Thursday, September 13, 2007

Suck it Jesus?

Kathy Griffin's recent remarks during an award acceptance speech made me shoot water out of my nose. Bucking the trend of thanking Jesus for every accomplishment in ones life she said, "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus," she then finished with, "Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now."

I can't find a link to it on youtube yet, but Here it is on CNN

What is even funnier is Bill Donohue, a spokesperson for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, had the balls to call it hate speech. This woman's failure to acknowledge and kowtow to his beliefs is hate speech. I have a hard time believing this joke on her part has even 1/100th of the damaging effect than the claim of the Colts head coach that Jesus wanted the Colts to win the Super Bowl. Donohue then goes on to compare Griffin's comment to that of Don (Nappy Headed Ho's) Imus.


By the way, Jesus died because you suck.


Zakk said...

I think you miss the point: no one wants Kathy to thank Jesus, I think it is more about not using something that many people feel is sacred in an irreverent way. It is bad form to malign any race, sex, creed (or its attached diety.) OF course than where would comedy be? I know that you can't take all of this stuff too seriously, but is it really a surprise that people would be up in arms when the things that define them (race, sex, creed)become fodder for ratings. People die for these things (should they? is another question for another time.) I am generally of the mind that we (see all humans, not just one group/race/sect) should at least make an effort to not shit on things that others find dear (that goes for Christians too.) On that note, I will quote my favorite new bumper sticker "Dear God, please protect me from your followers" :-)

PS, US stop putting the Quran in prison toilets, comedians stop talking about nappy heads, fundamentalists stop being douce bags.

That is all, you may depart...

IAmMonkeyBoy said...

I guess my problem is that describing this joke as hate speech trivializes hate speech. Donohue is a whining baby as far as I am concerned and he is no better than those that over uses the word terrorist to describe anyone who doesn't agree with them.

Furthermore I think laughter is the best and most effective response to those that are so willing to die and kill over this type of offense. Respect and deference to poisonous ideas leaves those ideas room to grow and fester into even more poisonous things. The notion that god wishes you to die or kill on his behalf is ridiculous and deserves our ridicule. To me, the notion that god concerns itself with something so trivial as a touchdown in football or the outcome of an awards program is also ridiculous and deserving of ridicule. Why is the wide receiver on the winning team more deserving of having his prayers answered than the prayers of all of the players on the loosing team. Is he more pious, more deserving? I'm obviously not the only one that sees the silliness of this line of thinking?

I've ran across people who believe with all of the heart and soul that we are descended from aliens. This notion is laughable at best and our failure to laugh at it out of respect to that persons deeply held beliefs does us and society a disfavor.

Hindu's find cows to be sacred. Does that mean I should not eat a steak?

Orthodox Jews believe that it is a sin to work on the sabbath. To do so is an affront to god. What should I do about that?

If we are forced to live in such a way that we don't blaspheme someones god, what sort of life will we be able to live? Our lives will ultimately degrade to a level of the lowest common denominator.

Some might argue, that of course you don't have to live that way. Even in Israel, people are allowed to work on Saturday. The reason for that is that enough people stood up and said, "That's baloney. I'm not doing that." Kathy Griffin's statement is effectively the same thing applied in another context.

Zakk said...

Perhaps yes, but where is the line? It is always pretty easy to say that an unkind comment was a joke. We just can't always know what effect those jokes may have upon their audience. How about those kids in Columbine disenchanted with their peers, it seems that the combination of many years of unkind behavior acted as a catalyst for some pretty awful things. If you asked some of the victims, they probably would have said they were only goofing on the perpetrators. Bad behavior begets bad behavior. (I know that is an extreme case, but there are so many extreme cases that could have been avoided with a bit of kindness, communication, and sensitivity.)

As for praying for winning games, parking spots, or for a good seat at a restaurant I agree it is a pretty poor use of time, much like blessing golf clubs etc. As for killing or being killed for religon, I agree, pretty stupid this being said it is obviously a problem and not to be laughed at (I really don't want to get blown up on a bus) I am not suggesting that we should ignore destructive ideas or behavior just because the ideas are linked to a culture/faith, this being said laughing at it and berating it also not such a good idea.

Where did the whole Dogma argument come from? Of course one's religious beliefs should not dictate the actions of the world at large, we see the good that has done lo these many years. This being said, I may not believe that cows are sacred, that doesn't give me the right to go slaughter one in front of a person of Hindi faith. I am Catholic, I don't expect all who I am surrounded by to believe what I believe, I just want them to respect that I believe something. Same for alien believers, don't have to agree just respect.

Remember that Fundamentalism comes in all formats believer and non. There are reasons that people believe in things, it would be stupid of me to discredit a person's beliefs without understanding why they believe what they believe. There has to be room for that type of dialog, remember Athiests can be extremists too.

Obviously we can't always live in fear of accidental blasphemy, I don't think that is what happened here. There is a difference between ignorance to religous/cultural symbology and disrespect of it. Like I said before, you don't have to agree just don't berate or knowingly try to offend, it generally comes off a self righteous. None of us have the whole picture, why assume that someone else is completely wrong and dismiss them?

Oh, and Donahue would be better served if he wasn't so emotional. I don't think hate speech is the right term either don't know what to call it really, humor is so subjective, I hate to put a lable on any of it. That being said, I will stick to the point that jokes that rely on race, color, creed, sexual orientation, etc are always a risk e.g. Prince Harry dressing as a Nazi, funny? Maybe. Ill thought out? Yes. Ted Danson in Blackface, funny? Maybe. Stupid? Probably.Same goes for Polish/Black/Catholic/Protestant/Muslim/Hispanic/etc, funny? Could be. Appropriate? No (not even if the joker is a member of the subject group.)

PS. I love these discussions...

IAmMonkeyBoy said...

I think it is important to differentiate between what is appropriate for polite conversation and what is appropriate fodder for the "artist". It is often the case that an artist will be outrageous to make a point. Andres Serrano, Lenny Bruce, Robert Mapplethorpe, J.D. Salinger, Salmand Rushdie, Martin Scorsese, Voltaire, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Henry David Thoreau, Theodor Geisel, Vladimir Nabokov and even Dave Chapelle have gotten very closed to the line and even crossed it on occasion. Some may not think so, but I feel that our world is richer for the work of these artists. In almost every case the work of these folks was suppressed by someone who found it to be offensive or blasphemous. In (almost) every case these folks were eventually vindicated and those that worked to suppress them turned out to be the villains in the eyes of history. Anytime someone says, "You can't say that about X because it will offend Y." I want to tell Y to lighten up. If X is really so great then it will stand on its own and doesn't require the vehement, vociferous and/or violent defense of Y.

(Let X be a touchy subject and Y be a group of people who take X too seriously.)

Yes, there are limits to free speech, but they need to be small limits intended only to protect public safety.

Mr Zakky Pants said...

Kathy Griffin an artist? Just saying... The difference is the other guys were pointing out something, her comment was more word vomit than art (granted, funny word vomit)

IAmMonkeyBoy said...

I guess I find that the joke had enough layers to rise above the level of word vomit. Whether intentional or not, she makes reference to three separate things:

The thank Jesus for my new bubble gum social phenomenon.

The Golden Calf of Exodus.

Her own struggle for success as a comedian and actress, a al My life on the d list.

The references alone elevate it from word vomit to at least social commentary.

But here's the real problem with your argument. By calling something you find distasteful "word vomit", you have reduced art to a matter of taste and not a matter of intent. Yes, what she said may have only been word vomit, but there is also the distinct possibility that she was trying for much more than that. Art is art because someone appreciates it as art, not because everyone appreciates it as art.

Mr Zakky Pants said...

You are sounding pretty esoteric there. Blah, blah, art shouldn't match your couch... Don't forget, the bulk of my professional life is built around the subjective qualities of "art." I agree that its [art's] value does not exsist only when it is appreciated by the public at large. We can disagree on the value of Kathy Griffin as an artist, frankly I don't know. I tend to go with opporotunist, wait, I should say that the two fit pretty nicely together. I guess in its simplest form art is really just trying to get someone to pay attention to you long enough to express your views (or those of your patron.) Hmmm, maybe that is it... Poses a few other questions, like, if you are an artist and you create a work that presents something that does not match your own beliefs but those of a patron, does that work than lie outside the realm of art (is it than intellectual propoganda created by someone who just needs a paycheck?) I have gotten so off track here, but it is something that I wonder about given the number of crappy recordings that I have taken part in, what do you think?