Coffee Rhetoric: Comedy Fail: Artie Lange, Rape & Misogynoir as Cheap Humor

November 10, 2014

Comedy Fail: Artie Lange, Rape & Misogynoir as Cheap Humor

Here we are again...

As the world turns, it continues to be open season on black women’s person-hood and the racially charged or sexist invective comes from all directions, to the tune of crickets, save for the droves of other black women (and a smattering of allies) denouncing the abuse. This time the offender is another shitty male comic who opted for the lazy use of shock humor in the form of rape, slavery and racio-misogyny, for cheap guffaws and fist bumps.


Last week comedian, notorious train wreck and Howard Stern alum Artie Lange, decided to TMI-type a bizarre series of sexist and racist tweets to ESPN host Cari Champion – a black woman and accomplished broadcast journalist – when he, without provocation, openly divulged his plantation rape fantasies in graphic detail, much to the delight of his 270k+ Twitter followers… because buzzards of a feather, flock together, I guess.






Although, earlier this year, Cari Champion spoke out about the racial and sexist abuse she often receives on social media, she has remained mum about Artie Lange's tweets; which comes as no surprise since speaking out against online abusers (especially as a woman of color) often whips them up into an angrier, more frenzied whir of hate. 

ESPN, however, did offer a brief statement denouncing Lange’s asininity before officially banning him from the network, and righteously angry netizens, as well as Cari’s colleagues, took Lange to task for sexually harassing the ESPN host with rape jokes. 

Since men of Artie Lange’s ilk tend to follow the same script to the letter, he proceeded to double-down under the guise of an apology, while simultaneously 
crying white male tears whining about the “PC police”, how his alleged black women friends have no problem with him joking similarly in their presence, his right to openly cyber-harass women with impunity, and a cancelled Comedy Central show appearance.
Also predictable, were Lange’s fans (run-of-the mill mansplainers), who hurled misogynist and racial epithets on Twitter, at any black woman tweeting commentary about Artie’s abusive behavior. I, myself, got called a “gangster rap” loving “stupid Nigger"; an insult I found trite and boring. I also had no clue folks were still using the term ‘gangster rap’, but I digress…

Lange’s tweets were the digital equivalent of having to sit across from a man on the subway, while he openly leers and furiously masturbates in your direction, or, akin to being sent an unsolicited dick pic. Cari Champion didn't ask Artie Lange for details about his fapping habits and his "white dick", nor did she deserve to be publicly assailed with misogynoir and a clumsy rape joke... no black woman deserves it. And it’s always a growing segment of men (and their enablers) who want to throw a tantrum and argue the right to cudgel and harangue women (on and offline) with aggressive and untoward social behavior.
As if Artie couldn't be any more loud and wrong, he insisted that he was merely complimenting Cari Champion because he's, evidently, a white man who can’t express his appreciation for attractive black women without quantifying our race or resorting to lowbrow antebellum plantation metaphors. There’s always the expectation that black women should just be happy that someone (even racio-misogynist trash) considers any of us "black chicks" to be 'hot', and that we should just shut-up and be thankful for the negging cloaked as black girl appreciation. Because humanity, grandiose gestures of respect, and protection is reserved for upholding the integrity of white womanhood, since scores of Lange’s fans had such a visceral reaction to black women speaking out against his behavior. They called black women every manner of "whore" and racial slur; and they insisted that there was absolutely nothing wrong with Lange’s behavior, the lived experiences of black women be damned.
The male gaze, if it applies to you, isn't an entirely horrible thing, but women should be allowed agency and space to welcome it when (and how) it’s wanted, and without the threat of being cussed out, threatened or hurt when it’s unwanted.

Look, most people are intelligent enough to understand that contemporary comedy and satire come from gallows humor, and is known for its reflection of society’s dark underbelly; that it's not uncommon for comedians and satirists to push the envelope; and that comedy is meant to make people shift in their seats uncomfortably. 
But there's only so many times a habitual jerk (who can often dish it, but can't take the heat) can use, "But I'm a comedian!" ,"It was a jooooke!" as an excuse before having to own up to backlash, for lobbing hurtful and oppressive things at certain groups.

P
uerile humor without any levity via rape, racism, homophobia and trans-misogyny just isn't funny, particularly when it deals with a catastrophic event that's left an indelible mark on, and continues to impact, a particular segment of people  in this case, black women – and especially when insult comedy is forced into spaces (Twitter usually ain't the best place) and into someone’s mentions with imagery that's violent, racist and triggering 
What is amusing, however, is Artie Lange centering himself as the aggrieved (as if he's some sort of martyr), his suggestion that Cari Champion should have accepted his racio-misogynist musings as a compliment, that he should be absolved of any accountability for sexually harassing her and that his epiphany has only come now that it's affected his pockets and livelihood. Oh, what a tale of woe.