ThatDarnMKS wrote: ↑
Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:55 am
If I go to a comedy show, there is the expectation that I'll laugh.
I laughed. The whole way through. Different kinds of laughs at different points, but laughter nonetheless. Again, "A 17 year old woman is not at her prime" is funny to me. Because the idea of a teenage girl being in her prime should be laughable to anyone who has been a teenager. The idea that it's hard to be an introvert and celebrate subdued, quaint lesbianism in a pride parade is funny. And the recording of the show itself is evidence that people found it funny. I don't buy for a moment that all the laughter of the audience was just them laughing because they were supposed to.
Someone once talked me into watching a Joe Rogan stand up. I did not laugh once. I tapped out about 10 minutes in, after a supposedly hilarious bit where he bragged about telling a heckler that he was going to "wrap his dick around her neck and start her up like a lawnmower!", then told a "joke" about how it would be so funny if men actually were able to use supplements to grow their penises really huge, because then women would all be walking around with their jaws dislocated. Then he mined a bit of a woman having to push her dislocated jaw around in a shopping cart. The people in the audience loved it. I did not so much as smile. Is this comedy?
She chose to go a deconstructive route for comedy that seeks to say that comedy and authenticity are mutually exclusive for her story and I feel the implication is clearly that this applies to comedy in general as she makes a great many sweeping statements, like her rejecting the notion of separating art from the artist. This leads to me neither laughing, as expected, nor buying into the observation.
I disagree. She is describing her relationship with comedy (and by extension her relationship with her audience) as unhealthy. She never extends this to other comedians. You say it's clear that she's generalizing this, but I never felt that she was speaking about anyone's comedy but her own. And a lot of that is because she only knows the truth of the gap between the comedy version of her story and the whole truth of it. She can't know that about anyone else's experience.
She says, "I need to quit comedy," not "We need to get rid of comedy."
I think that the only broader point she's making is the way that what she says resonated with me (and many of my friends) in terms of the way that we use humor to soften and distance ourselves from upsetting and traumatic experiences, and that maybe we do a disservice to ourselves because we allow others (and maybe especially we allow men) to categorize these experiences as funny things instead of horrible things.
There's a push within her stand up than enforces the notions that comedy and art should be selective in whose voices are heard or valued.
Her not valuing someone is not the same as saying that no one should value that person.
"Tell me why that is okay?" Who is she asking? The context implies men.
She clearly is referring to the men who victimized her. Why did they think that was okay? It's a question on two levels: on a small level, why did they think that was okay, and on a larger level, what is it about society that she encountered four different men at different stages of her life who felt entitled to victimize her?
And she explicitly addresses this when she acknowledges that the men in the audience may have felt blamed or attacked. "To the men in the room… who feel I may have been persecuting you this evening… well spotted. That’s pretty much what I’ve done there. But this is theater, fellas. I’ve given you an hour, a taste. I have lived a life. The damage done to me is real and debilitating.
I'd feel worse for the "enlightened" men who "don't need" this comedy if I felt like they did more about it. But no guy ever stops to say "Hey, wait. When I endorse this horror film by saying that the nudity is plentiful
, I don't even need to specify that it's female nudity" or (as Gadsby points out) "Gosh, a lot of this art museum is nude women." Because the male expectation of access to the female body is a given in art, and the male gaze is so omnipresent that it's mentioned in only the most extreme of cases. And talk about separating the art from the artist is something I literally never hear from other women, only from men. It often feels like just another way that men choose to look past the abuse of women at the hands of powerful men. Guys rarely manage to cross even the lowest of bars, which is to hear someone talk about a trauma and simply say "I'm sorry that happened to you."
And to even express these thoughts is already exhausting because I almost never feel heard or seen. It always ends up being reduced to some weird semantic/"logical" argument, which seems like a convenient way of saying "Oh, we can't address your emotions right now because this is one of those objective discussions about art, blah, blah, blah." Part of why I like Gadsby's show is that she begins by acknowledging that she is a sensitive and emotional person and that those traits largely define her life experience. And she (rightly) calls out that being told to set aside emotions or sensitivity is juts a way of trying to silence someone.
I'm not saying that men aren't allies or don't try to support women. But, frankly, if men aren't going to be proactive
problem solvers in terms of the way that society tolerates violence and exploitation of women, then why should Hannah Gadsby be at all sorry for making some men a bit sad/angry for an hour?
EDIT: And the reason I usually don't even want to get into these discussions is that I'm now really upset, thinking about all the horrible crap I've had to deal with, the fear I've felt, the unwanted hands on my body, the legions of female friends who have suffered the same, and then the guy on the other end of the conversation ignores all that and tries to tell me why he shouldn't feel bad about watching Polanski films. If what Gadsby talked about didn't send some deep hurt inside of you ringing like a tuning fork, just feel lucky about that.