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Posted by on Mar 4, 2018 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

Is It Time to Bury Oscar?

 

 

Rambling and Ranting about the 90th Annual Academy Awards

 

This has been a terrible year for movies and the people who love them.

Foreshadowing the mass mayhem to come, last year’s Academy Award ceremony concluded with the travesty of Moonlight winning the Best Motion Picture Oscar over the far superior La La Land.  If that wasn’t an abomination enough, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, two Hollywood legends delegated to announce the winner, were mistakenly handed the wrong envelope and declared the erroneous victor.

Talk about “fake news.”

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Posted by on Aug 26, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 6 comments

Writers on the Storm

 

 

TEXAS HURRICANE IS A FALSE FLAG!

Don’t be fooled by the fake news of a “hurricane.”

There’s no “hurricane.”  It’s a false flag.  

It’s a false flag created by evil Leftist-globalist financier George Soros and his corrupt cronies at CNN to boost ratings.  They want to distract America from President Trump’s fight to #MAGA.

Someone with a Russian-sounding name told me they saw ads were posted on Craigs List. They’re paying $25 an hour for “extras” to stand next to giant wind turbines and get their hair messed up. I heard organizers are spraying the extras with garden hoses, so it looks like they’re standing in the middle of a hurricane. They’re “performance actors,” just like the Leftists who were hired a few weeks in Charlottesville to stir up shit. It’s probably a racket, paid for by Soros.  Someone needs to look into this.

You can’t trust the film footage you see, either.  Notice they always show the same flimsy palm trees blowing?  Palm trees are everywhere — especially in Florida.  Those look a lot like Florida palm trees to me.  Not Texas palm trees.  Florida palm trees.  I’ve got people down in Florida doing an investigation into the origin of those palm trees right now, and you won’t believe that they’re finding.  My theory is — that’s probably stock footage from some other old storm, most likely in Florida.  That’s what I heard.  I’m just saying.  Someone needs to look into this.

I’m also hearing the scenes of that flimsy piece of sheet metal blowing off the empty shed in high winds is fake.  You know the footage I’m talking about.  CNN shows some shackle of a metal shed out in the middle of nowhere, and all the sudden the sheet metal blows off the roof.  Wow!  That really looked real.  Someone needs to look into this.

Listen up.  There’s no way this hurricane is real.  It’s fake.  Fake news.  Seriously, do you think the President would pardon a convicted racist on a Friday evening and then spend the entire weekend on vacation (AGAIN!) if he *really* believed there was a hurricane slamming into a state that he won the in 2016 election?

Hell or high water — NO!!!

Someone really needs to look into this.

Mr. President — you are in my thoughts and prayers.

 

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Posted by on Jun 10, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 1 comment

My Take on the Bill Maher Controversy

 

 

My Take on the Bill Maher Controversy:

(1) If you fear the occasional provocation, then don’t watch the show.

(2) If you don’t want to risk being offended, then don’t watch the show.

(3) If you are bothered by salty language or objectionable words, then don’t watch the show.

(4) If you demand politically correct content at all times, then don’t watch the show.

(5) If you demand that writers-comedians-performers adhere to a strict safe zone of family-friendly content, then don’t watch the show. In fact, don’t go *any* adult comedy show, because many stand-up acts are far *more* “racially insensitive.”

(6) If you accept the premise that Bill Maher has always been a risque comic who sometimes says and does inappropriate things, but are STILL offended, then don’t watch the show.

(7) If you don’t see a far bigger picture that Maher is an experienced comic who has built a successful career while offending people indiscriminately, then don’t watch the show.

(8) If you called for Maher to be fired but haven’t done jack shit to object to far more incendiary material put out and sold by Sony Records and other major record labels, then don’t watch the show.

(9) If you fail to weigh Maher’s lifetime of countless words and actions, which reveal an *indiscriminate* attack-dog persona without regard to race, then don’t watch the show.

(10) If you can’t tell the difference between the abject cruelty of a “nigger joke” which was/is a deplorable example of rampant racism versus Maher’s self-deprecating attempt at humor, told off-the-cuff in an unrehearsed setting, then don’t watch the fucking show!

 

There are thousands of television channels available to you for alternative mainstream entertainment which won’t ever risk offending you. For every Bill Maher, there are 100 preachers trying to pluck you wallet. For every Bill Maher, there are thousands of scripted shit shows which never take a risk, nor will ever make you think.  Go there. Make that choice on your own.

One not need be a fan of Bill Maher or agree with his politics to see that this is a very troubling episode. In fact, he should be supported by everyone who values free expression, and is a fan of uncanned humor.

My Conclusion: Maher should NOT have apologized. His apology was especially troubling, given Maher’s long advocacy of free expression and self-professed championing of anti-political correctness. It’s also a severe setback for ALL comedians and artists everywhere which will inhibit future exploration of touchy subjects.

Out.

 

Note:  To follow the Facebook discussion on this topic, please click HERE.

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Posted by on May 23, 2017 in Blog, Book Reviews, Essays, Politics | 2 comments

When Is It “Too Soon” to Joke?

 

 

On November 22, 1963 at a nightclub in New York City, stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce decided to go on with the show.  Just hours after President John F. Kennedy was declared dead, Bruce walked onstage in front of a uneasy audience.  No one in the crowd knew what to expect.

According to witnesses, Bruce wallowed around the stage for several moments, seemingly lost in his own thoughts, perplexed about how to proceed.  He didn’t know quite what to say.  Finally, after this awkward silence, Bruce stepped up to the microphone and blurted out, “Boy, is Vaughn Meader fucked.”

Not everyone will get that reference, so here’s the cliffs:  Vaughn Meader was a fellow comedian, a one-trick-pony who specialized in doing Kennedy impressions.  The previous year, Meader had even released a Grammy-award winning album which sold millions.  The Kennedy assassination also meant the death of Meader’s comedy career.  As things turned out, Bruce was right.  By 1965, Meader was broke.  He was fucked.

While the boundaries of good taste have since been blurred to the point of obscurity, society back in Bruce’s time was much more rigid.  Among the many idiosyncrasies which established Bruce as an insurgent of comedy was his willingness to take enormous risks during his act and directly challenge authority.  He ventured into once-sacred territory no other comedian during his day would dare touch.  For this, we was arrested several times and charged with crimes.

Although Bruce was unfazed by obscenity laws and other legal restrictions on free speech, he still had to be particularly nervous about cracking a joke like that on the day Kennedy died.  His joke might have bombed.  His audience could have stormed out in anger and disgust.  No one really ever knows how comedy will play out until, when invisible boundaries of expectation are crossed, and it’s too late.

A generation later, things for comedian Gilbert Gottfried didn’t go so well.  Shortly after 9/11, Gottfried attempted a polemical stand up sketch during which he made several references to the terrorist attacks.  The act wasn’t received well at all by the audience.  Someone in the crowd yelled out, “too soon!” — presumably speaking for a majority which viewed making light of the deaths of thousands of people as highly inappropriate and insensitive.

Over the years, comedians have been confronted with mixed reactions to cutting edge material alluding to tragedy.  When is it “too soon?”  That’s hard to say.  Indeed, the passage of time seems to be the only salve which gradually eases the sting of shock and pique of pain.  A more cynical explanation could be that time allows us a mourning period to anesthetize ourselves.  Whether we care to admit it or not, we begin to forget.  Time becomes an unwritten statute of limitations for alleviating the guilt of believing human tragedy can be funny.  Nervous muted giggles can and does eventually become bellowing laughter.

Today, we’re free to laugh about many of history’s worst tragedies.  Take Lincoln’s assassination, for instance.  There’s a popular witticism many of us have used on occasion, which goes:  “But other than that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”  That quip is intended to downplay misfortune in comparison to something that’s far more consequential, and it’s widely understood.  No one today would dare consider this remark insensitive, perhaps because everyone connected to the tragedy died a very long time ago.  But that sure as hell would have bombed had any comedian of the day used that line at Ford’s Theater in late 1865.

Yesterday, there was another terrible tragedy, this time in Manchester, England.  Many people died when a terrorist planted a bomb which exploded at a pop music concert.  Within hours, some people had taken to social media where they attempted to crack jokes which many viewed as “tasteless.”  The most noteworthy of controversial comments came from David Leavitt, a writer.  He posted to Twitter:  “The last time I listened to Ariana Grande I almost died too.”

In defense of Leavitt, I think the selected means of communication is very important here.  Social media is understood to be an unfiltered forum of expression. That’s what makes it a useful tool, sometimes.  Using an extreme example, no one (least of all Leavitt) would make insensitive remarks at a hospital where the victims’ families are gathered.  However, social media is widely understood to be a continuous lightning blast of free expression.  It’s the world’s biggest bar during happy hour.  Anything goes.

Let’s acknowledge as fact that Twitter is a younger, edgier, often sardonic forum of expression.  It’s not like your grandmother’s kitchen table, or the bus stop, or a Kiwanis Club.  Many people sign onto Twitter precisely for the entertainment value of quips and barbs — especially from the famous.  Isn’t that kinda’ the point (for a lot of readers?).  Hence, suddenly professing some moral objection to insensitivity while also perpetually blood-thirsty for scandal does an absurd contradiction.

Predictably, the public backlash to Leavitt’s Twitter post was swift and resounding.  With hours, Leavitt had to issue a public apology.  But the damage had already been done.  The dregs of the junk press pounded on the Leavitt wisecrack like a pack of wolves.  The very worst of the media mucus, TMZ — which has created a cottage industry empire out of outtakes with salacious shock value — had a field day.  What a disgraceful double standard.

I wonder — might we all be inflicted by these same double standards?  Are we hypocrites?  How can a joke be unfunny one day, and then funny the next?  Do we grant greater latitude to some people when they tell an off-color joke, while judging others far more harshly for an identical act?  Why do some among us receive a free pass on certain critical remarks about human tragedy, the ills of society, or race — while others who say identical things get vilified?

Here’s one possible explanation.  I think there’s an inherent desensitization to victims who are different from us.  The more alien they seem, the easier they become targets.  In the Manchester bombing incident, it’s easy to make fun of the torturesome music that’s popular with teenage girls.  Just as I remember years ago when the Union Carbide toxic gas leak tragedy in Bhopal, India killed hundreds of people, jokes were circulating in the streets within hours.  Presumably, those jokes would not have been told (not so fast, anyway) if the victims were our neighbors or our fellow countrymen.  It’s far easier to laugh at something the further we’re removed from the horrors.

For another reaction, I’ll borrow a (slightly edited) Facebook post from my friend, stand-up comedian Roger Rodd:

If you call yourself a comedian, and you have any rule book whatsoever for any premise, or you’re any part of the “too soon” police, you aren’t a comic.  You’re just another speech fascist.  That does not mean I feel sorry for, nor do I defend those who do insanely offensive premises, poorly timed material, or make asinine statements on a stage.  I simply defend their right to say it — and pay the price when it isn’t funny, well received, or costs them work or the respect of others….As a comedian, you’re either with free speech or you’re just another sanctimonious asshole of a SJW.  Judgement of material is the right of the audience — PERIOD.  That is not the right of anybody posing as a comedian.  Free speech BEGINS when somebody says something you DON’T like.

Comedy = Tragedy + Time.  Such a ridiculous equation.

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