Did Louis CK’s Saturday Night Live riff on child abuse go too far?

19 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Did Louis CK’s Saturday Night Live riff on child abuse go too far?.

There are some things that aren’t even funny to joke about and Louis CK just took on all of them. His comments have caused outrage among viewers on social media, although the comedian’s supporters have defended his jokes and rejected the notion that they ‘justify’ child molestation.

Comedian Louis C.K.’s monologue on this week’s Saturday Night Live does not quite rise to the level of an Upworthy headline — he did not obliterate inequality; he won’t change how you see poverty forever — but the first couple of minutes, discussing what he calls “mild racism,” do make a decent point that is worth your time. “I’m not racist.Louis C.K. hosted “Saturday Night Live’s” season finale, and the comedian is being called “disgusting” and his opening monologue “cringe-inducing” after he joked about the mentality of child molesters, who he said were “tenacious.” “It’s so crazy because when you consider the risk in being a child molester, speaking not of even the damage you’re doing, but the risk,” C.K. said after he brought up a story about a pedophile that lived in his neighborhood growing up. “There is no worse life available to a human than being a caught child molester.

During his monologue on Saturday night’s finale for Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary season, Louis CK produced a string of jokes about growing up in the 70s that encompassed racism, the Middle East and paedophilia, three topics you don’t see in your average set at the Chuckle Hut. Too bad then that it’s finally over – at 21 regular episodes, this 40th season was actually a standard length, but SNL40 certainly made it seem literal hours longer – because the Louis C.K.-hosted season finale featured some of the most original and biting humor of the entire year. Predictably people quickly became outraged and took to social media saying that it was the “unfunniest most offensive SNL monologue ever”, stating that anyone who defends it must be a “predator themselves”. He describes his initial reaction — approval at seeing a Chinese or Indian doctor, anxiety at seeing a young black man “unless he has a big smile on his face” — that betrays an unmistakable, knee-jerk racism.

C.K. is becoming something of a regular on SNL, hosting once a season for the last three seasons (Melissa McCarthy recently did something similar, when she took on hosting duties for three seasons in a row, a streak that was unfortunately broken in this very season), and fans of the sketch comedy series already knew what to expect from him: shocking jokes, a sprawling monologue, and the giddy involvement of the rest of the cast. Mooney’s bizarre sketches don’t always make the live show, but it’s nice to see them live on as “digital exclusives.” While Bruce Chandling may be an acquired taste, his self-loathing and uncomfortable silences fit right in to C.K.’s brand of awkward comedy. He’s talking about implicit racial bias: “when, despite our best intentions and without our awareness, racial stereotypes and assumptions creep into our minds and affect our actions,” as my colleague Jenée Desmond-Harris explained. C.K. delivered just that, inspiring what has to be a fatigued cast to bust out some jaw-dropping gags and twisted humor that shows just how much punch and pull SNL still has in its pockets. Thirty years of neurology and cognitive psychology studies show that it influences the way we see and treat others, even when we’re absolutely determined to be, and believe we are being, fair and objective.

They are delicious, and yet if someone said to me, ‘You eat another Mounds bar and you’ll go to jail and everybody will hate you,’ I would stop eating them. The 40th season of SNL has been mostly light on big song-and-dance numbers, depriving its viewership of seeing something fizzy and fun that they can sing along to.

While SNL hasn’t officially commented on the alleged plagiarism, it’s hard not to see this as the show dismissing the claims as ridiculous — as ridiculous as Louis C.K. hiding under tables with a notebook. He said that being a convicted child molester is one of the worst things that can happen to a person, so the people doing it must really like it a lot if they’re willing to risk their freedom, families and reputation in order to keep doing it. People don’t like to think that they could be racist; they prefer to divide the world into a binary of “racist” or “not racist,” with themselves in the latter category. Because they do taste delicious but they don’t taste as good as a young boy does to a child molester.” One YouTube commenter said: “How is this controversial?

SNL’s schedule mirrors that of most academic institutions, so that everyone is stoked about the impending vacation is an obvious joke, but it’s a relatable and fun one that’s nice to be reminded of. You can tell by his smirk and his recognition that the set is going badly (he says at one point, “this is probably my last show”) that he’s being edgy for the sake of it. Louis C.K., by teasing himself for his well-intentioned “mild racism” and explaining it as a product of the environment he grew up in, is making it a little less scary to acknowledge implicit bias.

As everyone warbles about the joys of summertime, Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton – an impersonation that gets markedly better with each appearance – stumbles into frame, eager to use all that seasonal joy to capture the hearts and minds of new voters. We got through it,” acknowledging that he knew he was going to try out some risky material and was glad that people could endure the discussion of a topic that is usually verboten. Louis was just observing that fact about child molesters.” “If the material on his ‘mild, benign racism’ didn’t rub people the wrong way – which, of course it did – then his amazing closing joke about child molestation surely got the job done.

The sketch hinges on multiple gags, from Hillary’s confession that she hasn’t had a vacation in decades, her bizarre attempts to bond with young people, and a concerned Vanessa Bayer inquiring about Hillary’s discomfort level from running on the beach in one of her omnipresent wool suits, and they just keep going. That’s what Louis is constantly doing with his comedy, pushing the levels of taste to get people into an uncomfortable place where he can use humour to confront difficult topics. This is audacious stuff for live television, and while people are entitled to be offended, I LOL’d.” However, the New York Post’s Decider website called the show “bizarre”, adding pointedly: “We have little doubt that his ardent followers will be praising his ‘bravery’ and ‘boldness’ as this controversy unfolds.” Whether or not you agree with what Louis had to say and NBC for giving him a platform to say it, I am glad that there are people out there constantly trying to push the barriers of free speech and good taste. Just like Joan Rivers before him – who was making 9/11 jokes on 9/12 and shrugged off a controversy about a Holocaust joke she made – Louis is trying to get laughs by challenging people’s notions of what is acceptable to talk about.

While this is not an act that anyone should condone (and it doesn’t seem like Louis is) it’s more of a discussion of paedophilia, its causes and impulses, than we’ve seen in the media in a long time. The comedian has never shied away from talking about controversial matters – during his second appearance on SNL, his nine-minute monologue covered topics like the existence of God and the need for equality in U.S., bolstered by a strong feminist message – but he put a twist on that for his third outing, going whole-hog on the shocking stuff. It was low-key, and it was also a total misdirection, because as the audience was still tittering about the early jokes, the comedian then started in on pedophiles. Yes, this is probably what everyone is going to remember the most about C.K.’s third turn at bat, a long-form stand-up bit about pedophilia, but despite its gasp-worthy elements, it’s classic C.K. (or, at least, classic C.K. working through some new material on a giant stage), and you’ve got to admire an SNL host who stays so true to their own style, no matter how many people it sends straight into pearl-clutching territory. Coming on the heels of C.K.’s divisive opener, the first post-monologue sketch could have gone for something sweet and fluffy to dilute the mood (for instance, another visit from Cecily Strong’s appetizer-loving wannabe British pop star, Jemma) or a bit that spoke still further to C.K.’s stand-up ability (like a Louie send-up that ended up as a digital exclusive), but “The Shoemaker and the Elves” instead kept pace with its predecessor.

A standard-seeming fairy tale bit, this sketch takes a slight twist (of the “oh, no, is that–? are they–?” variety) before going totally off the rails. As the shoemaker, C.K. cedes his power to Vanessa Bayer and Kenan Thompson, two too-eager elves (made teensy, thanks to the power of green screen) who want nothing more than to be punished for their flagging work ethic. Hard. (Get it?) It’s the kind of sketch that comes totally out of nowhere, with a twist that you can see coming but can hardly believe will come true. Combined with C.K.’s monologue, the first portion of this episode of SNL provided about fifteen minutes of astounding humor, sure to stir up lots of ire from pundits and viewers alike, just the thing to remind its audience how bold the show can go when it wants to.

That’s how you end a season. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again. You’re embarrassing us!'” Letterman was being a fanboy, basically; of both a musician he loved and a genre — Americana, by proxy, but really the craft of songwriting — he’d come to champion.

This wasn’t the first time Letterman had asked Isbell to play outside of his Late Show stage — though Isbell made his debut as an instrumentalist in Justin Townes Earle’s band, it was his performance of “Codeine,” off 2011’s Here We Rest, that really perked the host’s ears. He liked the midtempo, pedal-steel-twanged track so much that he had his bookers invite the then-relatively unknown singer on the show — with one slight caveat. “He loved the second verse of the song so much he wanted to hear it twice,” Houser tells Rolling Stone Country. “The arrangement was literally in Dave’s request. ‘Anything Goes’ was the first single I ever put out, maybe in the fifties on the chart at the time. This was his show and his stage, and the Late Show became a haven for quality acts who didn’t ever need to count a Number One hit as a booking prerequisite. Letterman’s a comedian, for sure, but at the center of every good joke, and every good late-night interview, is a story. “He loves songs, he loves story songs and he loves songwriters,” says Isbell.

It’s no coincidence that the same could be said about the Southeastern singer himself, who has been a leader of the genre and one of few artists to develop a friendship with the prickly host. But he found kindred spirits in Isbell and Cook, the latter of whom he first heard on SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country station, during his regular drives into the city from his Connecticut home. The buzzed-about Stapleton was the last artist to debut on Letterman before his closing weeks. “Letterman has made a statement of bravery in their bookings and trusting their instincts,” Sacks says. Since the show’s debut in 1993, Letterman has indeed made a point of choosing artists that didn’t always play to a radio-friendly, Top of the Pops mentality: Steve Earle, Harris, Zevon, Willie Nelson and Tom Waits were all early favorites, with Ryan Adams and Dawes joining the ranks.

He was also an early champion of Miracle Legion, Golden Smog and Syd Straw.” Letterman also has chosen, along with his trusted team, musical guests who had absolutely zero promotional tie. Letterman, points out Americana Music Association executive director Jed Hilly, was likely the first person to even reference the actual term “Americana” on-air. On The Colbert Report, he did make an effort to weave music — from Cheap Trick to Wilco — into a program that, as a satire, didn’t always lend itself to live performance. After months of escalating protests and grassroots organizing in response to the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, police reformers have issued many demands. While law enforcers have existed in one form or another for centuries, the modern police have their roots in the relatively recent rise of modern property relations 200 years ago, and the “disorderly conduct” of the urban poor.

Like every structure we’ve known all our lives, it seems that the policing paradigm is inescapable and everlasting, and the only thing keeping us from the precipice of a dystopic Wild West scenario. Rather than be scared of our impending Road Warrior future, check out just a few of the practicable, real-world alternatives to the modern system known as policing: Unarmed but trained people, often formerly violent offenders themselves, patrolling their neighborhoods to curb violence right where it starts. Stop believing that police are heroes because they are the only ones willing to get in the way of knives or guns – so are the members of groups like Cure Violence, who were the subject of the 2012 documentary The Interrupters. There are also feminist models that specifically organize patrols of local women, who reduce everything from cat-calling and partner violence to gang murders in places like Brooklyn. Violent offenses count for a fraction of the 11 to 14 million arrests every year, and yet there is no real conversation about what constitutes a crime and what permits society to put a person in chains and a cage.

Decriminalization doesn’t work on its own: The cannabis trade that used to employ poor Blacks, Latinos, indigenous and poor whites in its distribution is now starting to be monopolized by already-rich landowners. To quote investigative journalist Christian Parenti’s remarks on criminal justice reform in his book Lockdown America, what we really need most of all is “less.” Also known as reparative or transformative justice, these models represent an alternative to courts and jails.

From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia’s experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process. Communities that have tools to engage with each other about problems and disputes don’t have to consider what to do after anti-social behaviors are exhibited in the first place. Obviously these could become police themselves and then be subject to the same abuses, but as a temporary solution they have been making a real impact.

In New York, Rikers Island jails as many people with mental illnesses “as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined,” which is reportedly 40% of the people jailed at Rikers. We have created a tremendous amount of mental illness, and in the real debt and austerity dystopia we’re living in, we have refused to treat each other for our physical and mental wounds. Mental health has often been a trapdoor for other forms of institutionalized social control as bad as any prison, but shifting toward preventative, supportive and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street.

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