Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Un-Funniness of Non-Comedy

There's something comical about a reporter from FOX News, of all networks, complaining that someone on CNBC would allow political invective to go unchallenged.

But there's also something extremely comical about Janeane Garofalo. Recently she was confronted by Fox News' Griff Jenkins over her recent comments in which she insisted that all of those protesting Barack Obama's stimulus package with tea parties were motivated by racism alone.

When confronted by Jenkins, Garofalo put the rather dubious standard of evidence she used to reach that conclusion on display -- demanding to know where these individuals had been during the George W Bush Presidency when he was running the United States deeper into deficit and deeper into debt.

Although, one must point out, just as Sean Hannity does, that Bush was doing so at a quarter of the rate that Obama is now doing.

In actuality, this is actually stronger evidence in favour of suggesting that the Tea Parties were politically motivated out of partisan fervour -- a possibility that Garofalo herself previously rejected.

No. Apparently Garofalo's defining piece of evidence is a "What'chu talkin' about Willis?" sign held up by one of the protesters.

Yet Garofalo clearly overlooked the fact that "What'chu talkin' about Willis" is less a racial slur and more of a pop culture reference. For the uninitiated, Diff'rent Strokes was a show about black children being raised by a white family. For those familiar with Barack Obama's life story, the parallels are evident. Obama was raised by his mother -- a white woman -- who was aided by his grandparents -- who, also, are white.

It's generally uncouth to go after an elected official for the circumstances of their upbringing. But in terms of being evidentiary of racism, this sign is very thin gruel.

Garofalo actually backpedals when confronted, falling back to talking about the "racist element" at the Tea Party protests -- very different from labelling them all as racists, as she originally did -- only to backpedal on her own backpedalling.

One has to consider that these are actually the less inflammatory of her original comments -- her insistence that American conservatives are all mentally ill as a precondition of their political alignment is actually much more alarming.

Moreoever, they're clearly the kind of arguments formulated in an echo chamber, never intended to be defended. Garofalo's reaction to being challenged bear that particular observation out.

The utterly hilarious aspect of the entire affair is that, as a comedian, Janeane Garofalo has the ultimate back door out of the base stupidity of her original comments -- she could have just insisted she was joking.

But even if Garofalo were only joking, it still wasn't funny.

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