Do We Really Need Definitions? In Defense of Michelle Wolf

by lisa st john

 

I really wanted to write about television binging this month–how I love it. The pros and cons, but I am too flummoxed by the news. Ironically, I was also going to post an analysis of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale Season Two Episode One, but what is distracting me?

The White House Correspondent’s Dinner controversy. Apparently, we actually need definitions of some of these terms, WHY?

So critics of Michelle Wolf can catch up a bit. And then class, after we learn the words we can explain what they mean, okay?

First Amendment: Freedom to say what we want to say (specifically allowing the PRESS to say what it wants to say).

Satire: Using humor to expose stupidity IN ORDER TO PROMOTE CHANGE AND HELP HUMANITY SEE ITS FLAWS.

Sarcasm: Witty language used to insult. Often used in satire.

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but the highest form of intelligence –Oscar Wilde. 

Okay. What I find so disconcerting about the backlash of Michelle Wolf’s correspondent’s dinner speech was that people misunderstood the Sarah Sanders eyeliner joke yet totally missed the Aunt Lydia reference.

I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. She burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.” (Wolf transcript)https://www.visitcharlottesville.org/listing/charlottesville-historic-downtown-mall/337/

Now we need to explain the joke, apparently. This is NOT a joke about Sanders’ looks.This is a joke about Sanders’ LIES. Sarah Sanders always has great smoky eye make up. I love it. She burns the facts and uses the ash to make her perfect eyeshadow. Get it now?

I have to say I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.” (Wolf transcript)

Okay. Aunt Lydia is one of the scariest villains ever. If you haven’t read the book by the incredible Margaret Atwood, you must. In the novel, she is in charge of indoctrinating (here is the definition of indoctrinating for those of you who need help getting Wolf’s jokes) the sex slaves (handmaids). The Hulu version of Aunt Lydia is even more terrifying because in the novel, we never know if Aunt Lydia is just going along with the new regime (albeit extremely) in order to stay alive and in power or if she is a believer in the new tyrannical police state. Hulu expands her character to show just how bat shit crazy she has become.

“She’s most comfortable making room in the world so violence can flourish. Actress Ann Dowd takes full advantage of the role, heightening Aunt Lydia’s zealousness to a point where it almost seems like a caricature … Aunt Lydia is carved in the lineage of villainesses like Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Annie Wilkes in Misery, and Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca. Cold, brutal, and obsessed … .” ()

But that’s not what critics are complaining about, no. They are complaining about an eye shadow joke they didn’t get, the use of the word “pussy” (WHO SAID IT FIRST?) and “tampon.”

[Ivanka] is about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons.” (Wolf transcript) OMG, did she say (whisper) “tampon”? Women use tampons. An empty box does not help a woman when she is menstruating. Get it?

It’s up to comedians to shine the light on what’s wrong in the world, and we don’t want things swept under the rug.” –Jeff Ross

I almost forgot the Uncle Tom reference! Okay kids, Uncle Tom refers to a subservient character in Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s infamous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It is not a compliment to call someone an Uncle Tom.

So when Wolf said, “…what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know. Aunt Coulter.” She meant that Ann Coulter betrays her people (women) by sucking up and being subservient to the conservative agenda (men). Get it now?

“One of the most bizarre uses of Uncle Tom as an insult, directed at women occurred…when Jane Fonda wanted to criticize conservative women for not performing the women’s movement.” “She said, ‘Let’s face it, you’re all a bunch of Uncle Toms,’” (“Uncle Tomisms” from Accuracy in Academia)

 

 

You’ve just made yourself a new fan Michelle Wolf. You comedian, you funny, me laugh. I’m in.* Can’t wait for THE BREAK on Netflix!

 

 

 

 

 

*Sorry about the multi-syllabic content in this post. If you need moe definitions here you go: Dictionary.

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Anonymous

Great article. I love it and agree. Ironic, isn’t it, the outrage over a woman doing her job. While the idiot in the White House calls everyone names and has insulted the handicapped, Veterans, women, Mexicans, Muslims, etc.

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