Monday, March 28, 2011

All Apologies, Cont.

In my last post, I described the sorry tale of George Lopez's comedic encounter with Kirstie Alley, in which the jester made fun of the actress by calling her a pig three different ways during a commentary on her performance on Dancing with the Stars. She then played him like a cheap guitar. She made him dance and huff and puff and buy her flowers while she sat on the twitter-sidelines landing cruel tweet-jabs to his soft spots.

The New York Daily News, which deserves none of the respect it doesn't get, ran a poll in their story about this celebrity huff-fest. Let me see if I can copy it here:

Lopez vs. Alley

What do you think of George Lopez's comments about Kirstie Alley?

So, let's just run through the options.

"If it walks like a pig and talks like a pig..." it's . . . George Lopez? No, no, no. I see. Okay. Let's play along. This option is presumably for people who think Kirstie Alley is actually a pig.

"He's a comedian. It was just a joke that he didn't really mean." I'm coming back to this one.

"They were rude and unnecessary." Right, very interesting idea. As opposed to jokes that aren't rude and are necessary?

You don't have to know anything about online polls to know that you don't have to know anything to answer them. But giving people an option of "I don't know" in a poll of this nature is just cruel.

Obviously, this poll was not designed and implemented by geniuses. It switches from a singular to a plural tally, and, weirdly, all four options can be equally true. I answered the poll (I won't say which button I pushed) in order to see the results. Approximately 70% of respondents committed themselves to the belief that the joke was "rude and unnecessary". 25% were under the impression that George Lopez is a comedian. 4% thought Kirstie Alley was a pig. And 1% had expended the energy to click on a button that would signify to the entire world that they just did not know where they stood on the whole George Lopez-Kirstie Alley conflict. We'll call them "independents."

Three things we know: 1) Because this poll does not give us crude data about answers, we are unable to draw scientific conclusions; 2) This poll is written by dolts for dolts; 3) Everybody answering this poll is wrong.

Okay, so this poll was probably not written by dolts for dolts; it was probably written by some flustered, stoned intern between blow-jobs, who had to come up with something for the online edition or else the editor was going to give him another blow-job. We know some other things as well: we know that online polls are enticing fluff to make the whole experience seem interactive; we know that they're so pseudoscientific they make regular pseudoscience look sophisticated and empirical.

But there's something interesting in flaws. We're offered a pair of opponents right at the outset, "Lopez vs Alley". But this ain't a fair match. In the first option, a woman is turned into an "it" and a pig, and we're given the ellipsis of insinuation; in the second option, the man remains a "he" and is granted a profession, all of which is delivered in not one but two crisp sentences. This ain't a level playing field.

And what about that second option? "He is a comedian. It was just a joke that he really didn't mean." I wonder if the three parts of this defence ring any bells?

  • Does it matter who tells the joke? "He is a comedian."
  • What is the role of ambiguity in comedy? "He doesn't really mean it."
  • What is it to be funny? "It's just a joke."

  • At the end of the last post I promised I would explain why I didn't think George Lopez should apologize. But I've become bored with the story, so I'm going to deal with comedians and apologies with another example. That'll be the next post.


    Daniel F said...

    Fascinating stuff, sw. I am looking forward to the next installment.

    Sven said...

    Why did you the fuck break your promising? Now how can I believe that what you promised will be your "next post" will in fact be what you promised it will to be? I can't, I can?

    I did love the line about blow-jobs! I like blow-jobs?