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Follow-up on The Green Light Show

2012/03/17

The Green Light Show had their follow-up and apology. Previous post here. Evaluating the apology is way more complicated than condemning the original broadcast. Reality tends to get knotty like that. Part of the problem is there are several hosts who (implicitly) had different views and as I don’t know all their voices and they mocked the idea of a transcript, I’m not sure who said what. If I can summarize: a couple weren’t sorry at all, as it seemed when I wrote about this last. The guy who did most of the talking during the apology seemed genuinely contrite that he didn’t know “tranny” is considered offensive and that he dragged Ellery into this, who as it turns out is a real person with feelings and not just some abstract concept with a picture on a website. That all well and good. It’s way more than I expected. It’s rare for someone with a bad case of GIFT to actually realize it and apologize. They were not upset Natalie brought this to their attention, but said she was way too demanding.(The transcript thing. It would have been ever so helpful for somebody to drop an hour and a half or so here so we could make sense of it. Plus she tried to get them to read books!)

The segment where they bring on their friend, Matt aka Thumbelina, the drag queen is a mix. They repeatedly say they understand that drag queens aren’t the same thing as trans women, and they do seem to mostly understand it. Since they don’t seem to have any trans friends, they brought in a friend of a friend. This isn’t just some rhetorical cover though. He strongly objects to the use of “it” to refer to trans women and explained how it was dehumanizing.

And the bad: This kind of reminds me of a more sincere version of the Rush Limbaugh debacle, which I’m sure you’ve heard about, but I’ll include a link for you anyway. Basically, Limbaugh’s “apology” and a lot of the commentary on the whole thing centered around his use of the words “whore” and “slut” and not the general content of what he said. He blatantly misrepresented her testimony and degraded her for being sexually promiscuous, which there’s no evidence of and isn’t cause for degradation anyway. His apology was disingenuous, but I think our hosts here genuinely missed the point. Using terms like “tranny” and making trap jokes is asshole behavior, but not particularly noteworthy. What made them stand out was the joking about violence, as I detailed in my previous post. In the segment with Matt, they seemed to straw man this issue. I’m giving the benefit of the doubt here as they didn’t seem to be doing this deliberately. Matt and the hosts were acting like all of Natalie’s horde are trans (it’s actually only a handful) and they were angry because they wanted equal sexual consideration with cis women. They proceeded to explain they have no obligation to be attracted to women with penises and while they don’t support beating women who get men to sleep with them by hiding their penises, but if a woman does get beaten for this, what did she expect? Obtaining sex through false pretenses isn’t cool.

This is so not the point. Natalie’s fans were arguing for respect, not for guys to fuck them. This is like saying “If I saw a nigger in my neighborhood, I’d chain him to my bumper and drag him around a while,” then apologizing for saying “nigger,” and clarifying you wouldn’t actually do this yourself, but questioning what he was doing in that neighborhood. Actually, it’s like doing this circa 1970 when the threat of lynching had not entirely faded. The point is that trans women have been murdered in this exact scenario and it wasn’t a long time ago. Let’s assume for a minute it really is unethical to hide one’s penile status when picking guys up at a bar. So what? The point is that arguments like this are a pretty direct form of victim blaming and have led to people literally getting away with murder, or at least getting off easy.

There was also a but of a tu quoque in the idea people said mean things about them, too. This makes them even with the people they offended. I don’t think this is really accurate. Go check the link yourself. The comments are still there. No one called them Nazis or much of anything els they really do find “dudebro” terribly offensive. Accusing people of being mean and insensitive isn’t the same as being mean to them. Even if we were abusive, calling people mean names and dehumanizing them are not comparable.

I would have been happier with an explanation of what they thought the purpose of comedy was. They said they understood that something just being a joke isn’t a defense, but didn’t explore that question the way they should. They also seemed aware that the drag and trans communities have a bit of an uneasy relationship. I think what we have here is a serious failure of self-awareness manifesting as an idea that anything goes so long as you don’t cross some magic line. None of them seemed to think comedy means anything. In summary, they seemed to sort of understand what they did wrong (the part that wasn’t trans-related) and were sorry. They aren’t remorseless “for the lulz” types and don’t want to think of themselves as the sort of guys who would hurt anyone for a cheap laugh. Unfortunately, there was serious empathy failure and it seemed like they wanted to save some face instead of seriously considering some of the issues. I’d say this is above a notpology, but way below par as apologies goes.

(Note: edited for clarity and expanded my conclusions)

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  1. Lazy Sunday: Andrew In Drag | Sincerely, Natalie Reed

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