"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bill Hicks and Michael Richards

Racism and Sexism: Old News
I know that in a lot of ways, the racist comments that Michael Richards made not so long ago have been forgotten, to a great degree. Maybe that's for the best--a conversation about racism for which Richards was one catalyst can continue without invoking Richards (or Imus, for that matter). And yet, one of the things that I found interesting about the clip of Richards' racist rant, was that the audience, who seemed to 'go along' for a few moments, eventually turned on him. Of course, it took the men who were the objects of Richards' vitriol standing up for themselves for things to turn around, and it sucks that the audience played along at all, but eventually Richards has to leave the stage (and what was left of his career, likely) in shame:

Michael Richards, Racist:

I ran across another comedian losing it because of a heckler. This happened a while ago--I can't figure out exactly how long ago, but because Bill Hicks has been dead since 1994, it's got to be at least 12 years old.

Bill Hicks, Sexist:

I was pretty disappointed to see Hicks act this way, frankly. He had some great material, could rant about the military industrial complex, about fundamentalist Christians and corporate rule in ways that would make one laugh and cry (he was the one who asked whether or not Christ would be happy if he came back and all of his followers were wearing crosses, and likened that to going up to Jackie Kennedy with a long-distance rifle lapel pin). But the more I watch of him, the more I see that he definitely had this weird conservative/misogynist streak when it comes to women, even when he wasn't being a jerk in the particular way he is in the above clip. But more than that, I'm disappointed that the audience not only went along with his rant, but egged him on. When he starts calling his heckler a cunt and a a bitch, pretty much the whole audience starts cheering. And, though this was a while ago, I wonder if things would be much different today--people are more likely to call out blatant racism than they are to call out blatant sexism, I think. (f Imus had said, "Those ho's" instead of what he did say, would there have been as much outrage? I think it's hard to say. Still it's disappointing to see a very funny, intelligent guy like Hicks was (in some ways) not only going on a misogynistic rant, and not only not being called on it, but being encouraged.
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