Comedic gold, she wrote

What do me and superstar drag queen RuPaul have in common? Well, apart from having the life mantra of “Unless they paying your bills, pay those bitches no mind” and discovering our best selves when blonde, our third mutual connection is our love of the television show Murder, She Wrote — one of the greatest comedies of the twentieth century. Officially, Murder, She Wrote is not a comedy.It’s a murder mystery therefore my argument may not jump out at you.  There are  no gags, a couple of zings but, all in all, it’s focused on being a whodunit: more Agatha Christie than Animal House. However, to me, the whole show seems like one running joke. The expressive range of Angela Lansbury gifs floating around the internet shows it’s not one note.  

Running jokes,without a doubt, are my favourite comedic technique. There’s so much joy to be gained from dragging a concept, wringing it out for everything it’s worth, squeezing out the last droplets, and, finally, getting gigantic groans when you yank it back. It’s so innocent, but mischievous, annoying but amazing. Masters of this are easy to hate, such as Peter Kay with his shouting about GARLIC BREAD — a joke that has its own celebrity status and a starring role in not one, but two standup comedy specials. However, its charm enchants me, with its juvenile pantomime ways, an alternative to squealing and screaming “HE’S BEHIND YOU!”

I find Murder, She Wrote to be one massive running joke one it must be in on. It’s so blindingly camp, and so not subtle in its embracing of this quality. Each episode is virtually identical, the blueprint for the last being good enough for the next.It is a televisual personification of the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Classic creations ought to be celebrated, meaning they ought to never change, as Murder, She Wrote is so determined not to do.  

Typically, Jessica is on a trip somewhere, for example, a writer’s retreat, a film festival or visiting a friend on a dude ranch somewhere in the south — these episodes are an underrated treat because of the quality and variety of the accents. Sometimes, she’s in her fictional seaside hometown of Cabot Cove, Maine. However, she’s a busy bestseller so time in her quaint cottage is limited. People, places and publishing are a constant, and international, affair.  

The beginning is dedicated to establishing that there is a conflict between the friend Jessica is visiting and a caricature of a shady person. Usually, the latter has a job that typifies their inherent evilness: oil tycoon, movie producer, minority shareholder of a sports’ team. More often than not, the murder victim is a complete dickhead, so no one is ever really sad. Often, it’s as if the murder was an act of good will, marking a new beginning. The characters can now get on with their lives, free from the deceased’s reign of terror or, more importantly, claim on their intellectual property.

Normally,Jessica’s host is the one accused, despite many others having motivations,obvious or hidden from the viewer, for also being guilty. Rarely, or, hardly ever, is Jessica’s dear friend the actual killer; she is usually just placed under arrest, while Jessica irritates poor police officers, who are seasoned professionals, merely doing their job. The two parties spar for a bit, the cop insisting that writing about murderers doesn’t make you qualified at catching murderers. However, it would be annoying not to have her. This is true for a multitude of reasons,  but mainly because she’s so darn tooting capable. Her background in being around, and catching murderers is solid. Jessica is indeed an unasked for but useful aid.

This brings me to the endless humour garnered from the fact that no one, when they spot Jessica Fletcher, screams “FOR FUCK’S SAKE, SOMEONE IS GOING DIE” because she’s like that cat in nursing homes who perches on the knee of the Grim Reaper’s next visit. Whenever Jessica is near, so is death. She’s the magnet, and murder is the metal. Be prepared ladies and gentlemen: someone who is the victim of a vendetta is amongst you.

Oscar, the Jessica Fletcher of cats, who visits those on death’s door

It’s unclear if she’s good at figuring out murders because she writes murders or if she is good at writing murders because she figures them out. I suppose, after a while, it must all blur into one. Surely, this is one of literature’s greatest questions— do we write what we know or what we want to know?

Regardless, it ignites another question; how the FBI or some other equally large and ominous institution hasn’t snapped her up to use her power for good or ill; the choice is yours, because her confession rate is stellar, exemplary even. It is vital to Ms Fletcher’s morality, and identity as a writer, that she remains an impartial agent Nevertheless, she seems to have the best of both worlds:getting to live a rather lavish life as a lowly writer –  one that must be relatively unheard of in today’s world –  and then assisting with really juicy crimes all over the country, and sometimes the world. Destinations have stretched as far as a London and Paris, reflecting Jessica’s versatility;she is both cosmopolitan and country.   My love for and frequent viewing of the show stem from it being one of the few works of fiction my grandmother and I vaguely agree on. Our ritual is watching it together,eating fish and chips, while she complains they are too cold. I’ll insist on disagreeing, but she won’t believe me. To me, the exchange  – cries of “Clara, these chips are too sodding cold. Yours must be too!” –   is all of a piece with an heiress with a terrible perm and ruby red shoulder pads being accused of killing their seedy uncle

The Little Feminist?

Keira Knightley is banning her young daughter from watching what she deems sexist Disney movies. Despite the world still turning after this announcement, you might have thought otherwise; at one point Sky News was obsessed with this decision, deeming it feminist child abuse, and getting  Nick Ferrari to perform an embarrassing skit, reading out a “woke” fairy tale, mocking this parenting decision. Intellectually, this is a choice I don’t agree with, but can grasp.

Historically, fairytales were written by men, aiming to push a budding agenda. The Brothers Grimm famously did this to inspire sentiments of German nationalism, a movement marked by merging majesty, magic and macho masculinity. The anthology they collected remains popular, taking their most famous form as Disney’s earlier films; Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.

 

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Cries of “THEY ARE JUST STORIES” have followed. This isn’t something I have sympathy for. The notion that once the words are on a page the motivations of the writer are no longer relevant is foolish.  Frankly, it’s insufficient to claim that the death of the author changes things because they are not just stories. The scope of critique is hobbled because everything is a product of something: a time, a person, an ideology. Context is important, therefore should not be ignored. Aiming narratives at children does not render them apolitical. A conversation about this isn’t superficial: the proposition of a Disney free home as preposterous is just as juvenile as the films’ key demographic.

While, its weird as it is for an international news channel to churn out so much content concerning Keira’s choice, because its not as if Murdoch’s editorial team could be focusing on other issues; Generally I am on their side of the aisle. I respect her right to do as she pleases, and to live by her own standards. There are worse things she could as a parent — neglect, abuse them or insist on wearing matching outfits.

However, honestly, her conclusion inhabits shaky ground so I’ll call her out. Plainly and simply, there is no method to this madness. She allows for some Disney, which is no crime; we know it’s bad, but it’s just so goddamn enchanting. Its charm is inescapable. Attempts to fight it are admirable but ultimately limited, because evil is often charming. Disney’s later outputs, like 2014’s Frozen, makes Kiera’s cut. This story of literal heartwarming sisterly love is based loosely on Hans Christen Anderson’s The Snow Queen. Knightley does not grant the same permission to Disney’s first foray into adapting Anderson; The Little Mermaid.

Judging by Frozen’s repetition of regressive Disney tropes, such as tiny waists and bug eyes, the problem must lie with the popular idea that Ariel, the character the title refers, surrenders the only life she’s ever known for a man she just met.

To add insult to injury, this man must heroically save her while she puts on a masterclass in being a damsel in distress. Well, I’m here to point out this basic synopsis is just that. Hopefully I’ll be less inane than Ferrari, which, come to think of it, is always a goal of mine.

 

Yes, Ariel does swap her voice for legs, which on the surface is hasty, but Ariel lacks options. King Triton, her abusive father, prevents her from leaving – exhibiting controlling behaviour such as smashing her prized possessions, the material representations of her rebellion –  providing a literal embodiment of patriarchy: the fog that flattens females, and while not a guiding light, but The Little Mermaid has feminist flickers. It’s a coming age story, of a woman who dares to voices her desires, explore her complexities and act on impulse. Frankly, its not the story of woman risking it all for a man she’s never met. Of course, it would be silly to say she doesn’t do that. The girl’s clearly an idiot, but she’s sixteen. Find me a teenager thats not, and I’ll do a Paddy Ashdown, however, her romantic feelings don’t ignite the will to go. It’s established during the musical monologue “Part of Your World” Ariel is obsessed with humans, and not content with trinkets collected from shipwrecks.

The message of Part of Your World speaks to people. Rest assured, I’m not the only person who grew up, warbling the words “WHAT WOULD I GIVE IF I COULD LIVE OUT OF THESE WATERS, WHAT WOULD I PAY TO SPEND A DAY, WARM ON THE SAND, BET YOU ON LAND, THEY UNDERSTAND, BET THEY DON’T REPRIMAND THEIR DAUGHTERS, BRIGHT YOUNG WOMEN, SICK OF SWIMMING, READY TO STAND!”. still doing it,  in the shower and in the kitchen whenever their flatmates are out.

 

swiirl little

 

The sad thing, for Ariel and general girlkind on land, is that they don’t understand, and they do reprimand their daughters, for the same petty rationale Ariel. Historically, women everywhere have been limited by society and legality, judged by different standards to those pertaining to boys. Things are changing, but there still exist barriers to women attaining the best, most free versions of themselves. Ariel doesn’t know that yet. The song also has intersectional feminist reflections, as transgender people often reflect, the film speaks to the sensation of being in the wrong body, being destined for something different from what your birth certificate says.

Without this song, I’d be more willing to buy Keira’s reasoning. However, luckily no one with a brain listened to Disney CEO Jeffery Katzenburg after he demanded it be removed because, apparently, he found it dull. Judging by this alone, it would be safe to assume that Katzenburg also finds ice cream hot, because Katzenburg is clearly an idiot, just like those who cannot see that Ariel tells the tale of women everywhere,

I disagree with Kiera’s assessment because wanting to go out into a new world, see it, touch, feel it, is not anti feminist. Making mistakes, being a selfish teenage girl and bit of an airhead is not wrong; its part of the deal of growing up. Simply put, The Little Mermaid is the animated answer to Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun: reductive but still ringing with truth.

 

 

Russia, Royalty and The Romanovs

Back in November, on rainy Saturday afternoon, I went to see  the Russia, Royalty and the Romanovs exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery. It thoroughly was a treat: it ticked every one of my boxes: history, politics and glamour. The advertisement struck me while transferring from the Northern line to the Victoria at Euston: a painting of the wedding ceremony of Nicholas II and Alexandra stopped me in my tracks, their candlelit faces aglow: A desperation coursed through me; pushing me to text my friend Abby to arranged a date; anything to do with Russian royalty, and I am there.

It must be said; now seems like a strange time to curate a celebration of Russia, a country the UK has extra strained relations, especially at such an official institution but, what could a few accusations of international terrorism sway us history boffins from turning out to ooh and ahh at a selection of Faberge trinkets? Come to think of it; the last time we  were properly friends with Russia was pre the election of Clement Attlee. Stalin is reported to have been enamoured with Churchill; The two world leaders cooked up themselves something of a bromance. Stalin was completely bamboozled when Churchill was replaced with what he deemed a mousey man with a fraction of the charisma. While I need not prove my left wing credentials to any anonymous pair of eyes reading this, but The Romanovs have always appealed to me more than their successors combined as merely as a matter of aesthetics, the decadent excess of the prerevolutionary period is much more captivating than the bare bones of communism, and this felt new.

This exhibition supplied a first to me: a public space fully dedicated to the Romanovs.  Unless, you seek them out, they are a footnote, an honourable mention or just the interlude to what came next. To me, their way of life, governing and failure to adapt to growing political changes has kept me enamoured to know more. While every other monarchy amended themselves, Russia remained adamant to stay the same. A few important, but superficial alterations took place; the freeing of the serfs, the establishment of the Duma and so on, but the power structure remained: the tsar ruled all.

 I’ve lapped up the documentaries and gobbled up the books, but was yet to see anything in the flesh. This is not to say that museums can capture everything, but ever since I was little, the only place I’ve ever been absolutely desperate to see is St Petersburg, and this exhibit was like transferring a fraction of Tsarskoe Selo to me. Of course, I’m not the only person to be enraptured by them, and their way of life, but that poster felt like it was calling out to me, only to me.

The series of galleries provides a capsule of Imperial Russia. It is not an overtly political affair, as in it didn’t have a message differentiating it from similar showcases I’ve seen before, like the Victorian walls at the National Portrait Gallery. This is hardly surprising; it is authored by those faithful to those with noble lineage. This uniformity adds a level of consistency: Even though its Russian, it’s just like us, because its display of portraiture of Russian aristocrats, jewels and other artefacts; simply a snapshot of an era in Russian history, because that’s what it is. The influences, easily cited from its location, ought to be treated with the same as the British ruling class, because it was. This is a point made throughout — a connection between the two nations. Mainly, these stemmed from Queen Victoria, who cemented alliances via marriage.  As the display drew to a close, illusions were made to connections to Queen Elizabeth II, their distant cousin.

a featured portrait in the gallery – alluding to the connection both culturally and familiarly

If you know me and anything about my politics, this summation might astound you as I’ll declare my off with their heads republicanism. Bonfire Night makes me uncomfortable, not only to my loathing of fireworks, but the celebration of a foiled plot to assassinate royals makes me wince, but despite my magpie appreciation, I am a student of politics, and royalty is politics. Until recently, the rule of law was not the defacto in Europe; its predecessor the divine right of kings ruled the roost. Contemporary conceptions of democracy are intertwined or created in opposition to or with royalty.

Additionally, the study of royalty can lead to the study of women in power. Of course, regal power is inherently exclusive, and not representative of womankind. In British history, we have the Elizabeths and the Marys, but Tsarinas, in particular those who ruled independently of a man, are another kettle of fish. The nature of unruly Russian royal prerogative did not change if it was wielded by a man or a woman. Misogyny still reigned, so thanks to Catherine the Great’s son Tsar Paul II, whose hatred of his mother led to the pulling of the plug on women ascending the Russian throne again. Ultimately, the lesson we can learn from royalty, and the Romanovs particular, is that women are just as ruthless, cruel and power hungry as men.

Catherine The Great
I’d like one of these for Easter

It was new to see Russian royalty presented as equals to their British counterparts. Of course, they weren’t. Tsars were seen as God’s direct anointed representative, their authority was granted by him alone, and it sank their British counterparts. There connection was a large part of the exhibit. A lot of the items were the private collection, bought by Queen Mary in the 1930s, showing that the Windsors didn’t help Nicky and co but would buy all their jewels.

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Mona Lisa’s Oscar

I know I’m nearly twenty seven years late to the party, but how on earth was Marisa Tomei’s legitimacy to the Best Supporting Actress ever questioned for her part in 1992’s My Cousin Vinny? Her role as Mona Lisa Vito is iconic, and the fact that someone would rudely suggest she was not deserving of it is plain wrong.

Now before I go on, let me get one thing straight, I don’t care, nor intend to care who the other nominees are. The Academy Awards do not interest me, unless they just frankly wrong, like Emma Stone’s performance in La La Land beating Natalie Portman’s Jackie. The only thing that needs to be said now is that I feel very passionate about that miscarriage of justice, so much that I need to save my energy for when I can articulate myself a tad eloquently.

In due respect to myself, I was not an entity in 1992, and it would take another three years for me to descend from the heavens, and arrive on planet Earth. Shocking to the system as it is that there was a whole wide world out there before the arrival of yours truly, but it the realisation that world didn’t begin when you did is soothed by the back catalogue of culture that waits for you. I’ve been wading my way through it ever since I can remember, and honestly, it might just be one of my favourite activities; discovering gems from a time long ago. Coming across touchstones from past eras is much easier now a days with the internet, although doesn’t make it any less fun.

This film was first introduced to me, as a child, by my mother, whose usual regimented rules regarding films; Rated Rs are not for children, was waived for this. Apart from the suggested gun violence, there wasn’t anything ground breakingly graphic; no blood, no tits and no drugs, just excessive amounts of swearing, which my household was an everyday occurrence. The line “What are you? A fucking world traveller?” is tame.

Last Sunday, I gave this film a re-watch, and it was still a delight, and I think largely because this film follows what I call the Elaine Benes Rule, which is that the token female character increases the watchability, memorability and quotability to a standard that would otherwise not render it such a classic. There is a myriad of films and television shows that follow this rule, examples include, and not at all limited to; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and of course, Seinfeld.

Most of the memorable lines are because of Mona Lisa, My Cousin’s Vinny’s token lady (and fiancee); the bit about hunting, comments about Chinese food in the South and the TICK, TICK, TICKING of her biological clock. She exposes the extent of Vinny’s legal procedure naivety, and becomes the defense case’s winning witness. Lisa longs to help her hapless finance, who cannot even see beyond the end of his nose to figure out she’s the key to dropped charges.

Along with being she the catalyst of the comedy, and almost best of all, she’s so unapologetically feminine, embracing all the cliches, neuroses and supposed flaws. Nagging Vinny may be her forte, but she almost needs to, because she’s the most capable character, thus differentiating herself from the stereotype of the “girlfriend”. She knows how to fix a faucet, everything about mid-century mechanics and how to throw together a stylish, well accessorised look. Her opening ensemble is the precursor to something a early era Lady Gaga would sport, particularity with those statement sunglasses. Lisa’s outfits just get better and better as the film develops, as she makes use of all her free time. There’s nothing for her to do apart from put together some fresh looks, when she’s not thanklessly bailing Vinny out of jail and doing extensive background reading about disclosure regulation She’s stuck in the sticks and cannot catch a break.

I’m a real sucker for a Strong Female Character ™, and especially ones like Mona Lisa, who are so much more, as she’s honestly just a person, who happens to a lady, who is just living her life, calling out nonsense, rolling her eyes at men who cannot seem to get through their pin heads that she has specialisms and interests that somehow intertwine with yours, that might actually lead to a knowledge base more extensive than the one you have, all while wearing an excellent body con floral jumpsuit, because why the fuck not?

I love that this role was rewarded with an Oscar because frankly, the comedy genre is underrepresented with Academy voters, and Tomei’s performance brings the writing to life; eye movements, accents and stubborn squirming in the hot seat. It might be twenty seven years old, but its a timeless character to me.

It’s Time to say how much I love Ms Cracker

Last night, I went to my first drag show. It was the penultimate show of Ms Cracker’s one woman show It’s Time.

And let me tell you, it’s time to talk about how much I loved it, Ms Cracker and the whole art form of drag.

I, like a lot of the world have become completely smitten with the world of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and learning about all the queens, their styles, influences and talents. It’s the perfect mash up of America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway and Paris is Burning. Everything about how it makes me feel, and why I like it has probably been said before, but I love how it manages to not take itself too seriously, meanwhile allowing people to dive into their greatest fantasies and explain why it means so much to them; to dress up like a woman. As a cisgender woman, I completely agree. Donning your best impression of femininity is a hoot, and it totally ought to be spread out to everyone.

I’d bought the ticket in a spur of a moment decision, imitated by my housemate, months ago. To be honest, I’d completely forgotten about it until she reminded me a few weeks ago. Being infected by cold, in both weather and respiratory system, the idea of not hurling myself into bed was so painful, but as the day went on, I lent into the notion of not being a complete bore, and hauled my ass to The Clapham Grand.

Our host for the event was Victoria Secret, a hilarious Irish drag queen I’m most definitely going to do a deep dive into. Calling up four audience members, she convinced them to recreate the Kitty Girl moment from the finale of All Stars 3, with the impromptu Shangela taking the crown home, winning an Ms Cracker branded apron. Afterward, we were treated to a lip sync by a queen whose name I couldn’t quite catch, but gave a hell of a performance. In the costume change of the main event, she treated us to a lip sync to Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next, and with its accompanying slide show of PIERS MORGAN, NEXT, BREXIT, NEXT, HOMOPHOBIA, NEXT, SEXISM, NEXT, really reminded me the scope of drag, about how its about coming together to rally against society’s hegemony of right wing nonsense. Drag is inherently linked to the emancipation of marginalised communities, and no matter how commercially glossy it gets, its Stonewall roots ought never be forgotten.

The title of the show referred to how it was time to stop the bullshit, and how Ms Cracker had been born of two parents who hated each other, so therefore she never fully learnt to love herself, and instead of hitting the deep seeded issues on the head, she was medicated with “booze, boys, bills and pills.” Each temporary, but ultimately, useless bandage exacerbated the underlying issue, until she lost it all, broke down, but discovered drag.

Each vice was represented with a vogue laced lip sync, introduced by slick stand up, concluding with a ballad breakdown to her life saving solution; drag.

The whole tone was deeply American, with its messages of “self love”, but sometimes thats exactly what the doctor ordered, particularly on a cold, sleeting Tuesday night. Cracker was insightful, funny, honest, and deserved tens across the board!

The show was concluded with a message of how women and queers need each other, and girl, she is right.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch her next tour American Woman in 2020!

Top ten favourite books

I love writing so therefore I love books. If this equation makes no sense to you, you make no sense to me.

I love hearing about people’s favourite books. They tell you something about them, also they are a great recommendation source. Often, picking up a book is scary because it could be rubbish, or insanely placid. When they come with a reference, you feel slightly more assured.

I’ve been considering what counts as my favourite books. They’ll hopefully change as I devour more titles. Reading has improved my writing, and I always want my writing to get better, stronger, clearer. Additonally, its less punishing than writing, as often it feels like pulling teeth. Reading is relaxation, entertainment and the best way to spend time when the wifi has died.

I’ve racked my brain to decide, until the next book comes along that knocks it off, my ten favourite books. Some of these titles, I read this year, only once, and some I’ve read again and again since primary school.

So here goes…

  1. Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis

I love glamour and I love funny, and this book marries the two concepts together perfectly. Bianca Del Rio recommended it me, via an interview with the BFI about her favourite movie; the adaptation of this book, starring the ever excellent Rosalind Russell. It manages to be both light and airy, with zaps of poignant social commentary.

  • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Attwood

This book was my first foray into the wonderful world of Margaret Attwood, and reading for pleasure post my degree studies. To give a synopsis would be giving major spoilers, however it’s a long, multifaceted period piece, sweeping over nearly the entire of the 20th century, and is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

David Sedaris might be one of the biggest inspirations, when it comes to both my real life and in my writing. How he manages to be so cruel, so comedic but so caring towards his fellow man is an fine-tuned art form. This book makes me cry with laughter, and things that do that ought to be held dear.

  • The Colour Purple by Alice Walker

This book makes you experience a rainbow of emotions; sadness, anger, happiness and so many others. It is most definitely a celebration of female relationships and a depiction of race in America post slavery, pre 1960s.

  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Harry Potter fans credit JK Rowling’s series as making them into a reader; Meg Cabot’s royal series made me into one. Great personal pain stems from Michael Moscovitz for many reasons; for both not being real and not being in love with me.

  • Slouching Towards Bethelehem by Joan Didion

This book is reason why, and what seems countless other people, long to be a journalist. This collection of essays is a seminal text for a reason. Highlights include the titular essay and the matter of fact On Self Respect, and if I was to get a seemingly lame tattoo of anything it would be a quote from that.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

Another childhood find that still lingers as one my all time favourites. I loved, and still do, the story of Anna and her family fleeing the rise of Nazis in Germany, based on Kerr’s own experience

  • The Wife by Meg Wolitzer

This book makes me grateful that I’m a product of my time; I’m a highly educated woman, with no material need to be legally tied to a man. On the flip side, it also reminds me of how much work, and conscious effort one must place not be a Joan Castleman.

  • The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

I gobbled this book at work in one day. It’s such a heartbreaking, heartwarming and honest depiction of living in the chaos of being a child of an alcoholic, reflecting the good, the bad and the enduring hope one needs.

  1. White Teeth by Zadie Smith

This book paints such a vivid portrait of London, which is something Zadie is justifiably astounded for. It’s hilarious, satirical and intelligent. The writer is in me is jealous it was her debut, while it seems so seasoned.

Dear Vermont Cynic Reviewer, what do you want from JK? Love, a confused reader

The world expects too much out of women. We are supposed to be everything, and expected to do everything, and even after this everything, its not enough.

This is the conclusion I reached after reading a student newspaper review of my favourite comedian Jen Kirkman. Overall, the review was positive, describing Kirkman’s recent visit to the local comedy club. Jokes were enjoyed, laughs were had, and basically, it was had a good night. Ultimately, Jen provided a successful set. Within reason, this the job of a touring comic.

Superficially, the review bothered me. It was an unimaginative selection of bland words strung together. Poor writing, while not a crime, is a pet peeve of mine. This shows my snobbery more than anything substantially wrong. Although, a section stuck out to me, because of its message, not its rudimentary vocabulary and sentence structure.

“Maybe this is to be expected from a comedian who doesn’t want to take things too seriously, but nevertheless, I found it disappointing. Louis C.K. did more than tell jokes, he exposed and assaulted women, and I felt the emphasis on what Louis C.K. said inadvertently downplayed what he did.”

Huh? Mate, it’s a comedy show. Now, yes, this is what hacks say – what Louis CK’s defenders say. Maybe, she didn’t do a very good job, maybe she was insensitive to survivors. Within the realm of possible, it is just that. I was not there. It’d be an awfully long way to travel for me. Vermont, where the gig took place, is about 3,000 miles from my house. However, a simple online search would prove Jen Kirkman downplaying survivors very unlikely. One of JK’s most berated sub sections of society is men; how women are scared of them, how they annoy her with their inane questions on public transport and their sexist treatment of her as a comedian. Those critical of comedy’s free pass should rejoice in Kirkman, because she knows context is key. To be unaware of this of context makes your attempt of reviewing automatically a fail, particularity if one views her work through a feminist lens.

My love of Kirkman may create an entrenched bias, however my adoration has led me to obsessively follow all of her public platforms – Twitter, her life affirming podcast I Seem Fun and various media appearances – and on most of these places, Kirkman has called out the actions of Louis CK, and describe the humiliation of being a woman. These calling outs, both direct and not so, have led to backlash for JK, I hate to have to add – but most definitely unfair. The reviewer does know about this, but apparently, STILL there’s more she could do.

“Despite condemning Louis C.K.’s behaviour in a twitter feed, I believe Kirkman as a self-proclaimed feminist should do better at acknowledging the awful behaviour of men, even if they’re her associates”.

Exactly how “she should do better” is a massive cliffhanger. What does she want Jen Kirkman to do? Honestly, what the reviewer demands is not reasonable. Stand up comedy is not a political rally. While, like any art form, comedy has the ability to be political. Some might say art is inherently so, but seriously, what on Earth does she expect? To even begin to take this ludicrous idea seriously, specifics would be nice…

Kirkman dedicating a hot sec of her hour is just a cherry on the cake, one that actually didn’t need to be baked. Speaking out against assault is not a prerequisite to be a feminist. Enabling women to do so ought to be. As feminists, our focus should be on listening, believing and respecting. That last one is key to understanding the inane, cherry picking idiocy of the reviewer’s request,  because we need to allow women to do it on their own terms, to tell their own story, experiences and traumas.

Kirkman, by her own admission, was not sexually assaulted by Louis CK. What gossip she heard was just that; gossip. Sensitivity should be a defining feature of discussing sexual misconduct, something discussing damaging unconfirmed rumours is not. Reckless and irresponsibility would describe any cack handed attempts to discuss serious allegations.

Additionally, the idea that Kirkman ought to devote valuable minutes speaking out against Louis CK just blows my mind. There’s a long list of better candidates – namely the promoters still putting him on the bill, the people who actively covered up his behavior and those who defended him. Roxane Gay wrote a scathing piece in The New York Times about the recent decision to give CK stage time at a comedy club in New York City. The majesty of her words broke my heart.

The main takeaway of this review, after the confusion; does this woman not understand feminism. While, feminism has many different, valid conceptions because guess what, womenkind are half the population. One of my vast annoyances is when discussing with a newbie, or someone probably being deliberately obtuse, people, typically, but not exclusively, men say THE THING WITH YOU FEMINISTS IS THAT YOU NEVER AGREE.

Eye rolls feel the only apt response, because disagreement is the basic tenement of politics, and feminism is just that; a political ideology. Liberals don’t all agree. One of socialism’s biggest failures is that they NEVER agree. But the conflicts within these schools of thought are celebrated – a intellectual byproduct of the majesty of serious debate. However, with feminism its used against us, as a hot iron weapon, a sign of women’s bitchiness. Our failure to unite does not always serve us, but to treat it as surprising, or a moral failing is cheap. The notion that over 3.5 billion women have to agree is wild. Womanhood is diverse, just like manhood. Varying factors intersect; race, age, class. These not provide definitive shapes to our world view, but they outline some deciding factors. Believe it or not, some women are not feminists. Crazy, I know, but it’s a fact of life. I don’t make the rules, another shocking revelation.

Although, this reviewer clearly believes herself to be a feminist. She probably has got other more worthwhile, less insane expectations of herself, and the sisterhood. However, this one is madness. Any form of feminism that forces someone discuss the wrongdoings of a man is worthless. Any notion of women telling other women, who are clearly out there, doing their practical bit to dismantle the patriarchy we are all suffocated by, how to communicate about an abuser in her comedy show. Abuse isn’t funny. It’s also not what Jen Kirkman wanted to talk about. Guess what, it was her show, with her jokes. If the reviewer wants to talk about it; grab a bringer and go to an open mic night. Seriously, I cannot imagine Vermont is lacking in creative expression.

Perhaps, she is sensitive to the role white women have historically played in the upkeep of patriarchy. Although, to use critiques founded in the efforts to increase feminism’s intersectionality is limited in this case. Nothing is added through that prism regarding the instance of Louis CK. The 2017 revamp of the Me Too movement has been charred by its co opting of Tanara Burke, a woman of colour’s earlier efforts, but still its insufficient. As said before, and cannot be said enough, the Me Too movement scope has been limited by men; the assailants and the support system that protects.

Jen Kirkman is no Tarantino. She isn’t even a Georgina Chapman, wife of alleged serial rapist Harvey Weinstein, who arguably built her career with assistance with her bullish husband’s ways; he demanded Marchesa, a fashion house in which Chapman is co-creative director, grew a cult following through the bullying tactics of Weinstein. He demanded their clothes be worn to high profile events by starlets. An interview in Vogue was speculated to serve as mea culpa for both her and Anna Wintour, exonerating her of connections to her husband’s many crimes.

However, the focus on his wife, and her responsibility in his crimes, seems a little futile. Unless, they were the Myra Hyndley and Ian Brady of casting couch culture, this really ought to be treated sensitively. A nuanced debate about her profits from his power should happen, but to forget the complicated dynamic of blaming a spouse is wrong.

Perhaps, it purely highlights a misunderstanding of comedy. If so, this girl could really do with learning from Aunt Jen.

 

Jen Kirkman’s Netflix comedy special Just Keep Living is now available for download on iTunes or anywhere one can download albums.