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Can we Support Kathy Griffin even if we Hate that Photo?

Did you hate the photo Kathy Griffin created? Can you support her even if you hated it?

When Kathy Griffin posted a gruesome photo of Trump’s bloodied head, a storm of controversy broke out from deep outrage to conversations of freedom of speech. The blowout was also intense as she lost her job on CNN, gigs got canceled and she has been severely criticized by the press. She apologized and seemed sincere, but that didn’t put an end to the barrage of death threats.


As a comic, I’ve done over-the-top material and have died onstage, but never threatened to be killed. Griffin’s posting was misconceived and certainly not funny, but, the backlash seems to be overkill, more disturbing than her post. Where were these people when horrible racist photos were posted about Obama? Where were the denouncements when male standup comics made homophobic and misogynistic jokes?


I started to write about this, but hesitated, worried that supporting her right to do shock art might cost me business, as I’m a humorist for many ultra conservative companies. When I realized how frightened I was to write something that would offend a potential client or go against my “brand,” that woke me up to just how important it is to support her, regardless of how much we might have despised what she did.

Judy Carter, Kathy Griffin, Shante Lewis
used with permission from The Fullfillment Fund

I've known Kathy Griffin for years, starting when she was a newbie at The Groundlings and Uncabaret in LA. She's always been shocking, saying things most people might think, but not say. I remember being taken aback when she told a story about a date that ended with a golden shower, laughing so hard, I had an asthma attack. This was the most shocking thing I'd ever seen done by a female comic. I couldn’t believe that she was talking so honestly about intimate and horribly humiliating things.


Her openness inspired me to be more daring and authentic on stage. I started talking about being gay, even writing a book about it for Simon and Schuster, “The Homo Handbook” that won the LAMBDA Literary award for best humor book yet was banned in Arkansas and other states. 


Now that I'm doing corporate events, and as my prices go up, my authenticity has gone down. I'm more restrained, forced to face the challenge of passing the scrutiny of HR. I was even asked to take the word “drugs” out of my speech, and that was for a pharmaceutical company.


Griffin’s piece was consistent with what she’s always done – shocking us and shaking us up. In these desperate times, it takes a lot to wake up Americans. Being a “nice girl” seems ineffective when we’re coping with an administration telling us, “There is no climate change, no election tampering by Russians, and by the way, we are selling your National Parks.” 

Another consideration is Griffin is a comic. What she does might be offensive and in bad taste, but she’s not putting any of us in danger. Measuring this against what the president has done, we have to concede that his actions and words, the hateful language he’s used to describe certain people and groups absolutely have consequences. Should we hold a comic to higher standards than the leader of our country? 


So, I stand by Kathy Griffin along with other comics who are supporting her: Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and others. Performance art is not always funny, comfortable, or pretty. At its best it’s a wake up call. It makes us feel. It makes us think.

When we try to censor performers, when we tell them that they crossed a line, and need to get in line, government approved entertainment will have us be as tepid as Disney on Ice.

Wait – Bill Maher is also being attacked because of a word he said?  

Shouldn’t we hold up our president to the same decency we ask of comics?

I would like to know how you feel about it. Please chime in on my FB page https://facebook.com/judycartercomedy


18 comments:

  1. This is a tough one all around. As I grow and learn and look back over time, I realize how much my life was affected--even driven by the media. The music we all listen to and connect with has a major effect on our thoughts, emotions, relationships, and all life choices. Music reflects our culture, but also shapes and defines it as the messages get stronger and begin to reinforce each other.

    The same goes for comedy for those who follow it.

    We often don't realize until our life changes how much something affected us.

    That said, I also believe in free speech. I just often wish people made better choices. Griffin's decision was really dumb. Had she thought it through further, hopefully she would have made a better choice.

    I wish we could all seek truth and learn how our lives could be so much better if we supported each other and focused on the positive instead of the negative. That's why I do what I do...to point out to others that things can be different if we work on changing our own lives for the better.

    Kathy Griffin has never been my style. But I think she still deserves to do the New Years Eve show with Anderson. I agree with Cooper's comment that "...[no one] deserves to have their career destroyed because they did something stupid."

    That is unless their stupid actions will ruin our lives and our world.

    It saddens me greatly and disappoints me that Trump is getting away with all the things he is doing to take away what we worked so hard for centuries to put in place for the betterment of all. I'm ashamed of him if he can't be ashamed of himself.

    He definitely needs to be held to higher standards in his speech and in the decisions he makes. I have never seen a more negative person. You can see it all over his face--you don't have to hear him speak to know.

    I ask myself every day what it's going to take to turn this country around, as devisive and negative as our society has become.

    Let's all wake up and decide to be better--to make our lives better. The ripple effect will be unbelievable.

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  2. Good for you! Nugent threatened to murder Obama and Hillary, but hey---that was totally cool because PENIS. I'm so sick of these men doing anything they can to oppress women. We've lost so many rights since the 90s that it's shocking to me. Just watch Spaceballs and Rocky 2 and you'll be thinking WTF happened to this country???

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  3. Thanks for your comment Jan. It's good to have everyone's opinion. That's what this is all about.

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  4. I may have found a way to accept her initial apology. But then she held that press conference with her lawyer and doubled down and emoted her total hate for the President and went on to blame him for all her woes resulting from that stupid photo shoot. No, I will not accept her aploogy, she now owns this and her career appears to be toast. Get used to how the other 99% lives Kathy.

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  5. I was appalled... but tried to be for the free speech and all that. Then...then she "apologized" with 100 eye rolls and all. Then...then she had her hot mess of a presser. I just can't with her anymore. Being a comedian is one thing, having no soul is quite another.

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  6. The picture was tasteless and stupid, and I could accept that as a mistake, but Gifford's behavior in the days since show that she has not one shred of remorse, so it's time for her to get used to the consequences of her actions...

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    1. Consequences! Yes, I'm hoping to see consequences on Thursday with Comey testifying.

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  7. After Bill Maher used the N-word, comedian and Senator Al Franken cancelled an upcoming appearance. Stephen Colbert said things about Trump that the FCC investigated, then dropped. Kathy Griffin appeared in a photograph with a gory image of Trump, no words said (initially). Many claim her career is toast. Could it be that as a woman Griffin is being held to a different standard?

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    1. Roberta, I know as a comic I've been treated SO differently. Let's see what happens.

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  8. The public reaction was way out of place. C'mon now!!! We all have grown disentitized to gory images of ISIS beheadings, burning and tortures. Unfortunately. But human history is paved with crap like this, meaning extreme violence. People forget fast. Too fast.

    Nobody was outraged when Saddam Hussein head was held up high in a similar fashion. The public has a double standard and entartainers KNOW it. People see what they want to see and beilive what they want to believe. I did not find commedy, shock or a raised in emotions in Kathy attempt to outrage the public. Infact that photo shoot did absolutely nothing for me. I did not think it was poor taste either. It could have been more thought out for sure. But hey we all have our Franksteins pieces in our portfolio. However like I said I found more shocking the reaction of the media and the public. I was also very disappointed that Kathy felt she had to apologize, becasue her original intention aimed to stir up so much indignation. Life for us women is always more difficult. We have to try harder, work more, be funnier, smarter, cleaner, and all this by still trying to be socially accepted "ladies". That glass ceiling for us women will always be present until we decide that when we try to break it, pieces of glass might fall on our head and stab us.....in the eyes. Yeah. And... that is OK....So we bleed....and we also heal. Then we have scars but we are tougher after that and we get respect. Humans are a visual specie.

    Why did Kathy apologized? I understand that to find work as a female entartainers over a "certain" age, can be a taunting task....hell it is difficult in so many other professions as well. BUT I respect Kathy Griffin for all the work she has done to empower women in other ways. I am a disenfranchised wanna be career woman at age 52. I am still trying to figure out if fighting for our rights is even worth it. To me someone who stands for what they beilive despite the consequences, is my hero...or heroine.

    As women we should never apologize for the things we do. We apologized enough through history. I hope there will be women that do things that make people say "OMG I cannot beilive she just said....did .....shout....that!!" more often.

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    1. Diana, "I am still trying to figure out if fighting for our rights is even worth it. To me someone who stands for what they believe despite the consequences, is my hero...or heroine." Yes. That's the hardest part in life - not to be a victim, but to understand how we create our future.

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  9. NO she is now the poster child for "what happens when you go to far". Her apology was BS. She's sorry NOW because it affected HER!

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    1. Bruna, I agree that her apology was BS and I don't think she should have apologized, but doubled down.

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  10. I think she is the WORST comedian and her vulgar tone turns me off. That said, I will not forgive or forget. She is repulsive against a sitting President and his family. She has flushed her career down the drain and I hope she never gets another gig to voice her hate!

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  11. I think you had a nice balance in your response. Unfortunately, and current sitting President shares a lot of the responsibility, civility has gone out the window and it takes more and more to shock, to get attention. Thanks for posting.

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  12. The sad thing is our president sets the emotional pitch of this country. Reacting to the source of this comics are called to question what is spewed. In mimicking Trump she acted like him. Anger spurs anger. Who should lose their job? Who's the bully with the power?

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    Replies
    1. Jane, so good to hear from you. Yes, "anger spurs anger."

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  13. Well done Ms. Carter! And as a corporate comedian, very brave. Thank you!

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Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.