Friday, March 01, 2013

Why we should never forgive The Onion, ever

I have been thinking about something. I've been thinking about the Oscars. About this year's Oscars. See, I don't watch The Oscars or any other award show. I don't have television (I have a television, but I'm not hooked up to cable or network and I don't subscribe to any internet tv service, so except for the occasional glimpse via Youtube or some other website I don't watch television), and in any case I don't care about these displays of rich, powerful people mostly congratulating themselves for being rich, powerful, and upholding the status quo that keeps them that way.

But since I do have internet, I can't avoid hearing things. And since I've been spending a lot of time on Twitter, I keep sort of in touch with what goes on in the fake "real world" of the newsertainment media and its fans. So I found out about 1) this year's "fun" final dropping of the mask that was the Oscar show as hosted by Seth MacFarlane, and 2) saw the Onion's tweet (re-tweeted by many before the Onion's staff could delete it) that called Quvenzhan√© Wallis, a nine-year-old African-American actress, the c-word as some sort of clumsy "ironic satire parody" of the misogynist racist something something you know what, intent doesn't matter. They said it, it was stupid, cruel, racist, misogynist, really fucking creepy when you come right down to it because treatment of women and girls and children of color as sexual objects is not a thing of the distant past here in the USA.

But anyway, the Onion issued an apology, and it was a very proper apology, and said all the right things, and was not at all the sort of passive-aggressive "I'm sorry YOU'RE offended" sort of thing I've become used to seeing issue from white-male-dominated organizations that are caught being dipshits. No really, it was a very proper apology, I'm not being sarcastic here. The question is what to do now. Should we forgive them and give them a second chance?

I say no.

Why should we. What do they do that is so important and vital. It's not like the Onion is the fucking Romans, bringing roads and running water to the provinces. They're a humor website. We can live without them.

I'd like to take a moment to go off on a tangent about the current attitude towards comedy, humor, that sort of thing, in American society. (And probably Canadian and British too, possibly Australian... I don't know, American is the only society I am qualified to speak upon.) Anyway, we have come to place much more importance on humor than that facet of human existence warrants. We used to rather admire people who were "serious" and look a bit down on jokesters, but that all changed some time ago and it snowballed until now that's all been reversed, and to be accused of having "no sense of humor" has become one of the ultimate social crimes, making you unworthy of human companionship. Personally, I think as the litany of crimes we as a country have committed in history grows longer the need to "laugh it all off" grows stronger. One day we won't be able to drown out the screams of the tortured... Anyway, whatever, I'm a misanthrope, I refuse to laugh at things that aren't funny just because everyone else is and oh dear they'll think I'm a humorless scold. Hell, I'll have t-shirts made: "Humorless Scold 2013 -- the Tour." Coming soon to a city near you.

Back to the main topic. Why should I forgive the Onion and give them a second chance, never mind any other whitecismale org that gets caught being shitty and has to grovel? Because I am sick of these people, and their certainty -- their entitlement -- to an "aw shucks I'm not mad at you any more" from the whole fucking world. I'm mad and I'm going to stay mad. This is why:

Women who are not "good girls" are not forgiven. They're called "sluts" and "whores."

Women who are "good girls" are not forgiven either. (Because they won't "put out" for men.)

Gay people are not forgiven. They are still horribly killed and called names and treated like pariahs and told they should just stop living that "lifestyle."

Trans* people are not forgiven. They're told that they are mentally ill, or scamming, and called names, and horribly killed, and treated like pariahs, and mocked in media, and their preferred gender is ignored, and they're told to "stop being that way."

Poor people are not forgiven. They're called parasites and losers, drains on society, their children potential criminals, looked down on, called names, jerked around by the government, patronized by institutions that are supposed to help them, treated like collateral damage in the "war on poverty," deluded into thinking they deserve to be poor because no one wears fucking boots with straps any more.

Sick people are not forgiven. They are called weak and commanded to "feel better" even when that isn't possible, except with the help of strong painkillers that are difficult to obtain because people who need drugs are not forgiven.

People with disabilities are not forgiven. Able people roll their eyes and sigh and complain that the new handicapped ramp ruins the front of the office building and that it's not fair that the closest parking spots are reserved for them.

Mentally ill people are not forgiven. They're called scary and weird and difficult and insert superstitious fear that someone from the Middle Ages would side-eye and locked up and drugged if lucky and jailed and abused if not.

Non-white people are not forgiven. Ever.

Especially African-Americans, because how dare they be there a permanent reminder that our country was built on slavery and the kidnapping and carting away of people from across the sea just to toil to their deaths to make white people rich. How very dare they. But worse, how very dare they try to be confident, and assured, and act like they're people on their own terms instead of on the terms of the descendants and look-alikes of the people who kidnapped their ancestors. That must be crushed!

All of these things that people are not forgiven for are 1) not things they have any control over (no, women don't have any control over whether they are seen as "good" or not and not that that matters, as I said, and so on), and 2) THINGS THAT ARE NOT WRONG. There's nothing wrong with being female, poor, gay, trans*, sick, non-white. But for some reason, we have to keep giving infinity chances to rich white dudes and their little schemes because they say "sorry" and give the puppy eyes and make a joke that isn't offensive, or else space and time will explode or something. Haha, thanks for the laugh, I accept your apology, you're still dead to me, enjoy space and time exploding your ass. No love, Andrea.


Lynn said...

I never liked The Onion anyway. And I totally agree with you about the importance of humor. I like a good joke as much as anyone but sometimes it seems like we're all supposed to laugh at all jokes, funny or not, and we're supposed to be laughing at something all the time. We can't ever be "too serious" or we will be seen as "humorless" or "depressed". Most people try so hard to have fun all the time they miss out on the real joys of life.

Anonymous said...

I often think humor is just a way for people to take the credit and pleasure of saying oppressive things, reveling in privilege, without having to take the blame.