I don't want to make this too long, because I'm certain you're tired of hearing about Daniel Tosh and his rape joke(s). I'll be honest and say, I'm even tired of hearing about it. But I can't stop thinking about it. In general, I feel like few, if any, of my experiences are truly unique. Except for the time I said my first curse word and a bee stung me on the tongue, there aren't many circumstances in which I look at an issue and think I might have a genuinely different point of view from anyone else. I'm just an okay storyteller, so it seems like I do.
In the case of this issue with Daniel Tosh and rape jokes, I feel differently. I happen to be a feminist who sometimes performs stand-up comedy, and has dealt personally with sexual assault in more than one way. Close family members of mine have been sexually assaulted, I have been sexually assaulted, and my father has been in prison for the past twenty-five years for committing sexual assault. Also, I still have a pretty boss sense of humor.
Even if my reaction is not unique, I feel that my perspective in this instance, might be. I know what it feel likes to be a woman, knowing that your body and its protection is a joke in this country. The joke being that we value virginity, "purity", and chastity above all other parts of a woman, while grown men lick their lips at pre-pubescent girls and court systems punish victims of assault for the clothes they wear. This is a fight we fight every day. The fight for control of our bodies and to have that fight taken seriously.
As an artist, and a consumer of art, I hate to think of censorship limiting the ways in which my mind can be challenged by those who think in ways foreign to me, or think of things I've never imagined. If rape is part of that story, painting, song, that will push my thinking to the next level, I want to have the choice to expose myself to it. If the interpretation is tasteless, I know now how that artist works and I am free to criticize it myself.
For all intents and purposes, I should be ridiculously offended by every rape joke. Most of the time I am. Not always, though. But "Wouldn't it be funny if five guys just raped that girl, right now?" is not one of them. It's not because of the subject matter, but because the joke was lazy. He went for shock, when he should have gone for creativity. When you hit that kind of subject matter, you have to be creative, ESPECIALLY when dealing with a heckler (and yes, whether she was defending women's bodies or not, to a comedian, she was a heckler). Yelling at a woman that you think it would be funny if they got raped right then, or just yelling the word "Nigger!" over and over again, is the wrong way to handle the situation. Sorry, dude, you have to do better. Louis CK can.
So why are so many people trying to make this a case for free speech? Daniel Tosh, like most comedians, has hits and misses. Personally, I think he's had a lot more misses later in his career than he did earlier, but that's just my opinion. The point is, this particular joke was a hit and a miss. He apparently made a lot of people laugh with that joke in the theater. However, when that joke was taken outside of that atmosphere and people read it, they didn't like it so much. So, what are you going to do? Can you really be mad at people for not appreciating the joke? Really? Are they mad because she wasn't nice about it? You're a professional comedian. Sac up.
The original blog post, posted by the friend of the woman who was actually at the show is just a recounting of what occurred (from one perspective). She doesn't ask anyone to boycott Daniel Tosh. She's not suing him for harassment, pain, or suffering. She didn't call for Tosh 2.0 to be stricken from Comedy Central's line-up. She just told her story and asked the people who read it to share it. That's it. So, how does that make her the bad guy here? How does that make her an opponent to free speech? She's not trying to censor you, homie. She's just saying that joke wasn't what's up. You made her feel weird AND you weren't funny. Learn from it, and move on.
No one is saying comedians can't make jokes about rape, they're simply asking comedians to think about whether they should make jokes about rape or not. Some comedians are acting as though, this backlash against Daniel Tosh and the way he handled this situation is an attack on their right to say what they want. It isn't, nor has it ever been. Of course you can say what you want, but your career is public. If you want to have a career, you cater to the public whether you believe you do or not. Even the most offensive comedians cater to a certain sect of the public. Your job requires that people like you and think you're funny. The latter more than the former, but still. You can't say offensive things then get mad when it doesn't make someone laugh and they criticize your use of the subject matter. Well, I guess you can, but that's your delusion. No one else has to live there with you.
Yes, other blogs and bloggers ran with the information from this post and criticized you. So what? You're a comedian. People are asking "did you go to far?" So what? You're a comedian. I'm writing a book, right now. People will criticize this book someday. They will ask questions. They will want to know if, in some things, I've gone too far. But my book will already be written, and whether or not I've gone too far will not particularly matter, because I've already gone as far as I've gone. Comedy is an art, as is writing. We live, cry, and die by our praises and criticisms. This is the life we've chosen. Whether or not we've gone "too far" will never be the question that defines us. The answer to the question whether or not we were good at what we did, will.
I don't believe Daniel Tosh is a terrible human being, I think he is, like most comedians, a man who doesn't respond well to criticism. I don't think celebrity helps. His half-hearted apology was whatever. I don't think he actually needed to make an apology. He needs to do one of two things: Do better or be funnier.
If we're lucky, he'll do both.