Monday, January 14, 2019

Really, Sarah Silverman?

Don't be a silver man, Silverman, be a golden woman...

'I heart you, America?' Really, Sarah? I can think of another h-word more fitting than heart for a woman living in the US today. And it's no surprise to me that the show on Hulu was cancelled after one season, even if this was, according to some, because it was too left-wing and PC.

Rubbish I say; it just wasn't funny (I never saw it but that's the word on the street) and I am not surprised, because Silverman seems to have come to politics a little late and with a degree of naivety that is frankly disappointing and very unfunny.

Her choice in 2016 to be an outspoken advocate for Bernie Sanders (he was apparently a guest on her show; enough said) before coming round to support Clinton too little too late, being a case in point. She did nobody any favours with that first major public political decision of hers, in my opinion.

I like her comedy, generally, and think she's pretty sharp and daring too, which is good in a comic. But since the election flip-flop and then more recently her decision to tell the world that she sometimes used to like watching Louis C.K masturbate (though sometimes not too) and that it was different for her than it was for those other women who very much did not like being pressured into watching him masturbate because she and Louis were 'equals' and he had 'nothing to offer her', I kind of have a last-straw feeling about her comedy and character now.

Her long friendship with Louis obviously put her in a difficult position since he was exposed as a serial masturbater and pervert, but deciding to attempt to support him in this way that clearly added insult to injury for the victims of his perversion by implying that these other women were victimised because they weren't Louis' equal, is hard to reconcile with a person who actually understands or cares anything about the seriousness of the endemic sexual abuse and harassment of women by men, especially men in positions of power. It's so not reading the room, which is something a comic should be good at.

Perhaps they should get a room (do a show together).

Sure she has a right to 'speak her truth' and see the world her own way and not empathise with women victimised by men because she personally hasn't suffered it. But I don't have to like it. It's just so fucking old to be confronted by yet another influential, successful woman whose first reflex is to support and defend a powerful man (indeed men) rather than the less powerful, some of them career-ruined, people of her own gender who have been victimised by that man and had to hide their wounds for years or risk losing their careers.

Her apology when one of his victims stood up to her comment was genuine enough, but the woman, who was clearly re-victimised by Silverman's cocky assumption that it was different for her, did not seem to think it was enough.

And she is right. If we want true gender equality, it's not enough for one or two of us to get it at the expense of the rest. Indeed that minority success of a few women has been a major obstacle to real equality for women for centuries. What we want is an equality where we all get to live with a sense that men (and other women) recognise our shared and equal humanity. No one who makes another person watch them masturbate, clearly against their will, cares about that person's humanity. That's the bottom line, and the top line too, and Louis needs to own it and apologise for that and explain it in full. What was he thinking? Was he thinking? If not why not? Let's have it out either way. It's your turn to squirm, Louis.

So I say don't be a silver man Silverman, be a golden woman and get Louis to apologise and explain himself properly and humbly. Never mind feeling the Bern, get Louis to feel the squirm, as he got all those women to squirm, and you might just redeem yourself. Now is not the time for naive politics and patriotism. Now is the time to get them to feel the squirm.

Happy New Year...
(This was developed from an earlier unpublished post of mine but seeing that Louis is still making mistakes in his ill-judged attempted comeback, I figure it is topical enough).

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Funny Cows

This is not about cows -- heads up for the uninitiated.
I miss this shit 
This is my final blog for the year, a year that has been very fucking funny and very fucking far from funny too.

It has been an interesting year you could say, on and off the comedy stage. I put on my first hour-long 'one-woman' comedy show at the Auckland Fringe Festival and it sold out. We even had to turn some people away. Some of my friends may never speak to me again. Serves them right for underestimating my pulling power. Hmm...

There were a lot of laughs at those three 50-seater shows and at one of them an English guy in the audience told my husband he should pack me off to the Edinburgh Fringe pronto: 'She's just as funny as that lot', said he. So you never know, after what happened later in the year, my husband may well do that.

Because after I made it to the semi-finals of the Raw Comedy Quest (to find the country's funniest new comedian), my second and final year of Raw, and performed to a very good reception on the night, applause break and all, I got royally shafted by the man who runs and judges the comp and had to watch yet another batch of less funny (on audience reaction) teenage and twenty-somethings, 70% of them male, be put through to the finals ahead of me for the second year in a row, some of them only in their first year of Raw, and I snapped. I became a very unfunny cow indeed.

And Friday last week, after months of wrangling with the Comedy Guild and then the Human Rights Commission over my claim of gender and age discrimination against that shafter in chief, I spent three hours in mediation with him and a woman called Holly who did her best to keep things civil between us but did not entirely succeed. Nothing was resolved (I'm sworn not to disclose any details of what was said there), so I might still take my complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal that is a public process open to the media, to get this thing out in the open and on record. It shouldn't happen, what he did to me. Change is needed.

Meanwhile the shafter in chief has banned me from his club, which happens to be the only comedy club in the city and the main club in the country, which has shut down my stand-up 'career' for the time being. Last month I also bailed on my Fringe show before cancellation fees for the venue kicked in, losing my nerve after all that has happened since the last one.

"Maxine Peake is magnificent in Adrian Shergold’s
unflinching drama about a stand-up on the 70's northern club circuit".
The Guardian.
All is not lost, though. I am still laughing indeed, not least at the Brit film Funny Cow, reviewed by The Guardian as a film full of 'grit and wit' that we watched a couple of weeks back and it reminded me of all that female stand-up, especially mature female stand-up, can be and and is, which was reassuring, even if I can't be doing it for the time being. It's one of the best films I've seen in years. You've got to hand it to the Brits, they do grit and wit better than anyone.

Hopefully I'll find a way back to stand-up some day soon and even make it to the Ed Fringe one day, preferably before I lose my grip on the wit.

Merry Xmas.    

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Grace and gracelessness ('Not all men')

Grace Millane 22 murdered in Auckland last week.
National vigils held this week for her and all the women victims of male violence
in this country (and every other).
When I was researching and writing about male violence against women and the public-political response to it in the first decade of this century, there was no 'not all men' protest when there was a public outcry against this violence.

Apart from the global uptake of internet commentary since then, this was because a) there was scarcely any public outcry against this violence then, though it was no less rampant, and b) the male lament of blaming the feminist man-haters for making up stories to bring men, all men down was implicit in this lack of public outcry and in the much louder narratives written into law and public policies of female provocation, denial of the extent of the problem, especially with domestic violence, which was my focus, and the outrageous claim that women are just as violent as men when the facts tell of women experiencing injury and death at the hands of men at a rate for which there is simply no female-to-male comparison.

My own mother bought into all this women-blaming and denial of the problem, as did the vast majority of people, men and women, commenting and making decisions around male violence against women. Feminists have been fighting such an uphill battle for so long to get the public and parliaments of their countries to care about murdered, raped and maimed women, especially those in a domestic setting but really all of them. They are all connected.

This is changing as we speak as the vigils attended by thousands for murdered women like Grace and for all the women slain at the hands of men are a powerful sign of significant change. And it seems to me, as someone watching the public response to gendered violence for a long time that this change has been fuelled by the global female indignation over Trump's election and the Women's March in early 2017 and the Me Too movement that was also in part a response to this that has shown women who had not previously identified with feminist causes, and perhaps some men - but far from all men - that what we have here is a serious problem of male power and violence out of control and women being the main victims of this rampant power abuse and toxic masculinity but everyone being the victims in the long run.

And although thousands of men, many more men in fact than are joining the outcry against the violence, are contributing publicly to what one journalist here has well described as 'the astonishing selfishness of "not all men"'  protests, the fact that men are having to yell so loudly about how unfair we are being to them in protesting about male violence against raped and murdered women and are being rightly and widely shamed for this, is a sign that the balance of the public narrative and concern has shifted significantly and hopefully lastingly in favour of taking male violence against women seriously and in realising that the male sense of superiority and entitlement and unchecked power to disrespect and dominate women at every level of society is all part of the problem.

RIP Grace, your violent, tragic death has already sewn the seeds of a movement towards a world in which women like you and their daughters and granddaughters may indeed be able to rest (ramble and riot) in peace.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Rock Between: Top Ten Comedians Now and Then

This image, the only one I could find that sort of fit Time magazine's ranking of the "10 best comedy specials" of 2018, is a little misleading. Hannah Gadsby's special was ranked top and Ali Wong's special was ranked third top. Chris Rock's special came in sixth. Yet this image puts him front and centre, like he's the main event.

The gender ratio is about right, the top ten included six women and four men, but the image doesn't really reflect the gender ranking, which had women in the top five spots. As this ranking is an unprecedented event in the ranking of male and female comedians anywhere it is surely the biggest news in this story, yet the article (which pictures Gadsby alone), as with this image used to advertise the list elsewhere, downplays if not distorts this part of the story.

If you compare Time's top ten with Rolling Stone's 2017 Top 50 stand-up comedians of all time, the gender ranking and ratio of Time's top ten is historically very big news indeed, because in RS's top 50 only one woman made it to the top ten (Joan Rivers), and only one of the women in Time's top ten this year (Tig Notaro) made it onto RS's top 50 last year, albeit RS's list was of dead as well as living comedians which is going to bias the list in favour of males, even if a significant percentage of the women included in that list are also dead.

Overall there were eleven women in the RS top 50, so a little over a fifth (22%), most of them in the bottom half, and just 1% in the top ten, whereas the Time top ten list has 60% women and all but one of these women ranked in the top half. Rock is ranked 5th best stand-up comedian of all time in the 2017 RS list, and none of the women comedians who outranked him on the Time list rank anywhere on the RS list.

Time and Rolling Stone are different magazines no doubt, and their lists were for slightly different purposes, too. But still the comparison and contrast of these two lists tells I think of a significant cultural shift in the industry driven by increasing numbers of women standing up, more of these women being given the platform to stretch their comedic legs on their own terms, not as one of the blokes - thanks mostly to Netflix - and then these women being recognised for these talents. The first move has been occurring for some years now but the second and third shifts have happened largely since early last year when RS presumed to tell us who the funniest stand-ups of all time are, and included five times as many men as women.

Since that time less than two years ago systemic sexism in the comedy and wider entertainment industry has been exposed and the cost of that sexism through women speaking out about sexist men, not least comedians like Cosby and C.K. (who both ranked in RS's top 10) - and Rock too, who made fun of sexism, indeed of rape, after the RS ranking had been published, and didn't get away with it as much as he had expected to - has been brought to light and taken seriously in a way that has not happened before in any industry.

So one way or another 2017 and 2018 have been watershed years for women in comedy, which means for men in comedy too, and for women and men everywhere else as well, because changed perceptions about who and what is funny changes everything, at least it has the potential to. Flying on our local Air New Zealand carrier earlier this year I tuned in to listen to 'The Comedy Hour: Various Artists', drawn by the 'various' as much as by the 'comedy'. Alas 'various' was not so various in this 2018 comedy line-up, recorded in this order (I didn't listen to all):

Louis C.K.
Joe Rogan
Bill Burr
Bill Hicks
George Carlin
Patrice O'neal
Artie Lange
Jimmy Carr
Eddie Izzard

The all-male comedy line-up suggests we have some way to go before lists of 'various' comedians include, for the sake of accuracy if not fairness, at least one representative from the other half of the human race, preferably more than one. Time's line-up makes a good start towards this much needed change.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Woman on a wire

Enough said.


A quick apology to my younger son - and possibly all the sons - for using the Zeke filter; apparently it's the height of uncool. But I am out on a limb here, walking on a wire in boots and it's not easy to know how to achieve the right look and perfect balance when you're out on a wire in boots, especially when you're a woman. Wait, the explanation for that sweeping statement about it being harder for women follows.

A while back I searched images for 'analyst' wanting to develop an analysty logo for a new project I'm working on and every single person featured in the numerous images offered was a generic man in form and attire, which is why my 'woman' on a wire looks, shall we say, a little metro-sexual (if we can still use that slightly outmoded term), wearing a kick-out skirt over trousers, which is not an outfit I'd ever recommend or wear, nor is it an outfit suggestive of a particularly sharp analytical (or artistic) mind, especially the eyelashes, which kind of got away from me, possibly due to a subconscious menopausal hankering for the return of my younger lashes.

Though I do quite like 'her' all the same. Sometimes you can like people more for their flaws than their strengths, so the eyelashes that could be mistaken for eye fingers are kind of growing on me (if only they would!). And I think she's gutsy too for walking out on a wire in knee-high boots. I bet that Frenchman who needs a bloody great pole for balance (in addition to his other, rather shorter pole) when he walks out on a wire, couldn't do it in boots. In fact I have it on good authority that he wears special wire-walking shoes. Hmph! Men. They're always getting a leg up, or at least a shoe up.

Speaking of the French, I was reading earlier this morning about this remarkable French woman who had her head removed for advancing ideas of equality between people of all races and genders, as well as capital tax, social welfare and various other political reforms that came to pass eventually in some degree, if they are yet to be realised in full anywhere, two-hundred-plus years after she advanced them in 1791. Off with her head! Nasty woman.

So inspired by this 'nasty woman', who wrote possibly the first feminist treatise, which has been all but lost to history till quite recently, I decided this morning to add an 'e' to my 'overanalyst', which makes no difference to the spellchecker that rejects the word either way, and probably makes no difference to anything else, though it does change the pronunciation of the final syllable from list to leest, which I prefer, for my own reasons that are difficult to explain in brief, and we've run out of time.

Indeed I am partly calling myself an overanalyste in an attempt to recognise a slight personal flaw and work through that flaw by thinking and writing more concisely, as if I were indeed walking on a wire, without a pole of any length, or special shoes to help me, and having to focus on just one thing: namely, not falling. And getting to the other side. And wondering if I should have tied my hair up in a ponytail to look less like a transvestite and reduce wind resistance. So three things. And...   

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Googling myself

Now normally I'm FAR too busy to waste time googling myself, but...

this afternoon, after a virtuous morning, I happened to have a spare moment or two and decided to treat myself to myself, as it were, and found this little line-up of ladies, one of whom, I won't say which (she's a different colour) is not me.

I think possibly the confusion came in because this other Sacha Jones has a fringe, though you can't necessarily see it in this picture, and I searched for my name with fringe, as you can see, even though in one of the pictures that is me I don't have a fringe. Confusing. But life can be confusing. 

Anyway, I just thought I'd explain that, as far as possible, for the record.

As you were.