15 Jul A SALON I USED TO KNOW
From the second update to Salon.com’s “Patton Oswalt Makes Asian Name Joke, In Response To Racist KTVU News Report”:
“This seems to be a night where it’s clear why race remains central, and why crude and unsophisticated elementary school jokes about it need to be called out, no matter how bullying the joke’s teller may be.”
Thus begins the second “update” to an asinine article that Salon.com posted about a “racist” joke I Tweeted in the aftermath of Bay Area news station KTVU being pranked. They were fed four of the most obviously fake, racist, Asian names (“Sum Ying Wong, Ho Lee Fuk…”) which the station, in classic Ron Burgundy style, read out on the air, with all the oversight and fact-checking acumen of a gum eraser, in a report on the crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214.
Here’s what I Tweeted, the day after KTVU’s on-air screw-up:
I was taking a shot at the TV station, right? Their rush to be “first”, their sloppy standards, their hunger for ratings which caused them trip headfirst over their own teleprompters into a juvenile prank that any morning deejay would instantly see through.
And, I thought, anyone reading my Tweet would see I was taking a shot at KTVU, and expressing my disgust with their practices by invoking the kind of equally juvenile, obvious joke they would, again, fall for.
Salon: “Let’s start with the fact that there’s nothing less funny than analyzing joke.”
But they’re going to analyze it anyway, with the same insight as an Amish elder analyzing Slayer’s Reign in Blood album. Oh, also – go back to the beginning, the first quote I pulled. Just, for a second. Okay? Note how the update began by invoking, tastelessly and insensitively, the stomach-turning George Zimmerman verdict to further prop up their argument about a Tweet. A Tweet. That’s what the “fearless journalists” at Salon are monitoring.
And I’ve got news – actual news – for Salon (and, by the way, I’m never going to use the article writer’s name in this; he spinelessly hides behind the editorial “we” – except for one crucial moment – in his article and subsequent updates, as if he’s the bold spokesman for an aggrieved legion only he can see).
There actually is something less funny than analyzing a joke. It’s defending a joke to someone who zero sense of humor, context or nuance. But here we go, anyway. I’ll try, at least, to make it entertaining. And brief.
In fact, let’s use Salon’s own words in the article, since they unwittingly defend what I did:
Salon: “So the reliably pedantic and thin-skinned Patton Oswalt wants to defend his poorly crafted joke rather than admit it fell short of being funny, and fired off a barrage of Twitter attacks against Salon all afternoon…”
Salon needs to look up what “barrage” and “afternoon” mean.
First, my “barrage” of “Twitter attacks”: 4 Re-Tweets of Salon followers, pointing out to Salon how they completely missed the point of my initial Tweet. Then three quick Tweets of my own, making fun of their clueless-ness, over-sensitivity and lack of context. Two Re-tweets from a former Salon writer, also pointing out how they missed the joke. Then, in rapid fire, three more Tweets making fun of their stupidity, including one that inspired my #Salonarticles hashtag, which was followed by four more Tweets of my own, a dozen re-Tweets of other people having fun with the #Salonarticles hashtag, and then a final RT of an article by Mediaite about how ridiculous and pathetic Salon was being. Sorry for all of the hard numbers here, but there’s a point to them, which we’ll get to in a second.
But this is Salon’s idea of a “barrage”, as well as an “afternoon”, which actually, if you check the time of the Tweets, translate into about 90 minutes, half an hour of which I spent inside the Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (and, really, why haven’t you visited it yet?) reading Twitter’s evisceration of Salon, watching Mourning Cloaks feed on grey willow, and laughing my ass off.
Salon: “No one who laughed at that joke did so because he ripped the TV station a new one. No, they laughed at the actual punch line, the Asian name ‘Wi So Sorry.’”
Well, this is truly amazing. This, from the same “news” site that, in an article about Twitter joke thief Sammy Rhodes – with loads of objective, unshakeable evidence – refused to venture beyond words like “alleged”, “supposed” and “accused” in reference to his blatantly obvious thievery. Now, just a few weeks later, Salon has the power to poll every single person who read my Tweet, plumb their reaction and motives, as well what portion of the Tweet they laughed and, and exactly how they laughed at it. Miraculous! Why aren’t they aiming this sorcerer-like scrying power on the NSA?
Salon.com: “I waded through his Twitter feed for some time and if Oswalt asked for those jokes to stop, it happened after I crawled out of that cesspool.”
First off, this is the only time – indeed, the only sentence, in the entire article – where the writer suddenly switches from “we” to “I”. ‘Cuz he wants you to know what a fearless, take-no-shit truth-seeker he is. Then, next sentence? Back to “we”. It’s kind of heartbreaking.
And re-read that sentence. Marvel at it. Are you serious, Salon? You “waded” through the “cesspool” of my Twitter feed? How courageous! Sorry about the potty language, Miss Primapple from Chamomile Cove. I thought you guys were journalists.
Nellie Bly endured ice water baths, beatings and ditch liquor for ten days on Blackwell’s Island to single-handedly reform the New York Department of Public Charities and Corrections. Oriana Fallaci tore off the chador in front of the Ayatollah Khomeini and called out his misogyny for the medieval horseshit it was.
And you’re trying to claim swagger-points for scrolling through a Twitter feed? You are truly pathetic. And not even good at your job. Or maybe just lying. Because, a mere four Tweets before the one that made you spit your locally-sourced soy latte all over your Leo Buscaglia screen saver, was this Tweet:
I was making fun of KTVU. I WAS MAKING FUN OF KTVU. I WAS MAKING FUN OF KTVU. The “Wi So Solly” Tweet was my follow-up, what we comedians call a “tag”. Again, I was making fun of their rush to be “first”, their sloppy…
Fuck. I shouldn’t have to repeat this. You should’ve understood it the first time I explained it, earlier. No, fuck that. You should’ve understood it before I wrote all of this. But this is like explaining Game of Thrones to a brine shrimp, isn’t it?
Salon: “But really, this is the same tired line we’ve heard from Oswalt and other comedians before.”
Oh, it’s certainly tired, but not in the way you’re thinking, Salon. It’s “tired” because me and everyone I know in the comedy business (as opposed to you and your fellow dullards in the professional outrage and desperate click-bait business) are tired of explaining ourselves to the 21st century schoolmarm brigade.
Salon: “…most of them are of the “you’re so politically correct” variety that probably also weren’t all that smart when he first told them in 1993.”
Did you even stop to wonder why stale, 1993-era “politically correct” criticisms still apply to you, Salon? Is it maybe because your mindset is two decades behind the rest of the planet?
Jim Goad, in his essay “Cannibalism Among the Oppressed” on TakiMag a few weeks ago, wrote: “I take tremendous pleasure when my supposed enemies start shooting themselves with friendly fire.” I don’t agree with Jim Goad about much, but he perfectly encapsulated the danger of the kind of wolf ticket “journalism” you idiots are using to fill pixel space. You’re hurting progressives with your fear of language, and irony, and healthy, all-American bad taste. And you Do. Not. Understand. Comedy.
So goodbye, Salon. I feel like I’ve graduated from you. I’ve still got The Nation, and Garret Keizer and Slate and Talking Points Memo and The Jimmy Dore Show and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and Jim Hightower. Oh, and Heather Havrilesky and the indispensable Cintra Wilson, both of whom you chased away from your own site like Mary MacLane fleeing the icy oatmeal of Butte, Montana in 1903.
I don’t have Bill Hicks anymore, and I’ve been missing him coming up on twenty years next spring. And George Carlin, who’s been gone for five. Greg Giraldo left in 2010, and then Patrice O’Neal a year after that.
But if they were alive, I’d happily drive them down to your offices and watch them kick the living shit out of all of you humorless, frightened scolds. I’d wait out in the car, though. I’m a terrible hand-to-hand fighter. No reach and spaghetti arms. I try to make up for it in what I write and say. Why don’t you?
Gotta go. Maybe, before returning to the cesspool of my Twitter feed, I’ll read you guys’ article about Tumblr porn. And try to drown out the sounds of H.L. Mencken shrieking in his tomb.
P.S. In your first update of your attack on me, you ended it with the devastating put-down, “To be clear: We get the joke, funny man. And might have laughed – in the fourth grade.”
Oof! First off, I want to point out a Tweet from Kevin Biegel, who said, “Salon said they’d have laughed in 4th grade at @pattonoswalt’s joke. Joke’s on Salon: a 4th grade laugh is the Cadillac of laughs.”
Fuckin’ a-ball tweety, Kevin. I always cite the lyric from Liz Phair’s song “Flower” as the guide to what all great comedy is: “Obnoxious, funny, true and mean.”
But since you won’t be able to stop yourself responding to this (say it with me: you desperately need the site traffic) I thought I, as a fellow progressive and generally helpful soul, would suggest some other comebacks of equal impact.
1. Your “A Salon I Used To Know” post was funny – as a crutch. (Note: This might be construed as an ableist slur)
2. Hey Mr. Frown Clown Man, your post was so funny — we forgot to laugh (Note: Make sure to mention that early onset Alzheimer’s and trauma-induced short term memory loss are problems that affect us all, at that we all need to be sensitive to these issues)
3. Hey Oswalt – up your nose with a rubber hose! (Note: Given the recent revelations about the human rights violations at Gitmo, this might not be the best time to use this one)