The Cosby jokes at the Golden Globes

[Content note for rape]

During their opening monologue at the Golden Globes last night, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler went there: They went straight in with a series of very direct jokes about the rape allegations against Bill Cosby.

The video is online; the transcript is below.

AMY POEHLER. In Into the Woods, Cinderella runs from her prince, Rapunzel is thrown from a tower for her prince, and Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Billy Cosby.

[Gasps and laughter from the crowd]

TINA FEY. You know, actually, I don’t know if you guys saw this on the news today, but Bill Cosby has finally spoken out about the allegations against him. Cosby admitted to a reporter, [dropping her voice in a pretty lousy impersonation of Billy Cosby] “I put the pills in the people.” [More laughter from the crowd] The people did not want the pills in them.”

AP. No, Tina, that — hey…

TF. What?

AP [shaking her head]. That’s not right. That’s not right. It’s more like, [in a somewhat more accurate Cosby impersonation] “I got the pills in my bathrobe and I put ’em in the people.”

[Crowd laughter]

TF. You’re right. It’s gotta be, like, [again with the Cosby] “I put the pills in the hoagies.”

AP. Yeah. That’s it. That’s fair.

TF. That seems fair.

When a rape joke is at the expense of the alleged* rapist, and not the victims, is it okay? Or if not okay, at least better? Is making a joke about a rapist automatically making light of rape? Would his victims (who now number, I believe, 24) hear this joke and feel dismissed or affirmed?

What’s strong about this joke is the boldness in asserting This fucker did this. He drugged these women. It wasn’t a comment on rape accusations — it was a comment on rape. And maybe I’m just reading things into this — maybe I just don’t want to believe that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler really think that this whole thing is legitimately fodder for jokes — but I’m also getting a sense that they were going for the gasps more than the laughs, taking an opportunity to say, Here’s your guy, Hollywood.

I’d say my own reaction was much like Jessica Chastain’s as shown in the crowd reaction shot — hand-over-the-open-mouth, half-laugh, half-cringe, additional half-surprise that they went there. And at the same time, impressed — impressed that on national TV, at one of Hollywood’s favorite self-congratulatory events, they came out and said, in essence, Fuck this guy. I just hope it wasn’t at the expense of his victims, or any others. But then, I’m a humorless feminist.

*CYA


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76 comments for “The Cosby jokes at the Golden Globes

  1. childrenofthebroccoli
    January 12, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    I think it was fine, since the point was (from what I could tell) to let Cosby know that not everyone in the entertainment industry had his back, and that they were unafraid to call him out publicly. Isn’t that the first step to dismantling rape culture, for people in power to let rapists know that we will hold them accountable?

  2. EG
    January 12, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    I’m not sure I buy this reading. Cosby made the joke himself at his own stand-up show. And it’s not just about intent–do we really think that viewers and the audience were laughing at Cosby? If so, what’s laughable about him? The fact that he’s a rapist? Or were they laughing at white women doing imitations of a black man?

    And if you’ve been raped by Cosby, do you feel that your pain and struggles are really mattering to the people laughing?

    • WheatNuts
      January 15, 2015 at 12:29 am

      I would think it’s the awkward laughter of people at the challenging of a pervasive meme, that Cosby is everybody’s favorite uncle, since he did something awful for 40 years. You know, drugging and raping women. I’m sure there’s some people who are enjoying the dethroning of an african american man, but I don’t think that’s why TF and AP did it.

  3. EG
    January 12, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    I mean, if they had said “We’d like to take this platform and opportunity to say this: women almost never lie about rape, and two dozen women who are strangers to each other never get together to make up false stories. We support the women who’ve come forward about Bill Cosby, and we believe them. We believe that he is a rapist,” that would have shown support. It wouldn’t have been funny. But then…how many jokes about the Paris terrorist attack did people make last night?

    • January 12, 2015 at 7:44 pm

      I mean, if they had said “We’d like to take this platform and opportunity to say this: women almost never lie about rape, and two dozen women who are strangers to each other never get together to make up false stories. We support the women who’ve come forward about Bill Cosby, and we believe them. We believe that he is a rapist,” that would have shown support. It wouldn’t have been funny. But then…how many jokes about the Paris terrorist attack did people make last night?

      I don’t think you’re being fair either to Fey/Poehler or to Caperton’s point. Don’t get me wrong, what you wrote was powerful and I definitely agree it would have been powerful if they had said it. However they did not have the platform that your comment presupposes they have. You have to consider that they were working within the framework of a light entertainment program, which is also an important career achievement, one which we can not reasonably expect them to jeopardize. They were hired to tell jokes. They really only had two options- not mention Cosby in their jokes…or mention him, making it clear that he’s a rapist. I think there’s something to be said for not being silent about it.

      • EG
        January 12, 2015 at 8:15 pm

        Yeah, you’re probably right. I suppose the days of celebrities being willing to make major statements at major events are pretty much over. I just…this routine leaves a bad taste in my mouth, even if I can’t quite articulate why.

      • ludlow22
        January 13, 2015 at 1:42 am

        Forgive me if I’m presuming too much, but for me at least you nailed why that might be here:

        And if you’ve been raped by Cosby, do you feel that your pain and struggles are really mattering to the people laughing?

      • Aaliyah
        January 13, 2015 at 2:27 am

        They were hired to tell jokes. They really only had two options- not mention Cosby in their jokes…or mention him, making it clear that he’s a rapist. I think there’s something to be said for not being silent about it.

        I don’t think it’s as simple as that. The alternative to mentioning Cosby is of course not mentioning him…but within the choice to make a joke about Cosby lies also the choice to say something that appropriates the suffering of his victims for the sake of humor. They could have made a joke that didn’t throw survivors under the bus, but instead they did the opposite.

      • ludlow22
        January 13, 2015 at 9:29 am

        They could have made a joke that didn’t throw survivors under the bus, but instead they did the opposite.

        I guess I don’t understand how their joke threw survivors under the bus. Can you be more specific?

      • ludlow22
        January 13, 2015 at 9:37 am

        To be more clear, I guess I don’t get the third option between:

        1) Any joke they could have made about Cosby being a rapist was wrong

        and

        2) These jokes were actually not wrong.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you’re saying there is a joke they could have made about the situation that would have been pro-survivor, but the jokes they actually did make were not. I just can’t figure out what type of joke would have been OK with you, if you think the jokes they did make threw victims under the bus.

      • January 13, 2015 at 2:45 pm

        I guess I don’t understand how their joke threw survivors under the bus. Can you be more specific?

        Because the joke is all about the various means by which Cosby raped women, and it frames it in a way that is trivializing. It highlights the fact that he raped people but in a way that completely ignores the very real suffering of the survivors and only aims at him to the extent of merely identifying him as a rapist. It doesn’t mock him for being an awful person, and even if it did somehow, the fact that he raped people is still the butt of the joke.

        I just can’t figure out what type of joke would have bee thn OK with you, if you think the jokes they did make threw victims under the bus.

        I don’t know about the exact kind of joke that would be ok, and I don’t really care either. What matters to me is that they chose to make a joke that directly attacked survivors – I only highlighted the fact that they could have done something else to highlight the fact that they deliberately chose to make the joke. Even if somehow a rape joke was the only joke they could have made about Cosby (which I highly doubt), they could have instead like, not tell the joke because it’s fucked up and harmful to survivors. But they didn’t because we all live in a deeply misogynistic society.

      • ludlow22
        January 13, 2015 at 7:16 pm

        directly attacked survivors

        Regardless of which side you come down on, this is definitely inaccurate/hyperbolic, since they never even addressed survivors directly.

      • January 13, 2015 at 7:32 pm

        Regardless of which side you come down on, this is definitely inaccurate/hyperbolic, since they never even addressed survivors directly.

        …But joking about the rapes automatically impacts the survivors of those rapes. You can’t separate the two. You can’t make fun of the fact that someone was raped and then say that you care about that survivor. Perhaps indirect is a better term here, but either way, the joke still mocks survivors.

      • PrettyAmiable
        January 13, 2015 at 7:36 pm

        ludlow – thanks for your comment; I think it helped me understand what rubbed me the wrong way about their joke.

        When you joke about the rapes themselves, you’re necessarily involving the victims. You just are. You cannot have the act of rape without a victim (or survivor, if you prefer). That is the difference between their joke and Buress’ joke – in Buress’ joke, he isn’t ridiculing an event that might have traumatized people – he’s ridiculing that this particular shitbag tries to moralize people and is respected as such.

        I typically like Fey and especially Poehler – I believe they didn’t intend to ridicule the rape victims. But are you honestly telling me that some of the people laughing at that joke weren’t laughing because the idea of Bill Cosby – bumbling father figure from the Cosby Show and Kids Say the Darndest Things – raping someone is funny to them?

        I might agree that they didn’t directly intend to hurt survivors, but I could see it being friendly fire.

      • PrettyAmiable
        January 13, 2015 at 7:36 pm

        Oops – sorry Aaliyah. I crossed posts. Looks like we see eye-to-eye though.

  4. ludlow22
    January 12, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I heard it as a really direct attack on a powerfully entrenched figure who many of the people in that room would probably like to give a pass. Comedy is an incredible useful tool for unsettling oppressors. Satirizing terrible things done by the powerful is an ancient and effective traditions.

    • EG
      January 12, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      I agree with that as a general statement; I just don’t think this is a sharp or effective example of it.

      • ludlow22
        January 12, 2015 at 6:32 pm

        Fair enough.

  5. AMM
    January 12, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Has Roman Polanski ever received this kind of treatment at a high-profile movie industry event? Or Woody Allen?

    I can’t help wondering if they’d have been as willing to go after Cosby if he’d been white.

    • trees
      January 12, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      I can’t help wondering if they’d have been as willing to go after Cosby if he’d been white.

      Yeah, probably not so much.

    • TomSims
      January 13, 2015 at 1:08 am

      Also Alan Dershowitz

    • MIranda
      January 14, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      I’ve always had a hunch that when you have a group of privileged people(say G) who do Bad Thing X, the members of G who most lack privilege in other areas are usually the ones who get called out the most for X. (All else being equal, black men are more likely to get called out as sexist, rich gay folk are more likely to get called out as classist, etc.)

      Urgh that sounded more convoluted than I meant it to…hopefully you get the point tho.

  6. trees
    January 12, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    I just hope it wasn’t at the expense of his victims, or any others.

    Me too, ’cause that video literally made me LOL.

  7. Donna L
    January 12, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    I couldn’t find anything about the history of political statements at the Golden Globes, but here are a couple of articles about the history of people making them at the Oscars:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/01/us/politics/politics-at-the-oscars.html?_r=0

    http://www.bustle.com/articles/16800-the-14-most-political-academy-award-moments-in-history-when-the-oscars-make-a-statement

    It’s not like they were all decades ago; it still happens.

    These articles were written before last year’s Oscars — I don’t remember if anything critical was said about Woody Allen onstage, although I do remember that when Cate Blanchett thanked him while accepting her award for Blue Jasmine, there was a great deal of publicity for Mia Farrow’s criticisms on Twitter of her doing so.

    • Donna L
      January 12, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      PS: I didn’t try to look for a history of jokes at awards ceremonies concerning celebrity rapists, or accused rapists. But the host made a joking reference to Woody Allen and pedophilia just last year, at the Writer’s Guild Awards.

      http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/writers-guild-awards-hosts-joke-676382

      But West Coast ceremony host Brad Garrett kicked off the show with a joke about the scandal, saying, “There is a very good chance Woody Allen won’t be here tonight, so those of you guys at the kids’ table tonight, you have nothing to worry about,” Garrett said. “Hey, we even put OshKosh B’gosh in the gift bag to get him here!”

  8. gratuitous_violet
    January 12, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    I thought Don Cheadle covering his face with his hands covered my reaction a little bit more accurately. Like EG, I don’t buy the optimistic read of the joke. It might just be me, but I thought that Amy Poehler trying to imitate Cosby’s speech pattern was the most cringeworthy thing about the whole scene.

    • gratuitous_violet
      January 12, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      ETA: I think it’s worth asking why only the black people (all two of them visible in the gif) were not laughing at the joke.

      • trees
        January 12, 2015 at 10:10 pm

        ETA: I think it’s worth asking why only the black people (all two of them visible in the gif) were not laughing at the joke.

        …dirty laundry, solidarity even when not deserved, fear of someone questioning your qualifications for a Black Card… Maybe Don Cheadle doesn’t have the luxury of laughing at the downfall of a fellow successful Hollywood Black man. A legend no less, one of a handful of actors who made Cheadle’s own success possible. I didn’t watch the show, and it’s hard to read in the photo the reactions of him and the other black actors.

      • gratuitous_violet
        January 13, 2015 at 12:29 am

        Fair enough. Not being black, I wouldn’t be comfortable making any definitive statements one way or the other, just their reactions stuck out at me. (Also I think the animated gif shows a few more seconds and makes some reactions a bit easier to read, I think I saw it on the blackourhistory tumblr)

      • ludlow22
        January 13, 2015 at 1:36 am

        I know I’m treading onto dangerous turf here, so for the record: WOC, not black, survivor of sexual assault. In my experience of the Cosby conversation(s) your post has a lot of truth. I’ve been in some super uncomfortable discussions (online and offline) where the mass consensus (mostly among men, but also women) was that the accusations were part of a racist white plot to discredit Cosby and oppress black people.

        Stepping beyond how much that stings, though, I get the intense urge to carry water for your own. My parents are Chinese-Indonesian, and grew up intensely afraid that a Chinese person in their community would be caught doing anything. Not without cause- one year a Chinese teenager was accused of stealing from a number of families and in the resulting riots at least a dozen Chinese families were murdered and several women and girls raped. And then in 1998 the country got together to try to kill every Chinese-Indonesian alive after Chinese shopkeepers in Jakarta were falsely accused of murdering Indonesian students (who had been protesting tax hikes by burning down Chinese stores, and were actually shot by the government’s own security service).

        My point is, I can at least partially comprehend the intense pressure for solidarity. And I get why it leads to turning a blind eye to terrible things. But it also is really, really shitty misogynistic rape apologism anyways.

      • AMM
        January 13, 2015 at 8:02 am

        ludlow22’s comments suddenly reminded me of something.

        In the South (USA), a lot of the violence against blacks was “justified” by the belief that black men would rape white women if they got the chance. (I don’t know how pervasive that trope is outside the South.) It wasn’t something I’d thought of until now, but as a white person, I wouldn’t have to. It’s possible that black people don’t feel they have that luxury.

      • January 13, 2015 at 10:01 am

        I think it’s worth asking why only the black people (all two of them visible in the gif) were not laughing at the joke.

        That’s a good point. It could be, as ludlow said above, the pressure for solidarity and loyalty. But something else came to my mind as well and that is that Cosby, even before the allegations surfaced, was not unanimously liked among African Americans. He has been very outspoken and critical of AAs, especially the younger generation; and in doing so has perpetuated many of the negative stereotypes, like not dressing properly, speaking ebonics instead of “proper” English, not valuing education and responsibility etc. He obviously has a lot of internalized racism going on. And while many people may take the view that it’s OK for him to say these things where as it wouldn’t for a white person…well others may not share that view. And that might have something to do with why POC don’t find it funny.

        Again, that’s just my speculation.

      • January 13, 2015 at 10:08 am

        I hit the submit button too quickly.

        I also just wanted to say that however way one interprets the joke, I still think it was inappropriate. Both Fey and Poehler have publicly called themselves feminists and personally I think they ought to have known better. Call me anal and uptight, but I’m not one of those people who thinks that anything can be made a subject of humor, no matter how tactfully or how sensitive the person making the joke may think they’re being.

        I think the basic rule of “when in doubt…DON’T” is just common sense.

      • January 13, 2015 at 5:41 pm

        “Cosby, even before the allegations surfaced, was not unanimously liked among African Americans. He has been very outspoken and critical of AAs, especially the younger generation; and in doing so has perpetuated many of the negative stereotypes, like not dressing properly, speaking ebonics instead of “proper” English, not valuing education and responsibility etc. He obviously has a lot of internalized racism going on. ”

        In my experience in the black community. Cosby’s comments about dressing properly, Ebonics, education and responsibility demonstrate his generation’s values. I’m not sure I’d call it internalized racism it’s just a generational difference. I do think many black people see the discrepancy between his “family values” and actions. My family very much sees him as a rapist. Though, i do think in the broader community people still see the accusations as unproven and won’t accept them without proof. Plus, airing dirty laundry especially in front of white people is very much taboo.

  9. Aaliyah
    January 13, 2015 at 2:16 am

    I’m really not okay with that joke. I don’t care if it sheds light on the fact that Cosby is a serial rapist. That’s not a valid excuse. It still trivializes the rapes that he has committed because the purpose of that joke was to joke about the rapes rather than the rapist. Besides, I’ve heard plenty of rape jokes that point at the rapist but end up punching down rather than up. This one seems no different to me.

    • PrettyAmiable
      January 13, 2015 at 10:26 am

      I’m right there with you. I imagine those jokes being made about the guy who assaulted me, and then I get mad that people think he’s ridiculous. Sooooo, they got assaulted by someone who’s ridiculous? That’s the joke?

      • EG
        January 13, 2015 at 10:45 am

        Yeah, this is what I mean. I sort of don’t care how we feel and whether or not we think they’re funny. The women Cosby raped–how do they feel about these jokes?

      • John
        January 13, 2015 at 4:26 pm

        That’s a fair question. Would they rather have nothing be said about it? Or would they rather have Cosby mocked and shamed for it, on a very public stage?

        I might be wrong about this, but I can’t imagine the joke is somehow worse than your standard CNN article that ends with “Cosby, in a statement, denied the allegations, callinf them fabrications.” At least Fey and Poehler accepted the truth of the allegations as the premise of the joke.

      • PrettyAmiable
        January 13, 2015 at 6:12 pm

        I…can’t tell if you’re trolling. Nice.

      • ludlow22
        January 13, 2015 at 7:18 pm

        I might be wrong about this, but I can’t imagine the joke is somehow worse than your standard CNN article that ends with “Cosby, in a statement, denied the allegations, callinf them fabrications.” At least Fey and Poehler accepted the truth of the allegations as the premise of the joke.

        How is this trollish? I hate those articles, even though I understand why they’re written that way.

      • PrettyAmiable
        January 13, 2015 at 7:45 pm

        ludlow – are you responding to me here? It’s because those articles have to be written like that lest CNN get sued for libel. The “alleged” shit irritates me as a survivor, especially in cases where everyone kind of knows that the perpetrator is a rapist. In satire, you’re not bound by that. The two aren’t even comparable.

        In addition, both can just be bad. There’s not a spectrum where you win brownie points when you’re bad but not as bad as something else. It’s an unneccessary dichotomy and feels like weird point-scoring on the backs of survivors.

  10. Hugh
    January 13, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Surely all the .gifs I’ve been seeing on Tumblr for the last five years about Amy Poehler being an awesome badarse feminist icon can’t have been wrong, can they?

    • January 13, 2015 at 10:16 am

      Nah, of course not!

      Because if you read it on “the internets”, well then it must be true! ;-)

    • January 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      [mirror cheap sarcastic shot mode] Oh wow, somebody said something less than absolutely perfect in every possible way, and it was a woman what did it. She’s a monster! Burn the witch! [/mirror cheap sarcastic shot mode]

      Y’know Hugh, if I had thrown every single person who ever disappointed me by making a mistake into the Shunning Zone for evermore everafter? I would be living a wretchedly lonely existence, particularly if most other people around me were returning the favour as if that were the normal and expected response.

      • January 13, 2015 at 3:40 pm

        P.S. Criticising the mistakes people make (and questioning whether they really are just mistakes, too) is important. There are some people in my life who have disappointed me whom I have subsequently, following deep and painful reflection, placed into my own personal Shunning Zone for my own self-protection. There are some public figures who have disappointed me whom I have subsequently, following a period of analysis and discussion with others, placed into my No Longer Worth My Attention Zone. But that response is not my first response when someone disappoints me. My first response is to hope that engaging with them on how they have disappointed me/others and why it’s a problem will lead to some personal growth and future improvement and that we might just all feel that we’ve moved a small step forward. That rarely actually happens, but I always hope that it will.

  11. John
    January 13, 2015 at 9:54 am

    The Bill Cosby joke was particularly appropriate. The reason: a stand up routine is the only reason that this issue was put back into the national spotlight.

    Hannibal Buress used Bill Cosby in his stand up act (calling him a rapist in the process). That is what got this national level scandal going. Comedy is what put this in the news. Comedy is what might keep it there.

    It is also appropriate because, if there was ever a time to say that there is nothing too big or too sensitive to joke about, that time is now. I didn’t expect Fey and Poehler to draw Muslim caricatures (because that woudl not be funny), but it would be unacceptable for them to not joke about a major Hollywood issue because it was too big, difficult, or sensitive.

    • EG
      January 13, 2015 at 10:46 am

      it would be unacceptable for them to not joke about a major Hollywood issue because it was too big, difficult, or sensitive.

      Which is why Woody Allen and Roman Polanski got the same treatment, right?

      • John
        January 13, 2015 at 11:02 am

        No. But they should have. But I can’t fault Fey and Poehler for not using material that was (1) years old, and (2) not currently in the news. Just because Fey and Poehler mocked one rapist does not mean they have to mock all rapists. Their job was to be current and funny.

        And I still hear no objection to Hannibal Buress using it in his stand up routine.

      • ludlow22
        January 13, 2015 at 11:04 am

        And I still hear no objection to Hannibal Buress using it in his stand up routine.

        That’s a great point. Should the comedian who original brought all these accusations back to the public consciousness never have done so in the name of sensitivity?

      • PrettyAmiable
        January 13, 2015 at 12:17 pm

        Polanski is currently in the news – the US has formally asked Poland to extradite him.

      • PrettyAmiable
        January 13, 2015 at 12:23 pm

        Sorry – and just to jump back, Buress didn’t joke about the rapes and assaults. He joked that anyone would take Cosby seriously on morality. He’s a rapist.

      • EG
        January 13, 2015 at 1:26 pm

        Haven’t read Buress’s routine, so I can’t comment. Go ahead and link me if you want my opinion, but it’ll have to be a transcript, because watching videos drives me nuts.

        While you’re at it, go and find jokes made about Allen and Polanski while it has been in the news (and Polanski has been again–the US has asked Poland to extradite him).

      • EG
        January 13, 2015 at 1:30 pm

        Sorry, Pretty Amiable; I had to go away for a bit and didn’t refresh the page before I posted.

      • ludlow22
        January 13, 2015 at 1:50 pm

        While you’re at it, go and find jokes made about Allen and Polanski while it has been in the news (and Polanski has been again–the US has asked Poland to extradite him).

        DonnaL posted one above, but your point is well taken. I guess I’d argue the problem is not enough going after Allen/Polanski, not too much with Cosby.

      • EG
        January 13, 2015 at 2:14 pm

        Yeah, I saw that, but the Writers’ Guild awards, you know? Are those even televised?

      • ludlow22
        January 13, 2015 at 2:30 pm

        Honestly the whole entertainment culture thing is way outside my wheelhouse, so I’m not sure. I thought Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise were married until about two years ago. I have no idea why.

      • PrettyAmiable
        January 13, 2015 at 3:02 pm

        EG, no apologies! Hashtag twins.

    • gratuitous_violet
      January 13, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      So I think the biggest difference between Buress’ but and the Globes joke is that Buress’ joke wasn’t “ha, ha, he’s a rapist!,” but rather “ha, look at how complicit we all are in rape culture, we’ve been letting this dude moralize at us for decades!” It was designed to make people uncomfortable, but not just about Cosby himself.

      Whereas I can’t find any deeper meaning to the Globes bit, just “ha, he raped women!” Not the same.

      • gratuitous_violet
        January 13, 2015 at 3:08 pm

        Or, what PrettyAmiable already said.

      • PrettyAmiable
        January 13, 2015 at 3:43 pm

        Hashtag twins!

      • John
        January 13, 2015 at 3:57 pm

        So now we are just down to the semantics of the joke. It is not that rape/rapists are off limits. It is that the joke has to have a particular punchline? Does it mock the rapist, society, or Sleeping Beauty?

        A little later in the bit, Fey and Poehler did a pretty funny Amal Clooney joke. I could not tell if the joke was on George, Amal, society, or the Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement Award. That is probably what makes it a good joke.

        My bottom line is that rapists deserve prison time. So shouldn’t they also deserve to be mocked and shamed?

      • PrettyAmiable
        January 13, 2015 at 4:18 pm

        It’s pretty much “Haha, he raped women” is not okay.

        But also.. yes? It was always about the semantics of the joke. Are you using semantics in a way that doesn’t mean “meaning”? Why else would you discuss the joke?

      • January 13, 2015 at 4:24 pm

        So shouldn’t they also deserve to be mocked and shamed?

        As long as those people who are mocking the rapists aren’t simultaneously mocking survivors.

      • gratuitous_violet
        January 14, 2015 at 12:17 am

        if you want your joke to be taken as incisive social commentary, or “taken seriously,” then yeah, you have to be more concerned with the effect than the intent behind it. That’s the responsibility that comes with trying to be a serious or deep comedian. Ideally speaking, of course. Because that is clearly not the general operating practice in comedy currently, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

        I also agree with your point that rapists should be mocked, but I only agree in the abstract sense, because in my opinion the value of such jokes is almost meaningless without corresponding significant social consequences. And we all know those probably will not be forthcoming. without consequences the joke is worse than ineffective, because joking about powerful men being rapists while society collectively does nothing feels really shitty from a survivor’s perspective. The punchline becomes our powerlessness, and I think comedy can do better than that.

    • January 13, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      a stand up routine is the only reason that this issue was put back into the national spotlight.

      Maybe, but that doesn’t justify these jokes. Nothing does. Besides, there are many other ways to raise awareness that don’t involve treating survivors as a punchline. What do you think feminists and womanists have been doing to engender so much awareness of the problem of male rapists raping women with impunity? Stand up routines that attack survivors? I don’t buy your reasoning at all.

      it would be unacceptable for them to not joke about a major Hollywood issue because it was too big, difficult, or sensitive.

      Nonsense. The main problem that women have with rape jokes never has been that there are just overly sensitive people out there who don’t like hearing them. Rather it’s that rape jokes constitute a vital aspect of our patriarchal, pro-rape society.

  12. Jeri
    January 13, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    I personally found it completely distasteful. Not only was the time and place inappropriate, it just lacked any humor at all. Not only are there supposed victims, but his (Cosby) family as well who are impacted by this whole situation. Most of the people affected in this whole ordeal is somehow connected to fame. I would think that in the privacy of their home, they may be watching the Golden globes for entertainment and then see this….a community if you will of people who they all shared some sort of life with, making fun of them. The entire thing, if proven to be fact or not, is not funny…it is very sad. It will leave a devastating mark on everyone. One final thought…why were there no jokes about the actor of seventh heaven who did admit his wrong-doing?

  13. January 13, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    I’m still thinking about whether it would be possible to craft a joke that addressed Cosby as rapist, but not at the expense of the people that he raped.

    Today over at Shakesville I saw a statement to the effect that “Amazon must want us all to cancel our Kindle Prime accounts, since they just hired Woody Allen to direct” something or other. Maybe something like that, that aims at the people who are still willing to hire or promote him?

    Does anybody know any comedians? It would be interesting to see what people who are actually skilled at joke-crafting could come up with.

    • Kasabian
      January 14, 2015 at 12:10 am

      Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are pretty talented.

  14. EG
    January 14, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I’m hearing through the grapevine that one of the accusers has requested through her attorney that people not joke about what she went through. I can’t find a cite, though. Does anybody know about this?

    • trees
      January 17, 2015 at 8:03 am

      Have you heard anything more about this?

  15. January 17, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    I DON’T MAKE LIGHT OF SEX ASSAULT AND I HAVE NO RESPECT FOR ANYONE WHO DRUGS/DRUNKS SOMEONE FOR A CRIME AGAINST THEIR PERSON.

  16. McMike
    January 25, 2015 at 7:48 am

    I see a lot of people who judging from their comments, just assume Cosby is not an alleged rapist, but a rapist. Do we live in a world where an accusation equals evidence now?

    • January 25, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      Opinions expressed by persons who are not part of any court proceedings do not have to stick to the standards of court proceedings. Unless one is a sworn juror on a particular criminal case, one is not bound to presume “innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt”.

      If anyone who has expressed an opinion *either way* as to Cosby’s guilt is drafted for jury duty, then either the prosecution or the defence team will have grounds for exclusion of that person from the jury, but other than that, it’s just one more example of freedom of speech in action. (Also, before you go there, an expression of opinion rarely meets the criteria for defamation in civil law.)

      Let’s make one thing crystal clear first: slipping somebody a Mickey Finn in their coffee or other beverage so that they are incapable of resisting one having sex with them? That is definitely rape, premeditated and cynically predatory rape exulting in helplessness, not in any possible way just a “misunderstanding” about sexual cues.

      The question then becomes, is this something that Cosby has actually done, and not just once, but at least a few dozen times over several decades, according to current accusations? Every one of us will bring our own pre-existing biases to determining the likelihood that either 20+ women are lying or that one man is lying, and it’s totally OK within the law for any of us to say which way we think the likelihood falls.
      (edited for typoes and a few extra points for clarity)

    • pheenobarbidoll
      January 25, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      Last I checked, that whole presumed innocent thing also includes the accusers…who the courts view as truthfully bringing accusations. So try that one on for a bit Mikey boy.

    • ludlow22
      January 25, 2015 at 7:52 pm

      You know, I often think there’s some value to not rushing to judgement before one has all the facts, but in a case like this? You’d have to believe it’s more likely that dozens of women would all be willing to lie about being raped, than that one man would lie about being a rapist. That, to me, speaks to a pretty specific brand of misogyny.

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