I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sometimes Funny People Aren't Funny

Going to wander off my usual beat...

I think Tracey Morgan is one of the funniest people I've ever heard; I mean, he's hold your side kind of funny. And I understand that's purely a matter of taste, but man, his appearances on Letterman... that's funny stuff.

So this is really, really depressing:
Stand up comic and 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan went on a homophobic tear last weekend during a show in Nashville. At one point he stated,  “if his son was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man…or he would pull out a knife and stab that little [n-----] to death.”
Now, here’s the context in which Morgan made his remarks. For decades, queer kids have been killing themselves in response to the lethal homophobia they encounter at home, at school, in their places of worship, and in their neighborhoods. Furthermore, queer children whose parents bully and demean them are at 8 times the risk of suicide than other children. And finally, the city of Nashville is a horrendous place to be young and queer. In this context, Morgan’s words are akin to pouring gasoline upon a raging homophobic, and quite often, lethal inferno.
In light of the uproar over his rant, Morgan issue a statement that was not an apology.
I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others…. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context.
“My choice of words???” No Mr. Morgan, you are advocating violence against queer people, and young queer people of color in particular. Removing the “n” from your rant would not make it less lethal. In a public forum, you stated that you would HATE a hypothetical gay son more than you would LOVE him–Not only that, but you would HATE him to the point of MURDERING  him. Consequently, you have endorsed a form of  “honor killing” to protect your own fragile sense of masculinity. Queer identity so threatens you, queer identity so FRIGHTENS you, that you would EXTERMINATE your very own son for it. You sir, are a raging bigot and a coward–you’d much rather kill than love and understand. You are a walking definition of pathology.
Catherine Lugg has it exactly right - what he did was just inexcusable. It reminds me of Michael Richards a few years ago. In both cases, it appears that these "comedians" were on stage dying when they went off on their rants.

I have a fair bit of performing experience, and I can tell you it is not easy to get up in front of people and say... well, anything. More than once, I've said something in front of people that I thought would really resonate, or really be funny, and... nothing. You get desperate. You try to salvage something. You may say something you wouldn't normally say.

So I don't know if Tracey Morgan is a homophobe; I don't know if Michael Richards is a racist. I do know that, rather than own up to the fact that they weren't funny on that particular night, they tried to take the lazy way out. Being outrageous is a lot easier than being funny; if you're bombing, you should take your lumps like a pro, leave the stage, and work harder on your next set.

They didn't. And while they may or may not be bigots themselves, they held their audience in such low esteem that they assumed bigoted screeds could save their lame acts. I hope that the rejections of their audiences is a sign of growing maturity for our society.

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