The Duh-List and a Random Ten

I'm not really a Kathy Griffin fan-- although I haven't really seen anything she's done in probably five or six years. Maybe more. I found her profoundly irritating the first time she was famous, and have thus not felt any desire to check out My Life on the D-List. Some people I trust assure me that it's quite funny, but it never seems to be on when I'm watching TV, and I'm simply not inclined to make a plan to watch it.

So I don't think Kathy Griffin's very funny, and I don't think her now-oft-repeated acceptance speech joke at the Emmys merits much more than a smile or a chuckle. Parodying the athletes and entertainers who always thank God or Jesus whenever they succeed at something, Griffin said, "I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. So, all I can say is, 'Suck it, Jesus.' This award is my god now."

To be clear-- I don't think this joke is offensive at all. I just don't think it's particularly funny. Humor only works when there's some element of surprise to it-- "I didn't see that coming"-- and this is a joke (or, at least, a version of a joke) that I've heard before. To be sure, The Onion has done it at least twice-- here and in an earlier article-- which I couldn't find searching their website, but which had a headline that said, essentially, "Losing Team Blames Jesus for their Defeat." Not that Kathy Griffin stole the joke or anything-- it was kind of obvious even before it was made, wasn't it? Like I said, it's good for a smile or a chuckle, but should probably be forgotten pretty quickly.

Naturally, there are those who disagree with me. "Many irreverent performers aren't equal-opportunity besmirchers," Frank Bozell whines. "Griffin appeared clutching her Emmy on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show a day after the furor broke, and when DeGeneres suggested it can be tough on the other side of the joke, as she was the butt of a lot of jokes when she declared she was gay, Griffin turned dead serious and insisted: 'Not mine. Not mine.' Griffin would never mock a gay person. But Jesus and Christians? Bombs away."

I tend to feel that any person or group of people can have some fun poked at them, so long as the joke is truly about subverting expectations-- the joke that just reinforces what the joke-teller or audience already feels is "known" isn't going to be particularly effective. Thus, the reason most "gay jokes" aren't funny (or worth telling or hearing) is that they simply repeat and endorse the bigotry that the teller and audience already understand. There's no element of surprise to a joke like "Why did the gay guy get fired from his job at the sperm bank? Drinking on the job," unless-- I suppose-- the joke is told in an ironic way, by a gay man to a gay audience perhaps. Larry the Cable Guy-- or Kathy Griffin, for that matter-- can't make that joke funny.

Christianity's a bit different, because Christians in this country aren't used to being the group that's made fun of. Oh, sure, you get the occasional harmless Garrison Keillor-ism-- "Lutherans sure love potlucks!"-- but Christians generally have not been targetted for ridicule the way gay people, black people, women, the disabled, fat people, and Frank Stallone have. And Christians actually control the country-- as Brian pointed out last night, you can't run for president without professing some type of religious faith. So far, no religious faith except Christianity has been represented in the White House. Furthermore, there's a sizable group of Christians-- and Mr. Bozell is among them-- who use their power to oppress and control people-- women, gays, the unmarried, the childless, non-Christians. So, you've got this group of people who control the country, abuse people, and who have-- historically-- never found themselves the objects of parody or ridicule. Seems to me like that that would indicate that there's some fertile ground for humor there.

And keep in mind that I'm saying this as a Christian, too-- I was raised Catholic and joined the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in 2005. Unlike Brent Bozell, and James Dobson, and William Donahue, and Don Wildmon, I don't claim to speak for God or to always know what's on His mind. But the one thing I do know is that the God I believe in most certainly doesn't take Himself too seriously, and can find the humor in irreverence. The God who created a species of creature that would actually create the Emmy awards most certainly has enough of a sense of humor to laugh when being told to "suck it."

Can I get a witness?

Oh-- I almost forgot. The Random Ten. Here's what you do: Shuffle and type. Even leave in the Avril Lavigne and the Love and Rockets. You're not alone.

1) The Sounds-- "Living in America"
2) Chrissie Hynde-- "I Shall Be Released"
3) Avril Lavigne-- "My Happy Ending"
4) R.E.M.-- "Electrolyte"
5) The Pogues-- "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"
6) Reel Big Fish-- "I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend"
7) Moby-- "Chord Sounds"
8) Love and Rockets-- "So Alive"
9) John Cale and Bob Neuwirth-- "Cafe Shabu"
10) Macy Gray-- "So Much"

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