“Tar” is a bit long-winded but still the best movie I’ve seen this year. Blanchett will win the Oscar. I am absolutely fabulously overjoyed that they filmed and recorded the orchestral scenes with a real orchestra, live; Blanchett’s piano playing is also real, as is the cellist ingenue. Most films about musicians dub the performances and it usually shows, badly. Contains a provocative, timely discussion by the lead character of the relationship of art to the scandalous behaviors of the artists, instancing a LGBQ student who can’t get “into” Bach’s music because he had 13 children.
It is always fascinating to read about a very old mystery that is finally solved.
In 1984, a twelve-year-old girl, Jonelle Matthews, disappeared from her home in Greely, Colorado. Police say they have been “haunted” by the case since then. Last week, the mystery was “solved”. A man named Steve Pankey was convicted of her kidnapping and murder.
Wow! DNA evidence, right? Fingerprints? A witness? A confession?
Well, we now know better than to trust confessions.
The evidence, as far as can be determined from the news article in the New York Times and Wiki, consists mostly of Pankey making “odd” comments about the case, showing an “unusual” interest in it, and … well, read about it. It’s get weirder and weirder. Apparently, Pankey, who is divorced, and whose wife seems to have provided police with some of the evidence of Pankey’s “odd” interest in the case, admits to being a celibate homosexual, even while he served as an assistant pastor at his church.
His wife, apparently, does not remember that his alibi– that he was with her the night of the kidnapping– was a lie. She was there with him, just a few nights before they left for a trip to California. The car was already partly packed. Would she not remember if he had been out that evening, if she remembers that he listened to radio accounts with suspiciously strong curiosity, or that he asked her to read newspaper accounts of the story aloud to him after they arrived home?
Jonelle’s body was found in 2019 by a construction crew working on a pipeline. There is no DNA evidence, no finger-prints, no photos, no witnesses. There is, in short, nothing but a rather bizarre interpretation of some odd but not really strange verbal expressions by the suspect.
This is not the first time some odd person has made curious statements about an unsolved murder. We should know better by now: it’s a psychological condition, a personality quirk, a bizarre compulsion. If a person behaves “oddly”, by all means, check it out. But if there is no supporting evidence, you probably have something similar to this case.
Ask yourself this: would the police have ever excluded a possible suspect because he didn’t provide “superfluous details” when discussing the case with them?
But to bring a case like that to court, based sole on the “superfluous” detail or “excessive” interest is worse than inadequate. It borders on criminal abuse. Close enough! Hang him! Great police work! Medals for everybody.
And Jonelle’s family is glad to have “closure”. If I were in Jonelle’s family, I would tell the police, “are you fucking kidding me?” Get back to work.
This is all absurd. It’s idiotic. And, as if we don’t already know from election-deniers, it is further evidence that a lot of people are, frankly, stupid: a jury voted unanimously that, by golly, if the police think he’s guilty, he must be guilty. They convicted him.
Pankey insists he is innocent. He says he is being persecuted because of his homosexuality. He might be right.
I love the “superfluous details”. The police felt that the “superfluous details” implicated him. Because there is some kind of magical police science that tells you that men who provide “superfluous details” likely committed a crime. Just as, when I was little, my mother believed that giggling if someone stared at you and asked if you were lying meant that you were lying.
I know people who put on a grave, serious expression when talking about police who were killed or injured on duty, as if there is something solemn or sacred about them. It is very hard, especially recently, especially after the numerous incidents in which police behaved very, very badly (even to the point of homicide) and not one of the officers who saw or heard of the incident reported it, to not believe that most police don’t deserve our respect.
Interesting side-note: Jonelle was born to a 13-year-old girl, and then adopted.
“A chokecherry tree was planted in front of Franklin Middle School in memory of Jonelle. The tree died after a few years and a plaque inscribed with Jonelle’s name disappeared.” (Wiki) So much for that solemn commitment to commemorate and honor her memory. I guess it was a superfluous detail.
There is a video of a group of children performing the song “Gentle on My Mind” in this cheerful, anodyne style that makes you sit back and think, oh, how wonderful that he (the songwriter) has such warm thoughts about his girl. She must be so pleased that he’s thinking about her after he stayed a few nights and then ran off.
Have you ever hummed along to it?
Have you ever taken note of the lyrics:
And it’s knowing I’m not shackled
By forgotten words and bonds
And the ink stains that are dried upon some line
There are many strange paradoxes in popular culture: our contempt for men who “love ’em and leave ’em” for their cruelty and selfishness, and our worship of songs like “Baby the Rain Must Fall” and “Gentle on my Mind”. Our cancel culture, about men who cheat. Our public disapproval of philanderers. But most people still hum along, as they do with a song about killing an unfaithful wife (“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town”).
“Gentle on my Mind” is pretty poetic about it:
I dip my cup of soup back from a gurglin’
Cracklin’ caldron in some train yard
My beard a rustling, cold towel, and
A dirty hat pulled low across my face
This gets kind of weird. Not only is he dumping her– like Gordon Lightfoot in “For Lovin’ Me”, but he’s wandering around like a hobo, not working, evidently, and surviving on soup with his fellow derelicts in “some train yard”. Quite a picture for his beloved, while she’s warming to the idea of being “gentle on his mind”.
So the gentle part means she isn’t going to put up a fuss about him dropping in for sex now and then, leaving his sleeping bag behind her couch, and then taking off whenever he feels like it.
Elvis Presley recorded it. So did Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. But, Aretha Franklin?! Yes, she did. Well, that’s liberating!
John Hartford wrote the song, he says, after watching “Dr. Zhivago”. And from personal experience.
Maybe I misunderstand the lyrics. Maybe the poor guy had no choice but to move on and eat soup in the train yard. But it doesn’t sound like it:
Though the wheat fields and the clothes lines
And the junkyards and the highways come between us
And some other woman’s cryin’ to her mother
‘Cause she turned and I was gone
Who’s right? Well, let’s expand it a little. Let’s consider Hartford’s wife.
The story of the song narrates the reminiscences of a drifter of his lost love, while moving through backroads and hobo encampments. Betty Hartford, who later divorced her husband, noted to him the similarity between herself and the song’s female character. She questioned John Hartford about the man’s negative feelings toward his marriage. Hartford said he likened her to Lara and attributed the man’s feelings about being trapped in a relationship to his “artistic license”.
There you go.
It was, at one time, one of the most played songs (in all versions) on radio in North America.
Paul Takakjian, a criminal defense lawyer who is not involved in Bauer’s case but previously served as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, said he saw Thursday’s ruling as “a harbinger of maybe good news” for Bauer in his criminal investigation “because of the thoroughness with which the accuser was discredited in the judge’s eyes.” NY Times [2022-04-30]
I post this link with no pleasure, but because we are all continually confronted with advocates for women insisting that women never lie about sexual assault.
It appears that the woman let slip that she hoped to extract a large sum of money from Hoffman as a result of her allegations, and in spite of lavish evidence that she consented to his actions in the bedroom. In fact, the woman initiated contact with Hoffman and requested “rough sex” and, apparently, even specifically asked for actions by Hoffman that she later alleged were abusive.
I am disappointed– but not surprised– that Major League Baseball suspended Hoffman for 2 years regardless of the facts. It is not logical. Either the woman has been discredited or she has not. If she was discredited– and she certainly was after a “thorough” investigation– then Hoffman’s behavior may have been distasteful and offensive to the more mainstream (public) preferences of Commissioner Rob Manfred and his colleagues but it should not be grounds for a suspension, and I would not be surprised if Hoffman wins his appeal.
I repeat that– it was a thorough investigation. No judge would be eager to dismiss charges in an explosive case like this but the judge, Dianna Gould-Saltman — yes, a woman– had no choice. The evidence was clear and convincing.
This reminds me of the Jian Ghomeshi case in which several women also lied about the incident– to the police and in court– and then coordinated their stories. Ghomeshi’s lawyer provided the court with convincing proof that the women had lied and the case was dismissed. Yet the feminist establishment continued to behave as if he had been found guilty.
They will behave the same way in the case of Trevor Hoffman and that is why MLB suspended him in spite of the court case collapse. If they had let him resume his career, they would have been relentlessly savaged in the media and nobody wants to have defend someone whose taste runs to rough sex, and nobody wants to even mention the fact that the woman requested it because feminist orthodoxy is that the woman never asks for it.
The story of “Sybil”, the woman with 16 different “personalities”, is a myth, pure and simple.
(NPR on one of the books that has debunked it.)
One website, defending Sybil, refers to “Michelle Remembers”–without comment–as a reference to the influence of “Sybil”. That is astonishing. “Michelle Remembers” is one of the most discredited books of the 1980’s.
First of all, you do need to know what in no other developed country is the concept of a “multiple-personality” widely accepted. Only in America, and only in a certain part of America.
As is well known, Sybil herself acknowledge the hoax in a letter to Schreiber:
She got the very, very strong impression when she went in and brought this letter of recantation to Dr. Wilbur that if she didn’t go with the program she was not going to have Dr. Wilbur anymore,” Nathan says. “Dr. Wilbur was giving her 14 to 18 hours of therapy a week. Dr. Wilbur was coming to her house and eating with her, giving her clothes, paying her rent … so, how could you give up Dr. Wilbur?
Is this really difficult to see? Look at the culture around MPD? Look at who revels in it, thrives in the lurid stories attached to it?
Or look at hypnotism:
HS: Yes. She was very hypnotizable, what I call a “grade five.” On a zero to five scale we can classify most levels of hypnotizability. The top group—the hypnotic virtuosos—are about 5 percent of the population and they show extra phenomena that we don’t ordinarily see even in good hypnotic subjects. For example, they have the ability to regress in time and they will report past experiences in the present tense. It is as if they “ablate,” or remove from memory, the period of time from, say, their fourth birthday to the present time, and you have an expression of what was there up until the age of four. For most people, to get them to a fixed point in time, we use something that has an affect potential. You can’t just say, “I want you to go back to January 14, 1916″—that doesn’t mean anything. You will say to the subject: “You are getting younger and younger. You are now nineteen, eighteen, seventeen years old, twelve years old, seven years old,” and then: “This is your fourth birthday.” NY Review of Books
If this impresses you, I have some bitcoin I want to sell.
Let’s put it this way: if you want to accept what Dr. Spiegel says about hypnotism at face value, it would be possible, for example, to go back in time to when you lost your keys and discover where you lost them. In fairness, I believe Dr. Spiegel implies that this is not possible.
It is not possible, unfortunately, and neither is it possible to go back in memory to “a fixed point of time” (see Dr. Spiegel covering his tracks?). You are always only going back to a memory you already have, or one that you have constructed, if you are suggestible, and I would suggest that the best patients for hypnosis– or any kind of psychiatry– are very suggestible.
That said, even Dr. Spiegel didn’t buy Sybil’s multiple personalities and he made clear why Dr. Wilbur and Schreiber did (and why they stopped speaking to him):
Schreiber then got in a huff. She was sitting right in that chair there, and she said, “But if we don’t call it a multiple personality, we don’t have a book! The publishers want it to be that, otherwise it won’t sell!”
Exactly. The publishers knew what gets you on Phil Donahue and 20/20 and maybe even 60 Minutes, and they knew that that is what sells books and makes movies.
What’s particularly calculating about Attenberg describing her assault is that it brilliantly inoculates her from criticism. “Oh, you don’t like my book? Well, clearly, you stand on the side of toxic masculinity!” Hardly. But I have to wonder — in light of Alice Sebold identifying the wrong man who assaulted her — how much of this story was invented or embellished or even fact-checked by the people at Ecco. It’s easy enough to suss out who “Brendan” is. (It took me three minutes to find him on Google.) And since the dude is now dead, we have no way to corroborate the story. We also get a casual detail about a suicide attempt, but no effort by Attenberg to examine what led her to this state. Victimhood has become the currency of “memoirs” of this type. Victimhood is also the very quality that a narcissist flails about to anyone who will listen. From Here.
And the above is quoted.
And validation. Yes, the New York Times treats her account of the assault as validation.
“I Came All This Way to Meet You” is at its most affecting when Attenberg follows the darker thread of her own experience, sharing the story of an assault she endured from a classmate in her writing program. It’s not the revelation that makes this story so powerful; it’s Attenberg’s vituperation over how the university handled the assault, and how she is — and is not — valued as a writer, and how these two things are bound up together.
What the New York Times forgot to say– or maybe the repetition police stepped in– is just how fucking courageous that makes her. So courageous. So amazingly courageous. Oh my god, that’s so courageous. How brave! Oh my.
It must be noted that the person Attenberg accuses of assaulting her is conveniently deceased and unable to counter her allegations.
We get more:
All of this rings painfully true; above all, Attenberg’s rage — the rage of the writer, especially the female writer, who’s suffered not just assaults but endless indignities and unfairnesses.
The problem always is, how do you know if the “assaults”, “indignities”, and “unfairnesses” were caused by sexism? How do you know if this treatment might have been deserved? Did you know that everybody occasionally suffers “indignities” and “unfairness”, even if they don’t all make themselves into martyrs. Maybe Attenberg was a self-aggrandizing narcissistic bitch? She was obviously– from her own testimony– a ruthlessly ambitious writer who might have been tempted to use people along the way.
Here we go again. Some women at Harvard, wishing to challenge the establishment within the institution to prove they are totally woke when it comes to feminist issues, have demanded a pound of flesh for the horrifying, terrible, rotten, monstrous acts of a certain professor John Comaroff.
In the interview, she recalled how Dr. Comaroff launched into a harangue about how she could be subjected to “corrective rape,” or even killed, if she were seen in a lesbian relationship in certain parts of Africa. But he said it with “a tone of enjoyment,” Ms. Kilburn said, adding, “This was not normal office hours advice.”
This was Dr. Comaroff advising a graduate student that traveling through Africa with a same-sex partner could be dangerous.
Did you catch it? Do I have to call attention to the fact that this is something he said. These are words. And her judgement of his tone: it was not satisfactory, to her. It was a “tone of enjoyment”.
So the grand inquisitors of the feminist movement sprung into action, recruited some fellow-travelers who don’t appear to have anything more substantial to add to the story, and attacked Professor Comaroff and sued Harvard University for not having burned him at the stake long ago.
A group of 38 colleagues at Harvard wrote a letter defending him. Then they retracted it. Apparently they discovered that Professor Comaroff, attacked by a female student, reacted the way most of us do when attacked unfairly: he defended himself. He refused to favor this student with his approval and blessings. He gave his opinion of this student’s attack on him to others. (In fairness, read this for a relatively balanced view. “Balanced” if you believe that the student did not have the option of telling him to get lost and going somewhere else. But then, she claims, she would have been disadvantaged by not being able to expect favorable treatment from a professor she attacked for being abusive to her because he seemed to enjoy warning her about the social policy and attitudes of certain African nations.)
Of course his advice was stupid and unpleasant. Of course he was also probably right. And of course he probably enjoyed passing that information along to the lesbian student, Lilian Kilburn, who was convinced that he was hitting on her. Maybe he was. She’s not particularly attractive, but who knows. Either way, as I glided past the salacious headlines and teasers about this story I kept waiting for the part that described the “harassment”. Was it– yes it was: he kissed her on the lips. Maybe. He says he didn’t. She says he did. Suspend the fucker! Cancel him! He must pay for his outrageous iniquities.
I’m not going to go into any more detail on this one– that’s all there is. There is no real groping or rape or sodomy or slapping or whatever it is that we used to call “sexual” abuse. Just a number of female students who clearly don’t like Professor Comaroff, who resent the fact that he defended himself when attacked, and, yes, of course it isn’t about the money and of course they are after the money. Yes indeed: these martyrs are suing Harvard University for not protecting them from Professor Comaroff’s lips and words.
Fuck this. This is indefensible. This does not evoke a sense of women’s empowerment and equality and intellectual stature. It evokes a conviction that these women are weak, petty, vindictive, and insecure. How do they prove that they really are better and smarter and more virtuous than those men at Harvard who actually run things? Sue them. It’s better than bringing down the governor. It’s even better than accusing them of being complicit in a murder, like Joyce Carol Oates did.
I’m not even going to make sure you know all about my long-standing beliefs or views on women’s rights and equality as if I somehow have to prove that seeing bullshit for what it is has to be excused in some way. This IS bullshit. It is stupid. It discredits feminism– and the sustained drumbeat of these cases is doing more damage to it than most women would believe.
And they don’t know about it because it’s something sensible, smart, educated, enlightened men talk about when there are no women in the room.
Now, be careful. If you comment about the rather butch appearance of these women, you too could be cancelled. I’m going to comment anyway because if the tone of voice of Professor Comaroff is fair game (yes, that is basis of part of their complaint) then I must insist that the physical appearance of these three women is also fair game.
It’s all subjective judgement that in one case become the axis of a million-dollar lawsuit and in another case my disrespectful opinion of what I think is really happening here.
The chair of the Columbia University department of psychiatry was suspended on Wednesday, “effective immediately,” after referring to a dark-skinned model as possibly a “freak of nature” on Twitter. NY Times
What the hell is wrong with that?
The Grand Canyon is a “freak of nature”. A peacock is a “freak of nature”. The Northern Lights are a “freak of nature”. They are beautiful and wonderful.
It is quite notable that most of the great cancellations of the “woke” era are of people who are fundamentally allied politically with those who do the cancelling. [See, most recently, Jane Campion.]
Witness poor Jeffrey Lieberman, the chair of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York. It is immediately apparent from his abject apology and self-flagellating acknowledgment that he, unlike the real enemies of racial justice, is sympathetic to the cause. I believe his sense of guilt is entirely derived from the self-righteous piety of those accusing him. He thinks he did something wrong because a bunch of puritanical zealots told him he did. He even added that he now knows that he had no idea how racist he was. The horrified expressions and vindictive passion of his accusers overwhelmed his good sense. His attackers feel righteous and holy, having once again stomped out another residue of institutional black oppression.
He absorbed a terrible insult and I dearly wish he had had the character to stand up to this bullshit and refuse to apologize or acknowledge that there was anything wrong with his tweet. Let them fire him and let it play out. It will not go well for his attackers. They will have provided Tucker Carlson with more fodder. And then sue the damned University for damages and wrongful dismissal. Let it play in a court of law: I was fired over a phrase. Let us learn what the meaning is of “freak of nature”.
What did he do? He remarked upon the surreal beauty of model Nyakim Gatwech. I’ll join him in his transgression: Ms. Gatwech is a surreal beauty of utterly remarkable skin coloring. She is unique and unusual. Yes, a “freak of nature”, like Wayne Gretzky, Einstein, and Tuesday Weld.
“Freak of nature”: that’s the phrase that set off people:
“Dark skin is normal, dark skin is just part of the normal variation of human existence,” Dr. Lett said. “Stigmatizing language has psychological impacts. It hurts people.”
Yet Ms. Gatwech herself proudly advertises her colouring as a valuable and commodifiable quality. She is paid to show her skin to the marketers of cosmetics and clothing, to photograph and broadcast. Ms. Gatwech, for your information, is cashing in on the character of her skin colour. Is there a note of hypocrisy here? Well, it’s not just a note; it’s a symphony of hypocrisy.
Dr. Lett assumes that “freak of nature” is pejorative. It is not. It is fundamentally similar to the first part of my comment, that Ms. Gatwech’s skin colouring and shape is a unique and remarkable expression of various attributes of gender, race, and heredity. Unusual. Distinctive. Uncommon. Poetically, she could be said to be a Mona Lisa, a Venus, a Madonna.
How different really is it from this more “anodyne” comment from TeenVogue?
It was then the dark skinned beauty started to build her portfolio, taking two years in New York and countless weekends during college to have photo shoots.
“Dark-skinned”? Does that phrase stigmatize Ms. Gatwech? Does it stereotype her? Does the word “beauty” sexualize her?
It is clear from the rest of Dr. Lieberman’s tweet that his comment is complimentary. He admires Ms. Gatwech’s beauty. It takes a perverse mind to construe his tweet as “stigmatizing” or “stereotyping” especially when the very attribute he is amazed by is her particularity.
Is it racist? I don’t see it. I see someone stating the obvious: Ms. Gatwech is a very unusual beauty, with extremely dark skin.
He added that he was “deeply ashamed” of his “prejudices and stereotypical assumptions.”
WTF? What prejudice? What “assumptions”? Is there something else he said that we are missing that expressed prejudice? Do the people making the accusation even know what a “stereotypical assumption” is? Where is it, in the tweet?
I cringe at Dr. Liberman’s pathetic surrender to the puritanical fanatics of this culture of victimization. You give liberals and progressives a bad name. You make some right-wing commentators sound reasonable when they decry your extremism.
As for his judges, I hope I never, ever, ever meet you.
More on the scandal from NYTimes
An Excellent Rebuke to the culture of purity and assonance.
As for Jane Campion, what she said, in accepting her award for “Best Director”, is absolutely accurate: the Williams sisters did not, like her, have to compete against men for their prizes and awards. Some critics counter that they did, indeed, play on mixed doubles teams, where they did play men. Give me a break: that’s is not remotely the same as playing one-on-one against Nadel or Djokovic, against whom neither sister would stand a chance. It is also a pity “King Richard”, the film about how they were “encouraged” to succeed by their father, never raises the issue of steroid abuse, even if to insist Serena was not using them, and that she had a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) for prednisone, prednisolone and oxycodone.
As rumors of steroid abuse swirled around the WTA in the late ’90s and early 2000s, the WTA finally took action and called for offseason steroids testing. That testing was blocked by the top three women’s tennis players at the time. Those players were Serena and Venus Williams, along with Jennifer Capriati. Bleacherreport
The claim is that these therapeutics help a sick athlete get better. But very few therapeutics actually do that. Usually, a virus runs it’s course and diminishes over time. Therapeutics merely help you feel better. And if someone was paying you millions of dollars to perform without raising questions about the integrity of your performance….
While the American National women’s soccer team is suing for equal pay and bragging about their victories over other women and just how smackingly clever and talented they are, let’s just keep one minor corrective in mind: the Australian National Women’s Team once challenged a team of 15-year-old boys.
They were easily, effortlessly, crushed 7-0.
The Americans are probably a bit better than the Australians but not by much.
So yes, you American women often beat other national women’s teams, but not nearly as many people care about your performance as much as you do, and you don’t play on the same grand scale as the men do, and no, you don’t deserve the same pay, not remotely, not by any standard that usually applies in the world of professional sports. You can’t go into Italy or Brazil or even Iceland and play their national women’s team in front of 60,000 fans.
Anyone who watched your game right after, say, a men’s game of France vs. Spain, would know the truth. In terms of skill and speed and power, you aren’t even close. Not even close.
So who did you ask for more money? From the fans, who would pay to see you? From the owners of the club teams that run the league that you play in? From the sponsors who pay for advertising during the games? From the makers of sporting apparel and bling who dress you and market you? But then you would have to prove that you actually generate the same income-driving passion as the men. You don’t. You too would lose to a bunch of 15-year-old boys if you played them.
So you went to the government. That’s right. Give us more money or we’ll cancel you.
Did I miss something? After Norm MacDonald’s death this week, I kept reading about what a great comedian he was. I had never liked him much but I wanted to be fair: I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to him. Maybe I missed something.
Here’s one of his jokes. He tells us that during a medical examination of Arnold Schwarzenegger because of a faulty heart valve some of the doctors were concerned because they became turned on during a routine examination.
That’s it. That’s the punch line. The audience, on SNL (which is live) didn’t laugh much either.
He also joked about a custody battle between a mother and her ex-husband who was transgender. It was witless, crude, and dismissive. It was the kind of joke back-slapping conservative males made and enjoyed at the time. [Well, well: I now read that Macdonald was a Christian. It’s possible to be politically progressive and Christian, but clearly Macdonald was your standard, off-the-shelf conservative hypocrite, mocking feminists, poor people, and gays, perhaps with slightly more subtlety than Dennis Miller, while nursing a gambling addiction.]
Again, in front of a picture of Bill and Hilary Clinton: “here’s a picture of the first bitch”. No joke– just calling Hilary Clinton a bitch. In another segment, he calls her a liar. Again, no joke– just calling her a liar. On an episode of “The View” he accused Bill Clinton of being a murderer.
A lot of Beatles paraphernalia was up for sale, including a “rare” photo of George Harrison not looking haggard. Huh.
Two homeless people got married at a homeless shelter. If you want to buy them a gift, they are “registered” at a recycling center. Huh again.
I’m told his “off the cuff” comments on carrot-top were hilarious. I’ve watched the clip. I’m open-minded: maybe there is some reference there that is hilarious, and I missed it.
Same with a cooking demonstration on Conan O’Brien’s show with Gordon Ramsay. We’re supposed to find his inept inability to follow instructions– like a drunk, really– hilarious. The biggest laugh was his use of an obscenity, which the audience laughs at because they know it will be beep out. It was all lame, tedious, witless, and boring. Conan must have loved him– that lame segment should never have seen the editing suite.
Paul McCartney is going to host an online chat. Already, 2.5 million calls have come in from people hoping to chat. But 2 million of them are from Ringo. That one is not even a little funny.
How about this: Donald Trump decided to divorce Marla Maples because she violated the pre-nuptial agreement by turning 30. Sophomoric.
Washington D.C. mayor is not interested in polls, or anything that isn’t crack. Again, very sophomoric.
A joke, in bad taste, about Reagan being allowed to still think he owns the ranch he sold to the U.S. government after the purchase. Maybe Norm didn’t know Reagan had Alzheimer’s.
He mocks women for their looks. He mocks Ellen DeGeneres for wanting to have a baby, because she and her partner are both women. Yeah, they are. Did someone miss something here? This might have been funny had it not already occurred to every single person in the audience.
More women would vote if you could bake your vote. I’m not making that one up– yes, he thought that was funny. Yes, he read it on Weekend Update. No, the audience didn’t find it funny either.
When a joke failed– which was often– he would ramble on aimlessly about how that one didn’t work, which is not even funny once, or make a banal comment like “what a world we live in” as if he discovered something that was not already obvious to everyone. Or, fatally, he would try to explain why the joke was actually funny even though the audience didn’t laugh. That’s not a secret: Macdonald’s approach to comedy was to do jokes he thought was funny even if the audience didn’t. Like Red Skeleton. He and some others thought it was a virtue. I think it’s an attempt to explain why someone who checks him out because you said he was great might be disappointed: because you don’t get it, see? He doesn’t care if you don’t think he’s funny. Really?
After joking about Rikki Lake having to get rid of a dog because it was aggressive with her young child– by eating it– he compounds the lukewarm audience reception with “she ate a whole dog”, which torpedoes the wit factor of any joke.
Those are neither the least nor most funny of a bunch. A joke about Richard Gere and a gerbil is worse than tasteless.
A lot of his humor is based on the “everyday man” school of comedy, which holds that anything sophisticated or complex should be mocked because if I don’t understand it, it can’t be true or valid. Gay marriage. Transgender surgery. George Harrison frowning in a picture. And why can’t I make fun of obese talk show hosts? Well, you can– but making jokes about their obesity really isn’t all that funny anyway. Calling Bill Clinton a murderer with a tone of “everybody knows it, right?” isn’t even witty. If there’s a joke about someone involved in the Clinton scandals– and there are lots– tell it. But Macdonald didn’t have that kind of Carlinesque skill.
Macdonald did not graduate high school and he has the tone of someone who loves to get digs in on those people who think they are smarter than you simply because they are smarter than you and got educated and understanding something about finance and trade and economics and medicine and music and history– those snobs.
He defended Louis C.K. after he was blacklisted for some relatively mild allegations of inappropriate behavior– a position I agree with. But he also defended Roseanne Barr after she made several tasteless, racist tweets.
Well, gosh, so did Donald Trump.
Jokes about Oprah Winfrey’s husband writing a book on how to be a success (Macdonald quips, “marry Oprah Winfrey”), are okay. A genuine joke: congratulations, Norm Macdonald. Use this one as a model for humour. And ironic insight. A smart perception. A revelatory twist. Go for it.
That’s it for Norm Macdonald. Some okay jokes. Someone who must have been quite likeable in person– he has lots of defenders, including Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien. That doesn’t make him funny.