Edgy jokes from artists like Snoop Dogg, Stephen Colbert and Rosie O’Donnell go over the edge, experts say
We probably shouldn’t take a bloody joke – especially one that targets the First Family.
CNN fired Kathy Griffin from co-hosting its “New Year’s Eve” special with Anderson Cooper after the comic posted a graphic photo shoot where she held a mock-up of President Donald Trump’s decapitated head.
The network said in a statement Wednesday that “CNN has terminated our agreement with Kathy Griffin to appear on our New Year’s Eve program.”
Another statement by the network called the provocative performance art “disgusting and offensive.”
President Trump tweeted that Griffin “should be ashamed of herself,” adding, “My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!”
Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
And even Griffin agreed that she crossed the line this time.
“I beg for your forgiveness. I went too far,” the chastised comic said in a video following the immense social media backlash to the gory shoot by celebrity photographer Tyler Shields. “I made a mistake and I was wrong.”
I am sorry. I went too far. I was wrong. pic.twitter.com/LBKvqf9xFB
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) May 30, 2017
She’s the latest comic backpedaling on jokes against the Trumps that have fallen flat, as comedians struggle to mock the First Family in such a volatile political climate.
Trump’s lawyers are calling on Snoop Dogg to apologize for his “Lavender” music video, where the rapper fires a toy gun at a clown version of the president. “Snoop owes the president an apology,” Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen told TMZ. “There’s absolutely nothing funny about an assassination attempt on a president.”
The artist has yet to publicly say he’s sorry, but etiquette experts agree that political satire crosses the line when it actually puts someone in the crosshairs.
“The problem is, political satire by definition is tricky territory … because the intent is to lampoon and to operate outside the norm,” Daniel Post Senning, great-great grandson of Emily Post and a co-author of “Emily Post’s Etiquette,” told Moneyish. This dates back to court jesters poking fun at Medieval kings.
“But you’ve got to be very careful with violence,” Post Senning added. “When is it slapstick, and when is it making people wince?”
And while a political figure like Trump is fair game for late night hosts and stand-up comics, the children should be left alone. That’s why Rosie O’Donnell, who has a long history of publicly bickering with Trump, apologized for calling his son Barron, then age 10, autistic in January. And “Saturday Night Live” writer Katie Rich was suspended for tweeting that “Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter.” She also apologized.
I sincerely apologize for the insensitive tweet. I deeply regret my actions & offensive words. It was inexcusable & I'm so sorry.
— Katie Rich (@katiemaryrich) January 23, 2017
“You want your target to be your target, not their family, and more than one comedian has learned that lesson,” said Post Senning.
But one man who’s not sorry about skewering the president is “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, slammed for his May 1 monologue where he made a remark about Trump and Vladimir Putin that many considered distasteful and homophobic.
“I don’t regret that. I believe he can take care of himself,” Colbert said a few days later. But even he admitted that he would “change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.”
Saying something offensive or creating a graphic image just to get an outraged reaction isn’t funny. “You really want to ask yourself if this joke is worth it. Is it going to advance discourse or create a dialogue?” said Post Senning. “And if the reaction you get is overwhelmingly upset or negative, then the humor just didn’t land. An apology would be appropriate.”
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