Tuned In

Louis CK Talks Daniel Tosh Rape-Joke Furor on Daily Show, Gives Classically Louis CK-ian Response

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Last week, if you follow pop-culture news, or general-culture news, or probably beekeeping news, you probably heard the controversy over Daniel Tosh and rape jokes. In a way tiny nutshell: a blogger reported going to a Tosh comedy show where he made a remark about rape jokes being funny, being able to joke about anything including rape, &c. (As far as I know, there’s no recording of the show.) She yelled out from the audience, “Actually, rape is never funny.” Tosh said something to the effect of “Wouldn’t if be funny if she were raped by five guys right now?” (There’s dispute over the wording, but he later publicly apologized.) The blogger blogged about it, and the Internet exploded.

One thing or another kept me from writing about it until it seemed way too late, but for the record: (1) You should be prepared to be offended at a comedy show, but Tosh was still being a jackhole. (2) Rape is never funny. But a joke about rape can be. (Likewise the Holocaust, disasters, assassinations. Infanticide = never funny; A Modest Proposal = funny.) (3) Comedians, in general, can joke about rape. But Daniel Tosh, in particular, seems really, really crappy at it.

Anyway! One of the many sidelines to this debate was a tweet that Louis CK posted during the furor, saying that Tosh’s TV show, Tosh.0, always makes him laugh. The tweet was interpreted as his taking Tosh’s side. But as Louis CK said last night to Jon Stewart, he was actually on vacation in Vermont and unaware of the controversy, until he went online a couple days later and found: “So I’m a defender of rape now! … I’ve been called a rape apologist because I said ‘Hi’ to a guy.”

Then he talked for about five minutes about the Tosh controversy and rape humor generally. I don’t want to slice and dice his response into soundbites because it’s best listened to in whole. But whatever you think of his larger argument, this passage is key: “To me, all dialogue is positive… If somebody has the opposite feeling from me, I want to hear it, so I can add to mine. I don’t want to obliterate theirs with mine.” In particular, he said, his reflexive response that “any joke about anything bad is great” was challenged when he read a blog post about how the possibility of rape “polices women’s lives” and narrows their possibilities.

You may disagree with his take on rape jokes. (He’s made some himself, including searing, horrible, and God-help-me funny riffs on child rape and raping Hitler.) But there’s something in that answer that also defines his FX show, Louie, currently on a tear in its third season. What’s distinctive about Louie—and I credit this insight to Mrs. Tuned In, catching up on the show the other day—is how it builds stories about people who are open to new encounters, new perspectives and new opinions in a way most sitcoms don’t explore.

The show is like a ribald travelogue of one guy, Louis CK’s alter ego, going out into the world and meeting new people. Sometimes he gets in conflicts (“Bully”). Sometimes he makes friends (last week’s “Miami”). Sometimes he does both (“Come On, God,” where he connects with his antagonist from a cable-news debate about masturbation). But the upshot is always that new experiences and new perspectives make you grow.

In the “Miami” episode last Thursday, Louie stepped outside his comfort zone on a Florida trip and made such a connection with a young Cuban-American lifeguard that he didn’t want to leave. His new friend guessed that he was probably gay—I read it more as a kind of Brideshead Revisited intense bromance—but the bigger point was that Louie was in love with discovery: being open to it may get you in trouble, may make you embarrassed, but it almost always makes you better. Or as his new pal put it, in Spanish, “Say you don’t know and then you learn everything.” It may be a corny sentiment, but it’s clearly not an obvious one these days.

It’s possible Louis CK may have stepped into something in explaining himself, saying that feminists “can’t take a joke” or that comedians “are big pussies.” (He’s a comic, and hyperbole is his gig.) And he deflected his call for reflection with a punchline: “And I can still enjoy a good rape joke!” But the idea of wanting to hear other points of view not to attack them but to improve your own, of growing by leaving your comfort zone, might make a lot of people better audiences and better comedians.

54 comments
JohnAllman
JohnAllman

>> She yelled out from the audience, “Actually, rape is never funny.” Tosh said something to the effect of “Wouldn’t if be funny if she were raped by five guys right now?”

That wasn't a joke about rape at all.  It was simply a play on words.

One of the meanings of the word "funny", besides "humorous", refers an unlikely, ironic coincidence.  He used the word "funny" in that sense, perfectly accurately.  I would have laughed myself at the punning comedian's witty riposte to the heckler.

Tim Grant
Tim Grant

Comedians tell jokes. They have been doing it for a very long time to the amusement many including myself. In the interest of staying fresh, which is difficult because of how long it has been done, sometimes they say things that are shocking or even our nations current favorite word...say it with me..."OFFENSIVE." Here is a thought. What if you get a grip and try'n remember that they are jokes. I don't think Daniel Tosh really wanted that woman to get raped. I believe the woman heckling him while he was trying to do his job knew that as well but saw a chance to get on the news so she went for it. Maybe not, who knows. I also don't believe Dane Cook thinks anyone in that theater in Aurora wanted to get shot because Dark Knight Rises was so very mediocre and failed to meet so many expectations. Are these insensitive comments? Sure. However, many people find that funny which explains the success of the aformentioned comics as well as most of today's comedy industry. It's a tough world so maybe some of us need some tough humor to get us through the day. If you don't like it, watch PAX TV or Nick at Night. But get off your high horses and let the rest of us enjoy ourselves.Thank you for your time.

HGIB

heyheybooboo420
heyheybooboo420

i find some rape jokes funny, just as i do many other offensive jokes. when we start policing what a comedian can joke about publicly we are starting down a dangerous path. people need to calm down. there's offensive people everywhere, not just in comedy clubs. and i don't think anyone has advocated rape throughout this 'ordeal',if it even warrants that label. its a joke. take it or leave. its called pushing the envelope. i experienced rape as a child and can still find humor in some of those jokes,however uneasy it may feel at times. every joke isn't going to be funny to everybody. again,if you don't like it,don't laugh. and what do you think a comedian is going to do if he/she gets heckled? deflect with humor and put it back on you?...unbelievable! c'mon people, relax. side note, have female friends/family who laugh at rape jokes and sexist jokes, i'm from the south, and have black friends who laugh at racist jokes, and some who say racist s*it. my bolivian brother-in-law sometimes makes fun of hispanics. if you want things like this policed, then goose step on over to china or north korea. otherwise, read 1st amendment.

peace,love,ROLL TIDE

heyheybooboo420
heyheybooboo420

i find some rape jokes funny, just as i do many other offensive jokes. when we start policing what a comedian can joke about publicly we are starting down a dangerous path. people need to calm down. there's offensive people everywhere, not just in comedy clubs. and i don't think anyone has advocated rape throughout this 'ordeal',if it even warrants that label. its a joke. take it or leave. its called pushing the envelope. i experienced rape as a child and can still find humor in some of those jokes,however uneasy it may feel at times. every joke isn't going to be funny to everybody. again,if you don't like it,don't go, don't laugh, or leave. and what do you think a comedian is going to do if he/she gets heckled? deflect with humor and put it back on you?...unbelievable! c'mon people, relax. side note, have female friends/family who laugh at rape jokes and sexist jokes, i'm from the south, and have black friends who laugh at racist jokes, and some who say racist s*it. my bolivian brother-in-law sometimes makes fun of hispanics. if you want things like this policed, then goose step on over to china or north korea. otherwise, read 1st amendment.

peace,love,ROLL TIDE

Jeff Smithpeters
Jeff Smithpeters

Louis CK is increasingly staking his claim not only to be one of the best comedians of all time but one of the better artists, too.

lucelucy
lucelucy

P.G. Wodehouse is funny.  Tosh is not.  Although he'd make a great Wodehouse character - a distant cousin of Catsmeat Potter Pirbright, of the American Pirbrights, which branch has been lopped off the old family tree since a scion has gone into show biz.

So no.  I don't watch the show.

l0bl0
l0bl0

I'm not the kind of person to say that a certain type of joke is never funny, because I believe a skilled comedian can make any situation humorous with the right set up. However my problem with Daniel Tosh's "joke" is that he didn't just tell a joke that involved rape, he said to a woman in the audience that it would be funny to see her be sexually assaulted by five guys in front of him. I don't call that a joke at all. And anyone who found that funny is disgusting. He doesn't know her history or what she's experienced and she could be a rape survivor herself, and if she is then he just called her trauma "hilarious."

Adam Xen
Adam Xen

 You're forgetting that the lady in question was a rude heckler, who rudely interrupted an artist's performance, in the middle of his act. The lady would have been perfectly within her rights to go back to the ticket booth and demand a refund if she didn't like the show. She also had the right to blog about how much she didn't like the show. However, she had no right to rudely interrupt an artist performing.

Her heckling Daniel Tosh in the middle of his performance was akin to randomly shouting out in a movie theater, "This move SUCKS, it's not believable" in the middle of a Spider-Man movie, or saying "This song SUCKS, play another song!" at a Bruce Springsteen concert. In all cases, it's a rude interruption of an artist performance, a rude disruption of the audience's enjoyment of the show, and that heckler deserved whatever verbal beating she received, as crude and schoolyard-ish as it may have seemed.

l0bl0
l0bl0

Actually during that bit he was inviting the audience to participate and they were discussing rape jokes. She participated by saying rape jokes were never funny.

Even if she had just been "a rude heckler," I wouldn't liken saying "Rape jokes are never funny" (her exact words) to insulting him or his act.

Shoot the Critic
Shoot the Critic

I agree, and seeing the interview with Jon Stewart made me also think of Louie and another thing that makes it great - it doesn't ever "close" with a moral message or pretend to  know something about how to live. Sometimes he makes general observations that are very insightful, but mostly he "dialogues" without coming to any limiting conclusions. He couldn't even say, "I'm not [gay]" because he's not really sure what he is or what he's feeling towards Ramón. It's why we love Louis C.K. - Shoot the Critic

Susan Lowe
Susan Lowe

Everything that Louis CK said was bullshit as is this column. Any adult male who doesn't understand that women's lives are defined by the threat of rape is an ignorant asshole. Rape is an every day reality in women's lives. Comedians didn't make jokes about the Holocaust or tsunami victims as those tragedies occurred happens (ask Gilbert Gottfried how his career is going.) and white comedians don't say "nigger" because they know that they won't get gigs (Who's Michael Richards) and, possibly, they'll get their asses whipped. But feminists are humorless because they object to jokes about a soul-destroying act that happens to hundreds of thousands of women and children (and a few men) every day?

Aside from making a series of jokes about rape, Daniel Tosh has encouraged his stupid, young male viewers to touch women on their stomachs without their permission and send him videos of those violations of a person's bodily integrity. When the female audience member objected to the rape jokes (has he never been heckled before?), his response was to suggest that she be gang-raped. Considering the number of truly stupid men who follow Tosh and the booze that was undoubtedly being consumed, Tosh shouldn't be on tv, he should be in jail.

Finally, what's with using "pussy" to describe ignorant and cowardly men? It's nothing but another putdown of women because, God knows, there's nothing more offensive to a man than to be thought to be feminine in some way. I have a couple of more fitting words for dumbasses like Louis CK to use when he's talking about a fellow dumbass. I suggest "dick" or "prick", both of which are more accurate.

RontheEvilCanadian
RontheEvilCanadian

"But Daniel Tosh, in particular, seems really, really crappy at it."

That's because he wasn't making a joke. “Wouldn’t if be funny if she were raped by five guys right now?” is not humour, it's a childish retort, and I don't blame that woman for being offended.

"He’s a comic, and hyperbole is his gig." Yes, he is, and yes, it is, but that is not an excuse to be an idiot. Mainstream comedians have mostly done away with racism, barring self-depreciation. We rightly get angry when we hear a white comedian "joke" about how darn stupid those black people are. Maybe it's time to examine why misogyny gets a pass. And yes, "joking" about a specific woman (a fan of yours, no less) getting raped is misogyny.

Enough2013
Enough2013

I also cannot watch Tosh, even in those commercials. Almost everything that comes out of his mouth is tasteless and not funny.

Last week is not the first time he has joked about rape. He does it about men being raped also.  Seems a topic that he truly is obsessed with.  You know what comics say - the joke covers the pain of their perceptions about self.

I do hope he does not have children.  Can't imagine what his daughter will think or be when she someday listens to the rape show tape.  That clip will never disappear.

ipfletch
ipfletch

I'm pretty much of the default mindset that rape jokes aren't funny, but this whole Tosh thing brought back to me a line from Sarah Silverman from years ago:

"I was raped by my dentist- which is so conflicting for a Jewish girl."

I'll be honest- it got a laugh out of me. A bewildered one, but a laugh nonetheless.

I don't know if I'll ever be Louis CK's biggest fan- I'm not sure I want to be THAT uncomfortable just to get some laughs -and I haven't heard anything from Tosh ever, but that line above stands as proof to me that certain topics can be made funny, although it may only be certain individuals (or types of individuals) who can pull it off.

younf
younf

Louis CK tweets a message in support of Tosh's comedy after this backlash happens, but didn't know what was going on because he was "on vacation"? I don't understand that excuse. His tweet either had extremely coincidental timing or he was supporting Tosh based on at least the preliminary story (which hasn't changed much at all: Tosh told a woman and his audience that it would funny if she were gang-raped).

I feel he gets too much of a free pass from critics. His views and the portrayal of women (and minorities- which is another subject) in his stand-up and on his show is problematic, but because he is "growing" or "open to experiences," it is ok? He's a good guy! He's learning! No. He is well, well into adulthood. He has daughters. He has examined all sorts of societal topics and is praised by fans and critics for it. The rape culture in America isn't new. Sexism and misogyny isn't new, particularly in comedy, which is profession. Women being controlled by a rape culture shouldn't be new information to him. Yes, there should be more for everyone to examine and learn, but the very  basic idea should well be understood, particularly by Louis CK,  that making the victims of rape the butt of jokes is WRONG in a culture where 1 out of every 5 women are victimized, women are accused of encouraging their own rapes, women are told how not to be raped rather than men being told not to rape, and rape is minimized by culture, like when it is thrown around as a joke or a mere inconvenience ("I really got raped on this bill!").

Sorry, he doesn't get a pass for being "on vacation" and a pat on the back for "growing" from me.

Sol Hilfinger-Pardo
Sol Hilfinger-Pardo

Here’s what pisses me off about this response:

 

1. FEELINGS!! Feelings are great, feelings are wonderful.

Feelings are what make us human, what allow us to experience beauty, and love

and all those….snore…. No, ok, I do like feelings, BUT, the way our society is set

up, serious discussions have to be characterized as rational (whether or not

they actually are has nothing to do with it. Was Glenn Beck rational? No. Did

he use words like “however” and “therefore”? Yes.). If you think our society

puts too much emphasis on objective thinking, given that we are subjective

beings, I agree—but that’s a different discussion.  Intellectuals and mass media have long

embraced the cold reasoning that provides the basis for scientific thought as

the be-all-end-all of intelligent dialogue. SO, the moment that the discussion

becomes about feelings, it is no longer among the topics that must be

‘seriously’ considered.

 

Also, positing that women think that “my feelings should be

everyone’s primary concern” a) makes women completely narcissistic and

uninterested in the shared human experience; and, b) women suddenly become the

irrational, hysterical beings Victorians feared so much. We are driven by our

feelings, and nothing else.

 

2. Who said this had anything to do with feelings? I think

Curtis Luciani said it best when he wrote: “Offended hasn't got

anything to do with it, moron.” (http://austin.culturemap.com/n...

I’m quoting him somewhat out of context—he goes on to talk

about how Tosh’s comments caused pain, rather than transcended it—but it’s

still catchy. When ‘women’ (as a whole, mind you) are characterized as running

around in this discussion whining that their feelings have been hurt, suddenly

the discussion is being led by a bunch of infantile ninnies. Saying that women

are complaining of offence and hurt feelings not only makes them fragile and

unable to face the cruel realities of the world around them, but also

infantilizes them. It makes us seem like children, and children don’t have

serious conversations. Also, they have to be protected. Oh la.

 

Yes, I’ll admit, I have had an emotional response to this

controversy. But it’s not primarily hurt, or even anger. It’s disappointment

and sadness. That at the end of the day, Louis C.K. was willing to acknowledge

that one woman had something valuable

to say (“I have read some blogs about things that have made me enlightened

about things I didn’t know. This women said how rape is something that polices

women’s lives.”), but the rest are written off as over-sharing self-centered emotions,

rather than contributing to a discussion.

 

3. Finally, C.K.’s men come out smelling like roses. In his

portrayal of the typical failings of a men and women discussing Tosh’s humor

(or lake there of), women are their usual egotistical banshees, as described

above. If we are so irrational and childish and sensitive and whinny and

annoying and should really “shut the fuck up,” you’d have to be a Saint to

actually stop and listen to us—and that’s exactly what he’s telling men to do:

be Saints, humor your lady friends, take one for the team that is malekind. So

his prescription is, women: get back in your place and do what you should have

done for the past 40 years, i.e., shut up; and men: embrace your inner Mother

Theresa and save the children.

 

[Also, is anyone else confused as to how men can listen to

women if we’ve already shut up?]

 

This is how I feel

about this.

 

 

J_M_C
J_M_C

Duplicate post. Deleted.

notarapist
notarapist

it's safe to assume that daniel tosh is obviously a rapist and everyone who walked away from that show found themselves thinking that rape is okay and should be acceptable.

please, people. focusing your attention on comedians who make offensive jokes about rape instead of actually educating people about rape will not solve anything about the real problem. in the end, tosh briefly created a hyperbolic situation where a woman gets raped (which, by the way, is NOT a threat). he's not the first to make a rape joke. censorship is evil. george carlin once told a heckler he hoped his kid died in a car fire. death is worse than rape.

Susan Lowe
Susan Lowe

It was an implied threat and Tosh should have gone to jail.

Btw, George Carlin talked a lot. Some of the things he said were gems. He also said a lot of things that were really ignorant.

heyheybooboo420
heyheybooboo420

go to jail?! wtf is wrong with you? sure,lets lock up anyone who says anything 'ignorant' that we don't like...while we're at it,we'll goose step all over freedom. great idea

younf
younf

This discussion isn't just about Tosh. We "people" are using this to discuss rape culture. Clearly this is something that needs to be discussed. Pop culture and art often bring about discussion of societal issues. Look at all the articles being written about this. How many articles are being written about so-called "real problem."

Your comment is full of logical errors. You are creating a strawman argument in your first sentence.  You are also saying that people can only care about one thing (comedians and offensive jokes) or the other ("educating people about rape") and don't see the link between to the two. You are reducing the discussion from large social implications to whether or not a comedian can make a joke. You don't see the nuances about rape jokes. You are wrongly calling this censorship. Where is the censorship? You are also lacking empathy in not seeing that the woman in the audience felt threatened for her safety when this happened and creating some sort of absolute hierarchy of evil deeds using your own values without thinking that to some rape victims, rape does indeed seem worse than death.

notarapist
notarapist

 Okay I'll kill the whole straw-man thing... anyone should be allowed to make a rape JOKE because it in the end causes no harm because all it does is put a thought into someone's head and leads people to complain. That's what offensive jokes do. By killing rape jokes, the problem of rape will surely still exist. Making rape jokes has nothing to do with the lack of educating people about ACTUAL rape (I, for one, think rape is an awful thing, and me making a joke about it will never, ever change that. Again, did anyone walking out of that show that night suddenly think "Hey, rape's alright!"). I can guarantee you that this joke did NOT, in any way, create a situation where this woman would ACTUALLY be raped by 5 guys in the comedy club at that very moment just because that joke was said. The "feeling threatened for her safety" comment is the biggest crock of shit I've ever read. She just felt embarrassed, and hated it.

Censorship is defined as: "any person who supervises the manners or morality of others." Yep. We're censoring comedians.

You're right, I have no empathy for someone who is involved in a rape joke. I could care less. It happens to people all the time and all it does is piss people off. I certainly feel awful for people who have been raped and would love to see a movement in feminism to focus their attention on preventing rape, not stopping rape jokes. Rape jokes just make some people feel bad or uncomfortable. Lots of other jokes comedians make do, too. Sorry if it upsets you.

Rape culture? What's that? Are rape jokes making people rape each other now?

J_M_C
J_M_C

Straw man. Point me to the post that asserted anything in your first sentence.

I also get really tired of the whole "focus your attention on..." distraction, too. Clearly, there are more pressing moral problems in the world than Tosh's offensive comment. That in no way invalidates or otherwise renders moot the value of this conversation.

notarapist
notarapist

my point was that nothing bad happened when daniel tosh make his "joke." he simply put a sour thought into someone's head. i understand nobody mentioned anything about that in this thread. i'm trying to show that we're all seriously wasting our time arguing about a guy and his offensive joke.

notarapist
notarapist

the entire blog post that started this big stupid mess could be a giant straw man

glass97
glass97

this article isnt very good. they just skimmed over the story and entirely had a complete miss as far as loius ck's interview. 

DunkingDoughNuts
DunkingDoughNuts

I think the key to take away from comedy is that it's subjective.  Some people find rape jokes funny because they've never been personally affected by rape, and the same goes for Holocaust jokes, racial jokes, etc.  Maybe in 1947 Holocaust jokes were looked upon the same way as this rape joke is seen now, but now in 2012 it's okay to joke about the Holocaust right?  Even though millions were brutally tortured, starved, killed, etc.?  

Comedy is comedy; it's not supposed to offend you, it's supposed to make you laugh.  You should watch/listen and try to keep an open mind, or else you WILL be offended, guaranteed.  Otherwise, perhaps this type of comedy just really isn't for you, which is also fine.

Tosh, in particular, has made a CAREER off of being edgy and joking (often in poor taste) about things other comics might stay away from, so perhaps it's also best to know who you are seeing if you already know you are more inclined to be offended by a type of comedian.

J_M_C
J_M_C

 I think this statement is entirely off-base: "Some people find rape jokes funny because they've never been personally

affected by rape, and the same goes for Holocaust jokes, racial jokes,

etc."

As sentient humans, I strongly believe that we're all capable of empathy. We can all appreciate - if not imagine - how destructive and hurtful these acts could be. If someone laughs at a rape joke because "hey, man, it's never happened to me"... that's beyond distasteful. That's a minor moral failing.

In contrast, humor can be healing for precisely the people that are suffering. Jewish comedians can tap into the suffering that their families have acutely felt, in a way similar to any other person or group that has been subjected to terrible events, One aspect of a personal, and communal, response to trauma is humor.

I don't dislike Tosh's "brand" of humor. I dislike his sense of entitlement to be able to create "comedy" from horrible events that are entirely at removed from his personal experience. The best comedy, like the best writing and other forms of artistic expression, are inspired by personal experience. Unfortunately, Tosh is riding the unfortunate cultural meme that if you "make fun of everyone" you're automatically both A) non-offensive, and B) entertaining. In reality, this brand of humor is lazy, predictable, and generic. And it's generic precisely because these folks are all writing (or, more likely, receiving scripts) from the same playbook... not cleverly converting personal experiences into hilarious stories.

Tosh also gets the Cook/Silverman bump... which is to say, he's somewhat normal looking and in comedy, which makes everything he says funnier to a surprisingly large chunk of viewers in the age of comedy-for-TV. But that's a topic for another time...

Jessica Stewart
Jessica Stewart

I find it disturbing and disgusting that it is now acceptable to have a public debate about whether comedians can publicly  joke about rape. I will never think rape is funny. Victims of rape will never think it's funny. People who love victims of rape will never think it is funny. You know who might find rape jokes funny? Rapists.  It's fine to know a joke about rape that you think is funny because you're fortunate enough to have never been raped or know anyone who has been raped, but keep it to your damned self. What is wrong with these people? This isn't funny. It's a violent crime that humiliates and shames its victim in the most personal and intimate way possible. That isn't fodder for jokes. It isn't acceptable in public.

Joemest
Joemest

I think that there is nothing in the world that is off limits for someone to make a joke about. If rape jokes are off limits, then where do you stop? Are race jokes off limits? Are weight jokes off limits? The difficult thing about making jokes about sensitive issues, such as 9/11, the holocaust, or rape (which is a deplorable and horrible act), is that comedians have to tread carefully. The point that Tosh was making  (at the comedy club), is that he likes that we, as humans, can joke about some of the most horrible events and acts in history, even if they are horrible. Moreover, Tosh thinks that these jokes become even funnier when they are about these horrible topics because it adds to the absurdity and over-the-line aspect of the joke. I laugh at most rape jokes because what comes out of a comedians mouth it is so over the top it just makes me laugh (which is soon replaced with a small amount of Catholic guilt for laughing) When Tosh said, "wouldn't it be funny if she was raped by five or six guys right now", I laughed. I wasn't laughing at the idea of her getting raped, which would be terrible to laugh at, I was laughing at the ridiculous statement that came out of Tosh's mouth. 99% of people that laugh at rape jokes are not laughing at the horrid act of rape or the victim of rape, they are just laughing at the joke or absurdity itself. I believe that's what people don't understand. It is hard for some people to separate the act of rape, which could not be farther from funny, and the joke itself. 

josiev
josiev

well joemest...when i hear you or d. tosh or anyone else make a joke about a 10 y.o. boy getting effed up the ass by a big sick pedophile then i'll believe your b.s. about "there is NOTHING in the world you can't make a joke about'.   or are rape only 'funny' when it happens to women or little girls?  i know of a 6 month old baby girl that was raped....would you like to try to make a joke out of that situation? 

josiev
josiev

well joemest...when i hear you or tosh or anyone else make a joke of a 10 y.o. boy getting effed up the ass by some big pedophile then i'll believe your crap about 'i believe everything can be made into a joke' comment....    or, is rape only funny to you when it happens to a female whether she is older or a child?......

Ivan!
Ivan!

I've heard a couple rape victims say that it was cathartic, once enough time has passed, to laugh at rape jokes. 

So your statement "people who find rape jokes funny are rapists and rape victims will never find them funny" to be false. 

You don't have to condone an actual act of physical assault funny to find a joke about it funny anymore than you have to condone violence for laughing at the Three Stooges beating the shit out of each other.

Oh, what's funny about a puppet of Kim Jong Il singing "I'm so ronery" when he runs a regime that leads to hundreds of thousands of Korean women to be sold into sex slavery, then repatriated back and sent to prison camps to undergo forced abortions for the criminal act of bearing a non-Korean fathered child? 

Tons of people found it funny. Do they condone totalitarianism and institutionalized rape? Probably not. That's a huge jump to make.

Either everything is okay to joke about, or nothing is, whether it makes you feel bad or not. Your moral high horse means nothing to comedy.

"I was raped by a doctor once. For a Jewish girl, that's rather bittersweet." - Sarah Silverman

glass97
glass97

i find it disturbing that some one could decide what is and isnt acceptable to say in public. comedians dont joke about rape or the holocaust or 9/11 only because they can be funny(if handled correctly), but because when you take these horrific, dehumanizing things and make them a joke they are a little easier to deal with. with the dire times we live in we need comedians now more than ever because they make the real world less terrifying to handle.

Jordan R
Jordan R

"a little easier to deal with" ?!!! are you serious? yeah, because those humorless rape victims need to "lighten up" (sarcasm). 

joking about rape desensitized our culture to rape and makes it more difficult for victims to speak out about their abuse.

Justin Leone
Justin Leone

Nothing you say here about rape is untrue.  However, if the logic you use to arrive at the conclusions you make in regards to what makes a viable topic for humor were applied universally, we would never be able to have any comedy about any negative situations whatsoever, because everyone has different triggers, and different topics that they just don't find funny.

For instance, I know someone who is absolutely terrified of vomit. Just seeing someone throw up causes a state of panic. But that doesn't stop movies from including extended and graphic scenes of vomiting, often for no reason other than for "humor". Neither she (nor I, for that matter) can understand what's supposed to be funny about it.

Tosh's comment, IMO, was not the slightest bit funny.  It was mean, belittling, possibly threatening, and it was personally directed at an individual.  So really, it wasn't cool.  I'm certainly not going to defend his poor taste.

But I still think you're wrong to apply this ugly incident universally, and to imply that anyone who has ever laughed at a rape joke is a rapist.  George Carlin, and all his fans, are not rapists.  Sarah Silverman, and all her fans, aren't rapists either.

It's almost as if you're looking at this one incident, in which rape was encouraged (though I'd give him the benefit of the doubt, and ascribe his poor taste to thoughtlessness rather than actually wanting her to get raped), and not considering that most jokes ridicule, rather than exalt, their subject matter.

And, to be clear, rape jokes are usually not funny.  It's not an easy topic, for obvious reasons.  And very often what is called a joke is not a joke (as judged by the subjective whims of the audience member).  But "never" is a very extreme concept, and isn't to be used frivolously, even if your imagination fails to conjure up an exception.

Andy
Andy

The thing that has to be understood when discussing offensive jokes is this: Rape is dismissed easily. Things like the Holocaust, infanticide, theft, these are all things that have victims. But they are pretty much universally recognized as something worth feeling bad over. I have never heard a (non-Nazi) person say "Well, the Jews were obviously asking for genocide" or "Well look at the was you were dressed! Of COURSE your wallet was stolen!"  These things, however, are said regularly and often about rape victims. "Maybe you shouldn't have been drinking," "It's your own fault for dressing that way," "I don't care if you seem flirty without meaning to, you were asking for it." These are all things I've heard said to rape victims. It happens commonly. MUCH more often than with murder, genocide, theft, or any other crime. So it's no wonder that in this world, many people feel like a rape victim waiting to happen. It's the fear, especially present in survivors, that someone will try to rape them, and if they try to talk about it, they'll be dismissed as "some slutty dresser" or "oversensitive" or "exaggerating."

You almost never see that with men. If I, as a male, went around in shortshorts, it may look strange, but I would not fear for big strong men (or women, for that matter) looking at me and possibly deciding to rape me. And not every victim was dressed a certain way. I know a victim who was pulled off the street at night, and she was wearing sweatpants and a baggy hoodie. Nothing showed at all. And yet, she was raped.

So yes, while such belittlement and acceptance of rape continues to exist in our culture, I will not find rape jokes funny. It perpetuates the idea in the minds of some that rape is actually okay. Actual scientific studies have shown that most rapists think that most other men are rapists who are just lying about it, either to themselves or to others. Rape jokes help perpetuate that feeling. Makes them feel safe. They can look at a rape joke and go "See? Rape is no big deal! This guy gets it!"

I for one don't want rapists to feel safe. I want them to experience the fear they put their victims through, the fear that can stick around for a whole lifetime.

And before anyone tries to belittle me or write me off... I am a white american-born male who has never been abused in any way, has reasonable finances for my lifestyle, and doesn't belong to any minority. I am the very picture of white male privilege. It would be very easy for me to ignore all this and get on with my life. and yet, I don't. My experiences helping others have shown me that what I've said in this comment is true.

Notaphony
Notaphony

Wow, you're such a caring and compassionate individual. And so self-righteous. If you seriously believe that rape jokes carry any weight in influencing others, you're an idiot. Rapists thinking all other guys are just lying about not being rapists isn't an indication of anything besides the deeply disjointed thinking that goes on in rapist/psychopath/sociopaths minds. People don't rape people solely based on what they wear blah blah blah. People who rape typically suffer from a sense of overwhelming sexual compulsion and/or extreme dominance issues. The sex is not typically about sex, it's about exerting power. I would bet you are in your twenties and full of shit since you say 

 "These things, however, are said regularly and often about rape victims. "Maybe you shouldn't have been drinking," "It's your own fault for dressing that way," "I don't care if you seem flirty without meaning to, you were asking for it." These are all things I've heard said to rape victims. It happens commonly" 

Where exactly did you hear these comments? Because I guarantee it was not firsthand, which makes your statement bullshit. So thanks for the sentiment, and I do think you have some valid points, but you ruin it by being fake . So please fuck off and die instead of making shit up on the internet. I have known several rape victims, so I do know what I'm talking about, and they can't stand some bs poser standing up for them generically  online or anywhere else. Get your facts straight and do some real research on the rapist profile instead of make believe facts you once heard from some guy. 

Justin Leone
Justin Leone

Things like "you were asking for it" are actually said all the time to victims of theft, usually because some valuable was left unguarded.  I know I've said it to myself after having stuff stolen due to my own stupidity.  As for victims of murder, I suspect the reason they never get similar comments is because they are dead, so they're not really a very good comparison group.

Not to say that it isn't ridiculous to blame rape on the victim.  It's obviously not their fault, and even when considering prevention (and many people can't seem to make the distinction between prevention and faulting), I think the company one keeps is much more important than what they choose to wear.  And in any case, commenting on what someone should or should not have done after the case would make you sort've a jerk.

However, I'm not convinced that jokes about rape perpetuate acceptance of it, any more than jokes about anything else perpetuate acceptance.  

And just to be clear, I don't consider Tosh's comment to be a rape joke, because it wasn't a joke.  It was just mean and pretty creepy.

I suspect the reason that rapists suspect everyone else is a rapist has more to do with the fact that it's an urge that's so basic in their lives that they can't imagine not having it, in the same way that compulsive liars tend to not trust others, or how software pirates are very surprised to learn that someone has a legal copy of Photoshop for hobbyist usage.  Depending on the nature of the joke, their urges can either be reinforced or ridiculed.  In the case of Tosh's comment, I would say the former is more likely, but that doesn't mean that all jokes about rape need to universally encourage rapists.

The Hoobie
The Hoobie

I do like CK's  tendency to give other people the benefit of the doubt and to start from  the point of view that they may have something to contribute and/or may not be 100% in the wrong from the get-go. (Patton Oswalt, maybe take notes.) Because of that, and because people are complicated, I suppose I can countenance some of the other stuff he said in the interview. But kind of warily.*

But wow, did Twitter just shoot down a greased pole to hell in the wake of the Toshtroversy. The many smart women I follow on Twitter had some thoughts about the issue, which brought out all the subterranean Tosh bros and the people who just generally seem upset by the act of Tweeting-while-Female or Reviewing-while-Female. So people like Alyssa Rosenberg and Martha Plimpton were RTing some of the horrible @ replies they were getting, just for the public record. (And just yesterday Christy Lemire was getting called the c-word on Twitter, for, you

know, daring to have a less-than-glowing opinion about the new Batman

movie.) See, I'm torn here: I think Lemire, Rosenberg, and Plimpton absolutely should expose these cockroaches to the light of day by RTing their garbage. But I'd ban tweeps like that in a nanosecond if they were to tweet vile sh*t like that directly to me. And when my feed fills up with horrible, horrible RTs, and the only way to not see them would be to unfollow these fine women, I just want to cry.

I know, I know, "Stop clutching your pearls, lady; welcome to the Big Bad Internet." But Jesus, it's just exhausting. Exhausting.

*I am naturally wary of men who say that women should shut the eff up. I blame the rape culture of our society! (<---Are these sentences a joke? Eye of the beholder, I guess.)

anon76returns
anon76returns

Tosh just isn't funny.  Every time I see one of his ads before a Daily or Colbert on the net, I get offended.  Not because he pushes the envelope of good taste (though he does), but because he does it in such a lazy, predictable way.  As you say James, you can take just about any horrible event, deconstruct it, subvert it, whatever to make it funny.  To judge by his ads (because I'm sure as hell not going to subject myself to watching the show if he judges that those ads highlight the "good stuff"), Tosh is either unwilling or incapable of doing any of that.  Just saying "poop" (or "rape", or what have you) does not make a good poop joke.

Commentonitall
Commentonitall

Your whole comment is based on the fact you don't like Daniel Tosh's brand of comedy  (which is fine).  Yet, you admit to not watching the show and it seems you based your opinion off of a commercial.  Do you look at every book and decide just by glancing at the cover you don't like it?  You also seem to think that all Daniel Tosh does is say poop or rape ( P.S. you did not need to put rape in quotations, unless you wrote Daniel Tosh said "poop", your just using it as a noun in your comment).  If you bothered to watch his show it basically takes video clips that show cliche stereotypes being performed by cliche stereotypes and then points it out in a harsh but true lite.  How is it that you make a strong statement about how someone acts in society without actually observing anything yourself?  Please explain.  Also no cheap answers like, "I saw enough from the commercials." (that is how you use quotations.)  That is not an adequate explanation and would only prove further you commented on something you don't know all that much about.

anon76returns
anon76returns

I am not expert on Tosh.0- I'm fine admitting it.  However, I have seen dozens of advertisements that amount to about the same run time as a single half-hour sitcom on tv.  The manner of the commercials is to give me a sampling of the style of humor employed by the show.  For a period of several months I saw one of these clips every time I watched Colbert or Stewart (i.e., 8 times a week).  From that I have drawn an opinion on the show, and whether you, in your capacity as self-appointed opinion police, think that I have been subjected to enough to make a sound judgement is frankly of very little concern.

Commentonitall
Commentonitall

Actually it was the basis of my entire comment.  I never appointed myself to anything,  I merely asked you to explain yourself, which you did.   Then you felt it necessary to point out that I was pointing out you were basing your opinion on very little information.  If that is how you operate I have no problems with it, I just wanted clarification which you gave me.

James Poniewozik
James Poniewozik

 Actually, you're using quotation marks precisely the same way as anon76returns: to set off a hypothetical quotation imagined on the part of another speaker. ("Just saying 'poop'..." / "Also no cheap answers like, 'I saw enough from the commercials.'")

Commentonitall
Commentonitall

True, I just get annoyed when people use the air quotes thing people do with their hands in their writing.  It's cliche and tired.

Chris Powers
Chris Powers

I have to disagree with your premise that he has to actually see the show to decide.  It you don't like the tone or humor depicted in the commercials, seriously, DO NOT watch Tosh.O  

I think Tosh's stand up is hilarious but his show goes too far sometimes and I am pretty hard to offend.  On the other hand I think Louie is hard to watch, it's just not my thing.  

I don't think any less of people who like it. I don't think less of people who don't like Tosh.  Humor is incredibly subjective, get over it.

anon76returns
anon76returns

ps- subpoint being, "Really Louis?  Tosh always makes you laugh?"  I guess it's just another data point for my theory that really funny people can themselves be very poor judges of what's funny.  Sort of comedic idiot savants.

Ben Watson
Ben Watson

So you don't watch his show, and Louis CK is some kind of moron for liking something you've decided that you don't like based on advertisements? 

anon76returns
anon76returns

I don't watch Tosh's show, true- I gave my argument why I don't think he is funny in my post, and unless his show is radically different than his ads, then my comment stands as a judgement on his comedic stylings (or else he should fire his ad agency).

What I said about Louis CK is that he is a "really funny" person.  Where you get off implying that I called him a moron is beyond me- maybe just looking to pick a fight?

ArtIsAlwaysGood
ArtIsAlwaysGood

The thing about comedy or any form of entertainment is that it is invalid to suggest that what someone else likes is wrong/bad/poor taste.  What is valid is for you to say you don't like something that others may enjoy, but to assume that your taste is always correct and theirs is wrong is exactly what Louis was talking about on the Daily Show.

anon76returns
anon76returns

A)  I was not objecting based on whether or not you agreed with me.  I was objecting to the fact that you said that my criticism of Tosh was "invalid", as anybody with a working scroll wheel on their mouse can observe for themselves.

B)  I did not offer my opinion on whether Tosh's humor is in poor taste, but rather stated that his brand of humor relies on envelope pushing.  That is more than a semantic difference- the former is a subjective opinion while the latter is merely placing Tosh's oeuvre into a referential framework.

C)  I did not call Louis CK an idiot, but (as whamidoingthis pointed out earlier) an idiot savant.  Again a world of difference between the two.

whyamidoingthis
whyamidoingthis

I don't think you understood anon76returns' comment.  It's an analogy.  You're taking it literally (looking up the term "idiot savant" may help you understand the analogy).  It's humorous.  You're taking it way too seriously.  (I, for one, as someone with pickier comedic tastes, can relate to the experience of wondering why so many of my favorite comedians are not pickier themselves about what they find funny).  You may find the subject matter of the joke to be offensive ... but seriously, this is coming off of a thread about rape jokes!  Is calling Louis C.K. an idiot savant really that much more worthy of your disapprobation?

ArtIsAlwaysGood
ArtIsAlwaysGood

Perfect!  You were so quick to attack me because seemingly I didn't agree with you that you didn't even really read what I wrote.  I did not object to your opinion.  What I said was that you can have whatever opinion you want about what is good or not good.  However, the fact that you created an opinion (however uninformed it may be) does not make the others who do not share your opinion idiots, or candidates for a lecture on why they are wrong, etc.   That was my objection.

You can say that the humor is in bad taste all day.  Great!  Fine!  I may even agree.  I have never seen the Tosh.O show so I can't comment intelligently about it.  But Louis CK (and anyone else who disagrees with you) is not an idiot for thinking otherwise.  That's the point.

anon76returns
anon76returns

I'll ignore for the moment the irony of you telling me what is a valid/invalid way of offering my opinion on what I find to be funny, and focus instead on two points that you made.

First off, if you think that it is invalid for people to state that art/any form of entertainment is "bad", then you need to prepare yourself for a long lifetime of disappointment.  It is equivalent to saying that I shouldn't remark on the sky being blue for fear of imposing my worldview on someone who perceives colors differently.  I would think that saying art should never be labelled as 'bad' will do far more to stifle the free expression of ideas (which is what I think art is all about, in the end).

Second, 'bad' and 'good' are of course completely subjective (exactly the point of my post, after all), but 'good taste'/'bad taste' is a relative assessment in comparison to cultural or societal norms.  What I have seen of the show is an attempt to subvert these societal norms in order to achieve a humorous effect.  I think that he fails in the effort, but the fact remains that this is the source of the humor.  There is no purpose to critically discussing his humor if the words "good taste" or "bad taste" are somehow off limits.