piranha: red origami crane (Default)
[personal profile] piranha
so the onion took on chris brown once again in an article titled Heartbroken Chris Brown Always Thought Rihanna Was Woman He’d Beat To Death. cue scores of tweeting feminists who are upset at the onion because "violence against women isn't funny".

like, duh.

hanna rosin in slate at least doesn't misunderstand the onion, but to me her piece still misses the mark. what's most interesting me here is that people are arguing about whether or not the fictional violence was "funny". why? that's not the only way to assess the article.

i never once thought the article was making fun of violence, or was using violence against women to score a cheap laugh. i didn't think that the fictional violence was funny either (though i think that sometimes it can be; i usually appreciate it when it is turned against a bully). instead the article is completely unsubtle satire, directed at chris brown and his enablers, media and fans alike. i can actually appreciate the lack of subtlety, because really, chris brown doesn't deserve any. any laughs this got from me were in appreciation of the satire itself, of it pointing a huge, shaming arrow at entertainment news and gossip, at chris brown's fans who think he's hot, at a culture which raises women to blame themselves and stay with men who abuse them, at the fact that this man is not in jail where he should be, but instead continues to be treated as if he were a person we should empathize with while he jerks out some tears over his most recent breakup with the woman he abused.

i didn't laugh out loud because my funnybone was tickled (it wasn't), i guffawed at the perfect skewering, and i sort of snorted at the irony that some of the best analysis and insight we get is from comedic outlets like the onion and jon stewart, who're skewering mainstream media mercilessly, and pointing out exactly how wrong our culture is to venerate this shite. that's neither misogynistic nor racist.

i'm not sure what is up with the offended feminists. i don't subscribe to the dumb idea that feminists don't have a sense of humour, and it annoys me when people talk down to those who don't laugh at the same things; one size does definitely not fit all when it comes to humour. there are many allegedly funny things that don't amuse me, and i don't think my sense of humour is impaired; a lot of humour out there is stupid, thoughtless, or cruel. i also think satire overlaps with humour instead of being a pure subset, and it's highly context-driven, so it's all too easy to miss. but i thought this was not subtle at all, and yet a number of feminists really do seem to completely miss the point in this case. or is it something i am not seeing?

on 2013-05-09 02:41 (UTC)
wild_irises: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] wild_irises
I think a significant subset of feminists (to some extent including me) have gotten so emotionally protective of Rihanna (who gets criticized whatever she does, and gets hyper-analyzed) that there's a kind of knee-jerk "leave Rihanna out of your criticisms of Chris Brown." Of course, this doesn't work, especially with satire, but I do get the warm place it's coming from.

on 2013-05-09 11:51 (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] desh
I agree with you. I was also apparently the only one who thought that their tweet during the Oscars was actually a clever satire about how the entertainment media and consumers of that media portray women who are public figures. Because no one would actually use that language to talk about any 9-year-old...but it's no more appropriate to use it to talk about anyone of any age. But people do.

on 2013-05-10 15:48 (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] matthewdaly
Yeah, the Quvenzhane Wallis event was when The Onion entered the Dennis Miller zone for me, meaning that I currently feel uncomfortable acknowledging that the site was ever excellent because that feels like an endorsement of what it has become.

I'm all for freedom of expression, and I confess that I just don't have a sufficient understanding of the epistemology of satire. I do know that satire is not intrinsically humorous, that is is not intrinsically entertaining, and that it does not intrinsically bring about positive social awareness or change. *Effective* satire does one or more of these things depending on the purpose of the writer, but writing a crass article and defending it as satirical is like building a wobbly table and saying that it's okay because you used a router when building it. Uh, maybe, but it's still your fault for doing your job badly no matter what tools you used.

on 2013-05-11 02:17 (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
First, the Onion was not livestreaming the Oscars by accident. It was an officially sponsored product, and not the first. If they don't know how to field editorial control over something they are publishing, then they should save their jokes for a fake Hollywood insider column in their next issue. Come on, piranha, I've never known you to defend shock jock asshattery just because live radio is unforgiving. The Onion deserves every bit of the same accountability for dereliction of judgment over who is speaking on their Twitter feed.

Third, If Seth McFarlane tells a joke tells a joke comparing Anne Hathaway to a part of the female reproductive system, then the socially just act of humor is a two-line poem pointing out that Seth McFarlane is a dick. That's using the power of humor to highlight and criticize the abusive power of the privileged. Deciding that you're going to use your soapbox instead to verbally savage an even more innocent woman is bullying. It's sucking up to the patriarchy. It should not be excused lightly. Entertaining such a thing for long enough to type it out is inexcusable.

Going back to second, you're satisfied with the apology they made a few months ago, and maybe even a little proud of them for making this one of the few issues where they would acknowledge their inappropriate excess. And yet, here we are ten weeks later visualizing Rhianna being abused by her next lover in the same name of edgy humor. I'm not even a feminist, but what the fuck?

I'll tell you what I think you're missing (with the aforementioned caveat that I'm not speaking for feminists). Women who have been abused by their boyfriends are going to feel the echos of that atrocity for nigh all of their life. I can't imagine how much courage it would have to take to trust the next man who comes into your life, knowing that the trust you had in that previous boyfriend was just as seemingly deserved at the start. We, you and I, COULD strive to build a culture that enables that healing and promotes that love. Or we, you and I, could be satisfied with the current culture that thinks that it's wry humor to contemplate and instantiate the evil thoughts of men who by all rights should be marginalized instead of commemorated. You seem to get that on the surface, but what you miss is that Chris Brown did not ever say, "It’s hard knowing that there’s some other guy out there who gets to beat her senseless. In fact, for all I know, there might be someone out there assaulting her right now. And let me tell you, that guy is the luckiest guy in the world." The person who wrote those words is a writer for The Onion, and the person who published those words is an editor for The Onion. And therefore, the painful flashback that comes to Rhianna and every woman who has been victimized by a shit boyfriend was perpetrated by The Onion. I don't think that any amount of the pleasure of "perfect skewering" satire is going to measure against the worldsuck that comes from the fact that The Onion isn't sorry at all that they don't mind harassing women. No doubt they're grateful for the fans who are happy to play the Can't You Take A Joke card on their behalf.

(posted anonymously because I'm a little too angry to process any replies and don't want to be emailed if they come. My apologies for that -- feel free to delete this if you feel it appropriate.)

on 2013-05-09 14:21 (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] treesahquiche
I think even blatant satire gets misinterpreted, and even people who do have a clue can react in ways that indicate otherwise because of their own personal connection to what's being commented on. I mean, I find it hard to believe that anyone thought Johnathan Swift was being serious when he wrote "A Modest Proposal," but they were offended and unamused anyway.

on 2013-05-09 15:28 (UTC)
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] outlier_lynn
People perceive the world through their beliefs and opinions about the world. That means the "mark" you want will be entirely missed by some portion of the exposed to the satire. And many others will not see the satire at all.

How many people see an onion piece re-posted and assume it is a real story? It is not an insignificant number!

How many people have their identities so invested in some position or another and cannot stand it when any form of satire is aimed at their position? The Gun Nuts, Wing-nut Christians, PETA, etc. Even when the satire is meant to invoke supportive feelings, the "this is my life" crowd will shake their fists.

We are an interesting species. :)

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