Some time ago, Patton Oswalt tweeted a joke. It wasn’t very funny and I’m not going to print it here, but Salon called him out on it. So he explained the joke. He explained it a lot of times. We just didn’t get it, you see. It’s really funny if you get it. You still don’t think it’s funny? Oh, buddy. Let me explain it again.
So Salon sat down with him recently to discuss comedy’s place in the fight for social justice. A fight that, in comedy — particularly late-night comedy — is being fought by cis straight white men. Patton Oswalt has no problem with this. They’re progressives, on the same team, so we need to stop begrudging them all their well-earned glory.
Oh, sweet Patton. You’re adorable. So deep inside your own privilege you cannot see the forest for the trees.
In the interview, he reflects on an article Salon wrote about John Oliver. Though full of praise for Oliver’s work and excitement over his new hosting gig, Salon pointed out he is yet another white male in a sea of white males in late-night entertainment. Thankfully, Patton stepped in to let them know how damaging this thought process is to the people who matter.
“Those guys try to put women on their staff, they try to have women on their show as much as they can. They’re fighting the same fight. I’m just telling you, the way that someone like me reads it, and I’m the kind of reader that I think you guys want to have, it just makes me roll my eyes, ‘Jesus Christ, that is not what this article should be about.'”
How dare they. How dare they pander to women when the important readers — readers like Patton — will feel sad and dejected. How dare you stop singing their praises for one sentence to point out social injustices. Won’t someone think of the white male comedians? Settle down, ladies. The white men are fighting for you! They’re trying! Stop being mean to them, and for heaven’s sake, don’t work yourself into an outrage over it. Patton doesn’t like outrage.
“I want way less outrage, and I want more pity and mocking, because outrage, they’ll wear that with a badge of honor. If people just laugh, that is what shrinks them.”
Yes, absolutely. Since humor is a great weapon, it should be the only one we use. Hear that, people fighting for justice on the streets of Ferguson? If you would just stop all that outrage and make fun of the police, maybe you could make change happen. His suggestion that “if someone says something racist, just f***ing laugh at them” comes from a place of truly understanding racism and not at all a blindness, a deafness, that it is a white man’s privilege to laugh in the face of a force that does not threaten his very well-being.
He has more to say on the matter of pointing out the prevalence of white men in comedy.
“It has nothing to do with anything. You’re now getting back to some bigot in the ’50s who says about his doctor, ‘He’s a black guy, but he has some good points.'”
Oh, Patton. Can you even hear your own words as you’re saying them? Pointing out white male privilege is the same as bald-faced, 1950s racism? This is your hill to die on?
At least he expresses pity for the racists.
“Whenever I see somebody that’s a homophobe, or a misogynist, or a racist, or a misandrist, anything, anyone that hates a group, I always feel bad for them. I don’t support them, but I’m always like, oh what a horrible way to be.”
Indeed, I feel very sorry for misogynists. I can’t help it. Those MRAs out there, sweating over their keyboards, spreading their hatred across the world. Believing misandry is a systemic thing. I repeat, won’t someone please think of the men? Thankfully, they have Patton.
He does have some good points throughout the interview, among them that people using derogatory language reveal their bigotry to us, while politically correct language hides them from view. It helps him steer clear of the dumbasses who don’t get it. Very useful tip for reading between the lines.
“Everyone that goes, ‘But all the war is because of religion, blah blah blah,’ well then, you’re no different than the housewife that’s like, ‘My son killed himself because of a Judas Priest record.’ No, your son killed himself because he was an unstable idiot.”
It’s really great when the misogynists reveal themselves with their word choices, isn’t it? Thank you, darling, simple Patton. You’ve been a huge help.