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The Anti-Person of the Year Nominees

Time has announced that Pope Francis has beat out nine other finalists to win Time’s Person of the Year.  Now before social media wannabe Christopher Hitchenses being dissecting this in the comment section this is NOT to discuss the choice of the Pope, though I think it is a fine choice.  After all the criteria for Person of the Year is that it is “bestowed by the editors on the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year. ”  This is why I will always consider it illegitimate when they snubbed Osama Bin Laden in 2001 in favor for the more politically correct Rudy Giuliani.  “What else do I have to do?!” bin Laden was heard yelling from a cave in December 2001.  But by that criteria, the Pope is a respectable choice.  I was disappointed to not see any of my finalists for J-L’s person of the year on the Time list (Bryan Cranston, Cleveland hero Charles Ramsey, the brunette in the Blurred Lines video and the guy who made the unedited Blurred Lines video), but c’est la vie.

However, I think in this day and age of insignificant, on-line life we need to adapt the Time formula and pick an anti-person of the year as well.  This does not necessarily mean an inanimate object or non-human, nor someone who is explicitly a misanthrope (though I am potentially a candidate). It means the person, entity, organization or anything else who/that made life a little more useless and insignificant, but did so in an incredibly exhaustive and ubiquitous way.  My nominees are:

  1. Upworthy.com – “A website makes dozens of headlines intended to awe and inspire you, but the ceaseless repetition and posting of these stories will shock you with how much they irritate you.”
  2. Kanye West – he is a tough one to put on the list because he still works and produces music, but when a fake website can post that you said you were the next Mandela and most people believe it, you have to be up for this dishonor
  3. Buzzfeed.com – when you mix prime numbers, lists and unimportant information about things both important and unimportant you have shoot to the top of the list.  If Lean on Me took place in 2013 instead of the 1980s, Joe Clark would be screaming at Sams “You like Buzzfeed don’t ya. You know what it does? It kills your brain cells son!”
  4. Statefarm’s Discount Double Check Slogan/Ad Campaign – a constant presence during broadcasts of America’s #1 sport.  It is destroying comedy, Sundays and Aaron Rodger’s Q rating.
  5. #Hashtag
  6. New York professional sports – it was bad enough Boston tried to steal NYC’s 9/11 tragedy thunder with an under-10-death marathon tragedy, but now NY sports teams have basically become a second rate Midwestern town in terms of success compared to Boston.  That is a lot of failure in America’s #1 media market.
  7. Instantaneous jokes about dead celebrities.  These are everywhere, though rarely funny.  The quickest joke became more important than the best joke.  Just when social media couldn’t cheapen the cost of comedy anymore, leave it to the Internet to cheapen the value of the joke a little bit extra.
  8. Knockout Game – from the kids that play it, to the media that paints an exaggerated and fear-mongering picture of it, to the Internet posts full of barely veiled racism, it represents a nice symbolic cross section of what ails America.
  9. Ron Burgundy – seriously go away. The sequel is not even out yet and I am bored of all the promotions.
  10. Texting while walking – seriously, not since the outbreak of AIDS have so many been so silent about something so awful.  When the book And The Cu*t Walked On is made about the early fight against rude people walking while buried in their phones, implicitly demanding that more conscientious citizens make way for them, I expect to be featured as an early hero.

CAST YOUR VOTE IN THE COMMENT SECTION.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on PodomaticiTunes and NOW on STICHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!

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Quevenzhané Wallis – If She Were Kim and Kanye’s…

Last night was Oscar night and everything was going along as I had planned.  Seth MacFarlane proved what can go wrong in American entertainment when the nerds dominate and are given full alternative, punchlines-optional (Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy provided the worst humor moment I can remember in Oscar History), Star Trek co-hosting free reign.  It was not a disaster in hosting, but I did cringe when he told a Lincoln joke that was so lame and so designed to just get to a trite “too soon” quip (see this for my official rules).  As far as the Awards go I had predicted most of the awards correctly including Ang Lee and Argo wins, but did fail to get best animated feature correct (Brave sort of sucked, Wreck It Ralph was robbed).  And just as I was retiring for the night I saw some tweets about a controversial tweet by the satirical newspaper The Onion. So I looked it up and here is what they tweeted:

“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right? #Oscars2013”

It was the hardest I laughed all night.

The Onion has taken it down, but has not issued an apology yet.  And they should not.  The Onion is a hilarious, envelope pushing product, but sadly they upset part of the liberal fans, who delight in bashing and mocking everything from sports to religion and everything celebrity.  But why did this one hurt so much?  Because they used the word cunt?  Please.  The Onion is always irreverent.  And if the story came out 9 months from now, but instead of referring to Wallis, it said “Kim and Kanye give birth to 7 lb 6 oz cunt” do you really think the outrage would be the same?  I doubt it because their child, despite being an innocent child, will never have the sympathy or affection of the general public.  In fact, just this week I saw hundreds of tweets about Kim and Kanye’s unborn child that were “horrible.”  This is of course because people are treating the unborn girl as a celebrity already.  But Wallis is more darling to the liberal crowd that The Onion courts and Wallis makes that crowd feel good about themselves.  She is a tiny black child playing a poor black child in a movie that became a little-engine-that-could to Hollywood.  The movie was not even that great, but it had the kind of story and star that can make people feel good about themselves.  Not because the movie is super feel good, but because by watching it and cheering for a tiny black child, Hollywood and the liberal readers of The Onion can feel good about themselves for cheering for her and the movie.

It is too bad that The Onion deleted it, but I really hope they do not apologize.  The joke had nothing to do with the kid.  It is clearly meant as a mockery of the cattiness of Hollywood culture and the fact that she is nine years old is the source of 90% of the humor.  Unlike, say Don Imus’ infamous comments referring to the Rutgers Women’s basketball team as “nappy headed hoes””( a rude joke that I don’t think he should have been punished for either), this joke is even more obviously a joke because of the age of Wallis.

I consider myself left of center, but probably center to center-right as far as the comedy community is concerned, but stories like this annoy me.  It feels like partially fake-outrage because of the arbitrary lines some in the general public and in comedy are willing to draw.  This is not about preserving Wallis’ integrity, but about preserving the feel good moment for those that enjoyed patting themselves on the back for having a tiny black girl nominated for best actress.  I am sure you are not conscious of it if you are reading this and disagree (and maybe some of you do feel genuine outrage), but once again, if this were about Will Smith’s kid, would you be as horrified?

I understand that Wallis is a tiny and adorable child and that referring to the girl as any bad name is cruel and crude, but it does not mean that it is not funny, and in this context clearly is not about delivering an actual insult to or about the young actress.  But the new battlefront in comedy appears to be protecting non-conventional celebrities from the glare and satire that comes with celebrity. Folks like Lena Dunham, Adele and now Wallis are deemed untouchable by people within and outside of comedy. Any joke about them (or in Wallis’ case, mentioning them) is deemed some sort of cruel, below the belt attempt at humor because they give good feelings to their fans about themselves.  Rooting for Dunham or Wallis gives the fan self-worth, so a joke about these women or others like them becomes an attack on the fan who in defending the celebrity is really guarding the good feelings they feel for themselves.

So hopefully The Onion does not apologize for doing what they do, but if they do I hope all these outraged folks remember this when they start an onslaught of jokes and Kim and Kanye’s baby later this year.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning about the Oscars check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes tomorrow (Feb 26th)

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J-L’s Time Person of the Year

One of the most anticipated magazine issues every year, besides the 114 that discuss whether Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston will get back together, is Time’s Person of the Year issue.  The criteria, according to Wikipedia, is  a person, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that “for better or for worse, …has done the most to influence the events of the year.”   Now clearly Time has not always honored that, most notably when Osama bin Laden lost in 2001 (rumor has it he will never attend the awards banquet ever again) to Rudy Giuliani – which was basically the Dances With Wolves over Goodfellas of  Time’s POTY.  But this year I think Time can get it right.

I am so over Time's Person of the Year.

Many people got talking when the finalists were announced – on my Facebook page LeBron James got a lot of attention (ironically people obsessing over him for the last 6 months thought it absurd that he could be a finalist).  But for me the winner should be obvious.

My pick, of the numerous finalists, is Lady Gaga.  Now in 2001 Time clearly feared their choice would be seen as an award, rather than as mere acknowledgment and the fear of appearing a joke may stop Time from naming Gaga, so here’s the argument for her.

Should be TIme's Person of the Year

First off, she won a bunch of MTV video awards and in a year without Kanye West interruptions, that makes her the biggest music story of the year.

Now technically that is basically it for her actual accomplishments this year.  She is a hard working performer who has become a major force in music.  But that alone would just make her a minor irritant.  However, what she represents is basically the direction of  our entire culture.  Here’s why.

1) She has become the dominant figure on the Internet.  All due respect to Mark Zuckerberg, who created the Internet’s most pervasive medium since e-mail, but Gaga dominates all of our pithy forms of communication.  Her video Bad Romance is the most watched video on all of YouTube.  She has the most Twitter followers on Twitter (President Obama is 5th).  In other words, in a society that is increasingly turning information and entertainment into 140 character brain farts and 30 second, seizure-inducing visuals intended to keep the attention of morons, she is the Queen.

2) She takes pithy political stands.  In a country that is increasingly mired in a struggle to choose the less complex answer and choice for increasingly complex problems she took the brave stand of asking for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  It is nice to use your fame and clout for good social issues and I think that is a worthy cause, but for a pop star who is next in line to lead the Kingdom of Gay Dance  Clubs (should Queen Brittney Spears die) I don’t think it is a particularly bold stand.  But that is our politics – does it affect me (Gaga’s dancers and fans)?  Is it already fairly popular or at least popular enough that I will not feel like an outcast if I join?  Then Yes!

3) She could have written the anthem for the anti-Immigration movement.  In a country where many people are anti-Immigrant and come out of the woodwork every election cycle, one of Gaga’s big hits of the last year was “Alejandro.”  The chorus:

Don’t call my name.
Don’t call my name, Alejandro.
I’m not your babe.
I’m not your babe, Fernando.

Don’t wanna kiss, don’t wanna touch.
Just smoke one cigarette and hush.
Don’t call my name.
Don’t call my name, Roberto

We get it Gaga – you don’t like Latinos.  Perhaps you could do a concert for the militias that patrol the border.  Just don’t bring your gay dancers.

4) She is a distraction.  The days of musical artists being relevant beyond the current minute are here.  Unlike Madonna or Michael Jackson or the Rolling Stones or the Beatles artists today are just flashes in the pan, in part because of a lack of creativity and perhaps even more due to our lack of attention span.  Madonna would take years to come out with a new album.  If Lady Gaga took years to release her next album, her next album would not come out because a dozen copycats would have taken her place.  Lady Gaga’s tireless effort is an acknowledgment that she, like the Justin Biebers of the world do not have staying power (at least as musical artists), both because of us, as well as themselves.  Madonna could change her image over a decade. Gaga changes her image every commercial break both because we need it to stay focused and she needs to do it to stay in the spotlight.  She labeled her album the Fame Monster and that is appropriate – because she is a monster and American consuming society is her Dr. Frankenstein.  So her influence is technically our doing, but she should accept the recognition on behalf of our culture.

5) Bad Romance is a pretty good song.  Got to give the devil her due.

Of course – if I were a betting man, I would guess that Time will go for an intellectually safe, discussion-creating choice like…

Time will make the almsot equally valid, but definitely safer choice and probably pick this fu*k for Person of the Year.
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Friday Night Slights: Comedy at Georgetown University Law Center

There are bad ideas and then there is what happened this past Friday night.  It was the first night of my law school reunion at Georgetown.  For the few days preceding the reunion I was told that some people thought it would be a good idea for me to perform some stand up at The Dubliner, which was the bar where the Class of 2004 happy hour/binge drinking incident was to take place.  I was extremely reluctant to do this, but when you do comedy it is a thin line between politely refusing twice and saying “NO FU-KING WAY” when you are asked a third or fourth time.  So I agreed and at 9:50 pm Eastern Daylight Time on October 16, 2009 I got on a makeshift stage and began what should now be known as the case of Cauvin & Random Comedy Fan v. South American & Eurotrash Douchebags.

9:51 I look around and see about 70 law students watching in the back waiting for me to tell jokes.  I also see 15 people speaking incessantly in the front.  I think, ‘maybe I’ll make this quick because these people may not want to be at some impromptu comedy show for Georgetown Law Alums at a random bar.’  I also think, ‘yep, this was a terrible idea.’

9:53 Too much talking up front (including soccer chants).  I say, “Hey, give me 5 minutes and I will make you laugh a little then I’ll get off the stage.” I figured being understanding to some of the patrons who did not want to be there for law school reunion/annoying jokes would appreciate it.  Instead 5 o’clock shadow South American douche yells out, “Do you want to bet?  You will not make me laugh.”  Oh crap.

5 O'Clock Shadow South American Douchebag: He is The Most Condescending Man In The World
5 O'Clock Shadow South American Douchebag: He is The Most Condescending Man In The World

9:57 Right to the Obama impression.  Law students laughing in the back, but not enough to drown out foreigners in front.  Even Obama bombs with these people.

10:01 pm – after various strange comments and people getting on stage I hop off the stage after enduring a “show” that should have never been.  Then began the fun stuff. 

Random Guy (RG) – Man that was great – don’t listen to these as-holes – that Obama impression is sick

Me – Thanks, this is definitely not the venue for comedy.

5 O’clock Shadow South American Douche (SSAD) – Why do you do this?

Me – First of all, you’re a dick.  Secondly, this is not the place for comedy.

SSAD – But why would you take a microphone if you cannot do comedy?

Me – I don’t know if there is a language problem or if you don’t realize that you are a condescending prick, but my comedy is fine.  What do you do for a living?

SSAD – I do many things.

Me – Ok besides being a dick and not shaving regularly what do you do?

SSAD – I am in business.

Me – Well wouldn’t your job be rather difficult if I came in shouting at you during the entire meeting?

SSAD – But I would never do business if I could not.  You are not good at comedy.

RG – This dude is funny and you are a fu-king rude piece of sh*t.

At that point this complete stranger who appreciated my comedy actually got into about a 6 on 1 confrontation with a contingent of South American and Eurotrash dudes (and a chick) defending my comedy.  I had to step in to prevent it from becoming a fight.  So I guess just when I thought Georgetown Law had struck again and actually infected my stand up (previously immune to all the awfulness of law and law school/center-ness) with a terrible experience I was able to spark a near fight for someone willing to fight for and against my comedy.  And as it turns out the Eurotrash South American contingent were actually LLM (sort of like a Masters in Law – you know for people who have given up on giving up, as opposed to law students who have just given up on dreams and hopes and originality) alums of Georgetown so they just plain sucked.

But it was a pretty nice trip otherwise to the Law Center.  Got to see Chief Justice John Roberts give a talk during the alumni gala dinner.  I was very tempted to pull a Kanye-Taylor Swift on him (perhaps, “Earl Warren was one of the best chief justices of all time!”), but since C-Span was not covering it I figured a di-khead move without television coverage is just a di-khead move.  So law center reunion was overall good, but would shortly be overshadowed by a series of ugly incidents at Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers game that I attended with my brother.  To be continued tomorrow…

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Obamacare is the New N Word

I joked in a tweet a couple of nights ago that Fox Opinions (because it is not really news except for that Shep Smith guy – I wonder when they will fire him?) would try to link Kanye West to President Obama after he upstaged the angelic 19 year old country singer Taylor Swift.  And Kanye was wrong and Taylor Swift seems remarkably (and refreshingly) un-Hollywood for such a big star (perhaps, her humble Christian roots have something to do with it, or perhaps she just hasn’t been paid enough for a sex tape yet).  Whatever the case was I had this eerie feeling that white people in parts of the country would see beyond a vain entertainer upstaging a humble one and see it as yet another arrogant negro ruining a moment for a white woman (e.g. Sarah Palin, Emmit Till to name two such incidents).

I told you this would happen if we elected a black guy President
I told you this would happen if we elected a black guy President

But the larger truth is that small town, small minded white people feel incredibly threatened by Barack Obama.  When he was a humble, conciliatory campaigner who aspired (but did not and could not guarantee) bipartisanship he looked like that talented black man who could do wonderful things, but still had the tone on one who recognized that he could not do it all alone.  But now that he has decided to make change that not everybody agrees with, he magically transformed from Jackie Robinson to Malcolm X (pre-Mecca trip) for a lot of Americans.  There used to be a socially acceptable way for angry white people to vent their frustration at blacks.  But most mainstream racists now know that saying the N word is debate suicide, so they just attack the man shouting “Obamacare” (I will probably stop using it because I have just realized through a twitter search that it is used too often in derision and not as an easy shorthand as I thought it was) as their slur. 

Democrats rooted against George W. Bush and derided him, but mostly because he spoke in a manner often unfit for POTUS status, waged an unnecessary and lie-based war in Iraq, mismanaged the war in Afghanistan, an honorable and necessary war, to the point that now Obama is facing incredible pressure to abandon it, which may imperil America’s safety, allowed Dick Cheney, who appears to be the only man more evil that Nixon’s squad of goons in the early 1970s, to run roughshod over the Constitution and sold the environment to industry.  There are 5,000 dead troops, over 4,000 from the Iraq War.  Global Warming is real.  These are the classic issues that have always brought on tough words and tougher protest.  But now, universal health coverage has become the lightening rod that pushed these people over the edge.  Not war (and if it was a white country, or at least non-Muslim nations, would these people have been as gung ho about it).  Not environmental degradation with disastrous and cataclysmic consequences.  Health care for all.  With numerous controversial proposals introduced by Republicans.  This is their best shot at Obama and sadly, there may be enough industry whores on both sides of the political aisle to derail it, which will be like getting a do over at the Civil War for some of these morons.

Well, at least racism is not clouding the issue of health care.
Well, at least racism is not clouding the issue of health care.

I will admit that I think economic fears have something to do with it also.  I think this country is greedy at its core.  If the economy had not tanked in September of last year, the election would have been A LOT closer.  People vote their wallets and their instincts in this country, in that order.  So when the economy tanked, some people who may not have wanted a black president voted their circumstances and decided their ideology could fight another day.  Well, now that the economy is not recovering in terms of jobs for people it is time to let the racism kick in, in its socially acceptable form – shouting angrily over anything that you can.

I recently read the book Nixonland, which is a weighty tome and sometimes difficult to wade through without a real substantive knowledge of all the political players of the 1960s and 70s, but Richard Nixon rode to the presidency on white frustration.  Not all of it was racial, some was economic (the way Republicans have continued to fool poor and middle class people that their economic best interests are with Republicans), but much of it was racial.  In the 1960s civil rights enactments along with racial riots made the Republicans the party of safety and the re-establishment of white order.  Well now that there is a president of color that battle has been lost, but that does not mean that equality’s victory over intolerance cannot be frustrated.  And that is what these TEA party folks are doing.  Their victory is unattainable so they’ve redefined their goals very simply: if we cannot win, then neither can he/they.

Even if you believe that Obama & Co. are going about health care in the wrong way, is health care for every American such an abomination on its face that it requires the same intensity of protest that Vietnam had, which these people are giving it?  And why do we have to cover these losers as if they matter.  Below is my recent interpretation of a Health Care Town Hall:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAyUoDEX0GE

Richard Nixon tapped into a feeling of helplessness that white people had.  Liberal causes almost always win the day eventually because to quote George W. Bush, “I believe freedom is the deepest need of every human soul.”  But those moments don’t really exist for ordinary white people because they have been on top since the country’s birth.  However, black people have come up from such depths that every milestone is a feel good celebration, culminating, of course, with the election of Barack Obama.

So the the TEA Partiers and their selfish and/or small minded sympathizers, my message to you is relax.  You are still white and in America.  Appreciate the natural advantages that still abound because of it and let people have health care and a president of color.   It reminds me of the scene in Goodfellas where Tommy (Joe Pesci) gets very angry at his girlfriend for over complimenting Sammy Davis Jr.  TEA Partiers and their allies at Fox Opinions are like Tommy (white, angry with no legitimate place for their real frustrations).  Obama is Sammy Davis Jr, but only worse, he is a Democrat.  And worse, he is trying to do something other than  dance, sing or shoot a jump shot.

Of course the Candy Man can! (wait, we're not talking about him dating my daughter, right?)
Of course the Candy Man can! (wait, we're not talking about him dating my daughter, right?)

If you read this and like it (or the video) – please forward on or re-post.  And if you don’t like it…