[Ed. note: readers, please welcome long-time Dallasite and extreme fan of pants, Merritt Martin, to HayLadies! She edits the calendar section at the Dallas Observer and has a one-eyed cat.]
Hi, Merritt here. If you know me or have read some of my blognage, you get that television is, howyousay, my bag. As sad as it may sound, at the end of a long day, my “DVR” might as well read “BFF.” But that’s not my point. What is my point right now is that although I have three tasks of paycheck-related work to accomplish, I had to stop and write this while I’m still so fucking blindsided by what I just saw on the Tosh.0 season premiere.
Yes, I watch — or, used to watch — Tosh.0. I did appreciate Daniel Tosh’s ability to zing those of the YouTuberverse, with relatively no filter. Because sometimes, in my opinion, so-called political correctness in excess can be as restrictive as the bigotry and offense it tries to fight. Comedy allows for a bit of healthy line crossing here and there and serves to keep us in check, keep us real — see: jokes about not wanting kids, addiction, politics, religion, even gender roles and equality when done well and to make a point. Prime-time examples can be found, not always but often, in the comedy of Patton Oswalt, Joel McHale and Louis CK, or on shows like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation.
And yes, I suppose I was asking for it. (Upon rereading that, that pun was unintentional, but wow.) I should’ve suspected that since Tosh’s “web redemption” (for those unfamiliar, this is when Tosh invites someone embarrassed by a viral video to come on the show and “redeem” themselves) guest for his season premier would be Antoine Dodson, there were going to be rape jokes. I’m unclear why in hell Dodson needs a redemption for scaring off his sister’s attacker and then warning everyone in the area in a memorable way. I’m even more unclear why unnecessary rape jokes turned into victim jokes. That’s right. In numerous instances, Tosh named or referenced actual victims or groups of victims…and not just those of the sadly expected prisoner variety.
I’m going to use another one of Tosh’s bits right back on him: Let me break it down, K?
The well-known Antoine Dodson “Hide yo kids, hide yo wife” clip leads off the “web redemption” segment, which you can watch here, even though it kills us to send even a small amount of traffic Comedy Central’s way for this. In lieu of a click, I’ve transcribed the segment.
“That’s Antoine Dodson and he hates rape. Instead of crying in the shower for three hours, he fought back. Rape is an awful crime, but the fact is, without rape, we wouldn’t have this great video. Plus, Tori Amos would have nothing to sing about, I’d never want to buy a Duke Lacrosse T-shirt, and there’d be no Law & Order SVU for your parents to watch while your upstairs trying to rape your girlfriend.
[For those keeping track, that's one joke about the warning to not shower before seeking treatment/evidence collection after a rape, one about rape inspiring awesome viral videos, one about rape victim and founder of RAINN Tori Amos, one about a refuted rape accusation and scandal, and one about date rape. Five in less than 20 seconds! Neat!]
He goes on, after the jump, racking up the rape jokes like Dirk Nowitzki shoots free throws, but with much less rabid applause and swooning from us.
“Basically, there are four kinds of rape. The traditional, scary rape which seems to happen only to joggers, so if you wanna stay safe, knock it off with the cardio. Then there’s prison rape, which involves criminals so it doesn’t really count. Now, date rape is the politest rape of them all, but it would happen way less often if doctors would just stop prescribing the date rape drug. Last, but not least, statutory rape, which can be very confusing, because let’s be honest, women never look their age. 15 or 57, who can tell? I don’t work at a goddamn carnival. And every place is different. In these states [shows highlighted map of the US], the age of consent is 16. Basically, if your state can’t wait for President Palin, it’s a safe bet you can legally bang a high school sophomore. But for you real perverts, in Mexico it’s 12 so book your flights today.”
[Tracker: That's one about the Central Park Jogger and/or other jogging victims, rape not counting, polite rape, doctors prescribing rape, how damn confusing it must be to not rape a minor, and how we should all book airfare and go do it with Mexican tweens. SIX! He's outdoing himself AND has a visual aid. This is incredible. If I weren't being so sarcastic, I might cry.]
Now I’ll paraphrase: Tosh, having never been raped, suspects it might be like watching Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere, then says he’d be a horrible rapist because he has trouble having successful sex with consenting ladies. (I do believe that was self-deprecating and not a comment on what gets him off, but that’s pretty much the only bone I’m willing to throw him at this point.) He also points out that “in the end, rape is just the word ‘pear’ all jumbled up.” Oh, but I gotta quote this doozy: “I look at rape the same way I look at HIV: If you play guard for the Lakers it won’t affect you.”
[Tracker: Five there, plus an HIV joke, and I was mostly paraphrasing! This guy is a real gem.]
He clarified that because Dodson vowed on television to catch his sister’s rapist but never followed through because he got distracted by fame, he invited him back for a redemption, “to finish the job.” Mull that over for a bit.
The Antoine Dodson Interview:
Setting: A public park with a sign claiming “Home of the most rapes per square acre in the world”
Number of screaming women running through background: 1
After discussing Dodson’s business offers, how his life changed after the broadcast and the Autotune the News song, his flat-ironed hair, his being openly gay, etc., Tosh says, “The only thing I question is ‘Hide your husbands.’ Are husbands really getting raped?” Dodson: “Husbands are really getting raped.” So Tosh suggests they go learn how to be “proactive, not…” Dodson responds with “reactive.” And Tosh says, “I was going to say ‘raped.'” So, as I would have never guessed, they head to…
[Tracker: Fake rape! So funny!]
A Self-Defense/Rape Prevention Class! (which is most likely stocked with actors, but who knows):
After the instructor teaches the eyes/throat/groin targets and never to yell “Help, rape!” but to yell “Fire!” the padded aggressor comes out. Dodson pwns the padded faux-rapist with aggressive kicks to the groin. Tosh 69s him and moans “Fire. Fire.” They practice with their rape whistles…oh, except Tosh has a slide whistle and not a rape whistle.
[Tracker: One for mocking a fucking self-defense class, one for simulated attack being sexy (are you kidding me?), one for mocking a safety device. Three. Oh, how I'm developing more and more respect Daniel Tosh.]
“The Rapist Trapping”:
They set up a box on a stick and Tosh (in metallic boyshorts) dances under it to Dodson’s song. Dodson crouches behind a dumpster ready to pull the string should a “rapist” attack. Tosh yells, “Hey, buddy, no means yes” to a passer-by/extra. A woman extra walks by, to which he says, “Beat it, slut. Go get raped on your own corner.” Then Tosh takes “rape drugs” and is plowed down by a guy in Ben Roethlisberger’s uniform. Dodson pulls the string while Tosh yells that he’s being raped by Roethlisberger. Dodson cheers they caught the rapist and runs off while Tosh yells he’s still being raped.
[Tracker: One for the classy, not tired, jab at “no means no,” one for “slut,” one for “joking” to someone about going to get raped, one for equating it to prostitution, one for the drugs, one for Roethlisberger reference, one for leaving a rape victim without help because they’re yelling they’re being raped instead of on fire, oh and three for Roethlisberger’s victims (though, this guy at Bleacher Report likes to call them “victims” so I’m guessing he’s a Tosh fan).
“Sorry, Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t have had to do that if Roethlisberger’d just admitted to fumbling the ball in the endzone against the Dolphins in Week 7.”
That’s 30 rape jokes in one segment. One segment in a half-hour show on Comedy Central. That averages one rape joke per minute. I’d love to know the demographics of his viewing audience, but I don’t even have to look to feel confident they skew heavily in the 18-34 range. Which is terrifying to me.
Sure, one can find humor in anything, but I’d like to think that humor is most often found by those who have experienced something. Humor in healing, humor in dealing. Not aggressive, unnecessary and belittling humor that essentially robs the victims (in general as well as those specified) of the fact that they. were. victimized.
Andrea Grimes has taught me a great deal about rape culture [Andrea's note: oh, stop.] . For that I’m grateful. I’m also grateful that when I watched Tosh.0 tonight I felt the horror, anger, shock and passion that I did. I knew it was there. Thing is, while I knew rape culture was prevalent, it really hadn’t shown itself to me in the way that it did tonight. There was no violence, no sex, no nudity. But there was aggression beneath something which I hold so dear, and believed so innocent: laughter.
I also encourage you to share your thoughts with Comedy Central.