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December 2014

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criminal minds garcia plan b

this will be the writer's year, man.

So last night, I lay awake in bed for hours, feeling a bit brutalized because of a very funny, very apt, very smart deconstruction of The Phantom Menace that had a lot of smart clever things to say about constructing a narrative.

It was also, not incidentally, misogynist.

In small ways, and in great. Mentioning that a character complains like a girl. Calling C-3p0 "effeminate" as if that were a bad thing. Illustrating and adding violence against women as a running gag.

You know what?

I do not actually think those jokes were intended to hurt me. I think they were intended to be funny.

And yet, they left me feeling like a bad person. They left me lying awake at night, wondering why people hated me because I happen to be female.

And I realized, they don't. The people who make these jokes do not realize that they make me feel bad, or wrong, or toxic simply for having been born female, or queer. They don't actually mean to make black or Asian or Latino or Middle Eastern people feel less human. They are just... made a little uncomfortable by difference.

And so they alienate it.

And they don't realize that they are alienating me. A human being. Somebody who will lie awake at night wondering why they hate her.

Tonight, I am watching the Oscars.

I have watched Seth MacFarlane make jokes about women and blacks as if we are not people with hearts.

I have watched Ang Lee and Samuel Jackson and Halle Berry and Shirley Bassey and Salma Hayek and a dozen others be beautiful and gracious, and I have to think--

--as Ang Lee said--

NAMASTE.

Peace.

Peace.

I still want to punch Seth MacFarlane in the face. A song about Meryl Streep's boobs? Really Seth? Where's the song about Ewan McGregor's dick?

Namaste.

I know you do not mean to hurt me. I know you do not mean to make me feel less than human.

But sometimes you do.

Oh, you do.

And you, Seth, are not the first one.

Comments

I haven't seen the Oscars, but I know enough of McFarlane's work (he's the Family Guy one, isn't he?) that I suspect if he were called on it he'd say it was "ironic." Possibly with air quotes, which would also be "ironic." And so on.

I think that "ironic" has become an excuse for quite a lot of old-fashioned douchebaggery, if that's the word I'm groping for, and I'm very much afraid we started it, with the egregious Alf Garnett in Till Death Us Do Part. I don't believe for a moment that the writers and producers of that show did not know--did not factor into their deliberations--that a vast sector of the population of Britain would hear Garnett's vile racism and sexism and take him to their hearts as "one of us," "telling it like it is." I think they expected that and were happy to get the increased viewing figures. I think Peter Griffin in Family Guy, like Homer in The Simpsons, is a direct descendant of Garnett, and that his writers cynically play both ends against the middle, making the unregenerate laugh with hate-based humour and then turning round to the rest of us with a broad grin (and fingers crossed behind the back) and saying "Hey, come on, it's ironic! Can't you take a joke?"

Personally, I never could take that kind of joke. Or that kind of duplicity.
Hipster racism is still racism. Yeah.

The thing is, you can use humor to illustrate douchebaggery--All In The Family style--but that works because you show the douchebaggery and undermine it.

*sigh* This that ain't.
To be fair, one of the pre-Oscar commercials actually said:

"I'm Seth MacFarlane...ask your kids. You've been warned!"