On Chris Wage’s Cunt

Chris thinks it’s stupid that people are upset about The Onion’s joke calling Quvenzhane Wallis a cunt. More bafflingly, he “thought the onion’s joke was hilarious.” Ha ha ha. No. Even setting aside for a moment–which we will come back to–what the joke calls Quvenzhane, it’s still a joke that takes a nine-year-old girl hostage in order to point out how horribly women are treated by Oscar commentary and then shoots the hostage! Ooops, guess what, The Onion and Chris? Once the hostage is dead, you’ve lost your leverage.

Wage acts like Quvenzhane’s appearance in the joke is incidental–that the joke can somehow be about her and yet have nothing to do with her. In that regard, I think Wage is being an idiot. A joke about a person that the person the joke’s about can’t honestly and spontaneously laugh at is probably a joke a lot of people are going to find, unsurprisingly, doesn’t work. A joke about a woman that the woman who is the center of it can’t laugh at and probably shouldn’t even hear unless she’s got a team of people around her to put it in context for her (as Wage seems to acknowledge this joke would take–“So yes, she probably has heard about it. What horrible things exactly are we imagining have happened as a result? A brief explanation by her parents that it was a joke poking fun at institutional sexism and the vacuity of celebrity viciousness in general? A more in-depth conversation about the power of the word “cunt” and how its colloquial usage is pernicious and should be avoided, and how the Onion turned that on its head to make a rather biting point?”) isn’t a joke with a woman as the subject of it. It’s a joke in which the woman is an object. It’s not a joke for her. It’s a joke about her.

And one, if she hears it, she’s just supposed to learn to think is funny. It’s cruel to make jokes about people they can’t willingly laugh at (I keep saying things like “willingly” and “spontaneously” because we are taught from an early age to laugh at things we don’t find funny, things that often hurt us, because people tell us to. I’m trying to differentiate between what people laugh at because they feel pressured to and what they would laugh at if no one was judging them.), but often cruel jokes are hilarious. So, I’m not opposed to cruel jokes.

But when you’re making a joke about someone and you don’t care if that person is in a position to laugh at it at all, then that’s not just comedy–that’s comedy that uses, in this case, a little girl as an object. Again, I say, it’s not surprising that people would find that not funny.

But I want to make another point as well. It is very, very difficult to make a true statement funny. It’s not that it can’t be done, but, if you’re going to attempt it, you need to be prepared to fail miserably. Which, in this case, The Onion did. Wage makes the same mistake when he says, “Because calling a 9 year old girl a cunt is a horrible, horrible thing to do.” Chris, no one thinks that.

Okay, not no one. A very small pool of people in this world genuinely think that calling any girl a cunt is actually horrible. Women get called cunts our whole lives and when we get confused or put off or upset or angry, and we look to the very same people who I’m sure would tell Wage that they think calling a nine year old girl a cunt is horrible, they tell us the people who call us cunts don’t mean it, or we just need to understand where they’re coming from. Or that they’re just joking. (We’re coming back to this in a second.). We get the message over and over again, loud and clear, that there’s nothing wrong, not really, with calling us cunts. Because we are.

You’re incredibly fortunate if you live in a situation where it’s obviously funny to call a nine year old a cunt because of how horrible it is. Because most of us don’t live in situations where people think it’s that horrible at all. They just think it’s true.

For them, The Onion joke was funny for that reason–because The Onion just went ahead and said what everyone else is thinking. But again, then the joke only works if we’re saying that that it’s not important that the person at the center of it be able to laugh at it. It’s funny because it’s true, in this case, works because the people who think it’s funny think so little of women. Could you make a joke in which the punchline is “so-and-so is kind of a cunt” and have it be funny to the very people who regularly get called cunts? I think so. This was, as evidenced by its reception, not that joke.

Why not? I’ve actually been giving this a lot of thought since I read Chris’s post last night. Why doesn’t this joke work for me? And I think that it goes beyond that I find calling a nine year old girl a cunt distasteful (which I do, but I laugh at distasteful shit all the time) or that I find it gross that a little black girl who’s going to spend her whole life being hypersexualized by popular culture gets labeled a cunt, even as a joke, straight out of the gate (which I do and you can find good and useful commentary about that all over the internet). It even goes beyond the fact that I live in a culture where women are cunts so how is a statement of fact really a joke?

And it’s this: Every time I’ve been called a cunt, when the dude who called me a cunt got called on it by someone he respected, his excuse was that he was joking. Every damn time. Can’t she take a joke? And yet, obviously, he wasn’t joking at all. He meant it.

So, The Onion is trying to land a joke that is more complicated than Wage gives it credit for. There’s already a non-joke joke in wide circulation that is “Ha ha, I called you a cunt, but I say I was joking, even though I meant it, so that makes it okay.” Most women are going to hear it in their lifetimes. The Onion wants to make a joke that is “Ha ha, I called this little girl a cunt, but I’m joking in a style that looks like I mean it, so that makes it okay.” In order to land the joke The Onion was attempting to land and not have it veer into the non-joke joke which is the more culturally familiar one, The Onion would have to be the fucking Mike Tyson of comedians (See? In a paragraph about landing punches, I stick in a notorious rapist and it stings and is funny, because I’ve just spent all this time building it up and because we’re talking about how women can’t get away from this idea that we’re just objects for men to use however they want, so hello Mike Tyson. But I didn’t attempt that in 140 characters and I accept that it might not be funny to you.).

They failed.

I’m not saying it can’t be done. I’m not even saying that it can’t be done in 140 characters. But The Onion didn’t do it. They threw “I called this little girl a cunt, but I’m joking a a style that looks like I mean it so that makes it okay” and they landed “I called you a cunt, but I say I was joking, even though I meant it, so that makes it okay.”

I have a theory as to why, too. And that theory is because they had no idea that “I called you a cunt, but I say I was joking, even though I meant it, so that makes it okay” is as prevalent as it is. I don’t think they had the first idea that they were playing right up against an incredibly common trope. Much like Wage, I’m pretty sure that they thought the joke was “I’m saying something so horrible about a little girl that we’ll all laugh because it is so horrible.”

So, what backfired on them, I think, is that they thought they were making a funny original joke about things that are too horrible to say, when really, they were just making a more sophisticated version of the non-joke joke. Probably a wider variety of women on The Onion’s staff would have helped this.

Which brings me to my last point–if you’re going to make jokes ostensibly in defense of women, I’d prefer it if they not disparage any woman to try to get their laugh. But, fine, whatever. If, however, the point of your joke requires that the woman at the center of it probably not hear it, because it would upset her and she wouldn’t understand, and it requires the use of a word as a joke that most of us get called “as a joke” all the time, don’t pretend like it’s a joke about how terrible women have it. There isn’t actually any concern for how women have it in the joke. If you think it’s a problem that we’re objectified and that slurs are routinely tossed at us, you don’t objectify and toss slurs at us in order to protest our treatment.

Don’t pretend like, when a joke relies on objectifying a woman and calling her a cunt, and women are grossed out by it, it’s because women just can’t see what’s so funny about it. Maybe there’s a whole painful context to the joke you’re not aware of. Maybe Quvenzhane’s parents can come by and explain it to you.

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127 thoughts on “On Chris Wage’s Cunt

  1. It’s a mistake to assume that because I think the comic irony is derived from “a horrible thing” also implies that I think it’s rare or unusual. That’s not what I meant or thought — quite the contrary, in fact: I think the humor hinges on the fact that the context and audience is in fact the very environment in which gross and damaging sexism is de rigueur. Hollywood is like the protoplasm from which all the latest modern insidious variants of all our -isms emerge. This is why I found it to be appropriately biting criticism and why I found it funny.

    I don’t understand why you think she couldn’t or shouldn’t laugh at comic irony being used to highlight the fact that people are horrible. I expounded on the need to explain it to her because she’s 9, not because she’s an idiot. I’ll concede that maybe 9 is a little young for subtle comic irony (and why I will concede that the Onion’s primary failing is probably failing to consider their reach, audience-wise), but it’s not that she’s the “object” of the joke that makes her unable to laugh at it. Why would it?

    As I mentioned in a comment on my post:

    “The girl in question was merely the object that the joke turned on — not the subject of it. I realize that in a debate suffused with indignation over purported female objectification, I’m committing lexical suicide, here. But I hope we can all distinguish the difference between sexual objectification and objectification as abstraction — i.e. the joke was funny not because of some failing of Quvenzhan Wallis specifically, but rather because being viciously derogatory to any hypothetical 9 year old girl is horrible. Thus, the comic irony.”

    I wanna read over this more later — but it’s time to make the donuts.

  2. Chris, I love you, but I think you’re missing my main point–she’s going to hear that she’s a cunt. By people who claim they’re joking and those people are going to have the outright or tacit approval of people who probably also claim to be appalled by someone calling a woman a cunt under non-joking circumstances.

    And we know it because we get called cunts by people who claim they’re joking while other people stand around and laugh about it.

    You want to make this something more abstract–about some vague notion of “gross and damaging sexism,” about “subtle comic irony,” about whether you can make someone into an object without sexually objectifying them (yes, but not when the joke is about her being/having a cunt). But it is really just about calling a real girl, an actual person, a cunt in the guise of a joke. As usual.

    It’s not impossible to use a slur in reference to someone and have it be funny.

    But that The Onion missed the mark for an audience full of people who’ve already heard the “so-and-so is kind of a cunt” “joke” our whole lives really isn’t because we don’t get humor. It’s because they didn’t appreciate the specific context of the joke they were making, nor that making it at the expense of yet another child might be painful to those of us who got it made at our expense, especially if it was made at our expense when we were children. In fact, I’m willing to bet that they didn’t know the specific context of the joke they were making because they don’t have a lot of women on staff and there was no one to point out that women very rarely find it funny when we or other women are called cunts and yet, we’ve mostly all already been called cunts as jokes. That The Onion was the first to do so to Quvenzhane in public doesn’t really make it original humor.

    If it strikes you as funny, lord almighty go ahead and laugh. But don’t slag on people who find it too painful to laugh at. That’s kind of a dick move.

    Dick move…

    Heh.

  3. She is a nine year old child. A nine year old child who got to go to the Oscars. And that amazing experience will forever be tainted because an asshole working for a humour website singled her out to call her what most women find to be the worst thing a woman can be called.

    I find humour in a lot of things. I find humour in a lot of crass things. But I fail to find an ounce of humour in this.

    She’s NINE.

  4. Chris, you say: The girl in question was merely the object that the joke turned on — not the subject of it. I realize that in a debate suffused with indignation over purported female objectification, I’m committing lexical suicide, here. But I hope we can all distinguish the difference between sexual objectification and objectification as abstraction

    Sure, we all can do that, if “we” are never actually at the receiving end of the objectification. But when “we” are people who are routinely objectified, being objectified once again to point out how wrong it is to objectify us is just one more objectification, ya know? You are getting yourself into lexical difficulties because the words you are using reflect interpersonal difficulties you don’t seem to be able to recognize. A few days ago Melisa McEwen at Shakesville pointed out that It is unfair to ask a woman to leave aside her personal experience and discuss feminist issues in the abstract. You are discussing the stuff of her life. Asking her to “not make it personal” is to ask her to wrench her womanhood from her personhood. If you really consider yourself an ally to women, let alone to nine-year-old girls, you might want to think about that some.

  5. nm, yep. Well said.

    Abstraction takes distance, and there isn’t any distance between the shit being thrown and the little girl it lands on. Even if the result is supposed to be a performace piece calling out objectification, you’ve objectified an unwilling, innocent child in order to make your point, and disgusted (thank god) many people who might have agreed with the point otherwise. It’s the difference between a comedian choosing to call herself a slur in her act, and hearing it hissed as she walks past the bus stop.

  6. I think that Aunt B. and NM are right.

    The ‘joke’ was appalling precisely because it was cheap and pointless and exploitative.

    Hypothetically, does anyone think the joke would have been funnier or more acceptable if the subject were Kristin Stewart or Barbra Streisand?

  7. At this point even The Onion has issued an apology for using the word and applying it in ways that they regret and admit that they didn’t understand. A fairly decent apology too, yet Chris Wage continues to go on and on and on and hasn’t managed to understand this same concept.

    At some point in our lives, everyone has a moment that a slur, a derogatory term or action from someone else shows us that not everyone thinks, believes or behaves the same as we do and some innocence is lost. You at least hope that a child’s innocence can last a little bit beyond 9 yo before they have to learn this lesson.

  8. Most succinctly: If you believe that you are an ally, and you find yourself disagreeing with a bunch of people you’re allegedly allied with, defending someone else’s right to call a 9-year-old a cunt and your right to find it funny, you may want to retrace your steps.

  9. I was trying to Chris, and I’ve not seen it said anywhere else, but my problem with it wasn’t the word itself (my male privlege I guess). She doesn’t need to know what it means or understand the joke. It’s bullying and it’s getting laughs at her expense.

    Most adults I know have some sort of story about playground bullying that they’ve carried around and still vividly recall 30 years later. And that’s when it’s a 10 year old bully. Here we have a major media outlet using a nine year old girl to try and look clever and score laughs. The power difference between a media outlet like the Onion and a nine year old girl (even an academy award nominated nine year old girl) is just too much for this to be anything other than bullying on a grand scale.

    The best comment I’ve seen on it comes from Baratunde Thurston, who was digital manager for the Onion for several years. https://www.facebook.com/baratunde/posts/10100688899112451

    I read a pretty good defense of the joke at http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2013/02/a_feminist_film_critic_defends.html. It’s pretty similar to what I think Chris is trying to say, but I’m still not buying it.

  10. The link I shared defending the joke actually addresses Mark’s question above about whether it would have been funnier or more acceptable if it had been an adult actress.

  11. Agreeing with Jess. A number of smart women who are not known for delicate sensibilities are telling you that to women, if not you, this term that demeans and objectifies women is almost universally offensive and you keep “explaining” that it is not inherently offensive and being surprised that they find it even more offensive that you say that.

    You are dismissing women’s experiences when taking into account whether the use of a word used to demean them is “funny.” I think for a lot of people, hearing that from an ally is more upsetting than the tweet.

  12. W,

    Thanks. Good link.

    The Kathryn Bigelow comment does relate to something over which she had a choice, that is to play the role. And the idea of someone wearing Osama’s bloody clothing isn’t something I would tell the kids in my Church Senior High group but for people who follow foreign policy and such, it strikes a chord.

  13. Bottom line, if the joke requires that much explanation to explain why it was funny, then it wasn’t funny.

  14. I have not much to add here except to express my absolute agreement with what GoldnI, Samantha Y, Jess, and nm said, in addition to B’s line of, “Don’t pretend like, when a joke relies on objectifying a woman and calling her a cunt, and women are grossed out by it, it’s because women just can’t see what’s so funny about it.”

    I saw a good comment on Twitter about this: “I thought you all knew by now that you gotta punch TOWARD power to do satire. 9-yr-olds don’t deserve this shit.” The Onion’s tweet, despite all the parsing, was never going to be just punching toward power, because as B rightly notes, we hear that shit all the time. The tweet just reminds us what we put up with every time we speak up, or are successful, or stick our necks out. It doesn’t critique the media so much as employ the gender equivalent of hipster racism to keep shitting on women. Getting to treat it as harmless media criticism? Pure privilege, plain and simple.

    So, please, Chris, keep implying that the women who are telling you how they feel about the “joke” that they’re just not sophisticated, thoughtful, or possessed of a sense of humor enough to get it. It just reminds us where we stand, same as that tweet did.

  15. I’m sick of hearing shit like the defense of someone calling a 9yo African American girl a cunt from people who are supposedly allies of women. How many people have to say “This was not funny. It was hurtful and demeaning and indefensible.” before the apologists actually listen? After far too many years of this kind of behavior, honestly, I really do not have a sense of humor about it. If that makes me a humorless feminism, I’m totally fine with that.

  16. Rachel, I think your identification of this as a kind of hipster misogyny is spot on. It’s misogyny that’s supposed to be excusable because “we” know they don’t mean it. That they’re on “our” side. But what they don’t get is that we hear we’re cunts from all sides all the time. There is no place you can stand and call a woman a cunt that puts you on her side.

  17. Phew, you guys have been busy. I feel like there are a lot of different things being claimed, both offense (whatever that means) and actual harm, both on yourselves and on the girl in question. It’d help me if maybe we broke these up into more concrete points and responded, even if I’ll feel like I’m repeating myself a bit:

    “The tweet actively harmed the girl in question because she undoubtedly heard about it” — as B put it: I think you’re missing my main point–she’s going to hear that she’s a cunt.

    That the girl heard about it at this point is undoubtedly possible, if even likely, now, due to all the uproar. I find it unlikely that it’s a difficult explanation — perhaps not at 9, but with time. This is why I already conceded that the Onion’s most grievous (and as far as I can tell, only) mistake was underestimating the reach of their audience — that is, failing to consider that she’d hear about it. So, point taken: a grownup joke may have reached the ears of someone unprepared to hear it. A hypothetical: would it still have been demeaning and reprehensible if I had turned to you while watching the Oscars and said it? (the implication being that she would never have heard it).

    “The joke is ambiguously crafted so that the irony was not clear” — as B put it: You want to make this something more abstract–about some vague notion of “gross and damaging sexism,” about “subtle comic irony,”

    I’m sorry, but the humor is not abstract. Have you read the Onion? It is the embodiment of the term “comic irony”. Maybe I’m incorrectly paraphrasing what you’re saying here, but if you are accusing the Onion of being genuinely malicious I can only assume (as I’ve said) willful disingenuousness.

    “Jokes calling someone a cunt are not okay because I personally have been called a cunt and it was written off as a joke, therefore it hurts me”. As B said: “women very rarely find it funny when we or other women are called cunts and yet, we’ve mostly all already been called cunts as jokes. That The Onion was the first to do so to Quvenzhane in public doesn’t really make it original humor.”

    While you are all correct that as a privileged white male, I’m definitely not a woman that has ever been called a cunt (joking or otherwise). I’ve also never been used as the object of a joke by a humor magazine as a 9 year old while I was at the oscars (and I’d venture a guess that neither have any of you). I am not really sure how there’s any equivalence here, or how you can make the connection that because the former happens and is not okay, the latter is not okay as well.

    “The word cunt is never funny.” As Samantha put it: “You are dismissing women’s experiences when taking into account whether the use of a word used to demean them is “funny.” I think for a lot of people, hearing that from an ally is more upsetting than the tweet.”

    This confuses me, because the Onion’s tweet was a satirical use of the word “cunt”. Are we talking about a different situation here? For the record, I am not okay with friends of mine being called cunts. .. just in case that needed clarification. I have no doubt that those experiences were terrible, even if they have little bearing on this situation. If this is a more general “you should never use the word”, then we’re at an impasse — at least I thought Betsy agreed that it wasn’t the use of the word itself that was troubling but the fact that it was “directed” at a real person (which, as I’ve said, I disagree with).

    “if the joke requires that much explanation to explain why it was funny, then it wasn’t funny”

    I totally disagree with this, but deconstructing the nature of all humor is probably out of scope for this conversation (actually it probably is the scope of this conversation, which is why it’s so tough).

    What I don’t like is that I’m hearing a lot of “I’m offended and you have no right to tell me I shouldn’t be”. And that’s fine — I have no intention of telling you when you should and shouldn’t be offended. In fact, at best all I can tell you that when people tell me they are offended, I literally have no idea what they mean. Claiming offense, in my experience, is a way of claiming the moral high-ground without actually having to reach it rationally.

    I found the joke funny — maybe not something that needed to reach the ears of a 9 year old, but funny nonetheless. You can write off my defense of the humor as mansplaining, but this isn’t very fair, either (it doesn’t offend me, because I don’t know what that means, but I think it mischaracterizes me, and I’d think you would all know me better — thus my repeated and probably annoying attempts to keep explaining where I’m coming from). Humor is difficult to deconstruct, and so are feelings around a sensitive word.

    I argued fervently against the use of the word “patriarch” because it was flippant and casual, with an obvious lack of regard for how non-inclusive it made the event seem — a distinct, tangibly harmful effect of poorly chosen language. It didn’t offend me, it was just ignorant and *wrong* (or, arguably, all too accurate).

    If someone were to use the word “cunt” in an obviously non-ironic context (or even a baser attempt at basic irony/sarcasm), I’d rail against it as unnecessary and harmful as well.

    Incidentally, the link that W posted is, in my opinion, 100% spot on — though I’d love to hear why he (or any of you) “don’t buy it”.

    I’m gonna slink off to my heavily insulated bubble of privileged white male hegemony now.

  18. Wow, dude. You missed the point like it was your superpower, got all condescending and waded 17 paragraphs further into the Great Miasma of Mainsplaining. Well done.

  19. You’re not getting agreement from the people you say you support. We’ve heard your reasoning at length. There is literally nothing else you need to be saying.

  20. I didn’t realize you were the arbiter that decided when the discussion was over. I’m being perfectly civil — maybe you could try doing the same. Can you tell me which point I missed and maybe I’ll give you my response like two adults communicating with eachother? Or is that too much to ask? I realize that it’s tremendously frustrating when you tell someone that they should agree with you and they don’t just do it. So annoying!

  21. I had no idea until reading this a few minutes ago that any of this happened.

    I think what Beth said is what I would say.

    With the addendum that I did see Q. in several interviews and found her to be distastefully arrogant and smug and snide. I figured “well, she’s 9. We’ll give her some time to figure things out.”

    It does bother me that the term for female genetalia gets co opted to mean arrogant and smug and snide. But then again “dick” and “prick” don’t fare much better.

    Why do we hate sex organs so much?

  22. “when people tell me they are offended, I literally have no idea what they mean”

    Well, that clears that up.

  23. I have no intention of telling you when you should and shouldn’t be offended.

    Um, Chris, you’ve been telling us that quite a bit, just here and now. All the explaining of what the tweet “really meant,” all the stupefaction about why so many commenters here don’t get “comic irony,” or don’t get this particular bit of it — what is all that if not an attempt to prove to us that the people who were upset at The Onion‘s tweet are wrong? I mean, clearly you’re not attempting to understand anyone else’s point of view, but you find it vital that we understand and approve of yours.

  24. Again: taking offense is a foreign concept to me. So, given that, the fact that I’m being criticized for refusing to accept your offense at face value is a bit meta for me. I don’t really know what it means to begin with. You can be offended at whatever you like! I laid out many of the potential objections both here and in my original post that I do and don’t agree with. Giving my opinion on the tweet’s intent is not impugning on your right to be offended, it’s … giving my opinion on the tweet’s intent. My intent is not to prove that the people who are upset are wrong for being upset, my intent is to prove that you’re … wrong. Period. Which is why over and over I’ve asked “do you believe that the Onion intended to make a 9 year old girl feel bad for being female?” because if the answer is “no” it instantly highlights the problem with repeatedly using the phrase “the onion called a 9 year old girl a cunt” in an order to shame anyone who might dare find the joke funny. Which is one of the many (in my opinion, flawed and unfair) responses I got in daring to say that I found the joke hilarious.

  25. That’s remarkably circular reasoning: you’re not telling us that we’re wrong to be offended, you’re just telling us that reacting to a tweet differently than the way you tell us we ought to do is wrong, period, and that our reactions must be based on misunderstanding and emotions that you don’t understand and don’t need to try to understand. Which certainly is a looooong way of telling us not to be offended, but is telling us not to be offended.

  26. “do you believe that the Onion intended to make a 9 year old girl feel bad for being female?”

    Is this a valid starting point? I don’t think it is, not from what I’m reading in the various comments above. Since I have no problem wielding gratuitously ponderous similes, I will submit that asking the question above is like asking if Barack Obama intended to kill 200 Pakistani children with his drone strikes. Even if we assume the answer is ‘no,’ the children are still dead, and we must ask if the real goal of the drone strikes is worth the price of 200 dead children. (Considering that Madeleine Albright was an Obama campaign adviser, you may fill in your own snide historical retort to that one.)

    I will add one other thing, because I have no fear of wandering off onto tangents. I think B. mentions above somewhere that there are ways that Quvenzhan Wallis’s alleged demeanor could have been lampooned without resorting to such a loaded word. I agree. I was also recently accused of using a loaded word in a discussion, though in my case the word was not used in an attempt at humor, nor was it intended to draw attention to the subject’s gender. It is my opinion that the accusation was largely disingenuous, as I was taking a rather unpopular position in the discussion and supporting it rather soundly (or so I thought). The moral of this anecdote is that I believe it is possible to honestly disagree on the use of certain touchy bits of language, but when one is considering whether to do something as risky as calling a 9-year-old a ‘cunt’– in whatever context– I believe one should first consider the reasoning elucidated in the sisters’ comments above.

  27. The joke, while not spit-my-coffee-out funny, was still funny. It works because it was absurd in the same way a joke about Ghandi or an Auschwitz victim being “such a fucking fat ass” would be funny. It works because it is an incredibly hyperbolic way to address our voyeuristic tendencies toward people we often loathe, for which the Oscars is the embodiment. And at the same time it’s targeting someone who would be a completely absurd target for that type of comment.

    It was blue, deadpan, satirical, and the choice of the word “cunt” added an almost morbid shock to it.

    Lots of people like dark humor. If you don’t then don’t follow @theonion on twitter. You have to be 13 to have an account on Twitter. Maybe the Internet isn’t the best place to raise your 9-year-old. I’d like to know who this person is that’s going to tell this 9-year-old girl that someone on the Internet called her a cunt. Because the Internet isn’t the asshole in this story. I hope they immediately follow it up with what 4chan and rotten.com are.

    I’m really sorry for you if reading the or hearing the word “cunt” seems to make you so mad that you get tunnel-vision and immediately lose perspective; But there’s no such thing as “the right to not be offended” like there is a right to free speech. And I’m really sorry that you may have been called that and it really hurt you. Life is tough all around;Harden up. Just dismissing anything a male says with terms like “male privilege” and “the patriarchy” isn’t really a counter argument so much as it is a whine.

    People are going to tell jokes you don’t like, and if you have the sensibilities such that you’re going to be offended when they use certain words, the Internet may not be the place for you. If you think that “white knighting” a cause like this is going to get rid of the off-color and “offensive” humor on the Internet, you’re in for a massive let-down.

    On being offended, I think Stephen Fry puts it better than I could ever put it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02dXAkxbyQg

  28. fapestniegd, your comment is hilariously stupid. i mean, kudos to you for being the biggest dumbass in this conversation. But I do want to thank you because you clarified for me something I didn’t really get about your and Chris’s positions.

    You identify with the teller of the joke. That’s why it matters so much to you that jokes somehow be placed outside of the realm of things that have an actual effect on people. Because, at some level, you’re not assholes. So, you want to have your funny and not worry about if it hurts other people. So, the way you’ve figured out to do that is to just convince yourselves that somehow jokes don’t count or that they count differently and then to insist that we understand jokes EXACTLY like you do.

    All right then.

    Here’s the thing. Most of us here in this conversation–seemingly all of the ones who regularly get called cunts–do not identify with the teller of the joke. We don’t see ourselves as being most like him. We identify with the person being called a cunt. The nine year old girl.

    What you’re understanding as “being offended” is, in fact, actually an insurmountable difference in perspective. Y’all literally cannot imagine what it’s like to hear the “joke” of being a cunt your whole life and then to read it in a Twitter stream about some little girl and to feel like “Well, there’s another bunch of assholes.”

    I mean, I’m not offended. I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that The Onion didn’t make a better joke, more astute about its audience. I’m disappointed that you, Chris, would even ask me how I’d respond if you called a little girl a cunt in front of me under the guise of it being a joke. (I mean, for real? The notion of just how much it fucking sucks to like a guy and think he’s your friend and that he’s cool and you can let your guard down only to discover that, when your guard is down, he’s going to start calling girls cunts as jokes and you’re the asshole if you don’t laugh is somehow just inconceivable? I don’t know how to make it any clearer but I will say it again: When men call us cunts as an expression of their hatred toward us, they ALWAYS excuse it as a joke. Asking me to excuse your use of cunt as a joke is just… I mean… really? Chris, if you’d really make a cunt joke about a little girl in front of me and think it was okay, don’t hang out with me. Because I would find it shocking and distressing.). I’m really disappointed to see how many men I know and like have an utter failure of imagination when it comes to putting themselves in my shoes.

    But I’m not offended. I think offended is a word you’re hiding behind because you simply don’t want to imagine what it would feel like to be the butt of that joke over and over again and then to see your friends laughing about that joke when it’s told on someone else.

    And I think you’re hiding behind “offended” because it’s easier than admitting that you can’t imagine in this case what it’s like to be someone like me and because it’s easier than hearing what people are really saying to you–that your lack of imagination in this case, when in so many other cases you seem to be able to put yourself in others’ shoes, is distressing.

    If you can understand why having to read about the great men of Nashville’s tech scene described as “patriarchs” might cause women to roll our eyes and feel unwelcome, is it really so hard to understand why yet another instance of a dude calling a girl a cunt under the guise of a joke might cause us to roll our eyes? And why women who have endured years of being called a cunt under the guise of it being a joke might be pissed that some poor little girl can’t even make it to nine years old before she’s called a cunt under the guise of it being a joke?

    That makes no kind of sense to you?

  29. Okay, I’m going to make one more point and then leave this for the night. Men who hate women call women cunts. If you don’t want to be mistaken for a man who hates women, don’t call women cunts. If this seems unfair to you–you’d like to sometimes use the word cunt without being mistaken for a man who hates women–take it up with the men who hate women who call us cunts.

    After all, they’re the ones who ruined it.

    Meanwhile, because the world is big and life is short, I’m going to continue to assume that men who call women cunts, even as jokes, probably hate women and thus act accordingly. If, for that reason, I somehow miss out on some great and meaningful relationships with wonderful guys just because they occasionally like to joke about women being cunts (or, for that matter, some hilarious joke), I can live with that, since, otherwise, it’s an effective filtering tool for removing people who hate me from my social sphere.

  30. I posed the hypothetical of me (anyone) making the joke in person as opposed to a public forum in order to isolate the factors/objections at play — one of them being that the joke was made in a medium wherein we’re afraid that the girl might catch wind of it. But, you know, if it suits your apparent aims of degrading the conversation to the level of insults, then by all means, continue with your bizarre assumption that I’m arguing that calling women cunts is awesome.

    “You identify with the teller of the joke” — sure. The teller of the joke, mind you, is a writer (or editor, who knows) for The Onion. I seem to have missed the leap where this means I identify with men that love calling women cunts.

    So, the fact that a lot of this debate (such as it is) has revolved around my gender — that my lack of proper shock and offense is because as a male I could never possibly imagine what it’s like to be called a cunt. I ignored the fact that this is literally the definition of diversion via ad hominem, although now that I’m being called “stupid” and a “dumbass”, I can see we’re well past the point of subtlety where that’s concerned. But if the crucial problem in our failure to communicate here is my male lack of imagination and that I “identify with the teller” (that you have assumed, interestingly, is male), then how do you respond to the feminist woman who wrote a post that very nearly mirrors almost everything I’ve said? Is she also wrong? Can you explain to me why and how?

    This discussion has been fraught with a distinct inability to answer any question I’ve posed directly without reference to my perspective (or lack thereof) on account of my gender. So let’s remove it from the equation. I’m a stupid dumbass misogynist that loves calling women cunts. Fine. Nailed it. That said, can you respond to this woman? http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2013/02/a_feminist_film_critic_defends.html

    I’m saddened that you found it necessary to continually misrepresent or invent things that I’m supposedly arguing for to the extent that you’re now at the namecalling stage, but I’d still love to salvage some sort of takeaway from this.

  31. schazjmd:

    Not funny *to you* so maybe you shouldn’t follow people who tell off-color jokes on twitter, or just stay off the internet altogether. Free speech protects speech you don’t like, not the speech you do. This includes humor you don’t like. There’s a great many people who feel the exact same way as you about comics of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him). But you know what? People still make jokes about him, because *other* people can see humor in the jokes.

    Aunt B.:

    Nice ad hominem attack. I guess politeness (and any actual argument you had) is out the window. Your comment demonstrates that your problem with the joke isn’t the joke at all, but the seemingly insurmountable amount of personal emotional baggage you have affixed to the word “cunt.” Exactly _zero_ of your comment refuted any of the well documented elements of humor I stated the joke contained. Instead you went off on a tirade about how much that word hurts you. I am not your shrink, so I won’t even attempt to try to tear apart that straw-man. Explain to me why the joke doesn’t meet the criteria I stated which, again, are well documented elements of humor. Just because you, personally, think the joke is in bad taste doesn’t mean it’s not funny. People have been telling “dead-baby jokes” for decades. In good taste? Hell no. Funny? Sometimes.

    As for the “why it matters so much to you that jokes somehow be placed outside of the realm of things that have an actual effect on people”, you couldn’t be more wrong. Laughter actually evolved as a response to being in uncomfortable situations. It’s the human coping mechanism for uncomfortable situations. So humor itself *cannot* exist outside of having an actual effect on people. So you not only don’t think the joke is funny, you haven’t studied humor at all.

    Just for the record. I am a self-proclaimed full on Dennis-Leary-esque asshole, and I wear it proudly. I don’t spare people’s feelings as a rule. I don’t pull punches or expect them to be pulled for me. I don’t want to live in your world of people blowing smoke up everyone’s ass to spare their feelings. I’m sorry not everyone can claim the self-righteous high-ground you seem to think you live on.

    As for the word “cunt”, I can’t actually remember the last time I used it outside of this conversation, much less to refer to a woman. Not to spare anyone’s feelings mind you, but because there are usually more descriptive and far more humorous adjectives I’d use (jokingly or otherwise) to describe people. I much prefer “fuckwits” or “ass-hats”, maybe because they’re fun to say, or maybe because I have to deal with fuckwittery and ass-hattery more often than I’d like to admit.

    But the joke was most certainly in bad taste, but funny. I’m very sorry about whatever mental condition you have that makes you flip your shit when you hear that word, and you might consider getting professional help to get you past it. But in earnest, the problem isn’t the joke, it’s you.

  32. This is starting to remind me of all the arguments I used to have with right-wingers during the Bush years. Invariably, as I began to compile fact after fact and reasoned position after reasoned position, I began to notice that I was arguing with individuals who were consistently approaching me with their eyes focused somewhere else. That is, they were debating points that I wasn’t making, and then daring me to defend the position they’d invented.

    B., I think you and some others here have very clearly and exhaustively illustrated your points, but it appears that Mr. Wage and the self-proclaimed “asshole” don’t want to acknowledge those points directly. Example: Mr. Wage says, “…by all means, continue with your bizarre assumption that I’m arguing that calling women cunts is awesome.”
    My time right now is limited, but I’m sure I read several points, B., where you illustrated very clearly that you didn’t hold that assumption. In fact, you’ve gone out of your way to give him credit for not being the sort of man who gets off on calling women cunts. Also, I like your deconstruction of the use of the word “offense” here; not only is using that word a cheap attempt to characterize your position as a reactionary and therefore inferior one– ‘you’d get the joke if your head wasn’t full of flammable P.C. vapors’– but it doesn’t speak well of the confidence the user has in his own argument. I’d say more, but I have to get to work.

  33. Also, I’m no expert on how the Internet works, but every time someone writes their outraged and impassioned screed defending poor little Quetzalcoatl, they link her name to the hated word. Forever. The Onion apologized and removed their offending post. But now all across the Internets we have people writing her name and cunt in the same sentence.

    Way to go.

  34. fapestniegd, if you were truly a Denis-Leary-esque asshole you’d be funny and get that I was making fun of you and having a laugh at your expense. But, in fact, your invocation of Denis Leary further illustrates why I find you to be the most hilariously useless commenter in this thread. Frankly, because until you got pissed off, you didn’t express a single original idea. Then, when you did get pissed off, there was a brief and beautiful moment of actual genuineness that lasted only until you could hide behind Denis Leary’s reputation again.

    Disagree with me, dude. That’s cool. But you know, be genuine about it. Actually present for the conversation. I mean, I’m out here in the world and I follow a lot of popular culture. I already know what Denis Leary and Stephen Fry think. So far all I know about what you really think is that you like to regurgitate a lot of stuff you read elsewhere. Guess what? I also read that other stuff those other places. And, obviously, it didn’t convince me. You restating it here? Probably not going to convince me.

  35. Chris, here’s the thing. Comedy is subjective. If you thought that joke was funny and you laughed at it, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t think you’re a bad person for finding it funny.

    I think it’s very strange for you to be this invested in insisting that it is objectively funny and that people who don’t find it funny are wrong or somehow just looking to be offended. There’s no such thing as objective taste. Otherwise, either no one would listen to Justin Bieber or he’d have actual talent to reflect his sales levels.

    Their tastes are different than yours. Their tastes are shaped by their own experiences. So what?

    At this point, I’m having a hard time understanding what you’re upset about? Because The Onion felt like the joke didn’t land how they wanted it to, so they took it down and apologized? Comedians ALWAYS rework jokes. You put it out in public, the public reacts, and you decide if that’s the reaction you want and,if not, you rework it.

    If The Onion were a stand-up comedian and he told that joke in a comedy club and only some people laughed and other people were like “Fuck you, buddy,” would you feel that something bad had happened if he rewrote the joke to get fewer “fuck you, buddy”s? Or that something bad had happened if he stopped telling the joke?

    Because I feel like that’s all that’s happened here. They tried something. It didn’t get the audience response they wanted. They decided to try something else.

    So what’s the problem?

  36. fapestniegd got to Bingo pretty fast, huh? Though I admit to getting pretty tired of people who think that “free speech” means “the right not to be criticized for speech.”

    Chris: that this is literally the definition of diversion via ad hominem

    Well, no. An ad hominem argument ignores the substance of discussion (in this case, reaction to a young girl being called a cunt) and attacks the opponent with irrelevant arguments (“don’t believe Chirs! he picks his nose in public!” “don’t believe B! she eats kittens!”). This, OTOH, seems highly relevant and not a diversion but a way of rephrasing the argument.

    if it suits your apparent aims of degrading the conversation to the level of insults

    OK, this is the end for me. Because this conversation is about what it’s like to have commentary on an awards show degraded to the level of insult. People who found The Onion‘s tweet ironic but make a statement like this without any evident sense of irony need a dictionary.

  37. Sam Holloway:

    “I think you and some others here have very clearly and exhaustively illustrated your points, but it appears that Mr. Wage and the self-proclaimed “asshole” don’t want to acknowledge those points directly.”

    That’s because all of these “clear and exhaustively illustrated” points aren’t points about the joke, but instead insight into the “whole painful context to the joke you’re not aware of.” So I’ll agree that people who view their lives through this “painful context” wouldn’t find the joke funny. But you know what? I don’t see the world through the lens of a being a victim.

  38. Things that have genuinely made me laugh in this conversation;

    fapestniegd insisting he doesn’t see the world through the lens of being a victim.

    The Onion Headline that could come of this: “Online Conversation about a Joke about a Nine Year Old Being a Cunt degenerates into name-calling and insults.”

  39. Aunt B.
    Leading off with someone being hilariously stupid based on nothing other than the fact that they don’t agree with you didn’t really come off as “having a laugh at my expense”. It comes off as falsely-superior smugness.

    I’d never stop someone from making a joke at my expense, and few make more jokes at my expense than I do. I’m sorry I don’t have any “original” ideas. But you’re entire argument around this is just you playing the victim about a “context that is painful to you”, and that’s literally all in your head. So you’ll understand if I don’t “just get” whatever pathology you have going on in there. People are going to say what people are going to say, you have no control over this, but how you let it affect you? That’s *all* on you.

    I may not be a woman, but I certainly understand the rules to playing the victim. Just start by fabricating a “them” (in this case men, who use the word “cunt”) and then you pit yourself against them, making sure that you’re the oppressed party. Also be sure to filter everything “they” say or do through an imagined-slight filter so you can reinforce the them-versus-you paradigm at all costs. This way you can be smugly superior and claim the moral high ground while not actually doing anything to improve your situation. Hopefully one day you’ll wake up and realize that “they” never had any power over you that you didn’t create in your own mind. That day will be very liberating one for you.

  40. While we’re on the topic of things that literally make us laugh out loud:

    “And it’s this: Every time I’ve been called a cunt, when the dude who called me a cunt got called on it by someone he respected, his excuse was that he was joking. Every damn time. Can’t she take a joke? And yet, obviously, he wasn’t joking at all. He meant it.”

    “fapestniegd, if you were truly a Denis-Leary-esque asshole you’d be funny and get that I was making fun of you and having a laugh at your expense.”

    It’s a good thing irony isn’t flammable.

  41. fapestniegd, you continue to be dumber than a box of rocks with an almost pathological fear of contributing anything original to this conversation, but I am enjoying you being here. You are so close to almost getting it that I’m cheering for you at this point.

    Here’s what I recommend. Go back and read everything I’ve said not in the “girls yelling at you” tone you must usually hear from women in the world, but in the tone of grown-ups having a difficult, sometimes tense, sometimes funny discussion between friends. And then contribute to the conversation in that spirit.

    Or, you know, you could continue to be the biggest dumbass in the conversation. Either one is fine with me. The current trajectory you’re on is amusing the fuck out of me. But it seems like you really are capable of having the other one and that would have to be a better use of your time here. I mean, since you’re insisting on being here. Why not actually contribute to the conversation in the spirit in which it’s happening?

  42. Aunt B.
    It’s fall-out-of-my-chair laughable that you call me “the biggest dumb-ass in the conversation”, while you continue with your pathology of self-congratulatory righteous indignation.

    You complain about my lack of originality as if everything you’ve said (that wasn’t an ad hominem attack) wasn’t just some more tripe about being a woman in a man’s world, and how words are hurtful and men are evil hateful creatures for using words that make you cry. And *sob* there’s *sob* a *sob* context *sob* that *sob* no *sob* man *sob* can *sob* understand. <= This is how I read your posts, not in the "girls yelling at you tone I must usually hear from women in the world", as you suggest. People don't typically raise their voice to me more than once. The ringing I leave in their ears pretty much ends that as a tactic.

    For what it's worth, most adults don't consider whining "arguable and valid points" in conversation. But you seem to have constructed a group of friends that acts like a fox-news-ian echo chamber, so I guess you're not used to dissent. Hell, Jess pretty much all but told Chris that straying from the group-think in the hive-mind was a sign that he'd jumped the rails. How does the saying go? "If you're stupid, surround yourself with smart people; If you're smart, surround yourself with smart people that disagree with you." Yeah, not original, but holy shit is it applicable.

    As for your whining, all I can really say is "Aww Puddin." But come up with a point that isn't you just bawling about how hard life is for you and there might be something intelligent for adults to discuss.

  43. I find it interesting that part of the defense is that this nine year old wouldn’t have heard about it unless someone told her. I know 4 year olds who can navigate youtube and other graphics heavy websites before they can read. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to know a nine year old actress has a Google alert on her own name.

    Also, it was so very awesome to read Jess, whom I’ve never met, use a phrase I coined. I owe you a drink for that Jess.

  44. To quote fapestneig… “Hell, Jess pretty much all but told Chris that straying from the group-think in the hive-mind was a sign that he’d jumped the rails”

    Jess can feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure she actually meant something more along the lines of “If a woman says it’s offensive to women, then you should probably not try to use a male POV to tell her she’s wrong.”

  45. People all over the UK are undoubtedly confused, asking themselves “What stupid cunt called a 9-year-old girl ‘a cunt’?”

  46. I may not be a woman, but I certainly understand the rules to playing the victim.

    Coming into a winding-down conversation between disagreeing friends and making ad hominem attacks on folks would certainly attest to that.

  47. Samantha Y.
    Scroll up a bit. Aunt. B started with the ad hominem. Not I.

    Furthermore, my comments about people playing the victim in an attempt to get some kind of holier-than-thou feeling of superiority aren’t ad hominem. They’re about as sincere as you’ll ever hear. I know because I played that role in my younger years. And no, I couldn’t see it at the time either. I was probably more defensive about it because it wasn’t just men that were oppressing me, but the whole world. Some of my best friends from that period in my life still think that way, and it’s sad. It’s not until I got past it myself that I realized how thinking I was a victim became a self-fulfilling prophecy. If it hits so close to home that you can’t tell it’s not an insult, well there you go.

  48. Not having seen the movie, I have a question. Was the word ‘cunt’ frequently used? Not that if it were, the ‘joke’ would become funny, it wouldn’t, but one could argue that it made the tweet somehow relevant.

    If ‘cunt’ is not part of the movie, then there is no possible explanation for the ‘joke’ other than using a naughty word in reference to a charming young girl. And the only people who find that funny are nine year-olds.

  49. Mark Rodgers

    The rare and elusive spot-on-analysis. But as it turns out, a lot of people have nine-year-old’s sense of humor. This doesn’t make them inherently evil or malicious. Just juvenile.

  50. James, you’re the one telling folks that they’re acting like victims or being holier-than-thou when all they’re doing is sharing with a male friend a glimpse at the female experience. But by all means, come in and belittle people, tell them their experiences are their own fault, and then claim that you’re not the one pointing flamethrowers at the straw men you’ve constructed. It must be really nice to live in the kind of privilege that means that the only oppression you face is in your own head.

  51. Chris, we have. But belittle arguments that don’t agree with yours by calling that “mudslinging.” I see how that’s working out for you spectacularly.

  52. So far I’ve been called stupid and a dumbass (at least by implication — fapestniegd apparently being the preeminent stupid dumbass). How am I belittling? I’ve just asked questions and offered my opinion on a joke that I found funny.

    Point of clarification: “disagreeing with” is actually not in fact the same as “belittling”

  53. Okay. But just assume for the moment that I missed it (since clearly I did). Can you copy/paste the part where someone addressed the above blog post’s points?

  54. As for your buddy, he was actively belittling. Saying we’re pretending to be holier-than-thou or sobbing or playing victims instead of addressing anyone’s points in a respectful, constructive manner (which would be disagreement).

  55. No, Chris, I’m not your momma or your secretary. I’m not going to hold your hand and show you what others have said that addresses your points that you’ve already dismissed as wrong because it didn’t line up with your blog post’s points.

  56. Fap,

    Where did I suggest anyone was ‘inherently evil or malicious?’

    My point is only that unless the word ‘cunt’ is somehow easily linked to the movie, it is hard to justify that tweet as a ‘joke.’ Or at least more of a joke than a couple of high school football players dunking the head of a frail 7th grader in a toilet.

    For example, if you asked anyone who ever saw HBO’s ‘Deadwood’ to describe the show in one word, the odds are really good that the word would be ‘cocksucker.’ It is all over the show. A friend and I play a drinking game involving that word and a shot of whiskey. Believe me, there is no way you can make it through most episodes without getting massively hammered.

    Now if there were a nine year-old girl in the show {there wasn’t but this is hypothetical} who got a major role in a film and was nominated for an Oscar and the Onion tweeted that infamous joke using cocksucker, it might not be funny to most people but at least there is a frame of reference for the comment. It still is mean-spirited and cheap and childish and not funny but at least it involves something more than a dirty word.

    I don’t think the Onion comment was more than using a dirty word to stand in for actual humor. Much like most contemporary comedy, I fear.

  57. Samantha Y.

    Yeah, because I didn’t work for anything I have. When you’re a man they just hand you your male-white-privilege card at 18 and you just start making six figures at an air-conditioned desk job where we spend all of our time belittling women. We’re all like this, you’ve broken the code.

    Sure Privilege exists, but being on the other side of it doesn’t immediately make you a victim of it. You talk about the “female experience” and when I try make a point that it’s not that different from “the human experience” then I’m belittling people. Being a victim is not part of the “female experience.” That’s crap. It’s part of the “making yourself a victim” experience, no matter what sex you are.

    The signs are the same and pretty easy to identify. Just look for the “them verses us” mentality, the bemoaning of “our” situation vs. how well “they” have it, and add a heaping scoop of righteous indignation. It’s all the same.

    You can just gloss over comments like, “you continue to be dumber than a box of rocks” and “I find you to be the most hilariously useless commenter in this thread.” and then target mine as “belittling”. Why the blind spot? Is it because I have penis that *these* ad hominem attacks aren’t out of bounds? Really, why are these not worthy of your scorn?

    Because those were *meant* to be belittling, and mine were not. If I start belittling people, you’ll see something entirely different.

  58. Mark Rodgers

    Sorry, I didn’t mean you implied evil, I was contrasting your comment about only 9-year-olds would find that funny vs. Aunt B’s comments about anyone man using the term probably hating women. ( I extrapolated “evil” from her comment, not yours.)

    My argument has been that the joke, while tasteless, _was funny_ because it meets enough of the criteria that would make a joke funny, if certain women didn’t have preexisting emotional hang-ups about words. I would now add “juvenile” to the description of the joke as well.

    But rather than address that point (until you came along and stated it better and more succinctly) it’s just been a bunch of whining and personal attacks against me. And when I engaged the whining and the personal attacks, people piled on with more whining and personal attacks. Even addressing the whining and attacks was probably a mistake, as it just drug me down to where I could be hammered by people with more experience arguing at that level.

  59. Chris, she’s wrong because she makes the same mistake you do. You said that the humor of the joke, in part, hinges on how calling a little girl a cunt is obviously horrible. She says, “Because, look: Quvenzhané Wallis is adorable. Adorable. And also fierce and strong and bursting with personality, both in Beasts of the Southern Wild, when she was six years old, and now, as a nine-year-old attending last night’s Oscars: [then there's a cute picture of her] She’s carrying a puppy purse, for pete’s sake. She gave herself a cheer when her name was announced as a Best Actress nominee. She reprimanded an AP reporter who wanted to call her “Annie” (the role she’s just been cast in) instead of her proper name. She’s awesome.”

    And while I think it is great that you think that calling a nine year old girl a cunt is horrible and while I agree with her that Quvenzhane is awesome, what I am trying to get through to you is that, considering how many people are completely comfortable with women being called cunts, as evidenced by their willingness to call us cunts or to stand around and laugh when we’re called cunts, it is simply not true that most people actually think it’s horrible to call a little girl a cunt. Many, many people do not think that Quvenzhane is adorable or awesome.

    The joke only works if you accept that Quvenzhane’s awesomeness is a foregone conclusion by everyone. It simply is not. That’s why it doesn’t work. For a lot of us.

    So, good, it works for you. People aren’t wrong if it doesn’t work for them.

  60. fapestniegd, stop it. You came into this thread being a hostile asshole and you got met with hostile asshole attitude from me. You’re going to continue to be met with hostile asshole attitude from me until you either stop being a hostile asshole or stop commenting.

    On a related note, I recommend you stop being a hostile asshole. Not for my sake, since, thank the gods, I don’t know you, but for the sake of the well-being of your relationships with the people you do know.

  61. “And while I think it is great that you think that calling a nine year old girl a cunt is horrible and while I agree with her that Quvenzhane is awesome, what I am trying to get through to you is that, considering how many people are completely comfortable with women being called cunts, as evidenced by their willingness to call us cunts or to stand around and laugh when we’re called cunts, it is simply not true that most people actually think it’s horrible to call a little girl a cunt.”

    Isn’t that the entire point of satirical irony? They’re highlighting the fact that it’s horrible by picking both an exaggeratory name and target — hopefully communicating this idea that calling people horrible, hurtful names is not acceptable. Are you saying that it doesn’t work for you because you’re afraid (or confident) that too many people will not get that it’s satire? Isn’t that kindof an indictment of all satire? Also, if that’s the case, isn’t it disingenuous of you and others to continually refer to the onion as “calling a little girl a cunt”? If we all at least agree that it’s satirical irony, why pillory the author with disingenuous claims of malintent? Accuse them of being irresponsible, at least.

  62. Chris, they did call her a cunt. As a joke, but they did call her a cunt. Here’s why it doesn’t work for me. Say that a large group of British people were eating Irish babies and the Irish were pissed about it. And then Swift put out ‘A Modest Proposal.’ Is it actually satire if it’s suggesting something a lot of people are doing and that the people it’s being done to are pissed about? Or is it just another British dude arguing for eating Irish babies, but in a more clever way?

    It’s like I said, they were attempting to land a joke that depends on it being ludicrous that anyone would call a nine year old girl a cunt. But it’s not ludicrous. It’s something that is a pretty consistent, stupid, painful problem.

    Which is why the joke failed. For me. It’s cool that it didn’t for you. We need folks already living in a headspace where the idea of calling a little girl a cunt is obviously ridiculous. Go on ahead down that happy path and I hope to send others to join you..

    I would also like to live in that world. But, possibly for obvious reasons, I can’t get dudes to stop calling me cunt.

  63. Aunt B.

    I started in this thread just saying why I thought the joke was funny, along with a little sticks-and-stones advice, that you should have gotten when you were five, to harden up because that’s just the way the internet is. Then you were the one who became hostile with direct attacks. Pretty much every single post you directed at me was just a fury of insults and demeaning remarks. Way to really bring up the level of discourse.

    I assure you, nothing I’ve said in here has been delivered with any malice. If you perceive it as hostile, that’s you taking offence where absolutely none was given. Which, if you think about it, is not unlike how we got here in the first place. I come off as gruff and abrasive, but that’s probably just because my personality is as rough as the “box of rocks” I’m as smart as. You seem to want to have discourse with people who only agree with you. I’m not here to validate your position. If you don’t want dissent, don’t invite it in a wordpress blog.

    As for your recommendation, there’s really no need for me to pull punches, I hang out with people with a similar level of sensibilities to mine. They’re People who don’t take offence as easily as you apparently do. So there’s no need for kid gloves around them. And they all like dark/blue/off-color/juvenile humor. There are a lot more of us than you’d think.

  64. You’ve been told how you’re being perceived. If you continue to act in the same manner after that, then you have no credible way to deny that you’re acting that way.

    Fine, maybe you don’t think you’re being an offensive asshole. But you’ve been told most of the people here think you’re acting like one. If you continue to stick around and refuse to change your behavior then you are willfully being an offensive asshole to those people.

  65. I’ve seen the term ‘mainsplaining’ around the internet for awhile and been pretty dismissive of it. I’ve seen enough of it here now that I think I actually have some understanding of it. I’ll be doing my best to avoid it myself from now on.

  66. I don’t think you’re being fair to the context of the joke. It’s true that many women (sadly, even little girls) get called cunts, joking or otherwise. What’s uncommon is for a highly visible “commentator” to choose a highly visible and patentedly innocent target (a child) — just as it was uncommon (presumably) in the 18th century for people to eat babies. It seems as if you’re trying to claim that they are entirely different because the satire of eating babies is so obviously preposterous whereas calling a little girl a cunt is less so (preposterous).

    To me that is, in fact, why I find the irony all the more biting: what is obviously a preposterous and shocking incident is, in actuality, not really that far off from what people do *every day*. Mind blown, satire accomplished.

    So yeah, it did work for me. And actually I think sarcastro’s point is wrong (it wouldn’t be a good blog comment thread unless I disagreed with sacastro) that we’re doing a disservice by ranting on and on about it. Good satire is valuable specifically *because* it generates a storm of controversy, conversation and debate. Isn’t the fact that we’re at least talking about this a good thing? (Ignoring for the moment that I got called a stupid, dumbass misogynist, but no discussion is perfect, I guess?)

    This is the point of satirical irony, and why it’s mindblowing to me, frankly, that Mark, for example, disbelieves that it was satire at all. But the fact that he is, and I can say “Actually, Mark, I think calling a 9 year old a cunt is a bit more than ‘naughty’ humor. It’s horrifyingly beyond the pale. It’s satire. Get it?”. Now instead of writing it off as naughty humor, he can spend some time thinking about the vicious, vacuous and harmful attitudes towards women that are de rigueur in events like the Oscars.

  67. If there’s a consensus that by offering opinions you disagree with I am “being an offensive asshole”, I will gladly abandon this line of conversation, but probably not until it comes from the owner of this blog and not people using it as a puerile bullying tactic. Until then I’ll persevere under the increasingly delusion impression that I’m discussing rational ideas with grown-ass adults.

  68. Chris, satire is, in my opinion, one of the higher forms of humor. It requires more components that a pie in the face or a “My ho is so fat…”

    Consider ‘A Modest Proposal.’ Would Swift have written the essay if Ireland were peaceful and prosperous? Would anyone have cared?

    Satire, more than most other forms of humor requires context. Where is the context?

    Show me the context and I will grant that it is satire, albeit failed satire in my perspective.

  69. W
    How am I supposed to act if not by being forthright? Is this what passes for discourse here? Just everyone agreeing with everyone else? I said earlier, “I don’t spare people’s feelings as a rule. I don’t pull punches or expect them to be pulled for me.” I should have added, “And I don’t back down from a little abuse.” Quite the contrary. And I’m also not the kind of person who will sit quietly when people accuse me of doing the very thing they’re doing to me. Not going to happen, not ever.

    I’m going to take a guess and say that no one in here is ex-military, nor have you hung out with many ex-military people. As a rule we tend to be gruff, abrasive, often misogynistic, and sometimes assholes. You don’t really do well in the army with a thin-skin. If you have one going in, you certainly don’t have one when you get out.

    I am who I am. If you don’t like it, then your best course of action is probably not a flurry of insults and disparaging remarks directed at me and then getting defensive and trying to pass it off as a rational debate, then accusing me of throwing a flurry of insults at you.

  70. Go ahead and double down by saying that the women who are telling you they disagree with you are doing so because they are irrational children. Because we don’t get that shit enough from the same folks who think calling us “cunts” is funny.

    This whole thread has me wondering if Chris is deliberately doing performance art based on “Derailing for Dummies.”

  71. Mark: the context was the twitter account for the onion “livetweeting” the oscars. This is a relatively new phenomenon in general — a flurry of criticism, joke-cracking and attempts at meme-making that surround any media event, now that the world (via twitter) is their stage. Basically, the Internet In General doing their damnedest to be the next TMZ (did I get that right? is that a thing?). Naturally a good portion of the criticism and jokes that floating around the Oscars in this context are, aside from being horribly vacuous

    The onion, of course, being a satire magazine (this might be a big hint to begin with), was tweeting things that were jokes that in many ways paralleled (but mocked) what people were saying realtime as the event unfolded (or in some cases what was actually happening on stage).

    That’s the context.

  72. not sure what happened in my comment above, but just pretend there’s a complete sentence hanging off that first paragraph: “Naturally a good portion of the criticism and jokes that floating around the Oscars in this context are, aside from being horribly vacuous, damagingly sexist, racist, homophobic and who knows what else.”

    Not that I actually watched the Oscars this year, but I think it’s a pretty safe assumption.

  73. Chris, right. Now we’re back to my first point–why the joke doesn’t work for me as social commentary or an argument for social change (which I think is different than whether it works for me as funny). It shoots its hostage. If it’s wrong to objectify women and denigrate us with gendered slurs, then objectifying a little girl and calling her a cunt–even if it’s to try to make a broader point about the treatment of women–is wrong. You don’t get to do the shitty thing in order to protest the shitty thing and have my gratitude.

    This is also part of the point I’m trying to make, but obviously poorly. Cunt is an incredibly loaded word. It’s very painful for a lot of women. Once it’s in play, a lot of people are going to see/hear nothing else. So, even if there was good social commentary being made by the joke–and, obviously, for you there was–it was never going to work for me and for a lot of others.

    They could have made almost the exact same joke, but instead said she was kind of an asshole and it still wouldn’t have been that funny to me, but it would have more obviously been easier for me to hear/read it as satire.

  74. Chris I was adressing the commenter whom the owner of this blog actually did call an offensive asshole (or something like that, I paraphrased). Though I judge from your response that taking offense isn’t quite as foreign a concept for you as you originally thought.

    fapestniegd, act however you wish. I’m just saying you need to own the whole ‘offensive asshole’ thing whether you intended it in the first place or not. If you’re really a ‘pull no punches’ person then you know perfectly well that an awful lot of of peole consider that synomous with ‘offensive asshole’. Especially since an awful lot of offensive assholes hide behind that as explanation.

  75. fapestniegd, are you kidding?! You’re actually blaming all your nonsense on being ex-military?!

    This is why, even though you still are contributing the stupidest comments to this conversation, I enjoy them the most.

  76. Those are two different points, but yes: if by “shoots the hostage” you mean “carries the risk that the 9 year old in question could hear and be damaged by it”, that’s a point I’ve already conceded — literally in the first thing I said: failure to appreciate the reach of their audience/forum. I do however agree with fapestniegd that it’s a bit of a stretch to treat this as being functionally equivalent to walking out on the red carpet and making this joke to her face. Sure, kids know how to use the Internet, but it seems unlikely that after allowing their 9 year old to go to the Oscars they let her plop down on the couch after the long day to google herself and see what the ol’ Internet is up to.

    As for the choice of word, I guess we’re at an impasse (not necessarily a bad one) here. The harshness of the word is in fact the point — it’s the “you should eat your children” of the satire here. I can (in fact I have no choice) but to take you at your word that you cannot see or hear anything else (anything else, I assume, meaning intent) when you see that word. I can. Those are our perspectives and our prerogatives. But it’s not fair to insinuate or outright state that because I don’t share this perspective, it logically follows that I personally am sympathetic to misogynist behaviour (which has occurred throughout this thread).

  77. W
    Aunt B calling me an asshole was certainly not ad hominem, as it was done after I’d already “owned” being one.
    I said I was a “full on Dennis-Leary-esque asshole” pretty early on. I meant it in the “takes no bullshit, tells it how it is, doesn’t like whining” sense and not in the “I think I’m a professional comedian” sense, as it was interpreted. Although I have been known to sing a loud “Don’t Stop Believin'” after a several beers, which, I would still have with anyone involved in this discussion, because I hold no malice towards anyone here. Although based on the malice directed at me, I have no illusions that would actually happen. It sounds like I and some of the people I drink with would leave a few you cringing or running from the table fairly quickly anyway.

    But if you think I’m kidding about always speaking my mind, and this is just some kind of “internet persona”, Chris Wage knows where I drink every Thursday night. No topic of discussion (or joke) is off the table at the bar.

  78. Chris, would you agree that there would have been more context, at least for the majority of people who might read or hear about the if the subject were Streisand or Kristen Stewart? Or even Jennifer Lawrence?

    To be fair, if the subject of the offending tweet were white, upper class and from demonstrably conservative parents, I doubt that many people would be as exorcised as they are for Quvenzhane Wallis. Now from years of reading Aunt B and NM, I am confident that their positions would be consistent. I make no judgments about others here with whom I am less familiar.

    But at the core, the issue for me is that the tweet just isn’t funny as satire or irony or whimsy. If you think it is funny, that is your business. Funny is individual. But to try and assign it some special depth or status is not a question of individual opinions. After all, other than the medium, Twitter, how is that comment any different from parts of Andrew Dice Clay’s stand up act over the last 20 years? Other than if Clay had tweeted the comment, the wrath of far more people would have come down on him. {A point that ought to be the subject of a different debate.}

    Now no one is going to be fired. And Ms Wallis will go on to bigger and better roles. And the Onion will continue to try to keep on the cutting edge.

    Time to move on.

  79. Aunt B:
    Keep up the insults, I hope they’re making you feel better. And yeah, I was a timid 145lb kid back in 1988 when I joined up. Came out not taking crap from anyone. It’s not an uncommon story at all.

  80. I dunno — is there a context surrounding Andrew Dice Clay such that he was making a commentary on the vacuous and harmful nature of celebrity culture?

  81. Samantha Y.
    Implied threats now? Seriously?
    What makes you think I’m afraid of your husband in any way, shape or form?

  82. Pretty sure it’s not a threat :) I think she’s just letting you know that her husband is in attendance periodically at the aforementioned bar. Although now I am going to insist that you two leg-wrestle.

  83. Oh, in that case, my apologies. It sounded like he was going to “straighten me out”, or something. I assure you, if he’s been to Thor’sday beers. He knows that I’m being at least an order of magnitude more civil in here compared to what I’m like in person.

  84. As for the choice of word, I guess we’re at an impasse (not necessarily a bad one) here. The harshness of the word is in fact the point — it’s the “you should eat your children” of the satire here. I can (in fact I have no choice) but to take you at your word that you cannot see or hear anything else (anything else, I assume, meaning intent) when you see that word. I can. Those are our perspectives and our prerogatives. But it’s not fair to insinuate or outright state that because I don’t share this perspective, it logically follows that I personally am sympathetic to misogynist behaviour (which has occurred throughout this thread).

    Yes, this is exactly right. Which means that people who disagree with you are not wrong. They just disagree with you. Which was my last point in the original post.

  85. fapestniegd, you ought to take to heart the words of Thor’s dad.

    For the unwise man ’tis best to be mute
    when he come amid the crowd,
    for none is aware of his lack of wit
    if he wastes not too many words;
    for he who lacks wit shall never learn
    though his words flow ne’er so fast.

  86. It’s really cute you think I was threatening you. I was just making note that my husband is one of those people that are at the bar with you on Thursdays.

  87. Aunt B

    You keep finding new and interesting ways to call me stupid, when in your prior post you conceded what I was saying about your inability to get past the word to see any humor in the joke.

    So I’m stupid and right. What would that make you?

  88. Samantha Y
    I don’t know about “cute”, but normally when someone sends a proxy to discuss something, It’s to do it with force. Chris had to explain it to me and several others, that your husband has been at the bar before several people realized there wasn’t going to be a scuffle.

  89. “Yes, this is exactly right. Which means that people who disagree with you are not wrong. They just disagree with you. Which was my last point in the original post.”

    Well, actually, it’s hard to disagree with someone if I don’t think they’re wrong about something — obviously, that’s kindof the general idea, but anyway:

    I never said anyone was wrong for being upset. I already said, early on: “My intent is not to prove that the people who are upset are wrong for being upset, my intent is to prove that you’re … wrong.” … about specific, rational things. — for example, my objection that it’s disingenuous to assume or imply malintent in the craft of satire (whether or not you think it “worked”). Instead of getting a response to this, I instead was accused, again, in circular fashion, for not responding deferentially enough that you were all upset.

    I never said you were wrong for your confessed inability to “see/hear anything else” when you see/hear a word (which I can only assume is an expansion of what it means when people say they are offended). How could I? That’s your prerogative, as I said.

    My blog post was a rebuttal to the justifications that “the joke was horrible and should have immediately been deleted” (which were mostly culled and paraphrased from twitter after I said I thought it was funny). I never even used the word “stupid” — you did.

  90. fapestniegd, it makes me the woman you’ve been a rude asshole to since you started commenting. Still. The same woman I’ve been this whole thread. You broke frith when you showed up here acting like an asshole. Honestly, I just been skimming your comments to laugh at you. So, if you made good points, I missed them. You can still, at any moment, start acting with honor and smooth things over.

    But I’m betting all the money in my purse that you won’t. We’ve come to the second impasse of this comment thread. I’m not going to treat you with any respect until you stop acting like a jackass and you’re not going to stop acting like a jackass. But, weirdly, you’re also not going to stop commenting here. And we’ll continue to go round in circles.

  91. Aunt B
    “Acting with honor” has absolutely no meaning coming from you. Have you gone back and read all of your own posts directed at me? Not a salient argument was made in a single one of them. Just attacks calling me stupid over and over and over, and now you confess to not actually reading them to see if there’s any actual merit to them? Wow. Just. Wow.

    Everything I’ve said, I’d say in person. I seriously doubt you could make the same claim. You’re dishonest, insulting, and breathtakingly hypocritical. You seriously need to excuse your behavior before you start asking others to do the same.

  92. Chris, it seems to me that you and The Onion have a similar problem you’ve chosen to handle in two different ways. When you write something and a lot of people you respect don’t get from it what you think you’re saying, you can either say “Yeah, maybe that didn’t come across how I meant it.” or you can argue that everyone who thought you said something different than what you thought you said are wrong.

    So, here we are.

  93. fapestniegd, go back and read your first post. You just show me where you treated me with even an ounce of respect. Go ahead. I’ll wait. You got met with the hostility you entered this space with and you don’t like it. Well, then, shape the fuck up.

  94. Well, I didn’t say anything I don’t mean. I guess maybe I should have added a disclaimer that says “Note: if you are irretrievably offended by the mention of a word such that you cannot hear/see anything else, including intent of the author or varying interpretations by its audience, then the following points will probably seem moot.”?

  95. That’s good to know. I think that’s about all I have to say about this at this point. I welcome anyone who has anything further to say about matters to just go over to Chris’s blog to say them.

  96. Ok, I’ll play this game. Just re-read it.

    What you call “disrespect” I call it “how I see it.” I’d really like to know which part of it you consider disrespectful to you. It reads like a list of facts. Tough to hear? Maybe. Stated a bit to frankly for this audience? Apparently so.
    But nothing I wouldn’t say to you in person,or anyone else for that matter, as written, in earnest.

    And remind me what was your response again? Was it “Please be respectful, comments like [citation] do not afford me the respect I deserve as a person.” Was that it?

    Or did you immediately escalate by calling me an idiot, while at the same time, Only address a single point I made, to back-peddle about the word “offended.” And then continue to do call me stupid, even after I repeated the point you eventually conceded? And then eventually admit that you hadn’t read my posts for content? Tell me how that’s not disingenuous. So you *set the bar* with your response and your subsequent responses. Or can you honestly not see that? The point you conceded was, incidentally, in my first comment.

    I spoke frankly, you got offended/felt disrespected, and rather than make any attempt to reacquire discourse, you just doubled down on the insults while not addressing any of my arguments over and over and over.

    When you call people stupid because you didn’t understand their points or understand their point of view, that’s sad; When you do it because you haven’t even read their posts, that’s dishonest. But I guess escalators gonna escalate.

    Here’s another frank comment you might not want to hear, respect is earned, not owed. Nothing you’ve said to me has garnered you any.

  97. Chris, “the joke was horrible and should have immediately been deleted” is not an assumption of bad intentions. It’s a statement that no matter what the intention, the result was lousy. I think you’re the one being disingenuous with your strawpersons.

  98. If I can interject some. O

    Try again…
    If I can interject some commentary about the original event:

    I think one reason this doesn’t work as satire is because many, many people (myself included) do NOT think Quvanzhene Wallis is awesome. We do, in fact, think she behaves in a bratty manner. (yes, I know I said this back in the dark ages of the thread.)

    The joke may have worked better as satire of it were directed at someone universally beloved and not controversial for her behaviour.

    Because as it stands now, the Onion says it was being satirical but its joke came at the same time as many other tweets about what a brat she was being at the awards. It lookednot like satire but like yet another comment taken in a harsh direction.

    To me saying someone is being a brat or is acting bratty is a comment on their behaviour. Saying they are the other thing is a derogatory dismissal of the individual. Which some people will ALWAYS find hilarious.

  99. fapestniegd, exactly. You want to act however the fuck you want in front of a stranger and that stranger–me–is supposed to do you the favor of treating you with respect. But when the stranger treats you with the same level of flip disrespect that you showed me from the start,, oh, ho ho. That’s a problem.

    Dude, that’s why I think your comments here are stupid. Because you clearly want something from this discussion you are not willing to put in. You want everyone to make all these efforts to understand you as being blunt and frank and telling it how it is and not as an asshole.You want a level of understanding and generosity from me you will not give in return.

    I told you what it would take to get me to not think you’re a dumbass. But you refuse to do it because… i have no idea why. But it’s funny.

    Here. Just try to answer this question in an honest and genuine way. What you think. Not what some other asshole on the internet thinks. Not what you think a Denis-Leary impersonator would say. Not what you think your buddies who are egging you on want to hear. But genuinely what you think.

    Did you think The Onion’s joke was funny? Why?

  100. Yes. I thought it was funny. I laughed when I read it. That’s how I know it was funny.

    The juxtaposition between an innocent 9-year-old and the harshness of the label was enough to make me blurt out a laugh. I didn’t have to stop and think about the layers of satire, or what the joke meant at some philosophical level. The absurdness of “who would say that?” was enough. Yeah, I have the sense of humor of a nine-year-old. (hat-tip to Mark Rogers)

  101. Okay, cool. It didn’t work for me. I need something a little more careful of real children in my humor.

    As I said to Chris, I don’t think you’re a bad person for laughing. If it struck you as funny, great.

  102. Coble hits at why the joke was supposed to be funny, because many people see her mugging and sass as bratty and not how real, actual nine-year old kids behave. Let’s face it, the tweet was weak Sarah Silverman at best, poor imitation of Kathy Griffith’s “I hate but love celebrities faux-bitchiness” at worst. The Louis CK bit about his daughter acting like an asshole is continually alluded to regarding this joke/tweet, but he’s talking about his experiences with his children. We know he does not think his daughter is an asshole. We (parents) do not think our children are assholes, so we laugh along with him as he tries to communicate to the non-parents what it is like being a parent.

    I’m reminded of all these decades of comics, Black comics, who try to mine Pryor’s observations of society and humor and have failed because they only get that what he said shocked people. Silverman’s infamous “chink” one-liner was about selective racism; Griffith is a proletariat taking on those too big to notice her existence. All we seem to remember is the controversy that follows, or some silliness about whether or not someone should be offended. To shock others is a means, not an end.

    So yeah, we, the undersigned, who do not think referring to a nine-year old as a cunt is funny, get the joke, but we aren’t laughing. We also laugh at things that are awful and degrading and “above board,” but not this joke.

    I find the complaints that involve race as an angle here less compelling, but like I read elsewhere, let someone call Suri Cruise a cunt. That would be the bloody end of them.

  103. “Coble hits at why the joke was supposed to be funny, because many people see her mugging and sass as bratty”

    No. NO. Seriously? You’re going to call a 9 year-old bratty? That’s like yelling at a lump of clay for not being a statue of David .. and frankly, the idea that an ACTUAL 9 year old can be considered to be “bratty” or a “cunt” is frankly way more “offensive” to me than anything that’s been batted around in this entire debate. Yes. She’s NINE. It’s funny because it’s horrible. HORRIBLE. No person’s disposition (whether it be being 9 years old, female, pick your gender, age, WHATEVER) could ever justify having a slur lobbed at them. If you seriously think this joke was tasteless because maybe a 9 year old girl was a little too close to deserving it? Seriously, what the FUCK.

  104. Actually, it’s not funny. Didn’t make me laugh. Didn’t make me want-to-laugh-but-it-was-too-awful. Didn’t make me think the tweeter was getting in sexist dudes’ faces and make me chortle at the shocking bravery of it. All the “explaining” of how humor works, as if everyone didn’t know already, isn’t going to make me laugh at it. Give it up, Chris. Lots of us don’t think anyone calling anyone a cunt, in any circumstances, is funny.

    But it’s nice to see that you do, in fact, know what it is to feel offended.

  105. I guess I’m a little late to this whole thing but I’m going to try and thread the needle. I personally did find it funny, having interpreted it in much the same way as Chris.

    But — just because a joke is funny when interpreted the right way in the intended context, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a GOOD joke. If a joke can and will be easily interpreted multiple ways and/or in different contexts, and some or all of those other interpretations are offensive, the fault lies with the joke teller, not with the audience. The comic has the responsibility to understand how else the joke might be interpreted, the world has no responsibility to understand it the way the comic wanted it to be understood.

    So, “it’s funny under this interpretation given this context” means at best the jokester is tone-deaf, having failed to consider the other interpretations and contexts. And of course if the comic did consider the alternative interpretations but went ahead anyway, then he/she is probably a serious asshole.

    A joke that has such easily differing interpretations can almost always be turned into a good joke if the comic simply takes the time to frame in such a way as to make the correct interpretation clear. In this case for instance, the same joke might have worked in a slightly longer blurb or article where the offensive line was presented as a quote from someone who was clearly the villain of the story.

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