Rob Reiner Goes on CNN to Lecture Americans About Non-PC Jokes. Real Comedians Have a Lot to Say About That.
Caution: This post contains language that some readers may find offensive.
Rob Reiner, self-imagined nemesis of the Trump administration, was recently featured on CNN in a segment on the “History of Comedy.”
That could be considered “opposition research,” given the network's been competing against Nick At Nite re-runs like “Friends,” “Full House,” and “Yogi Bear” in a ratings war that recently left them in thirteenth place.
CNN turned to Rob Reiner to give Americans tips on what they are allowed to joke about.
“When are racial jokes acceptable? @robreiner & other comedians explore that complex question when #HistoryOfComedy returns tonight at 10p.”
— CNN (@CNN) July 16, 2017
The actor who played “Meathead” on “Archie Bunker,” a show made famous for exploring the boundaries of political correctness in the 1970s, told a joke about Jewish people, then qualified why he's allowed to say it.
“The Jewish kid asks his father for fifty dollars. The father says, 'forty dollars, what do you need thirty dollars for?' I can tell that joke because I'm Jewish, and even though I'm making a Jewish stereotype, I'm denigrating myself.”
Kind of like CNN when it runs these kinds of segments.
Actually funny comedians like Jerry Seinfeld know firsthand that the kind of bubble-wrapped safe space comedic environment Reiner is promoting with these kinds of comments is deleterious to actual comedy, which seeks to bond people together by laughing at everyone equally.
While appearing on Late Night with Seth Myers, Seinfeld tells a joke that features a gay stereotype, and then lashes out against political correctness at colleges.
“There's a creepy PC thing out there that really bothers me,” he said.
Bill Maher, one of the most prominent left-wing comedians and political commentators in the country, defended conservative Clint Eastwood after he was censored for a relatively harmless joke about Caitlyn Jenner at the Guy's Choice awards on Spike TV.
“We've obtained footage of the joke that was 'too intense' for America to hear,” Maher said in hushed tones. He then voiced over the censored footage, “Dwyane 'the Rock' Johnson isn't the first athlete who's gone into acting, there's also Jim Brown and Caitlyn ... somebody.”
“That is exactly the line that they cut. Why? Is Caitlyn the new C-word? We can't even say it in a joke. And this was on a male network that thinks of itself as macho. But you know, guys, just because you have balls doesn't mean you have balls.”
After applause, he said, “What is so worrisome about this new brand of censorship is it doesn't even care if something is actually offensive. That joke was not an insult. Not in any way was it a remark that demeans Caitlyn's journey or would make her Adam's apple grow back. It's just certain words that set people off.”
“This is what Jerry Seinfeld was complaining about last week,” Maher continued in the 2015 clip, “when he said 'college audiences just want to use these words ... that's racist, that's sexist, that's prejudice ... they don't even know what they're talking about.' An opinion echoed by Chris Rock, who said he stopped playing colleges because of their unwillingness to offend anybody.”
Control the language and you control the culture. Maybe the news network should care more about what people actually say, than feature people who lecture Americans about what they're not allowed to say.
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Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.