 PM on September 13, 2010


Thank god we're not being hysterical and hyperbolic

"It can't happen here" is such an effective response to blooming fascism.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:33 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Watch Louis C.K.'s Hilarious for free online:
If you lived in one of the, let’s just call them “inconsequential” cities that did not play host to Louis C.K.’s Hilarious last month, you can still check out his new concert film for free courtesy of upstart pay-cable channel Epix. Go here to get an invite code to access Epix’s website—where Hilarious is currently streaming for free—in exchange for an e-mail address. They’re actually mailing you the link, however, so make sure it’s a real address, not just some made-up shit.
And via his Twitter account, no less!
posted by Rhaomi at 12:46 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's worth signing up for the free epix trial, btw. You can watch this special and other content for a week and epix doesn't bother you with spammy emails later.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:52 AM on September 21, 2010


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