A Cunt By Any Other Name
There’s another fooforaw over a word and who used it and about whom. This time, it’s the Onion tweeting the following on Oscar night, apparently the night of nights.
I can’t believe I missed it. No wait, I can. I was at the home of a freak I met on the internet, several years ago now, eating and drinking.
Here’s what I consumed: jalapeno martini, cheeses, pates, artichokes, beer, wine, pork loin, caesar salad, butternut squash, champagne, chocolate cake, scotch.
I clock in at more or less 120 pounds and 5’5″ and oddly enough I just felt very tired until about noon the next day (including a couple of hours where I pronounced myself clinically dead) and then a miracle was visited upon my good self and I felt fine.
My bad self felt even finer.
I put it down to a fried egg on toast, a fruit shake made with frozen fruit & water, a one hour walk with the dog, and defying the guilt and shame that is the worst part of every hangover – especially for Scottish Presbyterians.
Remember kids, guilt and shame kills.
But back to the Onion and its daring do on Oscar night – here’s the tweet:
“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?”
Now, my beef with the tweet isn’t that it calls a nine-year-old girl a cunt (I know, I know, but I’m not in the running for mother of the year anyway, so eff off, haters) it’s that it’s not funny enough. If you’re going to call a nine-year-old girl a cunt, you’d better make effin’ sure it’s in an “lol” kind of way.
You co-opt, in other words. (I hope Seth MacFarlane is reading this.)
Now, my satirical genius better half thought the tweet was funny when I showed it to him, but he didn’t “lol”. In fact, it was worse than that because he had to explain to me why it was funny.
#Fail. No wait, #Epicfail. If you have to explain the joke, apologize.
My younger sister used to look dead on at my mother with a gleam in her eye when my mother would ask her to get wood for the fire (no, we didn’t live outside, we had a fireplace, and for some reason my younger sister took on the role of man-about-the-house) and say, “I’ll get it when I’m good and ready, ye auld CUNT”.
Well, I guess you had to be there, but it was, omigawd, so funny. And every time, too. It’s sad, really, that I might never hear it again because my mother lives in a senior’s residence now and there aren’t any chores to do.
I think it came about because my bachelor uncle, who came to our place every Christmas and often in the summer, too, had a real Eddie Haskell thing going on with my mother, but a real W.C. Fields thing going on with us. And we’d known him to call women cunts and ratted him out to my mother but she’d never do anything about it because she didn’t care about anything that didn’t directly involve her.
Omigawd, another breakthrough!
(Meanwhile, if you’re a psychologist reading this, please just eff off to another blog, thank you.)
But here’s the thing, Louis CK (I know, I know “Louis, Louis, Louis”) does a bit about hitting a deer, and in the bit he calls the deer every name in the book, including cunt and including nigger.
He’s a white man calling a dead deer a cunt and a nigger and it’s laugh out loud funny and there’s just no way to call him on it because he’s co-opted you into the joke. Or me, anyway. And I defy you to watch his hitting a deer bit and not be co-opted.
Back when I worked at the NDP caucus at Queen’s Park I hooked up with a guy who came from the Sun to be Bob Rae’s press secretary. Now, he was as rightwing then as anyone at the Sun is today, so I have no idea why he was hired, but he was very funny. He was normal height and weight but he reminded me of Henry VIII the way he’d eat and drink. It was disgusting, but fascinating.
(No, seriously – stop reading, EVERYBODY!)
He also made fun of me from sunrise to sunset and all night long. My clothes, hair, my teeth, how I walked, how I sat, my politics, my friends. He did almost all the talking because I didn’t want to say anything that would drive him away, I was so infatuated with him, so he didn’t have a lot to make fun of conversation-wise, but he had so much else to make fun of, it really didn’t matter.
Anyway, I was always trying to sell him to people (I mean, he was really really funny) but no one was buying, and then one day I was hanging out with my friend, B, who was always working hard while I was always hardly working and that’s how we became BFs, and my boyfriend (oh yeah… don’t tell my ex about this one, either) comes in and starts making fun of Today’s Child.
No, not Today’s Child – the advertising of Today’s Child.
(If you’re still reading, Today’s Child was an adoption feature in the daily newspaper that really went on well past its due date. The children advertised faced myriad challenges, of course, and were all well beyond the newborn stage after which ones chances of adoption dwindle down to somewhere close to zero.)
The funny thing was, he thought he could shock her, even though he’d never shocked me, and she was from Hamilton. He’d often lipped off to me about how politically correct our colleagues were and even though I knew better (the funniest people I’ve ever met worked at the NDP caucus at Queen’s Park back in the mid to late ’80s) he had the usual rightwing bluster about lefties and humour (also looks, fashion, yadda yadda blah blah).
The most fashionable women I’ve ever met also worked at the NDP caucus at Queen’s Park in the mid to late ’80s, too.
Anyway, in no time at all she had him on the ropes, upping him at his own game until he started protesting she was going too far, not cool, off limits, no fair. It was the beginning of the end for us because he got kind of weird about it and started hugging the walls whenever she’d pass us in the halls and eventually he started bitching about her more than mocking me and it was all over except the sex that had never been our strong point anyway.
Okay, reading that back, even I’m a little perturbed by the relationship now.
Oh, but before that time came, I was at his place and he was playing music and the “lesbians” downstairs showed up at his door as apparently they regularly did. So they’re having a back and forth and I’m in the background because I hate confrontations (and also people who play their music too loud) so I was sort of cringing, I guess, and pretty soon they were demanding to know why I was cringing in the background and what kind of monster was he and so on and so forth. The two parties gave out back and forth, some seriously hilarious accusations as to the supposed sexual practices of each were made, and eventually, after turning the music up even louder, he turned it way down.
Then, after slamming the door, he turns to me, all happy, and says, “Gawd I hate those two bitches”.
And I said, “Don’t you mean cunts?”
Well, he looked at me as if I’d just lifted my skirt and shat a pancake on the floor, “I would never use that word to describe a woman – ever.” Something more about his father, yadda yadda blah blah, and so on and so forth and more of the same etc etc.
Luckily, just before he could start thinking he was too good for me, I went on a trip to Venezuela where I fell in lurve with Ramon – who didn’t speak any English at all, so it was hard to have any verbal misunderstandings, and the laughs came as cheap and easy as everything else.
What I mean to say is, it’s not the word, it’s how you use it.