The art of using contextual language via various forms of lampoonery is dying a rapid death.
There, I said it. And no, I don’t believe any one party is responsible for this. I believe it’s a culmination of efforts and having sat back and watched the outraged rage on and the object of said rage (normally a stand-up comic… like Daniel Tosh, for example) stands bewildered as he/she suddenly becomes pop culture’s new piñata overnight.
Such is life for a human being in the 21st century. No one takes the time to actually analyse the context in which something was actually said and as someone that considers themselves an eloquent person, it’s quite sad to see.
I’m 26 and I can vaguely remember a time where it’s not what you said but how you said something that either got you on the receiving end of a scolding or an ass-kicking (depending on who you offended). This lovely period of life probably occurred during my adolescence which was full of other things: recreational drugs, sex, exams, and a part-time job et al.
For most of my life, I’ve had to deal with racism and - if I’m likening it to the advent of this ‘rape culture’ we seem to be in the midst of now - it’s not something I’ve ever asked to be subjected to, much less be forced to have to deal with it and how it makes me feel. Nevertheless, context remains steadfast despite the ever-increasing neglect people seem to have in using it.
I’m 100% positive Daniel Tosh meant nothing malicious by his alleged rape joke. I’m sure the modern-day feminists and the good folks at Slutwalk are queuing up to remind me of my ‘male privilege’ and why my opinion on the matter is invalid somehow. To them, I say: ‘whatever, lady.’ I know what it’s like to be subject to institutional oppression (see point on my being subject to racism); my ancestors know a hell of a lot more about it than I do.
What’s my angle? It’s simple: how is using the word ‘rape’ or alluding to rape taking away from it’s severity of a rape crime? I’ve been called the word ‘nigger’ more times than I care to count or remember but if a record were kept, I’d be able to tell you who meant me harm in saying it and who didn’t. Again, this is called ‘context,’ and I don’t believe for one second that any joke which is clearly dripping in sarcasm and absurdity could ever take away from the malicious nature of rape, racism, anti-Semitism, or any other negative thing.
See that guy in the picture above? For those of you reading that don’t know who he is, he’s called John Terry. He plays football professionally for a football club called Chelsea F.C. in West London. His recent shenanigans in calling a black football player called Anton Ferdinand (who plays for Queens Park Rangers, also in West London) a ‘fucking black cunt’ has landed him in the dock, charged with a racially-aggravated public order. There is video footage of the incident on YouTube and most who have seen it would agree that he definitely not only said what he said but could detect the context in which it was said. It was malicious and out-of-order and - hopefully - John Terry will answer for his actions and will then formally apologise to Anton for what he said.
Contrast that to Daniel Tosh’s ‘rape joke’ for a second. Just a second. I promise it won’t kill you. Did Tosh say his joke in such a context where he would wish for his female heckler to be raped at some point in her life? Because if he did, that would be horrible and it wouldn’t be a joke any more. It’d be a threat and a rather heinous one at that. Nevertheless, he’s forced to apologise despite the fact that the context of what he said was not meant to be taken seriously.
Perception 1, Daniel Tosh 0.
Ultimately, I believe words are meaningless until a certain tone and - more importantly - a certain connotation are applied to what one says. Daniel Tosh is a stand-up comic and he’s not the first or last one to say something someone will consider offensive. He’s made blacks the butt of his jokes, as have the likes of Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin. Mr Carlin himself made a wonderful point about how context is key:
What I’m asking is for a bit of understanding, here. It goes without saying that rape and racism are horrible things but if we can’t find the humour in them, the world would be a truly fucking miserable place.
More importantly, I believe you can tell the difference between a stand-up comic with a cheesy grin and someone that intends to rape you… and no, that’s not an opinion formed from the ‘comfort of male-privilege.’ I’m a black male, first and foremost, so whatever ‘male privileges’ you think I’m entitled to, I can confirm I haven’t received them. Lest we all forget that men can and do get raped… and not just by other men, mind.
If you were offended by anything said here or by anyone that I’ve cited as reference… tough. That wasn’t the intention.