HULK VS. THE CONTEXT OF COMEDY

February 26, 2013

wallis__span

THE ONION MADE A CONTROVERSIAL TWEET AND IT GOT HULK THINKING ABOUT COMEDY, INTENT, PURPOSE, AND CONTEXT. AND WHY THEY ALL MATTER SO DAMN MUCH.

http://badassdigest.com/2013/02/26/film-crit-hulk-smash-hulk-vs.-the-context-of-comedy/

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14 Responses to “HULK VS. THE CONTEXT OF COMEDY”

  1. Panache said

    Great article, Hulk.

    The tweet is disappointing. The outcry is shrill. Both share a tin-eared, tone-deaf immediacy that should ease when we pause to consider the origins of both.

    From either side, the retraction and apology are disturbing. “The Onion” is not a paper of record; it is not a paper, full stop.

    Whatever offense we take to an artifact, our aim should never be to eliminate it in its place of origin whilst propagating it across a much broader spectrum. It represents an astonishing appropriation of a victim by her supposed defenders. If we believe someone to be a victim, someone who has the ability and agency–personally or by proxy–to address the incident, we ought to wait to take our cues from her (or whoever acts on her behalf). We ought not crowd each other out attempting to take the lead on this issue and its larger implications.

    • Timmy said

      TWO PART COMMENT. PART ONE:

      Sorry to be blunt, but you sound profoundly pretentious. I do admire a beautiful piece of writing when I see one, but this wasn’t it. Your writing comes off incredibly forced and clunky.

      Regardless, your thoughts on the matter got me thinking. And while one part of me agrees with you, another much larger part disagrees.

      Firstly, Twitter is a tool for everyone to interact and engage. People have a right, and in fact are encouraged, to react. Suggesting that people just shouldn’t react is impractical and misses the entire point of “twittering”.

      Secondly, it isn’t truly about this particular victim here. It almost never is. It’s a backlash against a public display of malice and implied sexism. The tweet was not only offensive to the little girl, but offensive to everyone who resents such displays. The people who are negatively reacting to it are also the “victims” here, the little girl has just become the poster child for it in this particular case.

      For example, there is an ongoing debate among fans of superhero films about whether Shailene Woodley, who has been cast in the role, is “too ugly” to portray Mary Jane in the next Spider-Man film. Now, there’s people who, in less than civil ways, express that they feel she’s too ugly. And there are others, who are offended by objectification of women, and merely use Shailene Woodley as a poster child in this particular case, to express their disdain.

      It isn’t about offending Shailene, it isn’t about offending the little girl, it’s about offending the people. And again, they have a right to voice their opinions if they feel they have been offended.

      • Panache said

        I never claim we haven’t the right. However, we can better exercise our right. An immediate, gut reaction often leads us down a more alarming path than the original. Restraint need not be a quality unbecoming of real-time social media; it needs to be foundational.

        No serious article, commentary, or tweet downplays the role of Miss Wallis. To deny the importance of her station in this affair is to deny the inciting incident, the very reason for the outcry.

        My objection to the outcry explicitly addresses the phenomenon of the poster child. As unfair as the original tweet may be, it is no more fair to make an unknowing, unassuming girl into a poster child without her consent or instruction (hopefully, by proxy). If our stated goal is to protect our youth, then all-but-assuring her exposure to the offending tweet works in opposition to the goal. Were we more measured, the tweet would not find headlines and endless reproduction elsewhere.

        Had “The Onion” not deleted the tweet, they would address it in its place and assume all responsibility. Deleting it like it never happened disturbs me. In newspapers (not fake ones), the offender prints an explanation, a retraction, and an apology. It dedicates more print indelibly to its shame; it does not disappear the offending article at the sign of protest.

        Rather than the last ten days of Ms. Woodley’s misfortune at the hands of the comic trolls, I’d sooner point out the last ten years of Ms. Dunst’s treatment at their keyboards. In any case–Wallis, Woodley, or Dunst–it is not our place to assume their mantles. Our appropriation of these women as cause célèbre–over that which offends us–serves to objectify them nearly as thoroughly as the original offenses. Our offense does not supersede their agency. If they prefer silence, we accommodate their wish and ignore the offender. If they want a backing army, we fall in rank. In either case, our reaction should not override or take for granted theirs.

    • Timmy said

      TWO PART COMMENT. PART TWO:

      Thirdly, and this is going to be my most subjective point, I believe such backlashes are frankly a good thing. While “stigma” is obviously a word associated “bad”, I think in cases like these it is a good thing. Public displays of racism, sexism, homophobia and other hate speech are stigmatized. That is, they are met with extreme backlash in today’s day and age. People expect it. And while you always have the few attention-seeking outliers (like this one seems to be), generally the stigmatization of public hate speech has only served to greatly reduce instances of it. You might bring up the “fighting fire with fire doesn’t solve the problem” argument, but I only see that as trite (I re-assert, this is my most subjective point).

      You could sit here and comment about how everyone *should* be reacting. And while interesting food for thought, it really is just empty talk ultimately. It accomplishes nothing. Backlashes do. As “uncivilized” as this is going to sound, the fact is: outside of the attention-seeking outliers, stigmatization of and backlashes to hate speech are impactful.

      So overall, I think what you suggest is impractical and misses the whole point of twittering. It isn’t about the particular “victim” in each case of offensive tweets, it’s about the people themselves feeling offended. And they have the freedom and the right to react to it. Lastly, pontificating about how people should react amounts to empty talk. Stigmatization of, and backlash against, public hate-speech serve to reduce instances of them.

      • Panache said

        Backlash serves no one, particularly in the extreme. Correction, discipline–sure, if necessary. Howling at an offender does little but cause him to entrench his position.

        Forgoing whether this incident qualifies as hate-speech, let’s consider a shockingly well-publicized perpetrator of undeniable hate-speech: the Westboro Baptist Church. These individuals genuinely and thoroughly believe the bile they spew. In response, spewing back more bile accomplishes little; forming a human chain, often in silent solidarity, accomplishes much. We refuse to meet them at their level. Whenever we can model behavior, we ought to; correction and discipline are a last resort. Backlash rolls over too easily into groupthink, righteous or otherwise.

        If we are to eliminate discussion of past actions and interactions and whether or not they were appropriate, I’m interested what will serve as the topic of drama, criticism, or just plain conversation. I cannot see how discussing our failures amounts to empty talk. Hell, Twitter serves as a primary culprit of such talk and look what it has wrought us today.

  2. Hugh Yeman said

    SPEAKING OF COEXISTENT STATES, HUGH BOTH LOVE HULK AND A LITTLE JEALOUS OF HULK. HULK CASUALLY WRITE WITH COMBINATION OF LUCIDITY AND GRANULARITY TO WHICH HUGH ONLY ASPIRE.

    THANK YOU, HULK.

  3. Hey hulk, longtime reader, first-time poster. I love your writing, you talk about films the way I think about films. I’d love to talk about films sometime, if you’re not too busy.

    • And if you are too busy, no rush at all. Whenever you want to talk about films, I’d love to listen.

      • I have a problem, but it’s hard to put into words. I guess I should just say I’m alcoholic, because that appears to be the secret code-word, but I don’t think that accurately describes how I feel. I guess I’m addicted to fear, because admitting I’m powerless to not be afraid makes me unafraid, for the *first time in my life*.

        The only thing you really need to fear is fear itself. Getting a moment of “true happiness” and sucking some blood is ok; everyone messes up. The real problem is when you decide to move to LA after you get that happy moment.

        Personally, I have FINALLY figured out that blood wasn’t what turned me into a monster. I am a monster on the inside. I will always be a monster. But once I realized that I was a monster I realized I didn’t need to hide that anymore. That was the biggest relief of my life. I stopped having to hide behind a fake identity. Once that happened, I learned what was really killing me was being so afraid of talking to others. I stopped being A ROBIN, now I’m just Tim Drake. Bruce is so much stronger than HULK, that’s the most important thing to realize.

        Hulk tweeted awhile back that he was a fan of David Foster Wallace. Reading IJ in college may have saved this ROBIN’s life from turning out like Jason Todd , but it didn’t turn me into Nightwing. I was so tremendously affected by IJ, but I could never understand why Dave committed suicide after writing it. I’ve finally figured that part out.

        It’s all about fear. Being afraid. Not being afraid of any one thing in particular, but rather of being afraid of fear in and of itself. When I was growing up, I always felt like people were watching me. I was obsessed with the idea of time-travel and I came to suspect that, forgive me if this sounds ridiculous, that people were traveling backwards in time and observing me. I always thought everyone was staring at me and judging me, I finally now realize that nobody has ever judged me, that all along I was really just judging myself.

        The trick, for me, was thinking about how much time I spent worrying about if people are judging me, as compared to how much time I spent judging other people. As I talk to more and more people, I’m learning that nobody is judging anybody, EVERYONE IS TOO AFRAID THAT THEY ARE BEING JUDGED. That’s what the real “Gamma-radiation” poisoning is.

        If I’ve at all alarmed you, please know that I was only able to stop being “FILM STUDENT ROBIN” and start being Tim Drake because of the media I was addicted to in high school. I watched a lot of genre stuff, mostly Angel and Buffy. There’s a moment in the first season finale (“Prophecy Girl”), where Xander lies in bed. He’s dealing with major personal heartbreak, wallowing BY HIMSELF in pain. That was what my life was like in high school. It’s one (camera) shot, and I swear to the powers that be that that was the moment I decided to go to film school. Looking back though, with my own personal life experience as a lens, I realize Xander solved that problem all wrong. Xander never dealt with the problem, he just kept himself busy.

        Season/act 2 was very well-written and personal, but so sad. It makes me very sad that Angel turned into Angelus after being with Buffy. Buffy was so great, right? That Buffy wasn’t enough to make Angel happy is the most important SIGN. And then after that, he went to LA. Again; first it was BA, then LA. Looking back, the writers got the order backwards. They started with Buffy, and worked backwards to Angel. That’s a huge mistake, one I’ve made to, too many times. They should started with A, then gone to B. Angel’s problem always seemed to be that he was haunted by his own memories. He kept remembering all of his sins,those memories are really what drove him crazy. Drinking blood may have helped Angel feel less guilty, but I doubt it eased what hurt him. What was really hurting Angel wasn’t the blood(which the writers needed to write off the show for awhile to achieve this sort of clarity), but the memories.

        The MOST IMPORTANT THING is that the writers should have realized that the only thing that was hurting Angel was his own bad memories. When the (S)coobies found out Angel was a monster, I’m sure they were all ok with it. In fact, I bet if asked, most writers EVERYONE would say they deal with the same fears. The happy people just seem to be the ones who have that figured out.

        Angel was probably the only one not ok with his fears. If he had been ok with it, maybe he could have lived; maybe he didn’t have to be Angel or Angelus.

        David Foster Wallace said in IJ that it was easier for people with low-IQ’s to beat an addiction than people with high IQ’s. Looking back, that’s bullshit. Believing that is what killed DFW. The twelfth step is all about sharing how you feel, and learning that everyone responds the exact same way when you tell them this is key. EVERYONE responds to this news the same way, I’m starting to realize the more I talk to people. it’s the last thing you need to do before you finally get your soul back. I try and talk as much as I can.

        I’ve finally figured this out. This is stuff I’ve been *thinking* about for years, but I have to say, it feels SO GOOD just to say. I realize now that I’ve been holding back my entire life, never *really* speaking, even when there was so much I wanted to say.

        I was always talking, a thousand words a minute, I talked so much and kept myself so busy because I personally always felt afraid. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’m now certain that I was talking so much BECAUSE I was afraid.

        As I grow up, I think I realize that everyone I meet is exactly as afraid as I am. Instead of making me even more afraid, it makes me feel like part of a family. Just the act of sharing my fears with others, and watching their stunned faces because they’re learning they feel the same way, is what *finally* makes this Robin happy.

        Congratulations on the billion gamma rays Hulk earned, but please don’t blow it all at the second act break. Like Dave said (paraphrased) about sobriety in Infinite Jest, the only way you get clean is by giving clean away. You get sobriety, but then you HAVE TO GIVE IT AWAY. If you try and hold onto it, it’ll never work. Understanding that is the real first step to a happier life. The real trick is finally realizing you’re not Alone. Then you RISE and become Nightwing.

        -”film student TIM DRAKE”
        Joseph Belzberg

  4. tariray said

    Oh god Hulky, I love you so so much.

    Reading your stuff makes me want to be a better alien and not be so critical of you humans all the time.

    I don’t even have the twitter and never knew about this drama but I am so glad I was informed by you. You just saved your planet from invasion by our great lord for just a little longer.

    Again, so many 4 chambered, blood pumping, and life (and joy) sustaining organs just for you.

    T

  5. foofighter said

    Hulk, the link to Volume 1 tome on screenwriting seems to be broken. Coming up with Error. Cheers

  6. Hugh Yeman said

    Just this morning I noticed what foofighter noticed in March. What’s up with that broken link? This was one of my favorite articles. Please tell me it’s not gone for good.

  7. Hugh Yeman said

    Whoops. I was referring to *this* article, “HULK VS. THE CONTEXT OF COMEDY”, not the screenwriting one.

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