Kurt Metzger’s Appearance on ‘Bennington Show’ Was Revealing, but Not In the Way He Intended

kurt-metzger-white-precious
Pod-Canon is an ongoing tribute to the greatest individual comedy-related podcast episodes of all time.

Kurt Metzger is known primarily for two things: for being an Emmy-winning writer for Inside Amy Schumer and for getting into furious online fights with prominent feminists like Lindy West that quickly spiral out of control once his fans enter the equation and lustily embrace the opportunity to insult powerful women.

In this unfortunate capacity as a man who says horrible things about women as a form of bold truth-telling and also sticking it to the SJWs, Metzger recently took to Facebook to make fun of women for getting a comedian accused of sexual assault banned from a comedy club instead of reporting the sexual assaults to the police.

Metzger’s notorious Facebook post was angry and smug, sarcastic and aggressive, and incredibly insensitive and callous considering the subject matter. Metzger has made saying outrageous and offensive things a core component of his persona and his act, but this was taking things much too far.

Amy Schumer criticized Metzger’s comments while reiterating her fondness for him as a writer and a friend. Then something unexpected happened: Metzger reversed himself. He’d spoken with one of the women who had accused the comedian of rape and he now believed her story. Furthermore, he was so horrified by the details of the sexual assault that it shook him to his core. He felt terrible about the way he’d made women he now believed were telling the truth feel. He also experienced what he describes as a crazed witch hunt that attacked him (and his girlfriend, who received the rape/death threats that are a horrifyingly commonplace element of online trolling) following the notorious Facebook posts. It all brought him to the point where he was suicidal before Barry Crimmins (famously a rape victim himself, and an advocate for the sexually assaulted, particularly children) talked him off the edge, metaphorically speaking.

So Metzger took to podcasts and radio to show his new perspective on the case, to apologize and admit that he was wrong. I honestly know of Metzger solely as an online misogynist so I was curious to see how sincere Metzger’s Mea Culpa seemed. Had he genuinely learned something? Was this a new man with a new perspective?

I do not doubt that Metzger genuinely feels awful about being glib and dismissive about something as important as sexual assault. And I genuinely believe that he feels awful towards the woman who spoke to him about her sexual assault and convinced him that she was being honest.

Metzger sounds like someone so vibrating with emotion and sadness that it’s hard for him to talk and, honestly, it can be tough to listen to him as well. He’s so raw that it feels like he should have waited a couple more weeks until he had more thoroughly processed the experience before talking about it publicly. But the relentless pace of the news cycle strongly discourages that kind of patience and distance.

To give Metzger credit, he does acknowledge that he did not understand the many reasons why women might be reluctant to go to the police after being raped. Yet for every step forward, Metzger takes several big steps back. Perhaps the most alarming aspect of the interview, which is really more of a monologue given how much Metzger talks and how few questions he’s asked, is how Metzger makes everything about him and makes himself out to be the victim.

Though he repeatedly states that the woman who was allegedly raped by the comedian experienced torments he could never imagine, that doesn’t keep him from continually depicting himself as the truth-telling, morally forthright victim of a feminist witch hunt from evil Social Justice Warriors who he is convinced don’t actually care about rape or rape victims and only criticize men like him as a means of making money and promoting their careers.

Metzger repeatedly does what he accuses his critics of doing to him: he de-humanizes them. He makes broad, unsupportable generalizations about people based on their gender and their political beliefs and assumes that they do not have a soul and are completely amoral because they subscribe to a strain of feminism that Metzger does not care for.

In one of the ugliest segments of the interview, Metzger devotes an astonishingly vast portion of his time to recounting a podcast interview with one of those evil, shrewish, man-hating feminists he holds responsible for turning his life into an inferno of condemnations when all he did was try to shame sexual assault victims.

Metzger is incredibly personal in his attacks on the podcaster. He makes fun of her voice throughout, using a contemporary variation on the “Irritating Wife Voice” Andrew “Dice” Clay employed when talking about all women. He makes fun of her words and her ideas, and then, to really drive home how this intense and soul-searing experiences has really made him more thoughtful and respectful and humane, he spends a lot of time making fun of her for working at a taco truck while pursuing a gender studies degree while he, Kurt Metzger, is an Emmy-winning writing for Inside Amy Schumer (or he was until the show went on indefinite hiatus). True, this story has a fairly incriminating capper but it reflects much more poorly on Metzger than it does on the woman he is mocking.

Even Metzger’s ostensibly positive comments take on a weird, ambivalent quality in light of all the time he spends attacking women for criticizing him. He assures the hosts so many times that the woman who convinced him the comedian genuinely was a rapist was “one of us,” (that is, a bawdy, dirty-talking and very funny comedian, despite being a woman), that it feels like he wouldn’t think the rape was quite as awful if it has happened to one of those uptight, bitchy SJWs that attack him on Twitter. On that note, he similarly shows his spiritual growth by encouraging his fans not to continue to attack the woman he has spent much of the interview attacking in unmistakably personal terms. Oh, and you should also know that none of this criticism can touch him because he is incapable of being shamed and his career is going so great he’s bullet-proof professionally.

Metzger came on The Bennington Show to illustrate how much he’s learned. He wants to show how far he’s come in such a short amount of time. Instead, it’s achingly apparent how much he has to learn, and how unlikely that is to happen. This is a deeply uncomfortably yet fascinating episode, if only for the insight it provides into a misogynist trying to grow yet bumping hard into his prejudices, anger, and preconceptions at every turn.

Nathan Rabin is the former head writer of The A.V. Club and the author of five books, including Weird Al: The Book (with “Weird Al” Yankovic) and, most recently, 7 Days In Ohio.

From Our Partners