Sunday, May 06, 2018

It's just COMEDY, people

Okay, so I've been ranting about the same thing, but Bill Maher does it better and with funny graphics, and of course he's angrier than me. Worth watching.

12 comments :

Ted said...

Did you read Ken, that Polanski has been kicked out of the academy.

Any rant from you asking that Mel Gibson too be kicked out?

Mitchell Hundred said...

Honestly, I think saying that something is just comedy or just a joke undersells the influence that that kind of stuff has. Ken has acknowledged this influence in the past. Psychological studies show that telling a joke about something is one of the most effective ways to convince people that that statement is the truth (because in order to do that you have to establish a friendly relationship with your audience, which makes them more likely to believe you). People don't laugh at something unless they believe it to be true on some level, which makes it all the more important to examine the things people laugh at.

Now, on the whole this video avoids mentioning the flawed premise in the title of this post, and there are some points in it that I agree with. Criticizing a movie trailer without seeing the entire thing is indeed ridiculous. But the implicit message seems to be that people are getting upset over nothing, which is not the case at all.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Torn on this one. I think Bill Maher is correct about the reviews. Yet, at the same time, its sort of "the pot calling the kettle black." That is, I used to like Bill, but over the years he's gotten a little too smug and self-righteous for my taste. He fancies himself to be the heir to George Carlin without any of G.C.'s cleverness. And while its clear that there's a good deal of sarcasm in his rant he really needs to realize that often his criticism of others is just as bad as what he's accusing them of. (Yes, I know. Bad grammar)
M.B.

Aaron Sheckley said...

LOL, really? Well, we managed to elect a guy who's been the source of comedy since well before the election, and an endless stream of anti-Trump based comedy in the year and a half leading up to the election sure didn't seem to stand in HIS way. In fact, his popularity seems to actually go up the more people make fun of him; somehow, all those jokes have managed to create the idea that a misogynistic billionaire is actually the plucky underdog. Probably because people listen to comedians that mirror their viewpoints, just like they go to news sites that let them wallow in their own echo chambers. Trump supporters aren't watching Samantha Bee and suddenly having epiphanies where they realize he's a d-bag; if they're watching her at all, it's to parse her comedy for offense, in much the same way that a hyper-left progressive is parsing an Amy Schumer comedy looking for "problematic" things to be offended by. This constant outrage by a portion of the left is doing nothing but making the left look weak and fractured, and not to be taken seriously. It boggles my mind that the same left that once stood toe-to-toe with company strikebreaking goons, risking death for a better living wage, now has members who break down in hysterics because Amy Schumer made a fat joke. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm with Bill Maher on this one; if you keep barking at nothing, then no one hears you when you're actually on to something. The fact is, if you're going to do any sort of comedy that isn't just Jim Gaffigan standing on stage talking about Pop Tarts, then someone is going to be offended by what you say. NO subject should be off limits for comedy, no matter whether it's punching up or down; the audience can decide if you're funny enough to continue making a living at it. Or maybe we can just go in the opposite direction and create a review board so all writers, filmmakers, comedians, etc can submit their material to a select group that represents every conceivable layer of society, and they can subject it to their offense-ometer and see if it passes the test. Of course, that means that every comic will now just be on stage reading the phone book, but hey, at least it won't be problematic.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

"Snowflakes" is a perfect word to describe those who express excessive offense at the words and deeds of others for the purpose of calling attention to themselves.

Gonna watch Blazing Saddles again tonight to remind myself of what real humor is...

Philip said...

The thing about "why isn't she black?" is weird to me. I mean, go watch PRECIOUS, then, right? Is that the movie you are trying to turn this into? I'm not a huge Maher fan, but his point about reviewers writing about the movie they would have made is exactly correct.

I'm going to do my own version staring a mixed-race transgender quadriplegic twin-spirited bisexual with AIDS who eventually finds love. Its going to be called "I FEEL PRETTY INTELLIGENT" because no one should ever be evaluated in any way based on their form. Wait, on second thought that's offensive to stupid people. How about "I FEEL". Although, that really offends those who are less emotionally able. Ok, how about the main character also has autism. The movie is called "I" - though that is rather ego-centric and devalues thought who lack a strong sense of self-identity because of the hegemony of the heteronormative.

OK,hmm. .. let me think.

Frederick Herman "Freddy" Jones said...

Ken;

I read you post with great interest.

On the micro level of Maher's commentary, here is my issue... The Amy Schumer movie was not funny, at least to me. I would think that I'm able to express that feeling without reservation.

As you know, a movie - any movie - needs a combination of the right ingredients to take shape in the first place, let alone for it to actually be good. The "stars" have to align just to get the thing made. Once in production, there are probably a billion ways for it to derail.

So, a critic has the right to analyze and try to decode what may have gone wrong (or what went right). They try to discover that one-in-a-billion circumstance that caused it to misfire. Often, there is more than one reason, in their opinion.

So, I believe Schumer is making old-school comedies without injecting new-found ideals and norms. Sure, a comedy may push boundaries and reveal something meaningful behind the laughter, but you MUST have the laughter.

Later seasons of some television shows suffer the same fate. They lose the comedic elements, and it becomes a dreadful mess and a shell of its former self.

On the macro level, yes, people need to relax and remember it’s “just” a comedy, but some in the creative community want to have their cake and eat it too. How can you have so many “superstars” preach about tolerance and inclusivity and then turn around and portray a character in a movie who pushed the line too far and did/said something objectionable?

When I see a Schumer movie, I’m afraid that I don’t see a blank canvas. It’s dubbed an “Amy Schumer movie” for a reason. So, if she puts a spin on a character that is more stereotype than funny, it can cause a backlash. Maybe I’m wrong, but when I saw the movie, the folks in the theater seemed more uncomfortable than amused.

I understand there was a time when people did not know for sure the political affiliations of a majority of the stars and certainly did not know the political affiliation of a writer, director or key grip. When someone does find out, you can no longer watch a movie or TV show without being influenced in some way or without some sort of preconception.

All of this, in turn, reduces the amount of land you can farm for comedy. Jokes now become polarizing. Shows that were made in the 1970s could never be made today, even by Hulu or Netflix. The comedic landscape has been changed, and a lot of that is due, ironically, to the insistence of those who demand to never be offended.

Times have changed, history is never repeated, and where it goes from here is anyone’s guess. However, many in the entertainment industry who profess love and inclusion seems unable to tolerate the beliefs or concerns of Middle America, and the divide will only grow wider and the audience fragmented.

On the bright side, I can watch episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” whenever I want, and I’ve discovered some amazing performances by Ted Knight, Moore, Betty White and a host of others. Plus, I don’t even know what the actors’ political affiliations are. All I know is that it works even today, because it’s FUNNY

Aaron Sheckley said...

I think the issue isn't whether or not something is funny; frankly I'm with you, Freddy, and I don't find Schumer all that funny. I don't find Lena Dunham compelling either. Sharon Horgan or Phoebe Waller-Bridge, however, I could watch in just about anything. The idea of whether or not something is funny is often going to be subjective. The issue at hand right now isn't that something is or isn't funny, it's the thought policing going on that says you SHOULDN'T find something funny because it's "wrong". That uncomfortable silence you hear in a theater now often isn't because something isn't funny; it's because people are sitting in their seats squirming uncomfortably because they aren't sure if it's socially acceptable to laugh at what they see, lest they be branded as a racist, or a rape apologist, or a Nazi, or any number of other buzzwords that the internet outrage machine holds dear to their hearts. If the only people it becomes acceptable to make humorous observations about are white male religious conservatives, then comedians might as well go get a degree in accounting or something, because comedy is going to get pretty damn boring.

Aaron said...

I don't like Amy Schumer and I am not a huge Bill Maher fan but he's dead on with this one. Not everything has to be a vehicle for social commentary or a voice for the less represented. Sometimes a funny movie can just be funny.

Alan C said...

I can't help thinking of the line about offensive speech that the solution is more speech, not suppressing the offensive speech. If I were Amy Schumer I wouldn't be apologizing for my work, I'd be welcoming more movies from different perspectives that have the same message of self-acceptance. A black "I Feel Pretty", a disabled version, etc. Of course the first rule of comedy is, as Roseanne Barr said, "NEVER target someone more famous than U who is in the audience." But right after that, be FUNNY!

Diane D. said...

I hope I’m not offending anyone, but I thought Phillip’s comment was hilarious!

And, if Ken had prefaced his Title with, “Sometimes” I think he could have avoided Mitchell’s criticism—man! so close!

I walked out of the movie half way through because I was bored—it wasn’t funny. I used to think Amy Schumer was really funny in some of the sketches she did, but she just can’t act in a movie, IMHO.

I agreed with Bill completely. I love his show, I think he is brilliant and hilarious!

Coram Loci said...

Civil society consists of more than politics. Yet, for some, there is an ever-increasing need to incorporate politics into everything. It's reminiscent of totalitarianism. Why, my coffee, for instance, must be "fair trade." It's not enough that it be cheap and that I donate the savings to gun control groups. No, the politics must be at the source.

The criticism Maher directs our eyes to is from the Marxist lens: looks for the victim-oppressor dynamic, but not only economic victims and oppressors but social and cultural victims and oppressors. "It's just a joke" is seen as code for "this is stealth weapon in the victim/oppressor fight." A cigar is always more than a cigar.

The nervous laughter from Maher's audience is a evidence that despite the truth of Maher's statements, being a "good person," someone who cares about fairness and equality -- values that liberals hold more dear than conservatives -- means not being able to offer a full-throated laugh if doing so makes it harder to achieve fairness and equality for the oppressed, little guy.

I like to share laughs with people and forget about politics for awhile. For some, forgetting is impossible and is itself a political act.