Archive - Apr 2012

April 30th

Explaining The Joke. Again.

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Memo to John Nolte: YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND COMEDY AT ALL, DO YOU?

That was a rhetorical question, by the way. A rhetorical question is something you ask not to receive an answer, but to state the answer in the form of a question. Which I know you think is the purview of that liberal, fact-based "Jeopardy" show, but the concept predates "Jeopardy" by at least fifteen years, and maybe more. I'm taking the time to explain simple concepts because, well, I've read your work, which makes it patently obvious that you don't understand them. Especially concepts in the general region of comedy.

If you follow Big Hollywood at all, and, really, why the fuck would you if you weren't me? But if you do, you'll have noticed that John Nolte has a new thing that he does. He looks up the ratings for comedy shows that make fun of conservatives, unilaterally declares them "low", then constantly refers to their low ratings while wondering why they don't make fun of Barack Obama. It's hilarious, and the only reason I haven't openly mocked it here, before now, is that it's so blatant and shamefully pathetic that I can't actually add anything to it. Like with Obama and the dog-eating, Nolte sees comedy through a filter that only recognizes the broadest of concepts, plus political directionality.

All this and more is on display in the hilariously misguided article "LOW-RATED '30 ROCK' MAKES BLACKFACE OKAY AGAIN". Sorry, but they made a style change over at BH and all their headlines are in caps now, because I guess they think non-English speakers will be able to understand it now. Anyway, here's Nolte's accidentally hilarious thesis.

"Much to my non-surprise, the very same media that has turned 'food stamps,' 'basketball,' and any effective criticism of Obama's failures into racism, seem to be just fine with what we've been led to believe for decades is one of the worst kinds of stereotypes out there." - Nolte, on Jon Hamm's turn in an Amos and Andy parody during the live 30 Rock last week.

The key phrase, of course, is "what we've been led to believe... is one of the worst". See, John Nolte doesn't understand why blackface is considered racist. He just knows that politically correct liberals have yelled at racists for doing it. So, when he sees a liberal doing it, it must, by his simplistic calculus, be blatant hypocrisy.

The reason blackface is horribly racist most of the time is that it's a white person playing a broadly exaggerated version of what they think black people are like. It's never an uplifting portrayal or a positive one. If you've seen the Hamm/Tracy Morgan bit, (and if you haven't, really do seek it out, because it's awesome), the entire joke is AT THE EXPENSE OF BLACKFACE ITSELF.

Hamm's blackface makeup is less than half-assed. It's maybe ten percent -assed at best. And his completely over-the-top stereotype is being played off against an actual black guy, who's refusing to play along. It's using blackface not to make fun of black people, which is racist, but to make fun of horrible old racist white people, which is social commentary. See the difference? Because Nolte doesn't, and never will.

And it's for the same reason he'll never understand why Gingrich calling Obama the "food stamp president" is racist, why the right's early obsession with Obama playing basketball was racist, and why so many of the criticisms he thinks are "effective" are, in fact, obviously rooted in white butthurt over a black guy getting into one of their few remaining exclusive clubs.

It's OK, Nolte. Not everyone understands everything. It's OK that you don't understand how racism works. Hell, given your job, it's an advantage! But you don't need to fall into the conservative cliche that you're not stupid, there's just a cabal of elites who DO understand things conspiring to make you look stupid. That's how creationists feel about biology teachers. And it's how you feel about "the liberal media".

"And I say to my "non-surprise," because liberals get away with doing racist things because they're, uhm, not racist. Or something like that."

See, this is my point. It IS something like that, but it's not that. Liberals get away with doing things you think are racist because those things aren't racist. You just think they are, because you're not very bright. Just because you can't comprehend the rules doesn't make the rules incomprehensible. Beyond YOUR grasp is not the same as beyond ANYBODY'S grasp.

And now that i've given you something else you can't grasp, I'll let you get back to perusing Daily Show ratings numbers and pretending you understand those, too.