WHO – Louis Isn’t the Problem. You Are. 1-4-19
Time to dust off the old typewriter for another ‘Will’s Honest Opinion’.
To begin, let me state that I am not for sexual misconduct, school shootings or shitting on transgender people, but in today’s overly incensed, irate, and entitled internet community; for whatever reason… I need to make that abundantly clear so that I can proceed. Moving forward, let me state quite plainly that what Louis CK said about school shootings, and transgender kids… was… get ready… A FUCKING JOKE. If you take umbrage with that, but enjoyed his material up until now, you’re a hypocrite. Being a faux racist and bigot has been his schtick since he hit the scene. Does this joke really surprise you?
There are a bevy of “points” people seem to love bringing up when trying to back their own thought process on the subject. I’d like to address and squash those points.
To begin, attaching Louis’ prior behavior to a joke he was testing for new audiences; is conflating two issues into one, for the purpose of his direct negative portrayal. It serves your argument, and nothing more. It’s guilt by association, and it’s dangerous. If Bill Burr made this joke, would have it had the same outcry? And if you’re answer is “probably not” then you need to reevaluate what exactly it is your judging Louis CK for.
“But, Will, Louis did sex things to women.”
Good job. Here’s a cookie. What the fuck does that have to do with a joke about a school shooting? It seems obvious to demonize and point fingers at someone for prior acts of poor decision making or sexual misconduct when judging their work. It’s also lazy. Art (when separate from a criminalized act) must always be separated from the artist. Obviously this doesn’t apply to snuff films or something of that nature, where the act is art; but as a basic rule of thumb, you can’t allow prior or future deeds to dictate the relevance of that person’s work. Why? Because then you allow society to dictate what type of work is or isn’t acceptable due to possible out-of-date behavior. Society’s rules change gradually. What was acceptable 300 or even 50 years ago, could come into vogue suddenly, and vice-a-versa. Did you know Einstein married his cousin? I guess that didn’t matter because the ‘Theory of Relativity’ was too important to let go…
“Oh but, Will, he didn’t apologize.”
Here’s a news flash. He doesn’t owe you an apology. And most of the time, public apologies feel: rehearsed, coerced, or planned as a clear public relations tool. This is why we have courts and jail time. Our legal system judges him. Not you. The court of public opinion is fickle and biased, and therefor; unless you’re looking to chastise someone, useless.
Also incase you were wondering… he did actually apologize in a New York Times expose in November of 2017. Amazing how people forget what they want when it’s convenient for them at the time. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/10/arts/television/louis-ck-statement.html
“What he said was offensive.”
Grow up. The only person who can offend you, is you. Stop blaming other people for your problems. Louis is guilty of nothing more than trying out new material. All comedians do this at smaller shows, to see what works for their bigger televised events.
“I just didn’t find the joke funny…”
Great… no one cares. You don’t have to. I personally think Kat Williams is terrible. I’ve tried multiple times to listen to his stuff and I never laugh. I don’t waste time online commenting about how bad he is on other people’s posts. It’s because my ego and identity aren’t wrapped up in whether or not his jokes and thoughts appeal to me and my lifestyle choices. No one gives a shit about your 2-cents if you’re going to use them to actively engage in a flamewar with them. Predictably, those 2-cents are almost always worthless.
As far as the joke in question is concerned, I did find Louis’ jab at today’s self absorbed, Tik-Tok trancing high-schoolers, humorous. I thought it shined a true light on our society’s values, and the entitlement demanded by some youth for accomplishing nothing; while also demanding they’re taken seriously. He’s not making fun of school shooting survivors. He’s pointing out society’s tolerance of it and how it’s seeped into mainstream culture; indirectly creating a reactionary base who can’t take a joke. In fact the entire outcry of the joke is a prime example of what he’s referring to. Those who argue against it are replacing the intended subject of the joke with a victim for the punchline. Saying “I don’t think it’s funny to make fun of transgender kids or school shooting victims” is actively missing the point he’s trying to make. He’s not poking fun at kids. He’s bemused by the larger systemic issue that those kids are involved in.
“He’s appealing to the Alt-right crowd.”
I love this one. This is pure tribalist labeling. Categorizing what someone is thinking, without evaluation, only makes the accuser feel better about their own ill-thought out stance. It doesn’t reveal the root cause or motive behind the act. When the news broke, the story was posted across multiple sites online. Yahoo had one of the more biased headlines: ‘Disgraced comic mocks school massacre survivors.’
If that doesn’t suggest your opinion for you, I don’t know what would. Any news outlet attempting to call him out like this, is clearly pushing their own agenda. Here, they’re actively trying to appease an ultra liberal base for the benefit of their own bottom line. Spinning any story past facts, lessens the credibility of the organization. With headlines like this, they’re no better than Fox. You have to be careful how you phrase things, because these types of headlines deliberately try to develop the same opinions for the audience clicking on them.
During Louis’ set, the crowd laughed and no one booed. If the internet is going to react the way they did, that shouldn’t be the barometer for what’s considered the mainstream definition of “offensive”. When that happens, anything could be considered offensive eventually. This goes back to the idea of separating the art from the artist.
Bill Maher made on obvious observation about 911 and got kicked off of CBS because he wasn’t part of the group think machine. Is it ok to make 911 jokes? Plenty of comedians have. That’s not an issue with the comedian. It’s an issue with a self serious reactionary crowd who hasn’t yet come to terms with the reality they live in.
“There are somethings you just don’t joke about.”
Wrong. You can joke about anything you want. The whole point of comedy is to push limits and reveal the irony and unfortunate cynicism that lurks in the underbelly of our society. Jokes make people think, and reveal insecurities about themselves. Self deprecation is the only way to truly evolve sometimes. If you can’t laugh at yourself… you’re full of yourself. Let go of your assumptions of how the world works (for you) and explore that ego backlash that’s putting you on the offensive. If you don’t like him, don’t watch him. George Carlin never told a “joke” in his life, but his observations and insights rang true for an entire generation of people who hadn’t yet found someone to capture their voice so pristinely. And sometimes the world needs people to take those chances and say what’s not nice as a way to reveal the toxicity that we sometimes come to accept. Saying “you can’t joke about a thing” is a form of censorship, and nothing ever improved by keeping it off limits.
There are no boundaries in comedy. There are only boundaries in our own thinking. Break that thinking.