2018, Politics, television

SAMANTHA BEE AND THE THEORY OF PUNCHING DOWN

Header: TBS via Vulture

Two things can be true at once: that’s the case when I’m eating McDonald’s (happy and sad), the case for Schrodinger’s Cat (both alive and dead), and it’s the case with Samantha Bee, comedian and host of TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, calling Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, a “feckless c*nt.”

It is completely inappropriate, wildly disastrous to the point Bee was making about the treatment of migrant children, and annoyingly hypocritical of liberals to be more forgiving; it is also, at the same time, categorically different than Roseanne Barr comparing Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to then-President Barack Obama, to an ape. These two things can both be true.

In the outrage news cycle of coverage surrounding Samantha Bee, many conservative pundits are calling for TBS to cancel Bee’s show, citing liberal indignation and demands for cancellation of Roseanne. The ABC reboot was cancelled a few hours later. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders herself called for TBS to cancel the show.

“Her disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast,” she said in a statement, “and executives at Time Warner and TBS must demonstrate that such explicit profanity about female members of this administration will not be condoned on its network.”

Re the Roseanne Barr controversy, Trump only commented to say that he was owed an apology by Disney CEO Robert Iger for the “HORRIBLE statements made and said about [him] on ABC.” When asked about Trump’s statement, which focused on himself rather than Barr’s comments, Sanders said, “The president is simply calling out the media bias; no one’s defending what she said.”

Here’s the thing: I hate what Bee said. I really like her show, and I enjoy her as a comedian, so I was disappointed and upset by the words she used. I was watching CNN this morning, anchor Poppy Harlow and CNNMoney Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcey said that Bee’s wording made the story about that, rather than the policy. I agree with that: I think that was probably part of the reason why Bee said it, but I also think that Bee is smart and cutting enough to have made her point without resorting to the c-word.

However, there are several things that separate what Bee said from what Barr said. First, Ivanka Trump works in her father’s White House administration. Several people were calling for Bee to separate the child from the father, but when the child literally works with the father, I don’t think it’s unfair to call her out. Additionally, Ivanka Trump has made the “working mother” her platform, so a policy that brutally separates asylum-seeking migrant mothers from their children would fall under Ms. Trump’s purview.

Secondly, there is the theory in comedy of “punching down” versus “punching up.” When making jokes, “punching down” refers to making fun of people who are more oppressed than you; “punching up” is making fun of people who are more, categorically, powerful than you. Roseanne Barr, a white woman, making fun of Valerie Jarrett, a black woman, using bigoted racial stereotypes is “punching down” because Barr is a racial majority in power and she is using the same logic used to condone slavery to make fun of a racial minority. Samantha Bee, a white woman with a platform, calling Ivanka Trump, another white woman with a platform, a c*nt is not punching down; it’s punching up, or at least punching sideways. Bee, unlike Barr, does not have the continued support of the President of the United States. And if we are to hold people accountable, we need to hold everyone accountable: including the president. Because while liberals can be hypocritical, if you don’t have an issue with the president bragging about grabbing women by the pussy, then why do you have a problem with Samantha Bee?

Thirdly, there is a difference between using a curse word and invoking a racist, bigoted myth used as justification for oppressing an entire race of people.

What Bee did was crass and unfortunate. What Barr did was racist and evocative of horrors that the United States allowed in the not-too-distant past. Lindy West, a contributing columnist for the New York Times, wrote this: “Chattel slavery in America ended 153 years ago. I am only 36 years old, and when my father was born, there were black Americans alive who remembered being the property of white people. Slavery is not our distant past; it is yesterday.” Racism pervades today, arguably as strong as ever. It’s not even hidden anymore; people are openly racist. It’s the reason why, as West points out, Flint, Michigan still does not have clean water; it’s why Trump took such an issue with black players in the NFL peacefully protesting for Black Lives Matter.

Bee made a horrific, rude joke, but it’s not comparable to Roseanne Barr. You can be outraged by what Bee said but still understand that it’s different to Roseanne. Two things can be true at the same time.

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celebrity, Politics, pop culture, social media

BE OUTRAGED ABOUT SEAN SPICER AT THE EMMYS AND ALSO THE GRAHAM-CASSIDY MEASURE, THE NEW ACA REPEAL

If there’s one thing I hate about the media, it’s the voracious rapidity with which one thing becomes a story across every, single outlet and eclipses everything else. So last night, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer made an appearance at the 2017 Emmys, everyone was (rightfully) pissed-off and weirded-out and annoyed at Hollywood. And while it’s important for everyone to express their outrage and disgust, it’s also super-important to keep an eye on everything else going on, like the new ACA repeal – the Graham-Cassidy Measure.

First, the Graham-Cassidy measure. Put together by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the measure would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. It would be a “last-ditch attempt to repeal Obamacare before the GOP’s power to pass heath care legislation through a party-line vote in the Senate expires on Sept. 30,” according to Politico.

Apparently Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is seriously considering putting the bill to a vote, if he can be assured of the support of 50 Republicans in the Senate (the GOP has a majority of 52). Currently they do not have the support of 50 votes, but Graham has publicly begged Trump to support the cause and private rallying has gone on. If passed by the Senate, it would require being approved by the House with no changes – a steep ask.

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Opinion, Politics

FLIP-FLOPS AREN’T JUST FOR YOUR FEET—Trump’s Ever-Changing Positions on DACA and What That Means

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In a move that probably caused the simultaneous bursting of a thousand-thousand Republican aneurysms, President Donald Trump took to Twitter more than a week after his administration announced the end of DACA, the Obama-era program that gave temporary two-year work visas to immigrants who came to the country illegally as minors.

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..” said Trump in two Tweets. “…They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own – brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security.”

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Essay, Opinion, Politics

KATHY GRIFFIN’S NOT APOLOGIZING ANYMORE, PRESIDENTIALITY AND HIGHER STANDARDS

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When Trump’s actions are getting increasingly damaging to vulnerable minorities, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine why we should expect people like Kathy Griffin to keep apologizing.


Kathy Griffin, the comedian who faced massive backlash from a May 30th photo she posted of her holding up a mask of President Donald Trump covered in fake blood, styled to look like his decapitated head, is refusing to apologize anymore.

She was the subject of a recent article from The Cut, months after the fallout that cost her 15 live performances, her gig hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast and an endorsement deal – not to mention the thousands of death threats.

The story, which takes place in late June, opens with a description of Trump’s Twitter rant that day: denouncing Robert Mueller’s investigation, mocking House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and calling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “Cryin’ Chuck.” The nickname came from Schumer getting emotional when discussing the Trump immigration ban.

“Why are people still expecting me to apologize and grovel to a man that tweets like this?” Griffin “vented” to the piece’s author Bashar Ali. “I’m a comedian; he’s our fucking president.”

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Opinion, Politics

THE PRICE OF POPULARITY IN POLITICS

The members of Congress who have not disavowed Trump are actively cosigning on everything he does.


On Friday, the New York Times news podcast The Daily – posted an episode that centered on Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and his criticism of President Donald Trump, as well as Trump’s open rooting for Flake’s defeat from public office in a 2018 race.

In Trump’s Phoenix rally, he ranted against the state’s two Republican senators – John McCain and Jeff Flake – of course, refusing to mention them by name as an attempt at…coyness? Trump’s anger towards Flake stems from the Arizona senator’s new book, Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle. The book takes aim at the Republican Party with a plea to return to its bedrock politics, which are directly at odds with a Trump presidency.

Because of this, Trump has attacked Flake both in speeches and on Twitter, for being “weak” on immigration and crime, and openly encouraging his defeat at the hands of opponent, Dr. Kelli Ward. Ward is self-identified as standing with Trump and seeking to “make Arizona great again.” Trump also railed against the “one vote” that stopped the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a thinly-veiled attack at John McCain whose vote, alongside Senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), prevented the Senate Republicans from passing the repeal.

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Opinion, Politics

OPINION: WE CAN’T KEEP EXPECTING HILLARY CLINTON TO SAVE US

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She was ready to be our champion, so don’t criticize her because America picked someone else


In a recent interview with Fox & Friends, Kellyanne Conway, advisor to President Trump, had this to say (unpromoted) about Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democrat nominee for President and former New York Senator, after being asked to address those who call Trump mentally unfit:

“Look at the crack-up of the major left. You’ve got Hillary Clinton, who, Democrats are whispering all over this town wish this book [Clinton’s upcoming book What Happened] didn’t happen, that she would just either make herself useful or fade out of the limelight…Where is her bipartisan effort to try to help with infrastructure and meaningful tax reform, or the opioid crisis that I work on in the building behind you every single day? We haven’t heard from her. She failed to make history and she succeeds at making excuses, and that is emblematic of the Democratic Party now that is so bereft of ideas and issues that they have to then play armchair psychiatrists. We’re not going to let it happen; it’s outrageous.”  

There are few people that make me as angry as Kellyanne Conway, the type of person, much like Mike Pence, who would submit people to undeniable tortures and struggles and claim that it was for their own good. I have no doubt that Kellyanne Conway knows how unhinged her president is; I have no doubt that Pence knows his own bigotry towards LGBTQ people and uses religion as a blanket shield. And I have no doubt that they ignore these truths and barrel on in the face of their own interests. Money, power, control.

“Where is Hillary?” Kellyanne wonders, on the opioid crisis, women and children, bipartisan efforts. Well, Kellyanne, she is not president. She does not have to do anything. That Kellyanne would even bring up Hillary’s name, blame her for any inaction or expect her to be spearheading anything is beyond ludicrous, it’s insulting.

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Opinion, Politics

IS HISTORY WATCHING ALL OF US?

There has been a lot of mentions of history in the last week. In arguments in favor of keeping statues of the Confederacy, history is intrinsically connected to these physical monuments, and to tear them down (or, more realistically, remove them from public spaces) would be to erase our history. In arguments in favor of removing those statues, history is also painful and detrimental to people who view those statues as relics of oppression.

History is being fought over so much, you’d think it was the First Impression Rose on a premiere of The Bachelor. And yes, that is the second time I’ve mentioned The Bachelor franchise in as many articles. It’s a cultural touchstone, people.

People are so obsessed with history: preserving it, protecting it, acknowledging it. In a Twitter statement of his response to the Charlottesville tragedies, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) admonished President Trump and mentioned history:

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