Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Broadcast Note

Update: No broadcast tonight.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel

I'll be livestreaming this evening around 9PM Pacific.
Tomorrow I'm going to attempt a live interview on location with James LaFond, "Baltimore's violence guy, who is in Portland.
James teaches fighting techniques and writes prolifically on violence and other things.

Here's Kevin Grace's interview with James from a couple of years ago:

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Woke is not Funny, Funny is not Woke

"Does anyone remember laughter?"
--Robert Plant

The Guardian pokes the corpse of comedy to see if it needs bayoneting:
Comedy is in a period of extraordinary flux. The past two years have witnessed the reputations of revered comics, such as Louis CK and Aziz Ansari, implode in the wake of #MeToo allegations. Then there is the culture of unearthing old tweets, with standups being held to account for problematic “jokes” they’ve made online (for Kevin Hart, it even cost him his most high-profile gig to date, hosting the Oscars). There are also increasing fears around political comedy and censorship. This month, Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix special was pulled because he criticised the Saudi regime over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, while Michelle Wolf’s searing political set at the White House Correspondents Association dinner in 2018 led to the board announcing that 2019 will be the first time in 15 years that a comic would not be presenting the event. Elsewhere, Jim Davidson, a man once so vile he was almost immune to judgment, was reported for hate speech, at his own birthday party no less (although no action was taken). The comedy goalposts are shifting and there is a demand that the art form gets more socially conscious. But can you be woke and funny? And are we living in a time of such change and heightened awareness that the two can now never be mutually exclusive?
Jim Davidson is a British comedian. He was reported to UK police by an American citizen for joking she was a Serbian terrorist. At his birthday party. Police did not act. Presumably, if he was on stage when he made the joke he would be in trouble.
“When comedians say: ‘Oh you can’t say ANYTHING these days!’, what they are actually saying is, ‘I don’t know how to be funny without stomping on people.’ Which is fair enough: not everyone has those skills,” says Danish standup and podcaster Sofie Hagen. “But a lot of comedians do and they’re doing well based on that. Hannah Gadsby, Nish Kumar, Sara Pascoe, Mark Watson, Sophie Duker, Mae Martin: there are loads who manage to say a lot of things without repercussions; who are really, really funny while doing it. It sometimes takes a bit of extra work; you have to be aware of your own privilege and you have to educate yourself so you don’t use damaging language.”
The template applied in these articles is familiar: seeking out the narrative-approved comic Hagen, who then lists a bunch of other narrative-approved comics. It's no different than an article about, say, foreign affairs, citing one ideological ally, who then cites a bunch of his allies, creating the illusion of a consensus among the rational.

One falls out of favor when one strays from the narrative.
But it is not just about laziness; sometimes there is a deliberate attempt to rile. Before the allegations, Louis CK’s comedy was subversive: poking fun at the inequalities of American society, while simultaneously acknowledging the ways they benefited him.
Presumably all the feelings CK might have hurt "poking fun at the inequalities" don't count. All the euphemistic language demanding this is all just about preserving feelings (a new concern of comedy) obscures the reality: this is the ultimate Who, Whom? calculation. There are still all kinds of people you can tease: whites, men, straight men, and straight white men.
After allegations of sexual misconduct appeared last year, however, the comic seemed to react with horror at a new world that threatened his unexamined patriarchal mindset. According to reports, at a recent New York show CK made jokes about survivors of gun violence and minorities such as non-binary teens. When some listeners appeared shocked, he allegedly responded: “Fuck it, what are you going to take away, my birthday? My life is over, I don’t give a shit.”
The author doesn't note the set killed. By the way, when will they start policing the violent language of performance? A comedian "kills" on stage or he "dies" on stage. The old line "break a leg" is not only violent but hateful towards paraplegics. Seriously, it's probably no accident the language of performance, particularly stand-up, is suffused with violence, risk and death. To fail in real time standing alone before a crowd must indeed feel like death itself.
It was as if CK had reacted to the new wave of wokeness by indicting political correctness; he became an almost Trump-like figure, amplifying for shock value and catering to an audience who probably felt as if accusations about him were false or insignificant.
Notice how the audience is inevitably brought into it, for finding the accusations "false" or "insignificant". The latter is most galling to the woke. But CK is most guilty of not taking his whipping in silence. The Narrative is relentless, insatiable: the worst thing you can do in its eyes is fight back.

If the woke comics were objectively earning their way by being actually funny, none of this would be a problem. The real problem is us--we're still laughing. We're the Covington Catholic kids. As they can't come round for everybody, they have to do what they're now doing, taking the comics away and replacing them with anti-comics.

They can take away our unauthorized laughter by removing the comedy, but they can't force us to laugh at their authorized comedy. At least not yet. I am reminded of a "journalist" outing Brett Favre for not clapping enthusiastically enough at the former Bruce Jenner's ESPN awards show speech.

The narrative-approved comics, like various cultural figures propped up by the Pozz, are the living avatars of the lie. We can't be allowed to not find them funny. We can't be allowed to make fun of them.
The old image of the comic standing against the status quo is unwoke, problematic now that the status quo can only be maintained by the social and financial pressure of which this article is a part.

Booting out the unwoke is the easy part. Bringing in their replacements is the hard part
However, there is a new generation of comics retaliating against the old template of comedy. Nights such as The LOL Word (for queer women and non-binary performers) and FOC It Up!, standing for “femmes of colour”, have emerged, along with the new comic voices including Chloe Petts, Jodie Mitchell, Kemah Bob and Sara Barron. Hagen is also emblematic of this new kind of comedian. Last year, she demanded that every venue on her Dead Baby Frog tour was “anxiety safe” (meaning audience members with anxiety could be allowed into the venue before others arrived, or be warned of any words or topics that might be triggering for them), had gender-neutral bathrooms and were wheelchair accessible. She had a positive response from fans, but faced an inevitable backlash online.

“The people who come to my shows, the people who enjoy my standup and my podcasts, they’re on the right side of history. They get it,” she says. “And I know that a lot appreciated it. The negativity I got was mostly online: loads and loads of hateful tweets and comments from people who were never going to go see my show anyway.”
If this follows the familiar pattern of progressive co-optation of culture, after failing to invoke genuine laughter they will try to force it. Failing that, laughter itself will be forbidden.

Laughter is a natural and not entirely understood human universal. It can be faked but it can't be controlled. They'll never be able to force people to find this funny and that not. One day perhaps it will be a mere legend, or understood as an ancient barbarity we've shucked off in our enlightenment.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

After social justice, all comedy is barbaric

Is there a future for comedy? For culture?
Louis C.K. insists on plying his trade as if there is
Protestors gathered in response to Louis C.K.’s arrival at the San Jose Improv on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, and a man was punched in the face, as the controversial comedian began his first West Coast appearances since his career was derailed in the wake of sexual misconduct claims. 
The club’s parent company released a statement saying they respect the protestors right to assemble, but also “respect Louis C.K.’s right to perform.” Reports from inside the club suggest the comedian hasn’t changed his approach. At one point he reportedly referenced his action that caused the most outrage; masturbating in front of women.
I hear C.K.'s work is based on referencing his personal life, especially the embarrassing stuff, so I give him credit for staying true to his artistic vision; as far as guys talking about masturbation, this instance is almost noble. Of course he did have to get caught to work this into the act; does that lessen the artistic integrity?

Comedy is harder in a diverse a society because there are more people to take offense. True stand-up comedy barely seems possible, if the comic is no longer allowed his prejudices, biases and genuine reactions; it seems personal bias is stand-up comedy. The stand-up comic is the ultimate bigot, representing his little race of one, mocking, marveling at or criticizing the ways of the rest of us while indulging the privilege of self-criticism.

Of course criticism of others will be severely constricted in our (curiously non-vibrant) diverse comedy future; self-deprecation too, is problematic, as is comedy generally

Straight white guys will be allowed self-deprecating humor (self-deprecating humor for lesbian Hannah deprecates lesbians generally; self-deprecation by white guys is just more deprecation of white guys) until someone figures out it advantages them, then it will be cast as straight white privilege. The Vox-Slate thumbsuckers practically write themselves. If the end result is no self-deprecation for anyone social justice will be playing out here as it does everywhere else, stripping us of an aspect of culture due to its problematic nature. Diversity is why we can't have nice things.

Presumably there'll always be a place for honest comedy outside the mainstream, if only because social justice warriors can't dictate to China, or Russia or Eastern Europe, should it survive the globalist onslaught (bitterly ironic it will be if white people find themselves on the wrong side of the old Iron Curtain).

But in banishing real satire to the outskirts of the internet they consign what I think of as the real jokes to obscurity. A real joke is one that hews to reality; a fake joke doesn't. For instance, a joke that depends on conventional notions of "white privilege" is not a real joke; one mocking the concept of "white privilege" is a real joke. Fake jokes can work, if the audience shares the delusion about, say, white privilege, but only to the extent the audience shares the delusion. If the social justice goal is met, all comedy will be fake jokes; it will have become something entirely different, while maintaining the form of and ruse that it remains the same old art form.

Sometimes the truth is self-evident. Stand-up comedy strikes me as being about self-evident truth and revealing the ways we obscure it. These are the jokes.

So either the Narrative or Comedy is in trouble, and so far it doesn't look good for comedy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Gaseous Nationalism

For a bought-and-paid-for Russian agent, Trump sure isn't acting like it
Nord Stream 2 is the 1,222-kilometer pipeline being laid in the Baltic seabed which will greatly increase delivery of natural gas from Russia to Germany. It will double Germany’s import of Russian gas when complete. But the Trump administration has repeatedly voiced its objection to the project, claiming that it will give Moscow undue political leverage over Europe. Trump has warned of sanctions on participating companies, which include German and Austrian firms. 
The flagrant ulterior agenda is seen as the US trying to undermine German-Russian energy trade, for the purpose of selling more expensive American liquefied natural gas to Europe.  
The article linked here is mostly about the US ambassador's supposed arrogance toward Germany's policies and elite
Richard Grenell, however, has openly flouted these norms and acted as an unabashed mouthpiece for Trump, echoing the president’s contempt for the German government of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The upshot, according to Der Spiegel, is that Grenell has become politically isolated in Berlin. Merkel “keeps him at a distance” and most politicians, except for the AfD, have shunned his contact.
Normally the US subverts the politics of lesser nations, of course. This would be an epic flipping of the script. The US State Department has been helping gin up color revolutions against intransigent states to bring them into the friendly camp of post-national states. What if we started encouraging the nationalist, anti-immigration mood?
Trump in his boorish style is merely laying bare the long-presumed US hegemony over Germany. And it’s not a pretty sight. Berlin is being shamed into having to be seen to stand up to this American bullying.
Good for Berlin, if it's forced into national sefl-esteem, even if it's a threat to money and power and not to women and children that compels her.

Grenell, who was Mitt Romney's foreign policy guy for his 2012 presidential campaign, appears to come from a neoconservative background and is hawkish toward Iran, but has taken up the cause of nationalism
In an interview with the far-right news outlet Breitbart over the weekend, Richard Grenell, who has been in office for less than a month, said: “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders.
We've interfered with the politics, up to invasion, of nations with no democratic legacy, ostensibly on behalf of populations oppressed by governments that hate them.
I'd say Germany qualifies as such. Grenell might lack nuance--why not soft-peddle the criticism of the German establishment and talk to AfD?--but it's encouraging to a nationalist and friend of Europe to see the emerging potential for a genuine global alliance of nationalists.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Pozzland Dispatch: Boys Will Not be Boys

The instantly notorious APA "Guidelines for emasculating Psychological Practice with Men and Boys" (full PDF here) is a concern-trolling operation, claiming to address the crisis of men not seeking help because of their own toxic masculinity. I mean, if you can't trust a coven of gender theorists, guys, who can you trust?
“Though men benefit from patriarchy, they are also impinged upon by patriarchy,” says Ronald F. Levant, EdD, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Akron and co-editor of the APA volume “The Psychology of Men and Masculinities.” Levant was APA president in 2005 when the guideline-drafting process began and was instrumental in securing funding and support to get the process started.
Men, especially white men, will not be relieved of their duty to belly-ache like women and minorities, who will be belly-aching about us. Which doesn't mean we'll be belly-aching about them, of course. We'll be belly-aching about us, really.
There is the social justice concept, originating I think from black women, of "emotional labor"; white men will be expected to take up their share of emotional labor.
Prior to the second-wave feminist movement in the 1960s, all psychology was the psychology of men. Most major studies were done only on white men and boys, who stood in as proxies for humans as a whole. Researchers assumed that masculinity and femininity were opposite ends of a spectrum, and “healthy” psychology entailed identifying strongly with the gender roles conferred by a person’s biological sex.
Critical theory has to ignore biology and evolution, but we don't. Theory won't even allow historical perspective; certain universal notions of masculinity have prevailed across cultures, like strength and resolve--which the APA pathologizes, carefully, in the intersectional context of the Poz--so doesn't it follow, especially absent biological/evolutionary explanations, that cultivating these traits in men has been a necessity for civilization?
But just as this old psychology left out women and people of color and conformed to gender-role stereotypes, it also failed to take men’s gendered experiences into account. Once psychologists began studying the experiences of women through a gender lens, it became increasingly clear that the study of men needed the same gender-aware approach, says Levant.
The study of women's "gendered" experiences being such a success and all. Every one can see how happy women are. We put trannies in their public restrooms and they hardly batted an eye.
This vision of masculinity may summon up an image of a closemouthed cowboy, à la John Wayne. But there’s more to masculinity than macho swagger. When the rules of manliness bump up against issues of race, class and sexuality, they can further complicate men’s lives.
The fact of the matter is race and class do figure heavily in the crisis in masculinity--the APA's vision of men as aggressive, violent, over-sexed bullies suddenly makes sense if we apply it to black men separately.

Likewise, the Me Too movement is launched on the degenerate behavior of Hollywood's Democratic donors, and all men are condemned.

So it's a little galling to the normal guy just trying to survive the onslaught that comes out of Hollywood, and Madison Avenue, to be lumped in with them, by them:

East Meets West; James LaFond in Portland

Had breakfast with Baltimore's Violence Guy this morning. Subscribe to my new YouTube channel here.