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'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, (original, huh?) airs on Tuesdays at 10:PM and Saturdays at 8:PM, Eastern time on RainbowRadio.

Feel free to contact me at niceguy9418@usa.com. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Vince Vaughn

I originally wrote this last night, still steamed over Dharmasatya's comments, and still not entirely sure why she got so far under my skin.  Anyway, I'm over it now. I'm also sick as a dog.  So a bit of the fight has been taken out of me anyway today.  And finally, I've come to the realization, reinforced by Duta's comment in my lats post, that I been both way too angry and way too vulgar lately.  For about the last two months or so, I'd say. And vulgar, angry rants, while cathartic to write, and often very fun too read as well, are just not a good a habit to get into.  So I'm swearing off them (pun intended) for at least the next month or so, just to break the habit. I'm also going to try and speak in normal tone of voice - ixnay with the ALL CAPS.  With that in mind, I'm re-writing this as a more considerate, thoughful piece, that should alienate fewer people, and hopefully be taken more seriously because of it. 

There's been a lot of outrage recently over a joke which appeared in the trailer of Vince Vaughn's new movie, The Dilemma.  Now... my support for LGBT Political and Social issues is unequivocal.  In that past there have been times where I've wavered, but right now, I can safety and happily say that there is no part of the "radical gay agenda" (as the Right refers to it) that I am not behind 100%.  I'll go into what that exactly means, to me, in a moment, but suffice to say, that the LGBT community has a staunch ally and supporter in this blogger.

That being said?  This joke is fine.  This joke in not homophobic.  This joke is not even harmful  In fact... I'll go so far as to say that this joke actually illustrates the very point that outrage appears to be all about in the first place!  Now, I realize that I probably have a bunch of people saying, "You just don't GET it!" All I ask is that you give me a few paragraphs to explain my point, and show you that, yes, I actually do get it.  In fact, I can absolutely empathize with you on the very issue of casual pejoratives.

Anyway, for those who have been living under a rock, here's the joke:

"Electric cars are gay. I mean, not 'homosexual' gay but 'my parents are chaperoning the dance' gay."
OK... I am in complete agreement with GLAAD, etc...  that the word "gay" should not be used as a casual pejorative.  The thing is?  The way I interpreted this joke, when I first heard it?  Is that this is exactly what the joke is saying as well!

To me, the whole point of the joke, the only way it really works, the only interpretation by which it is the least bit funny, is as an acknowledgement that we use the word “gay” to mean “bad” or “stupid” when it shouldnt' be used that way!  The very fact that they whole joke revolves around him having to make that awkward clarification, I took as evidence that, at best, this is a clumsy descriptor, and for the sake of clear communication, if nothing else, it really needs to go.

Do I really believe that he's trying to make some profound socio-political point here? Oh, heck no!  It is Vince Vaughn, after all!  But given the context as I saw it - and hey: I could be wrong! - but given that, if you can’t see beyond the mere use of the word, and find the deeper meaning here (and you don’t have to go that deep, it is Vince Vaughn after all!) then you are just being too sensitive about it!

OK.  Now I'm sure I've really gotten some people angry at this.  And your anger is justified. Too sensitive? How dare I?! (Right?) Who am I to tell you how too feel about something?  And you have a point. So assuming I haven't put you off for good, I beg that you now allow me to put down the shovel and endeavour to climb out of this hole I'm probably in.

The first obvious problem is that, not being gay, trans, etc... myself, one might say that I have no idea how hurtful these casual pejoratives really are.

Ah... but not so.

You see... There’s a synonym for the word “gay,” when it's used in this context.

“RETARDED.”

Think about it… Almost any time someone is mis-using the word “gay,” as in, “This policy is gay!” you can almost always substitute the word, “retarded” and it will mean the same thing: “This policy is retarded!”

Well, guess what?

I have two autistic sons.

And I hate that [expletive deleted] word.

And I hate to hear someone called a “Retard.”

And I hate to hear "retarded" used to mean, "something I don't agree with or don't understand."

And I HATE anything that makes fun of the mentally handicapped.

It absolutely tears my heart out.

Now... Is it the same thing? No. No it's not.  But I offer that's it's close enough for a legitimate concession that I do, in fact, have some clue what it feels like and what's going on here. I may not  know your feeling, but I'm still somewhat familiar with the feeling.  And if you say, "Well, that's not about you, it's about your kids."  Unless you have kids, and special needs kids at that? Then it's you who doesn't know what it feels like. Because I'd give anything to make it about me instead of them.

And while it's a little off topic, I'd like to offer an example of what may have been the worst time I had, "getting over" this, only as evidence that I can, in fact practice what I preach.

At one point, Drawn Together was my favorite TV show. I found it to be positively enlightened as well as completely hilarious when it came to most social issues like racism, sexism, sexuality, gender roles, religion, etc... See... They made fun of those things, using negative stereotypes not to make fun of the groups, but rather to make fun of the bigots who believed that nonsense about them! It took every stereotype and turned it around, to make the joke be on the racist / sexist / homophobe / etc... IMHO, It was brilliant

(Disclaimer: Serious, Evangelical Christians will NOT like ths show! They pretty much get savaged in every episode!)

But then I saw the episode, "The Other Cousin."

Half an hour of jokes at the expense of the mentally handicapped. And what's more?  Just a short while after my first born son was diagnosed with Autism. To say that it "hit close to home?" Is a vast understatement. So again... I think I've earned the right to say that I do have some idea what that kind of thing feels like.

And you are still absolutely welcome to disagree with me. Hey: Maybe I shouldn't have let it go.  That's certainly a legitimate point of debate.  Maybe I should have written Comedy Central, boycotted the sponsors, took to the Internet... I did when Michale Savage spouted his Autism Denial nonsense! But I chose to put that aside and keep watching.  And the rest of the series? Was absolute genius.
Am I "over it?" No, not really.

I do own all three seasons of the show in DVD, so they managed to get some money out of me.

But I still can't watch that one episode.

Now what was the point of telling you all that? Well , it brings me to the other half of what I hope will get me to at least the top of the hole, if not out of it.  As a philosophical point, I truly believe that you can joke about anything. Carlin felt the same way, and I agree with him.  It all depends on how you construct the joke.

What's the overall point? Whats the message? What the exaggeration?

For example, my problem with "The Other Cousin" was that the jokes were not about tolerance or understanding or of the challenges the handicapped face in our society, nor were they mocking society for it's stereotypes.  (THAT was the "Terms of Endearment" episode.) The jokes in "The Other Cousin" were just poking fun.  There simply was no context that would make them remotely acceptable.

And just as further roof that I'm not just being too sensitive myself, and thus being hypocritical, as proof that I CAN laugh a little at what life with autism throws at you, there are comics that I read - Clear Blue Water, On the Spectrum, Joey, just to name a few - that use Autism as a source of humor, but do it in an acceptable way.  I'm just pointing that out as further evidence that I am capable in seeing humor even in things that "hit close to home." Again: It all depends on how the joke is constructed.  What the point is.

In the case of the Vaughn joke? As I said, the only way it works, at all, is as an acknowledgement that we use this word, "gay," in ways that we shouldn't.  The message could be stronger, or clearer, fine, (again, it's Vince Vaughn - he's not trying to change the world here) but that still is the only message I see in it.

So what's the point?  What am I trying to say here? Why do I think it's important to let this slide, the same way I let the word "retarded" slide when someone uses it the same way?

Simple: Politics, pragmatism and priority. 

When we get too hung up on trying to control people's language, and trying to go that route to change their thinking? They instinctively pull back.  And it become very easy for our political opponents to simply call, "PC Police!" and, in that one instant, snag up all the moderates who we might have otherwise persuaded to join on far more important, substantive issues.  That doesn't make it right, but it sure does make it easy.

For me? I let the word "retarded" slide so I will be taken that much more seriously on issues like Autism Denial, or Autism Insurance Reform. Give the choice between having people take autism seriously and having my sons' therapy covered by insurance -or- having people stop using the word "retarded" (the same way they use "gay")?  Shoot... if it would help me win on the big issues? I'd start calling things "retarded!"  And you know what? Because of the largely Right Wing canard of "PC POLICE" or "THOUGHT POLICE," we're really not going to get both.  There is no doubt in my mind that we lose traction on the big issues when we let ourselves get hung up on the small ones

So.. . what's in for the LGBT community?  What do I think are the big issues? Those important ones that I claimed to be a strong supporter of?  How about:

Gay Marriage in all 50 states, and at the Federal level?
Company Benefits for Same Sex partners?
Regular Insurance Coverage for GRS?
Hate Crime Legislation?
Equal Employment Opportunities / Anti-Discrimination Policies?
Equal Rights for Adoption?
Striking Down Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

The list goes on and on.  And I am totally with you, 100%, on all of these.  And if I've missed one of the other heavy hitters?  Try me! I'm sure you'll find that we see eye to eye on it as well.  Because I just don't see the "radical gay agenda" as anything but a no-brainer.  Just a group of people who want to be treated the same as everybody else.  (Or course, I might point out how lousy everybody else gets treated, but that's only to say that you might want to aim a little higher, actually! LOL)

And while you can argue that we won't win on the big issues if we don't change how people think about us, I disagree.  I guarantee that you will lose on every single one of these big issues if you keep sweating the small stuff.  And honestly? I think that's a tragedy.  I think these issue are far too important to jeopardize over a lousy Vince Vaughn joke, from a movie that no one would even see if there wasn't such a controversy around it.

Seriously.  Do you know how many people will go see this movie now, for no other reason that this controversy?  (Not to mention that most of them won't see what the big deal was all about?)

Don't believe me? Well, let me ask you a question.

Who is Roger Mapplethorpe?

Unless your a Photographic Art History buff, the only reason you know the answer to that is, back in 1989, some Christian Fundamentalist group got wind of some his work that was going on display in Cincinnati of all places - that great bastion of popular culture and social significance.  It was a small showing, in a small city.  Just par for the course in an obscure art museum, trying to make a meager income attracting a handful of tourists.  But once the controversy took hold? It became a National story! It was huge! Suddenly Mappelthorpe's work is being shown in New York and Chicago!  Everyone wanted to see what all the fuss was about!  The Christian protesters did more to further Mappelthorpe's career that the Art Community had done!

It's true what they say: There is no such thing as bad publicity.

By getting hung up about the Vince Vaugh joke?  You are only helping Vince Vaughn. And you are only hurting GLAAD's and the LGBT community's credibility with moderate people who might otherwise be inclined to support you.

So, for the sake of the "radical gay agenda?"

Let. It.Go.

11 comments:

  1. Just like reasoned political debate is on hiatus until one of our major parties stops being completely insane, so is reasoned offense on hiatus until that particular major party stops being totally outraged every single second about every single issue.

    Anyone who is mad (in a national, public way) about any issue that doesn't involve mass death or suffering needs to shelve it because these are unusual times. All (national, public) anger must be targeted at the political party that is actively trying to cause mass death and suffering.

    The world is broken, and we can't be fooling around.

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  2. There's nothing whatsoever wrong with crazed, profanity-and-ALL-CAPS-laced angry ranting, as long as the subject warrants it, and as long as one's anger doesn't cloud one's reason. There are, indeed, times that warrant that reaction (and nothing less) on a depressingly regular basis. Right before the election probably isn't the best time to put a hiatus on it. If you want to see something that will make you want to offer up another angry rant, see my current blog entry.

    Steeve, I used to be a regular reader of the Howler. Somberby (sp?) used to bring something absolutely invaluable to the table, when it came to commentary on matters of public concern. I fear he's fallen badly in more recent years, too often becoming exactly what he decries--a minutiae-obsessed loudmouth without an eye on the bigger picture who becomes obsessed with his own little narratives at the expense of a more reasoned assessment. His comments about the state of public discourse in the U.S. are, as always, spot on, in general, but these days, they seem more like happy accidents than the result of any firm reasoning process. He's always been merciless in pointing on the cretinous idiocy that goes on every night on Chris Matthews' program, but he routinely goes after Rachel Maddow with the same brand of venom (dismissing her as clueless and her show as fluffy garbage), and the kindest characterization that can be offered for that is that it's the work of a fool who has lost all perspective.

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  3. @Steeve - I hear you, man. Good link too, BTW.

    @Classic - Well, I fear that was what was starting to happen to me. The angry rants were just coming too easily. And that's just not a good equilibrium to be in. Maybe much of it was warranted, but still... I wouldn't want someone saying about me what you just said about Somberby. :)

    Thank you both for your comments.

    (But... does anyone have any thoughts specifically on the Vaughn controversy?) :)

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  4. I think you're reading too far into it when you say the context of the joke was probably to demonstrate that ridiculousness of using the word in that context. Yes, it is ridiculous. But also yes, it's Vince Vaughn and he's trying to get a cheap laugh.

    I disagree with using "gay" or "homo", etc, in a derogatory manner... but the outrage over this particular joke is unwarranted. There are literally hundreds of comedies where jokes like that are made and nobody even bats an eye. That doesn't make it any less wrong, but I completely agree with you that when people start to nitpick about the stupid little instances like this when there are still major battles for equality to be won, that it does nothing but hurt the cause and make people look "too sensitive".

    Context does infinitely matter with jokes of this nature, or with any culturally sensitive language, but I think the joke in the trailer probably has the same meaning whether or not the preceding dialogue is present.

    Basically- yeah the joke is offensive, but is far from unique in comedy films, and people should be focused on the larger issues.

    Sorry if that was rambling or didn't make sense... It's 4 AM and I just drove a bus for 11 hours.

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  5. @MetalMatt - No, it makes perfect sense, and you're far from the first person to have told tell me that I might be overthinking something. :) BTW...

    "It's 4 AM and I just drove a bus for 11 hours."

    I'm SO stealing that excuse and using it mysekf at some point! LOL

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  6. Not having seen or heard the joke in question it doesn't seem fair to for me to make a comment on it.

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  7. "I wouldn't want someone saying about me what you just said about Somberby....

    "...does anyone have any thoughts specifically on the Vaughn controversy?"

    LOL! I could repeat part of that Somerby thing about that, actually!

    I've been writing about corrupt money from shadowy groups manipulating the current congressional elections, the cluelessness of the Obama to what he's wrought and what it's going to mean, and things of that order--some Vince Vaughn line in some trailer sounds kinda' small fry!

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  8. @ChristoherBack,

    Yet, you felt the need to...

    LOL, just kiddin'. I Couldn't resist! XD

    I was trying and find it on YouTube, but I couldn't. There were 100's of videos of people TALKING ABOUT IT, and not ONE with the actual joke!

    Oh well. If anyone does find one, please post the link and I'll do the same. Thanks.

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  9. @ClassicLiberal,

    Haven't you learned ANYTHING yet?

    No one cares about shadowy money, coporate slush funds, foreign firms influencing elections, Conservative control of the media or anything else like that!

    But if you've got a story pitting a B-List celebrity against the PC Police over some minutia that no one would have even heard about were it not for the controversy itself?

    THAT, my friend, is a SCOOP!

    So heck with it. I've decided to sell out and help the Right distract people with meaningless celebrity fluff. Hey: It worked for Arianna Huffinton!

    I'm so kidding. (About selling out, not about Huffington.) Between this and the "whores" controversy, I seem to have written an awful lot about absolutely nothing this past week. I can't promise that will change, but...

    I am interested in doing a bit on that piece you sent me!

    And I still owe okie a response to that email I never got back to him on...

    Oh, well. There will always be SOMETHING in this crazy world we live in. And come November, likely a whole lot MORE, as happy as I would have been to just sit back and be one of those 'whinny liberals who only got 95% of what they wanted' for the next two years.

    *sigh*

    Thanks for your comment!

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  10. I think some people are a bit too sensitive. And sometimes that over-sensitivity does hurt their cause because people stop taking them seriously. If you cry about every little thing,people eventually just stop listening. If they keep this up, these organizations would just become caricatures.

    It's like PETA making a big deal about that car ad with the monkey shooting confetti (then they just replaced it with an invisible monkey). But no one else seemed to care.

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  11. Silky,

    LOL, I think I mentioned PETA as one of "the liberal groups I hate" in a post from a LONG while back, and for that very same reason: Their crying about the small stuff makes it easy for people to be dismissive about them when it comes to the imprortant stuff.

    I hate giveing the Right any chance to just call "PC POLICE!" and squelch the deabte. It's still BS when they do it, but... we don't have to make it so easy for them!

    Thanks for you comment.

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