If there’s one thing my hundreds of millions of thousands of fans have been clamoring for, it’s my take on this whole Tracy Morgan debacle. If you’ve had better things to do than read the news (and hopefully you have), Tracy Morgan made some homophobic comments during a comedy set and then said he’d kill his son if he ever ‘talked gay’. The public outcry generated not only an apology from Tracy Morgan (or whoever he hires to write apologies) but then the usual defensive stance from fellow comedians.
The general defense is that since Tracy Morgan was performing comedy nothing he said should be taken seriously, and he can say whatever he likes. This would fall under the banner of free speech, the same great right that allows fellow idiots Westboro Baptist Church to protest, and which allows me to call them idiots. The only problem with this defense is that Tracy Morgan apologized. Whether he was genuinely sorry or not is not for me to guess, but he did apologize. This invalidates the ‘It’s just comedy!’ defense. If it was just comedy, and he believed that, he wouldn’t have apologized for jack shit. He would have stuck to the idea that anything goes on a comedy stage, and taken all the negative heat coming his way. Instead, he admitted wrongdoing, which invalidates all these armchair comedy champion’s defense. He said he did something wrong, so you don’t get to cry foul about it.
Do I think it was wrong? Well I do believe anything goes on a comedy stage, but of course you have to be prepared for the repercussions. If a comic does a racist or rape joke, they should be prepared to be confronted about it. Same with any touchy subject. Most comics are straight white men, so to toss around racism and sexual assault might not be the casual fun time they think it is. I think what Tracy Morgan did was just stupid and unfunny more than anything. And with gay-bashing still so in vogue in comedy (even the subtle sort, as we’ll get into), why reinforce these idiotic ideas when kids are getting beat up for being ‘suspected’ (or actually) gay? Why feed the minds of idiots who will walk out feeling that their hateful opinions are actually right?
Which brings us to the F-word. No, not ‘fuck’, a word I have zero problem with. Faggot. A word that is still liberally used in the dude vernacular, and that I myself used by the handful back when I was a stupid high school kid. A lot of comedians use the f-word, both on stage and off. Some of my favorites, like Louis C.K. and Bill Burr use it in their act, as well as a lot of guys I know personally. And some of them (like those two) attempt to justify it, to varying degrees of success. Bill Burr takes the angle of describing how it is to be a guy in mainstream society, and how men are tortured for having any feelings whatsoever. Which is a great bit, and very honest. Louis C.K. takes the angle most comics take, which is that ‘faggot’ doesn’t actually mean something hateful toward gay people, it’s just a general word, to describe an ‘idiot’.
Which, if this was true, would be one thing. People cite the South Park episode ‘The F-Word’ as a bold move to redefine the word ‘faggot’. The episode describes reclaiming the word and disempowering it. Which is false. Black people reclaimed and disempowered the word ‘nigger’ for themselves. Gay people have already reclaimed and disempowered the word ‘faggot’ for themselves (read Dan Savage’s column). These groups get to use these words because they have been the victim of them, and now can use them however they please. It is not for straight white people to ‘reclaim and disempower’ these words. You (straight white person) have no relationship to these words in today’s society. You used them in a hateful way, and now you don’t need to use them at all. If you need to call someone an ‘idiot’, use the word ‘idiot’, or ‘asshole’, or any other general word to get your point across.
Because again, you are using the word faggot in the context of a gay person. When I order a fruity (as in laden with fruit) cocktail, you call me a faggot, because my drink is ‘womanly’, or more accurately, ‘something a gay man would drink.’ When I say I don’t eat meat, you call me a faggot; again because this is perceived as ‘unmanly’. Men eat meat. Women and gay men don’t, apparently. Watch two guys get in a fight. Right after it’s broken up, and they’re yelling at each other, see how many times they call each other ‘faggot’. In their anger they’re choosing the lowest insult a ‘man’ can take, that of the anti-male, the homosexual.
Which again (sigh), is patently false. Gay men are as manly or manlier than pretty much any man I know. My gay neighbor is a construction worker, drives a pickup truck, is more into leather than any biker, and- I can only guess- eats meat. I’m married with a kid and I wear woman’s earrings, like white wine, and listen to Daft Punk.
So, in conclusion, (because you’ve been so patient) let’s stop using the word f-word, and, more importantly, taking people to task when they do. Because it’s only our complacency that allows such a stupid word to be wielded in the first place. The same sort of recrimination that we would give someone who uses the n-word should also be handed out for its cousin the f-word.
They do have a right to say it, just as we have the right to tell them how dumb they sound.