Recently, I watched an episode of Law & Order: SVU. Although I’m not a fan of the Nancy-Gracesque black-and-white mentality the program is known for, I often find myself at the edge of my seat during each episode. The TV show’s portrayal of stories ‘ripped from the headlines’ is nothing short of addicting.
So I was unbearably disappointed with an episode from its 15th season entitled “Comic Perversion”. Unless you’d strayed away from the Internet in 2012, you probably recognize parallels between the episode story-line and the rape joke controversy involving ‘comedian’ Daniel Tosh.
Let’s debrief on some relevant background information. Daniel Tosh is a very unfunny man who, inexplicably, was given his own show, Tosh.O, by Comedy Central. He dived into off-color humor, following legends including Redd Fox, George Carlin and Bill Hicks. However, unlike those pioneering icons, Daniel Tosh could never figure out how to comically present his offensive material. Nevertheless, he is highly fortunate enough to attract a cult fan base consisting of lost souls infatuated with vulgarity for its own sake.
On July 10th, 2012, a blog entitled Cookies for Breakfast published a post written by a woman who claimed that Tosh made a series of rape jokes. When she yelled out “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!” Tosh responded, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now?”
I’ll return to Daniel Tosh but let’s summarize the episode. Basically, a comedian named Josh Galloway performed a stand-up routine in a comedy club near a university. Some of material included misogynistic remarks spattered with a couple of rape jokes. He was well-received by the student audience, which included female students. However, a girl named Renee (who appeared in a previous episode) and her friends staged a protest, leading Galloway to awkwardly bring Renee up on stage. He agreed with her that rape is horrible, however, according to the ‘rule of three’, gang rape is hilarious. Can’t argue with that logic, right?! As Renee walked back to her down, three boys, inspired by Galloway’s ‘insight’, assaulted the girl. Yeah…because college students are that impressionable…..please!
Renee reports the crime to Olivia Benson, the Amazonian Protector of Victims and Advocate of Feminist Ideals. I like Olivia but her character can be excessively melodramatic. In this scenario, she makes the outrageous claim that the poorly-written offensive material of a no-name comic directly led to the victim’s assault.
Are you serial, Olivia?! I’d expect this from those stupid, sanctimonious mothers who blame violent video games for school shootings. But you’re supposed to be a professional law enforcement officer. I thought you were better.
If you’re familiar with the trends of SVU episodes, I’m sure you can predict what happened next. The focus shifted from the three assailants to Josh Galloway, who, unsurprisingly, turned out to be a total creep! He met with Carly, the event organizer for his act, and had a few drinks with her. During her state of intoxication, Josh Galloway brought her to his hotel room and took advantage, backwards and forwards.
Josh Galloway gets arrested, likening himself to Lenny Bruce, another raunchy satirist, as he’s dragged within sight of the paparazzi. During the trial, Carly is slut-shamed by the Defense team, as is the case in all rape lawsuit (unfortunately :/). After a leaked video revealing Carly’s sexually-charged behavior, the fortitude of the prosecutor’s case is undermined.
Renee decides to go rogue in entrapping Galloway. She meets him in a bar. He takes her to his hotel room, stupidly unable to recognize her even after she takes her glasses off. Galloway decides to have her way with her, captured by a microcamera in the glasses, before Renee, in exerting feminine strength, kicks him in the gonads and takes off, with the glasses. The Prosecutor uses the video to file a new lawsuit against Galloway, forcing him to register as a sex offender for ten years.
This episode is subtly utilizing Galloway’s character as a crude strawman representation of all off-color comedians. An SVU officer refers to him as “one of those rape comic”, because apparently rape comedy is a genre of stand-up routines! This episode claims that a comedian who tell rape jokes is promoting rape! Obviously, the producers of Law & Order: SVU don’t understand stand-up comedy.
Daniel Tosh was not promoting rape during that controversial routine. Was his joke poor in taste? Yes, which is unsurprising for Daniel Tosh. A criterion of a skilled stand-up comedian is the ability to take a dark, polarizing topic and transform it into something the audience can casually laugh at, without a shred of guilt.
Let’s talk about Lenny Bruce, since his name was mentioned in this episode. Known for his conviction for obscenity (posthumously pardoned by New York governor, George Pataki), Bruce devoted his entire career to exposing the ‘sickness of society’. He lived during a very turbulent era in American history, with threats of nuclear bombs and race riots. He comically touched on racism, religion and misguided attitudes on patriotism, along with his own Jewish heritage.
How about George Carlin? As the guy known for his “Seven Dirty Words” routine, Carlin doesn’t shy away from controversy. In fact, during a stand-up show, he actually pointed out the hypocrisy in our aversion towards rape jokes before proceeding with the following material:
“Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd. See, hey why do you think they call him “Porky,” eh? I know what you’re going to say. “Elmer was asking for it. Elmer was coming on to Porky. Porky couldn’t help himself, he got a hard-on, he got horny, he lost control, he went out of his mind.” A lot of men talk like that. A lot of men think that way. They think it’s the woman’s fault. They like to blame the rape on the woman. Say, “she had it coming, she was wearing a short skirt.” These guys think women ought to go to prison for being cock teasers. Don’t seem fair to me.”
Is George Carlin advocating rape? Considering he is a staunch proponent of women’s rights, I doubt it! They’re jokes. Jokes are supposed to be funny, and not at all meant to be politicized by SJW third-wave feminists!
Let me mention one more thing. The Season 14 finale of SVU featured a special guest star. I’ll give you a hint. He’s a boxer with a distracting speech impediment. That’s right…Mike Tyson! Yes, the brilliant producers of SVU decided to hire a convicted rapist to play a wrongfully convicted prisoner on death row!
So while SVU is passive-aggressively bashing comedians for their contentious performances, they has no problem with an actual rapist performing with the rest of the cast? Irony much?
Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it. –Lenny Bruce