Tuesday, February 26, 2013

See You Next Tuesday, Rational Thought

So, another Academy Awards show has come and gone; and, as usual, everyone had something to gripe about. My main beef was with host Seth MacFarlane. Not because he went balls out for the jugular; but because his material was his typical weak-assed, smug faux-snark, intended to be "edgy"-- when in fact it's just forced "outrageousness" trying to pass as something with an actual purpose and point of view.
That's what offended me most.
Apparently, I am in the minority; for while I was repeatedly hissing "lame!" at the screen, a good deal of the rest of the Oscar-watching universe were slashing their wrists or setting themselves on fire in the streets over The Onion's now-infamous tweet regarding 9 year old actress, Quevenzhane Wallis.
In case you missed said tweet, here it is:
"Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quevenzhane Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?"
Now, of course, The Onion has long since issued the type of apology expected when a firestorm of misguided PC shit comes a-rainin' down on some poor fool's head-- and as much as I wish they hadn't bowed, they were trying to minimize the PR damage that can often come from masses of people who go batshit crazy in their haste to overreact in the STRONGEST AND MOST STRIDENT AND SERIOUS TERMS POSSIBLE...
While The Onion neither needs nor (I'm sure) wants defending from the likes of me, I'm gonna toss in my two cents anyway...
Why not?
I am a huge fan of Twitter, even as I admit there are a number of things about it that infuriate the hell out of me: The narcissism (which ALL Twitter people, myself included, perpetuate on a constant basis), the bad "joke forms" that fly around like mutating virii of idiocy, people taking endless pictures of themselves at the wheel of their '93 Geo Metros, etc., etc...
Don't get me started on Favstar. That one has a couple thousand words coming; just not today.
So, like a lot of people, I both dig and despise Twitter, in ever-fluctuating measures. It's rather infuriating...
And, so it was Sunday evening when it came to The Onion's tweet about Quevenzhane Wallis. When it hit, it was soon followed by a tidal wave of what can only be described as irrationally virulent and weepy sanctimony. Though the tweet was deleted fairly quickly, the damage was done and people were looking for blood. Well, they weren't looking for blood so much as they were looking to outdo one another by stating their objections in the most breathlessly purple shades possible.
And it was fairly nauseating.
Look, I'm not saying it was The Onion's best line ever, as it was not. But, unlike Seth MacFarlane (in my opinion), they get a pass; as even their second tier material is still better than anything that hack has done in his fratboy-pandering life...
To me that was the biggest objection: On it's own, at the time it was tweeted, it wasn't that strong a joke. Now, two days later, after all the hand-wringing and talking head pieces on all the news networks, that tweet has walked into comedy legend.
You heard me.
The more people tried to outdo each other in their strident opposition of The Onion, the funnier the tweet became, and it really began to take on a life of it's own through those who strode the streets of the internet, like a band of PC zombies, looking to beat anyone senseless with their florid condemnation of a silly little tweet that became stronger and stronger the more these weeping blowhards plugged in their lutes and played their howling madrigals.
For the record, the tweet did NOT contain any of what is now termed "hate speech": No racism, no homophobia, no jingoistic flag-waving nationalism, no knocks on various cultures, lifestyles, religions, etc., etc., etc...
And, no sexism.
I cannot even believe I had to write those words; but, then again, I couldn't believe it when I began reading Twitter folks excoriating The Onion for their 'virulent misogyny' in the hours after the tweet first came and went.
Charges of misogyny and sexism may not be as bad as being accused of pedophilia and the like; but they're pretty serious, and shouldn't be tossed around so lightly. While it is great that we live in a culture becoming ever more attuned to the various needs and sensitivities of all our citizens, there is an ever-increasing danger that pretty soon most everything is gonna be off limits-- and how much would (or should I say "will"?, because that's where we're headed...) that suck?
I believe the word we're looking for here is "context", people. "Context".
Instead of just seeing words, and firing up the righteous indignation app on the iPhone, how about attempting to justify the notion of evolution by taking those opposable thumbs off the touchscreen keyboard for a couple of moments, and instead using our reason to try and put things into (multiple choice):
A)A simple rhyme scheme
B)A makeshift grave under the porch
C)Your stepdad's skinny jeans
Yes, I get that the use of the word "cunt" is a rather touchy and polarizing subject for a lot of people; and when used in a tweet about a 9 year old who just happens to be a girl, it can go downright inflammatory.
Again, context...
The word "cunt" could easily have been switched out for "asshole", "jerkoff" and any number of others; including, yes, "dick".
Suppose the child thespian in question had been a 9 year old boy, and the word "dick" was used instead. Still harsh, calling a child such a name, yes; but, any sexist, or even sexualized, overtones there? No.
And, while I was not present at the conception of the Wallis/"cunt" tweet, I'd bet my life that there was no sexist/sexualized intent on the part of the author(s), who've no doubt been hung out to dry since.
It's just a tripwire of a word, that's all! And it can make people, of both sexes, go nuts. But, like it's cousin, "fuck", "cunt" has evolved to mean more than it's original purpose of being another term for vagina.
"Fuck" originally was the vulgar term for sexual intercourse; but, now it has branched out: fuckhead fuckwit, fuck off, fuck you, etc.
Does "fuckwit" have anything to do with, well, fucking? No.
Just as the use of the word "cunt" in the tweet about Quevenzhane Wallis had nothing to do with her or any other female's anatomy. 
Period. Which is another word with multiple uses and meanings.
Now, we can argue back and forth all day about whether it was right or wrong to make such a joke from behind the banner of satire. Of course no one with any lick of humanity or sense would ever make such a joke to a child's face; but, is it somehow any, er, better because it was done through/by a website known for it's line-crossing satire?
It depends. In all honesty, if my daughter had been the target of said tweet, it would have irritated the hell out of me, for two reasons: 1) People naturally don't like having their kids called cunts; and 2) Because I'd have to no doubt spend a couple of hours talking to said child about things like humor, satire, context, etc.; and I'd wanna make sure the kid knew that sometimes, words are just words and that they can only hurt you if you let them...
Then I'd be off to drink in a dimly lit garage until it was time to collect my Father Of The Year award.
Again, I wish The Onion had held it's ground and not apologized. Anyone who took the time to take a breath could see there was no hate speech involved. But, we get so fucking emotional about "the children", don't we? Everyone goes all Sammy Davis Jr., talking about how the children are the future , they're so precious, etc., etc.-- and for those people who like kids, I guess they are. But, if it's all about protecting the kiddies, why are so many pushed into the entertainment industry, which has a track record of spitting out more victims than victors?
I'm not saying young Quevenzhane Wallis "deserved" to be called such a thing; not at all. But, with all the kid actors strewn by the side of the road, let's hope this little blip of a non-incident is the worst thing she has to face between now and the first financial impropriety lawsuit she files after turning 18...
Chris Checkman