Homophobia's still going strong in 21st-century comedy

Categories: Funny Ha Ha

JamesFranco.jpg
James Franco's Comedy Central Roast had 26 jokes about his possible bisexuality.

Homophobia in popular culture began to fade in the '70s, and for the most part was dead and gone by the '90s. With music, it began with disco and was stomped to death by riot grrrl. In film it was exposed with Boys in the Band, and deemed passé with My Own Private Idaho. Art and fashion have been gay since Michelangelo's hyper-homo "David," and even sports have begun to come out of the closet in recent years.

But for whatever reason, large swaths of standup comedy remain as vigorously anti-gay as a Michelle Bachman speech at Liberty University. The most recent evidence of this was the 26 "you're gay!" jabs directed at James Franco during his Comedy Central Roast last week. This was excessive even for the characteristic locker-room, juvenile behavior of most roasts, and even though there's been a strong progressive streak in standup since the "smart comedy" revival of the '90s, the medium remains a haven for bro-down butt-smackers who still think the greatest insult a man can receive is the accusation of being light in the loafers.

See also: Dave Chappelle's "meltdown" was more Bill Burr than Michael Richards

Typically, I agree with the Morgan Freeman tweet in hating " the word homophobia. It's not a phobia. You are not scared. You are an asshole." The issue of sexual regression is much too complex to merely designate as a fear. But in this one instance, the phrase actually reaches its zenith.

Despite being around 95 percent heterosexual, my high school years were chockful of abuse for being gay. Hardly a day went by that I wasn't railroaded in the hallways, shoved into a recycling bin or (paradoxically) de-pants in front of my peers while someone derisively shouted, "Fuck you, fag!" This became such a frequent occurrence that I often considered finding a boy to hook up with if only so I could justify the abuse.

But I wasn't gay, and I think most of these assholes knew it. They only used the accusation because it was, in their minds, the most potent insult you could hurl at someone.There's a lot of history and psychology behind this that I won't get into here, but suffice it to say that there are certain emotionally insecure males who would rather be thought of as a rapist than someone who takes a stiffy up their tush.

And emotional insecurity is what standup comedy is all about. Every other interview I do with a comedian at some point drifts toward insecurity and being overly sensitive. "That's why we're fucking comedians," said Marc Maron, the comedic prince of self-loathing, in a recent interview I did with him. "Being a comedian is a way to preemptively control that sensitivity; it's a way to frame things so they don't hurt you. Sensitivity is important if you're going to be a good comic."

Obviously this doesn't always lead to being homophobic. At least half the working comics today are self-aware enough to know how antiquated a "hey cocksucker!" joke is going to come off -- but not enough to extinguish this thriving wave of anti-gay ammunition bouncing around comedy clubs throughout the country.



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24 comments
petersonjulie
petersonjulie

It's largely male comedians pissing against each other, and part of the crime is that they do it in front of bored and offended audiences. If we keep quiet about it, Jon Lovitz (for example, let's just say) will continue to make a pathetic living from it until he drops dead. It's all about "killing" with these guys, so ignoring them in person is great, but talking about how antediluvian and repulsive they are is not that bad an idea if it eventually hurts their careers. His last SNL tour had people in the Midwest getting their money back in advance.

Ephen Stephens
Ephen Stephens

"Um... doesn't anybody else know that Da Vinci didn't do "David?" It was the one with the orange bandana." Best comment yet.

Heaven Northrop
Heaven Northrop

I don't know comics attack everyone at some point or another and if you can't laugh at yourself what is the point. I try not get offend when comics make jokes about women because most of the time they are funny. Don't take yourself to seriously.

Reuben James
Reuben James

and to quote Lisa Lampanelli " If you can take a D^%K you can take a joke!

Reuben James
Reuben James

because SOME people find homophobia FUNNY. who cares that some people think its rude or intolerant. to some people its not natural and they may find some COMEDIANS point of view to be funny. and comedy is very very hard to be successful. so some comedians may use that in their bits at certain shows just for easy laughs. heres what i think is a better question. gays want straights to be tolerant, but in return they wont be tolerant? DOUBLE STANDERS? get over it people not everyone is the same and with this many humans on the planet you will have to interact with people that do not fit into your personal beliefs or what you consider "normal". Just get over yourselves and realize that all people are different and some other people may just find something funny about someone else, and the god forbid they tell it to others in the form of a joke? just don't support those comedians if you dont like that.

masongreen
masongreen

Um... doesn't anybody else know that Da Vinci didn't do "David?" It was the one with the orange bandana.

Benjamin Bradburn
Benjamin Bradburn

You keep saying this word homophobia. I don't think this word means what you think it means.

Ann Redford
Ann Redford

These roasts are typically exceedingly racist, so I guess this time since they had a white guy, they had to go after something else. Humor doesn't have to be "clean" to be funny, but it doesn't have to be defamatory either.

Ross Brasher
Ross Brasher

I like gay people and offensive jokes. Get the fuck over it. Do you need attention so badly that you've gotta cry about comedy?

Justin Faloon
Justin Faloon

how is someone discriminating against them by being homophobic? Because a person (which by the way I could care less if someone is gay or not, I treat them as I treat anyone) doesn't like or doesn't understand the gay life style and chooses not to associate with anyone who is gay is being discriminatory? I don't like what a lot of groups of people stand for or are about, does that mean I'm discriminating towards them. NO. People want to force something down peoples throat and say take it and like it or you're discriminating against me. Again laughable.

Craig Hawkins
Craig Hawkins

You're free to think that, but to say it's not discrimination just shows how far your head is up your rear.

Justin Faloon
Justin Faloon

A persons decision is based on their own judgement. Yes I'm making a blanket statement, stating I could care less what people think of any "class" of people. It's called free thinking. It doesn't matter if you think that it's right or wrong, it's not your place or right to decide how people think of others. To think that because you or someone else thinks that it isn't right to like or dislike something is laughable. Instead of running around whining that people don't like something, try educating them and maybe they'll find that what they fear isn't so bad. I along with any other free thinking individual will continue making my own decisions on liking or disliking something based on my own judgement. Comedians make jokes about all races, genders, religions and everything else that will make people laugh, who cares. If you don't like it, don't go. What a stupid statement back at ya LOL.

Mike McClure
Mike McClure

That's a simple answer, comedy has always been the avenue that is used to talk about subjects that are taboo or politically incorrect.

Christopher David
Christopher David

The day comedians censor themselves is the day comedy dies. For me, it's not the subject matter that makes a joke funny/unfunny, it's how the joke is structured. Nobody needs to go crusading on this topic. Gay or straight, we're all people and, gay or straight, most of us can take a joke at our own expense.

Craig Hawkins
Craig Hawkins

Yes it is. If you don't like gay people, that's no different than trying to defend someone who doesn't like black people. You're making a blanket judgement to an entire class of person without giving them a chance to see who they are as a person. If you meet a gay person and don't like him because of his or her personality, that's different. Saying "I don't like gay people" is an ignorant and discriminating comment. Period. What a stupid comment.

Jack Gormley
Jack Gormley

Isn't that a photo of James Franco kissing James Franco? Terrifying doesn't begin to express it.

Damon Wood
Damon Wood

cos they comment on any and everything. period. and good for comedians.

Justin Faloon
Justin Faloon

Another who cares moment. People can be the way that they want to be. For now, it's a free country. If straight people don't like gay people, so what. If gay people don't like straight people, who cares. It's not always discrimination, it can sometimes be a decision of like and dislike on both parts. So get over it, move on and stop whining.

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