On a recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, comedian Sarah Silverman said that she'd been fired from a recent movie project over a picture of her in blackface from 2007.
The kicker? The picture was taken out of context from a comedy sketch for The Sarah Silverman Show wherein Silverman was attempting to make fun of racism.
On the one hand, there's really no such thing as non-racist blackface. On the other, there's a huge difference between wearing blackface to be racist and wearing blackface with the express intent of making fun of racism. The former is straight-up racist. The latter, while problematic, is still an honest attempt to pick apart social norms—the life blood of comedy.
In comedy, context matters. Sarah Silverman's entire shtick revolves around being ironically un-PC when she is so clearly liberal. Arguably, her comedy only makes sense within a liberal bubble where Silverman's viewers are in on her joke, aware that her character is supposed to be a send-up of terrible people who actually hold terrible views. So in 2007, when Silverman's blackface aired on Comedy Central, her viewers, regardless of whether or not they were offended, recognized the intent of her sketch. But when that shot is taken out of context 12 years later, it only serves to make Silverman appear racist.
Silverman told Simmons, "I think it's really scary and it's a very odd thing that it's invaded the left primarily and the right will mimic it," adding that cancel culture promotes a sort of "righteousness p*rn." She continued. "It's so odd. It's a perversion. It's really, 'Look how righteous I am and now I'm going to press refresh all day long to see how many likes I get in my righteousness.'"
Therein lies the danger of mixing cancel culture with comedy. Great comedy relies on its transgressive nature. A comedian's job isn't just to make people laugh. Oftentimes, it's to reflect the evils of society in a fresh, funny way. But society changes over time, which means comedy must, too. And due to comedy's intrinsic ties to the larger social climate surrounding it, comedy ages more quickly and more poorly than most art forms.
As a result, something that was funny ten years ago most likely will not be very funny right now. Sure, some comedy remains timeless (most of George Carlin's work, for example), but a lot of it doesn't (did anybody ever find Howie Mandel funny?). With that being said, in order for great comedy to exist at any point in time, comedians need the freedom to experiment with their material. Some of it will be funny. Some of it will fall flat. And some of it might be offensive.
But if we start combing through comedians' decades-old work, removing it from its context and holding them to task for crossing our modern sensibilities, we're essentially killing comedy as an art form. We're saying, "Sure, you can make jokes, but if any of them age poorly, there will be consequences." This outlook cripples comedians. It takes away their ability to make biting commentary on society now, because nobody can truly predict the sensibilities of society later.
None of this is to say that Sarah Silverman's blackface sketch didn't age poorly; it obviously did. But that doesn't mean it didn't fulfill its purpose in making fun of racism to its intended audience at the time it came out. While it may seem bad now that our bubbles have burst and we all know America is chock full of actual racists, it's not fair to act like Sarah was attempting to make fun of black people when she clearly was lampooning racism itself. Pretending otherwise is not arguing in good faith.
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The only Black Driver in the top tier of NASCAR, Bubba Wallace is standing strong
Update 7/6/2020: On Monday morning President Trump tweeted about the noose incident, referring to the mistaken intent of the noose as a "HOAX" and wondering if Bubba Wallace had apologized to "those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid." President Trump also asserted that the incident, along with NASCAR's decision to ban the confederate flag had resulted in the association losing viewership for their races, yielding what Trump termed their "lowest ratings EVER!"
Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his sid… https://t.co/XGPapgYIAA— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1594038787.0
Kyrie went full Pepsi; LeBron probably still doesn't know who Marcus Smart is; the Celtics almost turn around a 20 point deficit. Damn, the regular season's fun.
I'm a big texter during basketball games. If you're anything like me, your messages are full of "oh, nah"'s and "(insert name here), you dog"'s and "they can't hold him!"'s. Narrating games in real time is an outlet of sorts. Without it, I'd be splayed out on my couch talking to a pillow while my imaginary friend looks for a therapist. The point being, if you're anything like me, last night's Celtics-Cavaliers game was an absolute goldmine. I mean, it was all that I could have hoped for: a measuring stick game for a potential contender; Kyrie Irving cooking every which way; a late missed free throw from LeBron. Everything.
For anyone who forgot Kevin Durant went to the Warriors, let me remind you.
He's on the Warriors. Anyway, most of us imagined that the season was simply a wash. We were just waiting for the Warriors-Cavs Finals and we weren't sure that even that would be a good series. The two Finals teams met on Christmas and we forgot all about our griping because guess what: the game was an instant classic.
The Celtics-Cavs game wasn't all that different. The defending champs went up big in the third quarter, starting the 4th with an 18 point lead. The Celtics half court offense was stagnant and lazy, taking threes early in the shot clock without any of their patented ball movement. Thing about the Celtics, though, is they're never out of it. They play a gritty brand of Marcus Smart inspired defense—getting key stops and giving hard fouls—that keeps them in games. They turned LeBron over 8 times en route to cutting the lead down to 1 on several occasions in the fourth quarter.
Boston simply had no answer for Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving. Brad Stevens looked like he'd just been cock-blocked by Irving and Love in cop uniforms (that's already been copyrighted so f*ck off Foot Locker). The Celtics were outrebounded 46 to 29, Love grabbing 15 for the Cavaliers to go along with 30 points. Horford was an absolute non-factor on the night, grabbing only one board to go along with 4 assists and 3 blocks. Kyrie, who's been knocked for his lack of playmaking ability for others, finished the night with 12 assists and 32 points on 71% shooting from the field. And every time the Celts got close, Kyrie just dropped in another mid-range fallaway.
Boston now has to be painfully aware of their limitations and if Trader Danny doesn't have something cooking, I'll eat a $200 Foot Locker shoe. Rebounding has been an issue all year, and part of the reason they haven't separated themselves from the rest of the Eastern Conference pack is because they've been abused on the glass. The other issue is scoring the half court. Towards the end of the game, Isaiah Thomas was bailing out the Celtics half court offense, attacking the paint relentlessly and getting rewarded. Perhaps the most Isaiah play of the game was all 5'-9" of him drawing a double team in the restricted area and instead of kicking to a wide open Jae Crowder in the corner where Love had left him, he went barreling into a double clutch move and drawing the foul.
I've already written about how DeMarcus can fill some of the Celtics' gaps, defensive rebounding and post scoring in particular, but the other name that's been linked to a mid-season move is Andrew Bogut. An intimidating rim-protecting presence, Bogut's found his niche on the offensive side of the ball as a savvy passer and teeth-rattling screen setter. The Mavs probably can't ask for much for him considering his age and injury history so he'd be a bargain get for the Celtics if they decide to pass on Cousins. He fits their scheme perfectly on both sides of the ball. He challenges shots at the rim as well as anyone in the league, cleans up on the defensive glass, and is a willing and skillful passer. And Ainge won't have to break the bank for him. The only question for me is if they need another scheme guy. More than someone who fits their identity, I think the Celtics need another Isaiah. They need another scheme breaker. They need someone else who's willing and able to be the hero and the scapegoat. They need someone who'll disregard the corner shooter and get to the basket. F*ck it, they don't need Bogut. They need DeMarcus.
Uncle Drew Knows
(That's Brad Stevens' "I was about to nut!" face in the thumbnail, by the way)
Absolutely pettier than Westbrook.
Special Shout-Out: DeAndre Liggins' Lawyer
Liggins has stumbled into an opportunity with the Cavaliers. Not many Kentucky guys play for Calipari for four years, and fewer make it to the NBA. J.R. Smith is injured; Iman Shumpert is successfully pretending that he knows how to come off the bench; Kay Felder is shorter than Isaiah; Mike Dunleavy has never been the same since Giannis plastered him into the first row. As such, Liggins has been starting at the 2, picking up the opposing team's best guard. For most players, starting an NBA game is the biggest opportunity of their life. For DeAndre Liggins it's a far second.
A brief look into my Facebook Messenger—
Rohan: Klay leads the league in catch and shoot fga per game. Kevin love is second.
Me: Yeah I bet
Rohan: I think he's just realized that he needs to play a different role now and finally is ok with just being a shooter basically.
Me: But he takes advantages of his opportunities to crash now too. Which is big.
Marv Albert and Chris Webber start discussing Liggins' troubled history with the law prompting…
Me: Damn DeAndre Liggins is a savage.
Rohan: 7 felonies? And somehow still has custody of his kid? Someone get that lawyer a new contract.
People got paid this off-season. I hope Liggins did right by his attorney (for more on Billy Bock and Liggins' xbox assault).
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