Identity sifting all the way down!

TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2022

Today, tomorrow, forever: On Sunday evening, in Tinseltown, Chris Rock was conducting a somewhat typical "middle school"-style roast. 

Amy Schumer had already told at least one very good joke. As we noted yesterday, her very good joke went like this:

This year, the academy hired three women to host because it’s cheaper than hiring one man.

As we noted yesterday, we don't know if Tinseltown's pay scales are really anything like that. But really good jokes evade fact-checks, and that was a darn good joke!

On this unfortunate occasion, Rock's joke pretty much wasn't. (His joke about Rihanna in 2016 was much more invasive, tasteless and worse.) Elsewhere, he's done superlative work.

Rock delivered his roast-style joke; Will Smith didn't like it. The next day, Kevin Drum tried to parse the whole thing out. At the start of a short, somewhat whimsical post, it looks like he got it wrong:

DRUM (3/28/22): It seems like the whole Will Smith-Chris Rock thing needs some added juice to keep it going. But what? They're both Black, so there's no racial angle. They're both cis men, so there's no gender or sexual orientation angle...

Boomer, please! Drum was already wrong on at least two points:

Within our low-IQ national culture, incidents of this type never need added juice. Concerning the search for a racial angle, within our failing liberal / progressive tribe, there's always a batch of identity angles waiting to be put on display when such incidents occur. 

Enter Karen Attiah. In this morning's Washington Post, she was granted a large display for an identity-soaked column about this basically stupid incident.

The various statements in Attiah's column can't be said to be "wrong."  But her perceptions are identity-fueled pretty much all the way down.

Her column is fully identity-soaked. She even works a shot at "ableism" into her endless critique.

That doesn't mean that her various statements are "wrong." Her column does help us see why our liberal / progressive tribe is able to lose so many elections at this point in time.

We may critique Attiah's column line by line on some bright sunny day. Today, it would be too depressing.

Instead, we'll close with a second pretty good joke. This one is drawn from the comments to Attiah's column:

A black guy hits another black guy, and white people get blamed.

Who could have seen that coming……

As with Schumer's joke, so too here. "White people get blamed?" We're not even sure that happens in Attiah's column (though almost everything does).

That said, the commenter plainly comes close enough for political comedy work. In truth, Attiah's column is obsessive, unintelligent, just not very smart. Also, it's plainly designed to lose votes.

"Who could have seen that coming?" To his vast credit, not Drum!


35 comments:

  1. "Within our low-IQ national culture..."

    The national culture is fine, dear Bob. Surely you're talking about the cretinism of your liberal tribe, dear?

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  2. One gets paranoid. It's almost as if Bob overpraised
    Schumer's mediocre left leaning joke so he could
    overpraise the right wing mediocre joke.
    Jokes like these present simplistic takes on
    social problems that tend to be complex, none is
    more complex and generalization defying than race.
    Kareem Abdul-Jabber has become one of our few
    useful commentators, I doubt his piece on this this
    sad situation could be improved upon.

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    1. Do you have a link?

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    2. Nah, I made the whole thing up.

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    3. Is this your idea of a joke?

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    4. Yeah. If you take the two or three hours it takes to bring up the Google screen, do finger exercises for another hour so you have the strength to type "Kareem, Will Smith, Oscars... absolutely nothing will come up. Sorry, I'm a liberal so I love to lie. It's a tribal thing. Still think I'm funnier than Amy Schumer.

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    5. "Don't be a jerk.

      This is political correctness run amok.

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  3. "help us see why our liberal / progressive tribe is able to lose so many elections at this point in time"

    The problem with Somerby's claim here is that there is no evidence to support it, and, in fact, evidence supports the opposite notion, that "wokeness" and "identity politics" win elections for Dems, just like they have won elections for Republicans for decades.

    Apparently the "low-IQ" that Somerby is so obsessed with, turns out to be staring back at him in his own mirror.

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    1. No evidence to support it?

      In NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll conducted shortly after the 2018 midterm elections, a clear majority of people (52%) said they were “against the country becoming more politically correct and upset that there are too many things people can’t say anymore.” Just 36% said that they were “in favor of the United States becoming more politically correct and like when people are being more sensitive in their comments about others.”

      A May 2021 Pew poll showed that 57% of Americans believe that “people today are too easily offended by what others say” while just 40% agreed that “people should be careful what they say to avoid offending others.”

      And even on specific issues, there’s some sentiment that people believe the so-called “woke mob” has gone too far. In an Axios-Ipsos poll from May, 70% of Americans opposed “the ‘defund the police’ movement” while just 27% supported it. A May Fox News poll showed that 47% of registered voters said the Biden administration is proposing too much of an increase in government spending, while 17% said not enough, and 33% chose just about the right amount.

      https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/12/politics/woke-green-new-deal-defund-the-police/index.html

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    2. @3:19 is talking about elections won, not polling responses. Democrats have been winning and Somerby's notion that Trump was elected because of political correctness is incorrect given analyses showing that it was Comey and Russia who got Trump elected, and even then he massively lost the popular vote.

      As Somerby himself demonstrates, people will laugh at "jokes" about gender based pay disparities and wokeness without caring a fig for the issues involved. They have been told repeatedly that wokeness is crazy and the left is out of control, and yet they go to the polls and make Democratic choices.

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    3. "people will laugh at "jokes" about gender based pay disparities and wokeness without caring a fig for the issues involved."

      This is directly in opposition to to the results I posted. You can't just hand wave away reality.

      "They have been told repeatedly that wokeness is crazy and the left is out of control, and yet they go to the polls and make Democratic choices."

      This is shaky claim due to the Virginia results and the California school results.

      In any case, to say that there is NO evidence at all is the usual illogical pronouncement. There's always evidence, just how strong is it?

      So, after that grand failure of logic, we get this little gem:

      "Apparently the "low-IQ" that Somerby is so obsessed with, turns out to be staring back at him in his own mirror."

      Need to score a touchdown, or at least a field goal, before spiking the ball...

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    4. So to wrap up, there is zero evidence of Somerby's claim. FYI polls and surveys are about as useful as anecdotes and tall tales. Check out some science on the matter:

      https://youtu.be/qh1MqWL-K_k

      Recent (particularly since 2016) elections of Dems have shown more progressive, "woke" candidates winning, and establishment, centrist candidates losing.

      VA indicated how powerful identity politics is for Republicans, in that race the Dems ran a bland neoliberal, centrist candidate that failed to bring out enough Dem voters. But Republicans ran on identity politics and won.

      So to wrap up further, the evidence indicates the opposite of Somerby's claim.

      Yes, Somerby posts "low-IQ" nonsense, daily.

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    5. If Somerby's claim were correct, The Squad would never have been elected to congress.

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    6. Clearly sometimes Woke works, and sometimes it doesn't. Further left candidates like Elizabeth Warren are often the best ones, but in Warren's case She doomed her candidacy with anti Male grandstanding.
      Bottom line: if the current situation is to be credited to the more progressive wing, we have little to brag about. We have a razor thin majority we are likely to lose by the end of the year, even though we ran against the scum of the earth. If Tara Reid, pimped by progressives, had been a shade less nuts (her story fell apart, not that you would know from MSNBC) She might well have put Trump back in charge.
      I don't think Rationalists arguments are definitive, but I don't see much that settles this definitively one way or the other.

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    7. Tara Reade never gained any traction among Democrats.

      Biden won by a huge popular vote margin. The gerrymandering and voter suppression at the state and local level is a different problem than PC or wokeness.

      The slim senate margin is because of the seats that were available to flip and where they were located (red vs blue states). Democrats won two seats at the last minute, that were not expected to go Democratic but did (Warnock & Ossoff in GA). This was a Republican failure and an definite Democratic win. This idea that Democrats cannot win elections is a conservative invention that does not fit the actual election results. Somerby pimps it here but it is false and election results have had nothing to do with wokeness or PC or anything beyond demographics, money spent, and the rejection of Trump at the national level (but not local candidates). It is unclear how 1/6 and various Republican antics will affect downballot races. Democrats are issue oriented and have been largely ignoring the culture wars. I expect that to continue, with similar outcomes to previous election years, slightly improved by the revised redistricting maps.

      Republican talking points about PC events plucked from Fox News do not affect Democrats because our voters don't watch Fox and don't have the same emotional reaction to PC/wokeness embodied in specific cases happening to people. We such such events differently, whether it is about transpeople or banned books or Will Smith hitting Chris Rock. Somerby doesn't understand liberal reactions to such things because he is not liberal. He seems to be swallowing Republican disinformatuon, much as certain commenters do here. But those people vote Republican and there was never any chance they would consider a Democratic candidate -- so woke/PC is not going to push away a vote that was ever ours, including Somerby's.

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    8. Dems outnumber Republicans, the problem with Dems winning is getting enough of them to vote. Due to the psychological nature of Republicans, it is much easier to motivate them to vote.

      The current situation is credited to establishment Dems led by Pelosi and Schumer, two super rich neoliberals. They control which candidates get to run with support, largely speaking.

      I am familiar with progressives and progressive media, which is largely on YouTube, there was little to no pimping of Tara Reid among that cohort. MSNBC is not progressive, it is run by corporate neoliberals.

      Rational arguments are never definitive, everything is in an ongoing process (dialectic).

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    9. "A May 2021 Pew poll showed that 57% of Americans believe that “people today are too easily offended by what others say” while just 40% agreed that “people should be careful what they say to avoid offending others.”

      Exactly. The Right-wing media banging the drum that a large number of Americans want to cancel culture the teaching of CRT in schools is a lie that Republicans told them to push. What are you going to do with a Right-wing mainstream media?

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  4. "As we noted yesterday, we don't know if Tinseltown's pay scales are really anything like that. But really good jokes evade fact-checks, and that was a darn good joke!"

    As I noted yesterday, Schumer's so-called joke was the literal truth about gender pay gaps in movies and that makes it not a joke at all.

    If Somerby doesn't know the stats, in his ignorance, he will laugh at things that are not actually jokes.

    It takes a special kind of person to laugh because women are so grossly underpaid compared to men that you can hire three women for the price of one man. You pretty much have to be male to think this is funny, not outrageous. And I guess it pretty much takes a woman to know what those stats actually are, since men don't seem to care about this -- not even ones who claim to be liberal while advancing conservative memes and talking points.

    And when you complain about this, you get reactions like the comment yesterday that movies are frivolous, there aren't many lucky enough to work in them, so the women who do should be happy with whatever they get and not be worrying about how much more men get. And that argument no doubt applies to sports and other glamour occupations where women are supposed to be happy just getting to work.

    I sometimes wonder whether men would behave differently about such matters if they understood how piggish and ugly they look to women when they say such things. I don't even see the commenters who claim to be interested in class income inequalities expressing support for remedying gender based disparities. That suggests they are either not serious about class issues or consider men's advantabes to be worth closing ranks with privileged men over.

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  5. "Elsewhere, he's done superlative work."

    For some reason, quite a few standups appear to be conservative and jerks about social issues in particular.

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    Replies
    1. Robert Conquest's First Law of Politics

      Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

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    2. This sounds nice but too bad it isn't true.

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  6. "Instead, we'll close with a second pretty good joke. This one is drawn from the comments to Attiah's column:

    A black guy hits another black guy, and white people get blamed.

    Who could have seen that coming……

    As with Schumer's joke, so too here. "White people get blamed?" We're not even sure that happens in Attiah's column (though almost everything does)."

    And this is an example of a comment that telegraphs its political orientation. It signals that the commenter is conservative, so it is telling that Somerby considers it a pretty good "joke" when it is again not a joke at all. It is white male whining that race complaints always wind up being about white males doing something wrong. It is a grievance dressed up as a joke, but it is not funny at all unless you believe, like this commenter, that race-based discussion is just a way to blame white people for stuff.

    And that attitude is at the heart of both Trumpism and white resistance to attempts to change our society. And this response by Somerby is what one would expect given his previously stated attitudes about so-called identity politics (which is conservative shorthand for civil rights).

    Pursuing positive change in civil rights matters is a long-standing plank in the Democratic platform and a goal for most liberals. That's just another reason why it makes no sense when Somerby claims to be liberal and yet opposes today's anti-racist measures.

    But Somerby sees nothing wrong with applauding the conservative white grievance comments he finds on other people's webpages. He finds that stuff funny, another great joke, like Amy Schumer's jokes about women's pay in the movies. Ha ha ha, how funny is that? Not funny at all and Somerby is increasingly letting his bigot-flag fly, and that is just sad.

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  7. "In truth, Attiah's column is obsessive, unintelligent, just not very smart. Also, it's plainly designed to lose votes."

    And yet Somerby cannot find the time or space to tell us what, in particular, he found not smart. Instead, he just calls names and slimes Attiah, without bothering to even summarize a thing. But he has room to tell Schumer's joke yet again, even though he already told it yesterday and it wasn't funny then either.

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    1. I kind of thought that unintelligent and not very smart meant the same thing, but perhaps there is some nuance that caused Somerby to say it twice? Kind of like saying he really, really didn't like what she wrote. No need to tell us what that was -- namecalling is enough these days.

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    2. Think about what Rittenhouse said about Smith's slap of Rock.

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  8. Surely Somerby is not suggesting that we go back to the bad old days when white people used derogatory terms freely in front of and about black people, no matter where they were, even in church?

    When he talks about how annoying PC and wokeness are, it is almost like white people are complaining about being civil to others, being polite. Is that really so hard to do? Not calling women cu*ts or b*tches all the time, with the guys at work, and not treating immigrants like they are breaking the law when they speak another language besides English. Are those things too hard to do too?

    There is a peevish tone about this Somerby grievance that reminds me of 10 year old boys complaining because their mothers want them to wash behind their ears. It is always about small things that would be so easy for anyone to do that it makes no sense when they object. And that reveals that these things are symbolic, involve an exercise of power not easily yielded, and delineate the boundaries of white male privilege when done with impunity. And that's why it is so hard for Somerby to accept wokeness or PC, and why men are fighting so hard to avoid change.

    These jokes are both offensive to me, because they are about things I don't find particularly funny. They amuse Somerby for the same reason -- they represent brushing off the concerns of people who are not like them, white and male and well off -- privileged people. Being empathetic or nice isn't something they do. But that's exactly why they need to change.

    Somerby is here lamenting, day after day, the polarization and widening of a gap between groups in our society. Yet he argues to keep the kinds of behaviors that maintain such gaps -- jokes about women's pay and black people's complaints. The solution to Somerby's perceived problems might lie with being a great deal more woke, more PC, and less ignorant, callous, and rude about what affects the lives of other people.

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    1. I agree with Somerby that Chanel Miller deserved to be slapped.

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    2. You are soft-pedaling this. Somerby thinks she deserved to be raped.

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  9. Roxanne Gay says in today's NY Times:

    "Thick skin comes up often in the context of comedy. Done well, comedy can offer witty, biting observations about human frailties. It can force us to look in the mirror and get honest with ourselves, to laugh and move forward. Done less well, it leaves its targets feeling raw, exposed and wounded — not mortally, but wounded.

    It should go without saying that comedians are free to say what they please. Long live creative license and free speech. But it should be obvious that the targets of jokes and insults have every right to react and respond. There is a strange idea that there is nobility in tolerating or, better yet, enjoying humor that attacks who you are, what you do or how you look — that with free speech comes the obligation to turn the other cheek, rise above, laugh it all off. We often see this when comedians want to joke about race, sexual assault, gender violence or other issues that people experiencing them don’t find terribly funny. If you can’t laugh along, you are humorless. You’re thin-skinned. You’re a problem."

    This applies as much to Somerby's idea of what is funny as it does to Chris Rock's performance, in my opinion. It isn't funny that women earn less money than men for the same work.

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    1. No, it is not funny, it is a disgrace.

      Especially since Trump and Covid, comedy just does not have the same hold. Also the notion that there are only a few us worthy to tell jokes or funny stories has worn thin.

      People are realizing the best comedy, the best laughs, come from moments of daily life, that are natural and organic.

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  10. Republicans hate political correctness, right up until the point when you tell the truth about them.

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  11. Had Will Smith behaved calmly, spoke into Chris Rock's ear and told him his wife has a disability, what would be different? We'd see a few articles about alopecia and racialization of hair. People would still be getting losing their healthcare across the country, die crossing various borders, and bombed by Saudi, Russian and other wars. What does it matter if Will slapped Chris? Is he traumatized? Did he need to go to the hospital?

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  12. This is what happens when a teen is allowed to kill several people and then is acquitted:

    "Kyle Rittenhouse went on the ‘Jenna Ellis Show’ to complain about Joe Biden not returning his phone calls. “I reached out to Joe Biden several times. Crickets. Nothing. He still hasn’t replied. So it just shows how much of a man he is to not sit down and talk.”

    This kid has been given an inflated sense of his own importance that will distort his thinking for the rest of his life.

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    1. Rittenhouse is as full of shit as any other Right-winger. I've asked him to sit down and talk with me, and he hasn't responded.

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