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On Legendary Comedian Bill Hicks Was Definitely a Legend, but Was He a Comedian?

This wasn't the Unpopular Opinion I was hoping for, really. 'Bill Hicks was a smart, impassioned man who used comedy to educate people'; 'an inspired and inspiring truth teller, dangerous and brave and scary, all at once'; 'He will correct your vision.' You keep painting him as a truth-teller, someone who taught people to think clearly, someone who cut through the bullshit, as it were. But his irreverence is confusing and violent; it's destructive. His anger carries with it a brutal arrogance. He believes in the virtue of his own isolation and cynicism (sometimes he comes dangerously close to blind adolescent rebellion). I have laughed at and enjoyed some of his bits, but on the whole the content of them carries either simple messages (x is evil etc) or deliberately false, alienating assertions (the headline bit you quoted is a good example of this). I'm always surprised at his cult popularity; in general, people who hate the world earn the world's contempt, yet somehow people see Bill Hicks as some sort of moral crusader. I suppose those same people think there is some sort of 'natural, good' state to be in that society acts as an obstacle to. I've never discovered a Bill Hicks who realised that life and humanity are much more complicated than that. And that's the point of his stand-up, it's irreverently and furiously moralistic, something which comedy, a great upsetter of truth and belief and fact and clear-sightedness, is usually incompatible with. That's where his originality came from: he made those elements work together. But we shouldn't hold him up as a holder of 'truth' and moral authority: if he ever hated anything well, it was authority.

Posted on April 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm 0

On Why Bridesmaids Deserved Its Best Picture Snub

I, like most people here, think this opinion is unpopular for a reason. You want comedy to be as 'real' as possible, to reflect life more; but comedy doesn't work like that. Comedy is artificial so that it can create funny situations. It relates to life, but not directly like a kitchen-sink drama: when you say 'Helen could have (be?) an honest portrait of an isolated woman trying to make friends the only way she knows how, and failing because she doesn't understand that money isn't the same thing as generosity', well, we see that Helen, but an 'honest portrait', whatever that might be (art is artificial, not honest), isn't required. It isn't as funny, either, and she's not to any extent the main focus of the movie. Comedy must remain simultaneously engaged with and detached from life. Comedy contains things, refers to things, observes things, portrays things... but it's never a 'portrait' of them in such a crass, obvious way. We all need to allow women to be just as funny, and stupid, and pathetic, and confused as men. I'm reminded of that story in Tina Fey's 'Bossypants' where Amy Poehler, accused (albeit jokingly) of not being 'cute' while goofing around, says 'I don't care if you like it'. In that sense, Bridesmaids doesn't care if you like it. Although I definitely care about the snobbery of awards shows in relation to some of the most enduring, culturally important and carefully crafted films I've seen through the years.

Posted on February 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm 0