32 (fuckin’ Tracy goddamn Morgan)

June 12, 2011

OK, so by now you’ve all heard about Tracy Morgan and his really terrible attempt at a joke that got tons of applause in Tenessee (good job, y’all).

A few things bug me about this. Of course the first thing is the homophobia/heterosexism that this is indiciative of. Even if Morgan himself is not homophobic, the fact that he felt comfortable enough to make jokes about violence toward his hypothetically gay son indicates just how drowning in privilege he is, and how he doesn’t give a shit about that. LGBTQ kids across the country already feel like they can’t talk to their parents about it. For the record, LGBTQ adults feel that way too; why do you think this blog exists? So for him to joke about stabbing his son if he came out? Stay classy, dude.

So that happened and he issued his lame apology. But then came the talking about it and the commentary across the internet-o-sphere. Most of it is predictable: condemnation, snark, some apologists standing up for him. But the stuff that really bugs me is the commentary that, when expanding the argument to the larger issues of which this whole situation is merely a symptom, turns into calls for people to ignore him, buck up, and in some cases even becomes a kind of victim blaming. One such case is Elon James White’s secondary podcast, The White House. Now before i go any further, let me say that TWH is LOWBROW, much like Morgan’s comedy, but in the case of the podcast, their lowbrow humor is not rehearsed in any way. They just snark on whatever topic is on their docket. They’re all professional comedians, and TWH is a show where they just shoot the shit, and it’s usually fun, and light, Elon jokes about how he’s going to hell for associating with the rest of the crew, because their jokes are really WRONG sometimes. But the point is that it’s all tongue in cheek, and ironic, and everybody gets that going in. That being said…

Today’s White House episode was not a typical show. Since the subject was Tracy Morgan, the discussion became one of the rights of a comedian: what is someone allowed to joke about, when does it cross the line, and when does reaction to a comedian crossing that line go too far and become abridging on free speech rights? Valid questions, but i was very upset at the resulting discussion. First off, none of the crew are LGBTQ anything. The discussion that ensued showed that in spades, positively REEKING of cis/het privilege. There was the argument that we’re raising a nation of wusses, and that this country is too litigious, and that we’re quick to call for the dismissal of someone who offends us, and that if we take action thru a non governmental organization whose purpose is to expose issues of oppression to those in power, we’re infringing on the free speech rights of the one who offends us.

REALLY???

So there should be no consquences for when someone says something offensive? Or even when something is percieved as offensive by certain parties? We should just buck up and not say anything, and let that shit slide?

REALLY???

What this says to me is that some people, specifically the members of the TWH crew who were making this argument, DON’T KNOW WHAT FREE SPEECH MEANS. What it actually means is that yes, comedians can say all the offensive shit they want. Have at it hoss. But if i, or 3000 people take offense at what you say, we have the right to complain. We also have the right to call a non-profit organization and get them to use their connections to get an audience with someone higher up on the totem pole and complain on our behalf. That is the double edged sword that is “free speech.” You have the right to say anything via whatever means to whatever audience, and i have the right to say to complain via whatever means to whatever audience, if i’m offended. If then, you lose money, because people become aware of your offensive jokes and don’t want to hear them, thus not buying tickets and getting their friends to not buy tickets, that is not you being silenced by any governmental entity (because THAT would be unconstitutional, and ACTUALLY infringing on your rights to free speech). What this is, is you merely dealing with the (perhaps unforeseen) consequences of your own actions. You want US to buck up? YOU BUCK UP, and take responsibility. Of course, you also have the right to complain that you’re losing money because an organization came at you for what you said, but we also have the right to call you a whiny punk. Now you have a choice to make: continue saying stuff that pisses people off, or change your comedy routine.

One bit on the podcast that particularly pissed me off, especially in light of recent blog posts, was when one of the crew started arguing semantics about the stabbing joke. He began by quoting the original article:

“He (Morgan) said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death.”

He (the TWH crew member) then decided (possibly as another attempt at a joke) that what Morgan was actually saying was that he didn’t mind so much (eyeroll) if his son is gay, but that he should at least “be a man about it” and not come out using an “effeminate” voice, because that’s what is actually the stabworthy offense. Not being gay, but being a “feminine” man, and by extension possibly trans. Great. So it’s all ok now, right?

FUCK THAT SHIT.

This is indicative of systemic homophobia, heterosexism, cis-sexism, not to mention outdated gender roles. What it’s more indicative of is that he (the TWH member) is OK WITH THAT, to say nothing of Morgan. This kind of thought process and is what actually kills people. It’s what is at the root of the bullying to which they say we should just stand up and fight, and the aloneness LGBTQ youth and adults feel when we think we can’t come out to our families or friends. This is why i can’t just wear the clothes i like when i feel like it, without fear that i’ll be be made fun of, or worse have to turn to my self defense training and have to maim someone who comes at me, or worst, just get shot or otherwise killed because of my FUCKING CLOTHES. It is because of the systemic pervasiveness of this thought process.

It’s slowly being broken down, but like so many things there’s a long way to go, as indicated by the applause Morgan recieved at the show where this all happened. And as long as people who are going to make jokes like that are not taken to task for their words, it’s going to go that much slower.

One Response to “32 (fuckin’ Tracy goddamn Morgan)”

  1. patientc said

    This is really good, I am glad you put this out there. I just finished my own piece on it, will probably put it out tomorrow.

    I love the argument that by denying Morgan our dollars due to offensive crap, that we are attacking him. Dude decided to make money by virtue of public opinion, but we are not allowed to NOT give him our money?!?

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