Started a new tumblr: isitblackorwhite.tumblr.com:
It is very simple: email me your food, activity, hobby, etc., and I will tell you if it is BLACK or WHITE.
There are no other options.
On Louie C.K.
It’s no secret: comedy nerds love Louie C.K. They love him like black people love trending topics on Twitter. They love him like Boy Meets World loves homoerotic innuendo (I know, you haven’t watched it in years. Watch it again sometime — it’s really gay). They love him like John Mayer loves pretending that he got a hood pass when he appeared on Chappelle’s Show (hint: if Wayne Brady did it, it’s not hood.)
This isn’t about that. This is about why they love him so much.
Louie CK is the posterboy for disaffected white listnessness. He’s the embodiment of a frustrated notion of traditional masculinity: the kind that wouldn’t think about hitting a woman, but privately complains about Title IX and not being allowed to call people fagots. He’s the patron saint of all the would-be societal critics that rail against the idea of political correctness without stopping to wonder why the hell they’re fighting so hard to be able to say the word “nigger”, anyway.
Have you ever mumbled “it’s totally a compliment to stare at a woman’s tits, I wouldn’t be insulted if a woman tried to ogle my testicles” through a mouthful of Hefeweisen and jalapeno poppers? You will probably find humor in Louie C.K.
And there’s no problem with that, really. He’s a good comedian: solid material, excellent timing, good ear for detail; this post isn’t to rail on him. Rather, it’s to examine why the same comedy nerds who wouldn’t be caught dead endorsing Margaret Cho, or D.L. Hughley, or Mario Cantone seem to think that Louie C.K. is the most underrated thing since sliced bread. (Ironically, sliced bread itself is the most OVERRATED thing since the cotton gin — I wear silk only, thank you very much).
But I’ve digressed.
In short, it’s because he’s a kind of doughy straight white guy. And he talks about kind of doughy straight white guy things, and a lot of comedy nerds are — you guessed it — kind of doughy straight white guys. That’s entirely appropriate: good comedians connect with their audiences, and lord knows that at least 30% of the reason I adore Dave Chappelle so much is that he provides hilarious insight into the bemusing world of genuine interracial friendships:
- “I’m sorry Officer. I didn’t know I couldn’t do that”
- “I didn’t know I couldn’t do that?
- “That was good, wasn’t it? Because I DID know I couldn’t do that! Muah ha ha ha!”
Here’s my problem with the C.K. fanboyism, though and the real point of this post: Being funny about white guy stuff isn’t the same as being objectively funny.
I’ve noticed a tendency among comedy snob types to think that people that talk about being gay, or being a minority, or being a woman are simply exploiting their identities. That, “[insert minority comedian here] is only funny to [insert minority here] because they talk about [insert minority stuff here]!.” This sort of argument sets up “straight white guy” as the default, and anything relating to those characteristics as objective. It implies that any other identity is the “Other”, and implies that being hispanic, or being a woman, or being transgendered is a somehow less valid source of humor than being a white guy.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with liking a comedian who talks about stuff that relates to you. The idea that one’s own experience is *objectively* true, however, is essentially the basis for prejudice.
I’m not saying that liking Louie C.K. makes you racist/sexist/ablist etc. I’m just saying that if you think you like him because he’s just objectively funny, while panning xyz minority comedian that makes the same sorts of observations, you’ve probably got some privilege issues.
A lot of comedy snobs like minority comedians, I know. The fact that they think Richard Pryor is the greatest comedian of all-time is immaterial to this argument.
The title was intentionally misleading, I admit. But if you’ve read this far, you probably get what I mean.