Earlier in the year I wrote a post about women and weblogging, and based on the old John Lennon song, used the phrase, “Women are the niggers of weblogging”.
People were offended at my use of the word, delinked me, unsubscribed, etc. etc. The fact that I was unsubscribed because I used the “word” didn’t bother me. What did bother me is that my writing didn’t inspire either deeper thought on the subject, or a healthy debate. I failed with that writing and it wasn’t because I used the “word”; it was because I used the “word” badly.
If you’re going to do satire, if you’re going to walk the edge with what you write, how you write, and the words you use, you better make sure that you have the skill to pull it off. I obviously didn’t.
This relates to today’s brouhaha, regarding Loren Feldman, the man who bills himself as a funny man, but who is primarily known for those instances where his “humor” has backfired. Feldman had his own failed “satirical” moment with a show he billed as “TechNigga” over a year ago, and got blasted to smithereens by all but a few buddies. Buddies, I might add, who have a lot of clout within this environment.
Feldman has since lost a deal with CNet, and today, the last of his clips were “refreshed” out of Verizon’s mobile service supposedly because of protests from those offended at Feldman’s old clip.
I’m not sure whether the protests by small but vocal groups were enough, or if Verizon found out what many of us have discovered: the man really isn’t funny. Not outside of a small group of weblogging insiders, which doesn’t translate into an audience for 15 year old text messaging girls, Verizon’s primary customers.
Some are bitching about “freedom of speech”, but I think Dare Obasanjo had about the best response to these claims:
People often confuse the fact that it is not a crime to speak your mind in America with the belief that you should be able to speak your mind without consequence. The two things are not the same. If I call you an idiot, I may not go to jail but I shouldn’t expect you to be nice to me afterwards. The things you say can come back and bite you on butt is something everyone should have learned growing up. So it is always surprising for me to see people petulantly complain that “this violates my freedom of speech” when they have to deal with the consequences of their actions.
Feldman is no Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, or Whoopi Goldberg. These are funny people on the edge, funny people who actually defined both the edge, and what it means to be on the edge. They paid a price, and willingly, for both their humor and their courage.
Feldman wants the glory, but without the cost. He just doesn’t get it.