Missing tampons, but also filled diapers: The discussion about Michelle Wolf's performance continues to amaze.
We don't know when we've ever seen such full-blown "motivated reasoning." Consider this letter in today's Washington Post:
LETTER TO THE WASHINGTON POST (5/2/18): Until those at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner develop either a sense of humor or an understanding of the role of comedy in a free society, they should just stop inviting comedians to their event.We tend to agree that the WHCA should stop hiring comedians. But this writer implies that anyone with a sense of humor would have liked Wolf's performance last Saturday night.
Watching them sit there stone-faced is almost as tiresome as reading their next-day complaints about the material being too rough, too raunchy, too personal. If they don’t want to be made fun of, they should simply stop hiring people to make fun of them.
J— K—, Silver Spring
Also, anyone with "an understanding of the role of comedy in a free society!" Wolf was just "making fun of" the press! Anyone can see that!
To his credit, this writer has at least heard people say that Wolf's performance was "too raunchy." It's amazing to see how many of Wolf's absolutist supporters aren't even willing to speak to that claim.
That doesn't (quite) include Mike Pesca at Slate, who fleetingly mentions the claim that Wolf's performance was "off color."
That said, we'd say that Pesca has a very restricted "understanding of the role of comedy in a free society." He goes on and on, in defense of Wolf and other comedians criticized at this event, with this fantasized account of "what comedians are supposed to do:"
"They were doing what comics are supposed to do—they were addressing uncomfortable issues with jokes."
Are comics "supposed to do" that? Well actually, no—they are not. Some comedians "address uncomfortable issues with jokes;" other comedians juggle. Meanwhile, some comedians do one thing in one situation and something different in another, occasionally even displaying what the founders called "a decent respect for the opinions of man [sic] kind."
(To listen to Pesca's commentary, click here, move to 17:00.)
Concerning that decent respect, briefly consider this:
When a comedian appears somewhere for pay, he or she may choose to honor the wishes of the people who have hired him or her with the understanding that they'll be entertained. That said, other comedians may be more full of self-importance and messianic zeal.
Again, Pesca does mention, in passing, the claim that Wolf's remarks were "off color." Over at Vox, Laura McGann wasn't quite able to do that. An apparent true believer, McGann is able to identify "the real reason" why people didn't like Wolf's performance, full stop. It's all summed up in the headlines which sit atop her piece:
The real reason Michelle Wolf is under attack is because her Sarah Sanders jokes are trueThere it is, all simple and simple-minded! According to McGann, people who didn't like Wolf's performance didn't like it because she accurately called Sanders a liar.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders can dish it, but Republicans can’t take it.
That's why people didn't approve. And the people who didn't approve were Republicans! It's a simple world!
McGann doesn't mention the possibility that some people thought Wolf was "too raunchy" or "off color." It's all about the fact that heroic Wolf told the truth and The Others love lies.
On balance, we thought Wolf did a poor job that night, although she did have some good jokes. We're always struck by the grasping self-importance of people who use a gig like that as a way to speak "over the heads" of the people whose money they're taking, as a way to build their slippery, slimy careers.
Personally, we think Trump is more of a problem than Sanders. We also think it's foolish and rude to do what Wolf did with Sanders sitting right there that night—and no, we don't think, not at all, that she was "doing her job," another Pesca construct.
Mainly, though, we would ask the true believers to consider the following jokes. Tomorrow, we'll examine a basic question: are these jokes really "jokes" at all?
WOLF (4/28/18): There’s also, of course, Ivanka. She was supposed to be an advocate for women, but it turns out she’s about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons.Ivanka Trump is full of shit! You know, like a bunch of used diapers!
She’s done nothing to satisfy women, so I guess, like father, like daughter. Oh, you don’t think he’s good in bed, come on.
She does clean up nice, though. Ivanka cleans up nice. She’s the Diaper Genie of the administration: on the outside, she looks sleek, but the inside, it’s still full of shit.
Are those actual jokes, or are they simply "dick jokes?" Also, to what extent is a "dick joke" really a joke at all?
(Also, how does material like that play from a feminist perspective? From the perspective of a humanist—a lover of the world?)
According to McGann, people who objected to that chunk of Wolf's act did so because they support Ivanka. Around here, Ivanka tends to strike us as a grifter from a family of grifters. But we think that chunk of material was silly and stupid and in bad taste and we think it showed poor judgment, which we're all inclined to have.
"You should have done more research before you got me to do this," Wolf said early on. It's a stock line in such a circumstance, but in this case, we surely agree. In case you hadn't already noticed, the White House Correspondents are often amazingly clueless.
This troubling fact helps explain the gigantic mess we're all in. But so does the type of silly true belief displayed by folk like McGann.
We think Wolf showed poor judgment this night. Meanwhile, is a dick joke really a joke at all? We'll examine that question tomorrow. We'll also ponder a question like this:
To what extent can we humans understand the way the world looks to others? Also, to what extent are we liberals prepared to respect the opinions of humankind?