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I'm Saying Being White is Way Better
October 15, 2010 5:56 AM   Subscribe

Monica Potts on Louis CK and privilege: "For the most part, people of color are the ones who initiate serious discussions about race and privilege in the public sphere -- and in the world of comedy ... Some white comedians, like Sarah Silverman, tend to joke about racism, making fun of white people and their ignorance in ways that shock and offend. ... But Louis' comedy is about being a white man -- and about how others view white men. He doesn't accept ignorance as a point of view. Moreover, this isn't the occasional stand-up bit; a significant number of his jokes are about race, class, and gender."

Metafilter previously on Louis CK: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Bits for context: Being White, Girls vs Women, Rape.
posted by l33tpolicywonk (75 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wonder how much of his perspective comes from being a third-culture kid? (He was born in the U.S., lived in Mexico until he was seven, then had to learn English when his parents moved back to the U.S.)
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 6:21 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Watching the Louis show has pretty much justified what I pay for a stupid satellite dish. It's dark, melancholy, and very, very real, at least to me, and when he gets it wrong, it's in a context that explains why he gets it wrong. All along the way, I feel like I'm immersed in the work of someone who's smart enough to ask hard questions and humble enough to know when he's [frequently] wrong. It doesn't have that smartest-kid-in-the-room smugness or inflated hero complexes, just a guy, doing his thing, trying to get along in the world, and thinking and reflecting on it all the whole way.

I imagine I'm one of those cultish liberals who's supposed to love this sort of thing, except I really don't love this sort of thing, as a rule. I really don't get The Wire, which is just so unrelentingly grim that I just can't sit through it, no matter how well written the dialogue is. Louis CK strikes that rare balance of humor, despair, and an earnest love for the amazingness of the world, which sets him out in my mind.
posted by sonascope at 6:28 AM on October 15, 2010 [16 favorites]


I wasn't aware there was a liberal aspect to enjoying shows like The Wire. I must not actually be as liberal as I imagined, since I simply couldn't stomach The Wire. And I find Louie very uncomfortable and unwatchable.

Gonna have to re-think my votes come November, I guess.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:38 AM on October 15, 2010


All of season one of Louie is on Hulu right now. People with access to Hulu should go watch it right now.

Especially 'Bully.'
posted by shakespeherian at 6:56 AM on October 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


I love Louie and his show. I really hate how this article is framed.
posted by HumanComplex at 6:56 AM on October 15, 2010


I wasn't aware there was a liberal aspect to enjoying shows like The Wire.

Yeah, that's kind of weird, isn't it? It's like the author of this article has had this type of conversation a million times with her friends and now just throws it out there as if *everyone* already knows this to be some sort of universal truth.
posted by NoMich at 7:00 AM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Watching the Louis show has pretty much justified what I pay for a stupid satellite dish.

Or you could just watch it on hulu.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 7:05 AM on October 15, 2010


I wasn't aware there was a liberal aspect to enjoying shows like The Wire. I must not actually be as liberal as I imagined, since I simply couldn't stomach The Wire. And I find Louie very uncomfortable and unwatchable.

I understand this, and hopefully the writer didn't mean her point in some sort of Carollian logic exercise ("You are a liberal. Liberals love Louie. You love Louie.")

But I am a liberal I do love Louie, and what she wrote made a great deal of sense to me. I'm at work so I can't link it, but the episode that really did it for me in terms of beautifully and realistically presenting a moral quandary is the Bully episode (while on a date, Louie is confronted with a high school jock-type who threatens him). In order to extricate himself from the situation, Louie has to embarrass himself a little bit.

First, everyone (particularly the bully, who is played so nauseatingly well I suspect he will strike a chord with anoyone who has ever been confronted with a bully) in the scene plays it pitch perfect. Such fine, well-done acting.

But more than that, the writing and the way the quandary is presented just amazes me. Because I think if I were in that situation, I would have reacted the exact same way Louie did (to get out of the situation, and in being hyper-aware and hyper-defensive on how my date judged my reaction). I watched it with my girlfriend, and without telling her that I related a million percent with Louie, she said, "Wow. I know exactly how that lady (Louie's date) feels. I would've felt the same way and said the same things."

I'm telling you, you gotta watch it.
posted by mreleganza at 7:06 AM on October 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


It's odd that the poker scene was misconstrued as a stab at comedy. I watched it with my wife and it left us speechless and feeling so proud of a network and show for using precious airtime for such a dissertation. Maybe I should rewatch it, but I still tell people about it to this day, because it was really inspired.

That, and the scene of Louie taking his girls out for pancakes at 4 am after a really bad date should enshrine it in television history.
posted by docpops at 7:15 AM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


seriously, that bully episode should get multiple Emmy's. what other show on television hits to the core like that? what even comes CLOSE?
posted by Mach5 at 7:15 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The difference between a show like Louie and just about any other short-format TV show is that it's Louis CK's show. I remember reading an article talking about how it's made and it's shocking. He took a huge paycut and basically said, "I'll send you a show and you send me money, that's the limit of our professional interaction."

There are a lot of impressive moments in the first season alone but two stick out in my mind as truly inspired. The conversation around the poker table at the start of episode 2 was daring and I don't think anyone else would have been able to approach that subject with half the amount of realism. And the episode where he admits to thinking about killing himself when his kids don't need him anymore makes me sick to my stomach with grief.

Also, the fact that he doesn't allow his ex-wife to be used as material in his standup or his show speaks volumes. That's a target rich environment and almost any other comic would mine that till it ran dry.
posted by Macphisto at 7:18 AM on October 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Any show that can feature both
1) scenes like the poker table scene, or the entirety of 'Bully' AND
2) a woman escaping a bad date by dashing into a helicopter
is a goddam A+++ show.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:21 AM on October 15, 2010


You can also watch it instantly on Netflix. I just came upon Louie a couple of days ago, and I am trying to pace myself to make it last. I rarely find new shows I love so instantaneously, but this is definitely one of them.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:37 AM on October 15, 2010


He took a huge paycut and basically said, "I'll send you a show and you send me money, that's the limit of our professional interaction."

One of the things I particularly liked seeing was that the credits reveal him to be the writer, director and editor on many of the episodes. For whatever reason I really dig the idea that he's invested himself so heavily in the actual production of the program, not just the acting/ creating side of it.
posted by quin at 7:38 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Marc Maron's WTF podcast recently had a two-part interview with Louie C.K. A large part of it gets into the making of the show and Louie's background in making short films. (It's also really sweet when you hear him getting choked up talking about the birth of his daughters.)

I think that Louie's greatest asset is that it doesn't try to be funny all the time. Think of the "God" episode. I think the only times I laughed were in moments of fucked-up recognition. I didn't there was any part of that episode that was over-the-top. Though I wasn't raised Catholic, I was raised in a strict Christian household and I had to go to Bible school. I remember when they had a local doctor come and explain in excruciatingly graphic detail about what Jesus went through on the cross. And then they told us that through our sin we had done that to Jesus. Except our doctor wasn't a fantastically creepy Tom Noonan.

But, really, how many other shows try to show how fucked up enforcing religion on kids can be? And it's sort-of played straight, but it also has this weird, subtle surreality to it, that's not very pronounced. But it certainly isn't played for out-right laughs. I think all my favorite moments of Louie are like that: when Louie looks up that girl he went to school with, the lunch where his mom tells him she's a lesbian, the part where the Southern sheriff just wants a kiss. These moments are brilliant because Louie C.K. has the confidence (and lack of studio interference) to go beyond simple punchlines into this weird meditation on life.
posted by fryman at 7:43 AM on October 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


For whatever reason I really dig the idea that he's invested himself so heavily in the actual production of the program, not just the acting/ creating side of it.

I admit that it might not be a ringing endorsement to some, but he directed Pooty Tang too. He's got a lot of talent and I think he puts a lot of himself into it. Wish I could find the article I referenced above, but apparently when it's time to pick up his kids, the show shuts down. No matter what, he up and leaves.

He's a better father than I am.
posted by Macphisto at 7:48 AM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Except our doctor wasn't a fantastically creepy Tom Noonan.

By the way, between that episode and The House of the Devil I am now ready to agree with Ebert that Tom Noonan should play the Judge in Blood Meridian.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:54 AM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think that the article is wrong when it implies that the show undercuts any "profound" insight when Louie sleeps with the other black woman. If it had ended before that, like the author suggested it should have, then we would be left with an earnest Louie being coldly rejected by the cashier. Our sympathies would have been with Louie.

Throughout the episode, Louie has this kind of colonialist proprietary about the cashier, bothering her at work, etc. It's portrayed as more than that though. And, as a viewer, we wonder why she just doesn't give Louie a chance. Yeah, he's kind of creepy and old or whatever, but he's Louie, our hero, and clearly he can transcend race. He's a good guy. At the end, the cashier calls him on just wanting to sleep with a black girl. The viewer is kind of taken aback. That's not really how we saw it. We saw Louie and how he really meant it and all that. But then, we see that Louie instantly jumps at the chance to sleep with a black woman, not really caring who it is. The cashier read the scene right. Despite the way the viewer is aligned with Louie, Louie just wanted to sleep with a black woman.

I think showing that was a particularly bold stroke. Yeah, it's a punchline. But it's also one where Louie does not come off well. I think the author of the article missed that. While Louie talks about privilege, he never really portrays himself as this super-liberal, beyond all that racial stuff. He's shows that he's just as filled with prejudice as everyone else.
posted by fryman at 8:02 AM on October 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


Is his current show anything like his HBO show Lucky Louie? Because I couldn't enjoy that at all, as it was just a mediocre at best sitcom with swearing, which is not what sitcoms need to be good.
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:11 AM on October 15, 2010


I've liked his stand up, but only tuned in for a couple of minutes when our TV guide channel thingy mistakenly labeled it as Always Sunny… It just didn't grab me, but I'll give it another try.
posted by klangklangston at 8:12 AM on October 15, 2010


haveanicesummer: nope, completely new show
posted by Mach5 at 8:24 AM on October 15, 2010


Is his current show anything like his HBO show Lucky Louie?

Not in the least.

I'm down with the Louie love here. I'm going to shoot for a little hyperbole here and say that this is already my favorite sitcom of all time (or, at the very least, favorite season of any sitcom). That is qualified by the fact that I hate about 99% of sitcoms, but still. A lot of you have hit on what makes this great TV. The candor, the melancholy, the fact that the humor is entirely unforced, to the point where you can forget that the only time you laughed was during the standup portion, making those bookends both necessary and unintrusive. Amazingly, he writes, directs, stars in and edits every episode.

The bully episode, so often remarked upon, was amazing, but the amazingness of that episode really came together in the final minute or two, when he's sharing a cigarette with the bully's father on the doorstep. Without that scene, we were watching a gut-wrenching episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is fine, but one low-key chat elevated the entire thing in an instant.

Hell, I even love the opening credits.
posted by Edgewise at 8:32 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


haveanicesummer: it's completely different and doesn't compromise at all. It's the show Louis wants to make. It's funny. It's poignant at times. It's really well done.

Though I couldn't really reconcile the reasonable woman who was in the car with him after the Jesus/Cross debacle with the woman from the earlier episode who said she was his mom. Seemed like two completely different people.
posted by inturnaround at 8:33 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


inturnaround, I noticed the same thing, but the show seems to gleefully ignore continuity if it doesn't serve the narrative. The two depictions of his mother are wholly unrelated, different actors portray him as a child, he has no brother as a child, etc. It's as if he asked himself "Will keeping continuity detract from the rest of the show? If so, then what's the point?"
posted by incomple at 8:38 AM on October 15, 2010


Seemed like two completely different people.

And thank god for that.
posted by Edgewise at 8:39 AM on October 15, 2010


(Also, the actress who played his mom in "God" is the same actress who played his date in "Bully." Chew on that for a while.)
posted by incomple at 8:39 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, I got confused and that's what I thought you were referring to; my last comment makes more sense in that context.
posted by Edgewise at 8:40 AM on October 15, 2010


Haven't watched the whole season, but the episode of Louie where Ricky Gervais guest-starred as the ill-mannered doctor is just completely fantastic. That prostate exam, my god.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:49 AM on October 15, 2010


Ok I haven't finished the article yet but this kind of thing pisses me off:

""Here's how great it is being white: I could get in a time machine, and go to any time, and it would be fucking awesome when I get there. That is exclusively a white privilege. ... "

What? You want to get in a time machine and go to Wyoming circa 1250? That would be awesome? Or Egypt circa what, 3000 B.C.? That wold be awesome? Or, fuck, England circa 1350? Unless you show up speaking French and with proof of aristocratic lineage and a giant estate, it's going to be awesome?? How about Russia circa the early 1700s? You wanna get in a time machine and show up and prove you're not a serf? Guess what...black people aren't the only ones in the history of mankind to be persecuted. It's a particular American bias to think that the only inhumanity man has committed against man is black slavery.
posted by spicynuts at 8:55 AM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a particular American bias to think that the only inhumanity man has committed against man is black slavery.

Thanks spicynuts. I was really worried that nobody was standing up for the serfs.
posted by felix betachat at 9:04 AM on October 15, 2010 [12 favorites]


Something that I think makes Louie work is that it is, at its heart, a show that works for the same reason the best British sitcoms work. For me, it's very reminiscent of One Foot in the Grave, with a really hard-nosed fusion of melancholia, humor, and reality. We've finally graduated, in American television, to the possibility of having a show that runs a short season, written by a single writer or a duo, so we don't have to suffer the eventual fate of all traditional American TV, which is endless repetition and celebrity guest stars (or trips to Hawaii, Australia, England, etcetera). The Brits have a way of ending a great series just before they've run out of ideas--Fawlty Towers being the examplar (Last of the Summer Wine notwithstanding).

Here, on the other hand, we beat things to death. I watch The Simpsons now and then, if only to remind myself that it is, indeed, unbearably bad. Repetitive, self-referential to the point of being nonsensical, characters adrift in the currents of whatever dumb point they hope to make in a given week, and even more stuffed with stupid celebrity cameos...it's just awful in a way that undermines everything great it did in its prime, but it'll be kept in a permanent state of half-alive/half-embalmed mediocrity as long as the cash registers go ching!

I suspect Louie, if it lasts a while, isn't going in that direction, because it's a smaller, simpler, more intimate kind of storytelling that you hardly get in BLOCKBUSTERLAND EXPLOSIONVISION!!! brought to you by Chevrolet, catch the wave! Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm loving it right now, and it really is about the only thing on TV that makes me laugh anymore, even if I'm laughing and squirming uncomfortably all at once. I watch and I see Louie CK at work, not a roomful of Harvard grads desperately pitching ideas around, and that's a good thing.
posted by sonascope at 9:05 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just joining in the chorus -- Louie's one of the best shows I've seen in years.

The monologue about the homeless guy at the Port Authority Bus Terminal was what first got me thinking "we're onto something special here!", and then the scene with the Sheriff in Birmingham had me and my friends in silent hysteric raptures for like 10 minutes, and then, by the time I got to episodes like "Bully" and "God", I realised,
"Damn. This isn't even a comedy anymore. It's just a wonderfully brave and honest show about life, made by a funny guy."

Which is as awesome as 4am pancakes, in my world.
posted by Rumpled at 9:09 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


White people were oppressing in Wyoming in 1250? White people, as a group, were oppressed in Russia in the 1700s?

Your parallels don't track. Yes, black people aren't the only people who have been persecuted. The word "slave" comes from "Slav," who were enslaved by the Magyars.

But when you break it down to race, which is a relatively recent invention, you will find precious few examples of white people being persecuted as a group for being white. Not in the same way black people have been, or other people of color. Because the point of inventing the concept of whiteness was to define who had privilege and who didn't. And that was Louie's point, and it's a good one/ Yes, I bet black people, if they went back in a time machine to, say, the Yoruba kingdom in West Africa, it wouldn't quite be like popping out of that same time machine in 183 in the South of the United States. But that's not really the point. The point is that, in general, if you were white you were privileged.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:09 AM on October 15, 2010 [12 favorites]


Some analysis on the Bully episode, care of Mefi's own Last Pyschiatrist….
posted by kimota at 9:18 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I knew that looked wrong. Sorry!
posted by kimota at 9:18 AM on October 15, 2010


But that's not really the point. The point is that, in general, if you were white you were privileged.

Define 'in general'. Being marginalized because you were arbitrarily born into a certain social class is different from being marginalized because of the color of you skin how? They are both completely arbitrary traits.

My point was more that he's using a stupid example.
posted by spicynuts at 9:26 AM on October 15, 2010


We can super-nerd out and imagine that the time-machine he's talking about is like HG Wells's, and that it doesn't move through space but only time. Then we can limit it to the history of the US
posted by Riptor at 9:33 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a particular American bias to think that the only inhumanity man has committed against man is black slavery.

Louie is an American telling that joke in American comedy clubs. Here in America, racial issues are most deeply felt and understood as issues of black people and white people. I think he can be forgiven for not nixing the joke because it fails to be water-tight, globally accurate.

We've finally graduated, in American television, to the possibility of having a show that runs a short season, written by a single writer or a duo, so we don't have to suffer the eventual fate of all traditional American TV, which is endless repetition...The Brits have a way of ending a great series just before they've run out of ideas...
Here, on the other hand, we beat things to death. I watch The Simpsons now and then, if only to remind myself that it is, indeed, unbearably bad. Repetitive...awful in a way that undermines everything great it did in its prime...


I hope there's a happy medium to be reached. I'm an American, and there have been more than one smart British show that just had a few short six-episode seasons where I just want grab the creators by the collar, dark bags under my eyes like a junkie, and say, "More! I want more!"
posted by mreleganza at 9:38 AM on October 15, 2010


in general, if you were white you were privileged.

Privilege has officially been drained of all meaning in that case.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:39 AM on October 15, 2010


Define 'in general'. Being marginalized because you were arbitrarily born into a certain social class is different from being marginalized because of the color of you skin how? They are both completely arbitrary traits.

If you actually hear the entire bit, it's pretty clear he isn't trying to introduce scientific rigor into figuring out what sort of person would best benefit from a time machine. The point he's making is that it's pretty awesome to be white, and it has been for a long time, and white people haven't really ever had to suffer due to their whiteness. That is his point, plus also jokes.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:52 AM on October 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


Especially 'Bully.'

And the finale.

I was talking about the show with my wife last night, she had finally sat down to watch the finale, and the more we talked about the season the more my opinion, just like Edgewise above, shifted from unexpectedly great sitcom to my favorite sitcom of all time.

Both the Bully episode and the finale ("Night Out") are a total departure from TV comedy norms. They are these long, meandering conversations that seem surreal while viewing (but totally natural in retrospect), end unexpectedly and, especially in the case of Bully, anticlimactically. It's not an adherence to some kind of liberal worldview that attracts me to the show. I find the show exciting because I don't see a punchline in the twenty-first minute telegraphed before the opening credits. Every episode rejects the standard three act TV sitcom structure and instead feels like an exploration into whatever themes the show has settled on for the week.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:55 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems as though I should watch Louie.
posted by codacorolla at 10:14 AM on October 15, 2010


Just as a guess, the folks complaining about the time machine joke aren't black, right?
posted by klangklangston at 10:17 AM on October 15, 2010 [15 favorites]


I am always curious about the urge to remind people that other people are oppressed when the subject of race comes up. Yes, true, thank you. There's probably a thread addressing that. Maybe that's where the discussion of class should take place.

Louie's point is a good one. Don't make it into a competition for who is the most oppressed.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:35 AM on October 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


Louie is spot-on for me, especially as a new father. But my wife and I both watch it and laugh til we are crying. The poker-table conversation was the first moment where I felt the show was actually doing something important, but it is smart enough to know that you can do something important in a hilarious way.

Sometimes it's not funny; sometimes it misses. But like the article says, he is being bold enough to go there, and that makes it required viewing in my book.

I hope next season is anywhere near as good as this first one has been.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:35 AM on October 15, 2010


Kafkaesque, I'm not even going to hope that next season is up to this season's level. It would break my heart if I expected that and it didn't happen. I'm just going to be happy for what we got.

Speaking of Louis CK, has anyone seen Hilarious yet? The first two thirds lives up to its title (especially the bit about sex with dead children). But in the last third, I get the strong feeling he is trying so hard to be able to talk about having kids and make it edgier and funnier than it is. It's an understandable impulse. Louis wants his comedy to be honest and relevant, to come from his real life, but he doesn't want to lose his edge. I don't think he quite pulled it off on stage, but the TV show is a much better showcase for this kind of sensibility.
posted by Edgewise at 10:42 AM on October 15, 2010


I hope next season is anywhere near as good as this first one has been.

He started to hit his stride with the "God" episode. It stopped being directly about Louie the schmuck and started being about the essential schmuckiness of humanity. When the episode ended with the janitor matter-of-factly nailing Jesus back onto the cross, what burst out of me was a half-horrified, half-joyful laughter that I had never heard before. I hadn't realized that television could do that.

The sky is the limit for this guy.
posted by felix betachat at 10:44 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


the janitor matter-of-factly nailing Jesus back onto the cross

Lordy that was an amazing moment.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:47 AM on October 15, 2010


I've liked his stand up, but only tuned in for a couple of minutes when our TV guide channel thingy mistakenly labeled it as Always Sunny… It just didn't grab me, but I'll give it another try.

Yeah, it's one of the best things on television. Watch "Bully" and "God" and for a totally different type of episode watch the one where he goes to the dentist. I'm usually strongly against self-indulgence in art but in this case it's a blessing.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:52 AM on October 15, 2010


Interesting Fact: Louis CK native language is Spanish and spent his childhood in Mexico.
posted by wcfields at 10:59 AM on October 15, 2010


Louie's point is a good one. Don't make it into a competition for who is the most oppressed.

That's not what it is. He says white people have had prosperity 10,000 years, which is simply not true, and in doing that, he risks essentializing whiteness in exactly the same way as white supremacists, by saying that white superiority is intrinsic and universal - you could get in a time machine and enjoy privilege, white people have always had privilege - not the result of contingent historical and cultural factors that have varied. The only difference is that he thinks white people have a kind of noblesse oblige, and I guess that passes as profound?
posted by AlsoMike at 11:10 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, the pitfalls of comedy, which involve exaggeration and caricaturization. You tell one joke about how it's great to be white in America, and has been for a long time, and suddenly you're on par with white supremacists.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:20 AM on October 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


Love his comedy, took a pass on "Lucky Louie" cos fuck a sitcom. But thanks for pointing out Louie is on Netflix instant. Based on this thread I'll check it out for sure.
posted by jcruelty at 11:25 AM on October 15, 2010


Sitting stoned on my best friend's couch, watching "Bully" on his DVR, and realizing that it wasn't just well written television, it was almost flawlessly written television, that it was more true to life than almost anything I'd ever seen, is one of my fondest pop culture memories.
posted by JimBennett at 11:27 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


saying that white superiority is intrinsic and universal

Um, what?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:35 AM on October 15, 2010


Joke-free Zone
posted by Mister_A at 11:51 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love Louie. My wife feels a bit uncomfortable with his self depricating humor in the same way some people dislike Elliot Smith. Like Smith, she says nobody will say they didn't see it coming when he finally kills himself.

Hey, wanna try the motor bong?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:37 PM on October 15, 2010


Is it me or is there someone giving the camera the middle finger during the Louie Louie intro?(when he's eating his pizza)
posted by strangememes at 12:38 PM on October 15, 2010


I don't know if that's you. Do you recognize yourself in that shot?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


A digression, but: reading this and thinking about Louie C.K. being a divorced dad I couldn't help but think of...I wonder what Louie would think of this guy. I wish I could clearly elucidate how diametrically opposed these two people are. When I was reading that post the other day I was struggling to figure out what I found so repulsive about that...person (other than just his apparent shamelessness and fundamental shallowness), and I couldn't really say it, but I feel like Louis C.K. sort of epitomizes the opposite of that guy, if you know what I mean.

</incoherent statement about something or other>
posted by dubitable at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2010


Oh, the pitfalls of comedy, which involve exaggeration and caricaturization. You tell one joke about how it's great to be white in America, and has been for a long time, and suddenly you're on par with white supremacists.

The difference between a joke that stings the people who need to be stung and one that just makes heads nod in the choir is getting the details right.

A joke that has people thinking "Well actually..." instead of just laughing uncomfortably has failed just as much as a joke that isn't funny. Trying to explain why, really, the joke works, it really was funny, you shoulda laughed instead of arguing with it, is a futile.
posted by straight at 1:52 PM on October 15, 2010


A joke that has people thinking "Well actually..." instead of just laughing uncomfortably has failed just as much as a joke that isn't funny.

But most of us didn't react to it by saying, "Well, actually." I grant that it failed as a joke for those who did react that way.
posted by mreleganza at 2:32 PM on October 15, 2010


Metafilter: </incoherent statement about something or other>
posted by Grangousier at 2:58 PM on October 15, 2010


WHOOOOOOOOOSSSHHHH!!!! [[THE POINT]]







______









[[YOUR HEAD]]
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 3:12 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


But most of us didn't react to it by saying, "Well, actually."

Most of us agreed with the point he's making about white privilege before we heard the joke.
posted by straight at 3:19 PM on October 15, 2010


That poker-table conversation about why "faggot" is so offensive loses any impact it might have when you know that the etymology is complete and utter nonsense.

Neither Louis CK and Monica Potts seem to know that? They both, as far as I can see, believe it to be true.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:48 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's not what it is. He says white people have had prosperity 10,000 years, which is simply not true, and in doing that, he risks essentializing whiteness in exactly the same way as white supremacists, by saying that white superiority is intrinsic and universal - you could get in a time machine and enjoy privilege, white people have always had privilege - not the result of contingent historical and cultural factors that have varied. The only difference is that he thinks white people have a kind of noblesse oblige, and I guess that passes as profound?

He talks about going to the year two. He's exaggerating throughout the bit for the sake of the jokes, not trying to construct an argument for an airtight dissertation.
posted by Mikey-San at 5:30 PM on October 15, 2010


I knew taking this plate of beans into the time machine with me was going to be messy...
posted by Mick at 8:04 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The bully episode, so often remarked upon, was amazing, but the amazingness of that episode really came together in the final minute or two, when he's sharing a cigarette with the bully's father on the doorstep. Without that scene, we were watching a gut-wrenching episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is fine, but one low-key chat elevated the entire thing in an instant.

So I just went to Hulu and watched this, and WHAT? NO!

The scene between Louie and Sean in the diner is indeed amazing, though nothing like Curb Your Enthusiasm, because it's not in any way funny. Then there's this very good sequence where Louie follows the bully Sean home on the ferry, shadows him to his house, watches him go inside, and we cut to black. Show over. Great moment. Louie can't let go and admit he got humiliated, so he creepily follows the high school bully all the way to Staten Island and finally has to concede that he has no plan and there is going to be no closure.

But then -- we're back from commercial and there's five more minutes of show! And Louie knocks on the kid's door! And all of a sudden there's a lot of pat BS about the cycle of violence, followed by an even more pat, even more BS "we're all men here" bonding moment between Louie and the bully's dad. All the hard work the episode did up to this point, ruined.

In retrospect, I think what was going on is that Michael Drayer, who plays Sean, is a way better actor than is Louis CK himself. And that Louis CK has very little idea what's good about his own show.
posted by escabeche at 9:02 PM on October 15, 2010


And all of a sudden there's a lot of pat BS about the cycle of violence, followed by an even more pat, even more BS "we're all men here" bonding moment between Louie and the bully's dad. All the hard work the episode did up to this point, ruined.


While the lead in to that scene itself seems a bit forced, the exchange is natural. It's especially natural in that there's still no closure at the end of that episode. Everyone involved is still as confused and desperate as ever. But now they're smoking a couple fags. Which sometimes is all you can do.
posted by triceryclops at 10:06 PM on October 15, 2010


I thought the exchange worked. It is a little pat, but very human. I dunno I'm watchin the show on netflix instant right now, quite liking it. I like that it goes in unexpected directions, like the fight at the bar. Nice to see Louis in complete creative control.
posted by jcruelty at 10:07 PM on October 15, 2010


Like escabeche, I just watched the "Bully" episode on the strength of all the people here saying what amazing television it was, and I'm baffled.

The whole thing was a bit like those parts of "Annie Hall" where you see what people are really saying in the subtitles, but without the subtitles. People just said, out loud, what people don't have the honesty or self-knowledge to say out loud in real life. It was incredibly unrealistic.

A lot of comedy is based on making the audience uncomfortable. I think Louis CK is notable because that's the main thrust of what he does, but I have no idea why so many people are raving about him.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 12:22 AM on October 16, 2010


For those who just watched 'Bully' and didn't like it: Imagine any other half-hour comedy show on teevee doing that episode. Imagine Seinfeld or Two and a Half Men or The Office doing that episode.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:55 AM on October 16, 2010


How is the scene in 'Bully' not simply Nice Guy Syndrome at it's worst?

"I'm a nice guy, but I can't get laid because girls are (biologically wired to be?!) attracted to jerks?"

If it were a woman writing that, saying, "To my shame, I'm turned off by a guy avoiding conflict," that would be one thing. But for a guy to write that scene and put those words in a woman's mouth is a little much.
posted by straight at 12:28 PM on October 16, 2010


How is the scene in 'Bully' not simply Nice Guy Syndrome at it's worst?

I think because there's no indication that we're supposed to take the message of the scene to be 'poor Louie, he's too noble to attract women.' The episode isn't about Louie's romantic life at all. There's no indication that the woman's reaction is meant to implicate all women. And at no point is it implied that she would have preferred it if he'd been more of a jerk-- in fact, she says straight-out that she's glad he didn't fight. And we don't ever see her wind up with some big jerky guy who fights.

I have no idea where you came up with the notion that that's what's going on.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:59 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


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