Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rape Jokes and Daniel Tosh

Given all the controversy surrounding Daniel Tosh and his rape threat joke, I had a difficult time looking up what other kinds of jokes this man tells. Because the number one reason I've heard for why this shouldn't be an issue is "well he makes fun of everyone!" Besides for the fact that laughing at a woman being gang raped isn't making fun as much as threatening, it also raises the question of why any of it is okay.

So I had heard that he made a joke about his own sister getting raped, which kind of removes all doubt that this man is entirely classless, talentless, and a disgusting excuse for a human. But does he ever say anything funny? Does he actually know how to be a comic, or does his act revolve around humiliating women and minorities?

To be honest, I couldn't find anything else quite so tasteless. Supposedly he makes racist and homophobic jokes, but if these and these are what people are talking about, then they are definitely not comparable to rape jokes. Those are more akin to the "women belong in the kitchen" bs. Stereotypical, unimaginative, and harmless.

But I did find two previous rape jokes made by Daniel Tosh. This one:

Anal sex is a lot like spinach: if you're forced to have it as a child, you won't enjoy it as an adult.

is horribly inappropriate. Why anyone would put child rape into a comedy is beyond me, but even inappropriate factor aside, this just isn't funny. If you're going to go out of your way to offend people, at least do it well. But the next rape joke is:

The first thing Michael Phelps should have done when that photo came out was call Kobe Bryant's publicist. Cuz Kobe was accused of rape, and all he had to do was settle in court for millions of dollars, change his jersey number and win a championship and that soulless town in LA couldn't be prouder. I just hope that when parents let their kids run around in #24 jerseys, they have the decency to say: 'well come on, number 8 was the rapist.'

THIS one I'm okay with it. It's been said many times before, and I'll reiterate. This joke, about rape, works because the ridicule is on the society that embraces a rapist. The joke is on us, not on the victim, or on the rape itself. It's a social commentary that makes sense, and has a comedic element. Clearly, now, Tosh does know how to be tasteful in his jokes. He just chooses to ignore sensibility sometimes.

So the real problem. If he makes fun of everything, why can't he make fun of rape?

Well, does he? Does he actually make fun of everything? Because as I saw, his racism and homophobia aren't truly offensive, anymore than generic sexism is. The quotes on his wiki page (where I found the two used) are pretty innocuous. I'd like to hear some of his material on the Holocaust. All I found was one tweet of "I hate Holocaust jokes, Anne Frankly they are very rude"  which is once again, fairly weak. It's not threatening.

If he had been making antisemitic jokes, and a Jew told him to stop, would his response have been how funny it would be to throw him in Aushwitz?

If he was making racist jokes and a black man told him to stop, would his response have been how funny it would be if five men hung him from a tree and burned him?

And would people still be defending him?

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