+
Wil Wheaton's locker room story shows exactly why homophobic jokes are a problem
www.flickr.com
Wil Wheaton | Wil Wheaton speaking at the 2018 Phoenix Comic… | Flickr

Comedy can be uplifting. And it can also be downright destructive. The rise of cancel culture has made us take a hard look at what we normalize for the sake of a good joke. And with Dave Chappelle’s controversial comedy special, that includes jokes which can be perceived as cruel or homophobic jabs by the LGBTQ community and allies.

At the same time, comedy is supposed to be disruptive, is it not? It’s meant to be audacious, bawdy, outrageous. And let’s not forget it’s often said sarcastically, meaning we don’t really believe what what's being said … right?

Wil Wheaton has previously given a brilliant take on how to separate the art from the artist. This time though, he’s confronting the art itself and what makes it problematic.

For anyone who genuinely doesn't understand why I feel as strongly as I do about people like Chappelle making transphobic comments that are passed off as jokes, I want to share a story that I hope will help you understand, and contextualize my reaction to his behavior.

Wheaton started off his story by sharing how he used to play ice hockey when he was 16, and one night enjoyed a warm welcome as a guest goalie. After a fun practice, Wheaton joined his teammates in the locker room.

Before I tell you what happened next, I want to talk specifically about comedy and how much I loved it when I was growing up… One of the definitive comedy specials for me and my friends was Eddie Murphy's Delirious, from 1983. It had bits that still kill me… Really funny stuff.

There is also extensive homophobic material that is just…appalling and inexcusable. Long stretches are devoted to mocking gay people, using the slur that starts with F over and over and over. Young Wil, who watched this with his suburban white upper middle class friends, in his privileged bubble, thought it was the funniest, edgiest, dirtiest thing he'd ever heard… And all of it was dehumanizing to gay men… I didn't know any better. I accepted the framing, I developed a view of gay men as predatory, somehow less than straight men, absolutely worthy of mockery and contempt. Always good for a joke…

…A comedian who I thought was one of the funniest people on the planet totally normalized making a mockery of gay people, and because I was a privileged white kid, raised by privileged white parents, there was nobody around me to challenge that perception. For much of my teen years, I was embarrassingly homophobic, and it all started with that comedy special.

Here Wheaton pivots back to the locker room:

So I'm talking with these guys…We're doing that sports thing where you talk about the great plays, and feel like you're part of something special.

And then, without even realizing what I was doing, that awful word came out of my mouth. ‘Blah blah blah F****t,’ I said.

The room fell silent and that's when I realized every single guy in this room was gay. They were from a team called The Blades (amazing) and I had just ... really fucked up.

"'Do you have any gay friends?" One of them asked me, gently.

"Yes," I said, defensively. Then, I lied, "they say that all the time." I was so embarrassed and horrified. I realized I had basically said the N word, in context, and I didn't know what to do. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to apologize, I wanted to beg forgiveness. But I was a stupid sixteen year-old with pride and ignorance and fear all over myself, so I lied to try and get out of it.

"They must not love themselves very much," he said, with quiet disappointment.

Nobody said another word to me. I felt terrible. I shoved my gear into my bag and left as quickly as I could.

That happened over 30 years ago, and I think about it all the time. I'm mortified and embarrassed and so regretful that I said such a hurtful thing. I said it out of ignorance, but I still said it, and I said it because I believed these men, who were so cool and kind and just like all the other men I played with (I was always the youngest player on the ice) were somehow less than ... I guess everyone. Because that had been normalized for me by culture and comedy.

A *huge* part of that normalization was through entertainment that dehumanized gay men in the service of "jokes". And as someone who thought jokes were great, I accepted it. I mean, nobody was making fun of *ME* that way…so…

This stuff that Chappelle did? …For a transgender person, those "jokes" normalize hateful, ignorant, bigoted behavior towards them. Those "jokes" contribute to a world where transgender people are constantly under threat of violence, because transgender people have been safely, acceptably, dehumanized. And it's all okay, because they were dehumanized by a Black man……Literally every queer person I know (and I know a LOT) is hurt by Chappelle's actions. When literally every queer person I know says "this is hurtful to me", I'm going to listen to them and support them, and not tell them why they are wrong…

Wil Wheaton brings up some powerful points. While this is a complex issue, the insidious nature of dehumanizing jokes is pretty blatant. At some point we have to ask ourselves: Is it really worth harming someone else for the sake of a joke? When put that bluntly, the answer, I hope, is a resounding no.

via Chewy

Adorable Dexter and his new chew toy. Thanks Chewy Claus.

True

Every holiday season, millions of kids send letters asking for everything from a new bike to a pony. Some even make altruistic requests such as peace on Earth or helping struggling families around the holidays.

But wouldn’t the holiday season be even more magical if our pets had their wishes granted, too? That’s why Chewy Claus is stepping up to spread holiday cheer to America’s pets.

Does your dog dream of a month’s supply of treats or chew toys? Would your cat love a new tree complete with a stylish condo? How about giving your betta fish some fresh decor that’ll really tie its tank together?

Or do your pets need something more than mere creature comforts such as life-saving surgery?

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash

Teen raises $186,000 to help Walmart worker retire.

In America, many people have to work well past the age of retirement to make ends meet. While some of these people choose to work past retirement age because it keeps them active, some older people, like Nola Carpenter, 81, work out of necessity.

Carpenter has been working at Walmart for 20 years, way beyond most people's retirement age just so that she can afford to continue to pay her mortgage. When 19-year-old Devan Bonagura saw the woman looking tired in the break room of the store, he posted a video to his TikTok of Carpenter with a text overlay that said, "Life shouldn't b this hard..." complete with a sad face emoji.

In the video, Carpenter is sitting at a small table looking down and appearing to be exhausted. The caption of the video reads ":/ I feel bad." Turns out, a lot of other people did too, and encouraged the teen to start a GoFundMe, which has since completed.

Keep ReadingShow less
More

12 fascinating facts about the American flag that you probably didn't know

The flag used to have 15 stars, the Pledge of Allegiance started out as a marketing gimmick, and 10 more Flag Day facts.

Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

There's a whole lot of story behind the American flag.

The Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, the Star-Spangled Banner — whatever you call it, the United States flag is one of the most recognizable symbols on Earth.

As famous as it is, there's still a lot you might not know about our shining symbol of freedom. For instance, did you know that on some flags, the stars used to point in different directions? Or that there used to be more than 13 stripes? How about a gut-check on all those star-spangled swimsuits you see popping up in stores around the Fourth of July?

We'll explore these topics and more in this fun list of 12 facts about the U.S. flag that you might not know about.

Keep ReadingShow less
Celebrity

U.S. Soccer star expertly handles an Iranian reporter’s loaded questions about race.

Tyler Adams’s response proves exactly why he’s the captain of the US soccer team.

Tyler Adams expertly handles Iranian reporter's question

Reporters are supposed to ask the right questions to get to the truth but sometimes it seems sports reporters ask questions to throw you off your game. There's no doubt that this Iranian reporter who was questioning Tyler Adams, the US soccer team captain at the press conference during the World Cup had an agenda that didn't involve getting to the truth.

It's not clear if the questions were designed to throw the young player off of his game or if the goal was embarrassment. It really is hard to tell, but Adams handled the unexpectedly harsh encounter with intelligence and poise when some may have found it justified for him to get angry.

Keep ReadingShow less
More

A pediatrician's viral post will bring you to tears and inspire you to be a better person.

It's incredibly easy to incorporate these lessons into our lives.

Pediatrician offers advice to inspire.

Pediatrician Alastair McAlpine gave some of his terminal patients an assignment. What they told him can inspire us all.

"Kids can be so wise, y'know," the Cape Town doctor and ultra-marathon enthusiast posted to his Twitter account. He asked the young patients, short on time, about the things that really mattered to them.

Keep ReadingShow less