Comedy Weeds

Comedy Weeds

I’ve been thinking three things about comedy lately:

1) How much I love it.
2) How angry and outraged comedy is making people.
3) I’m not going to list a third thing, because comedy is all about breaking rules.

Up to a point, it’s natural that comedy challenges and upsets people, but I like to think about how and why.

Partially because it makes me feel better about all the money I spent on my liberal arts degree. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Visual Art, Rhetoric, and Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature. Yes, a BS triple major. It’s an ALMOST useless liberal arts degree.

The one class that has been endlessly valuable to me was a class about comedy theory. A class about analyzing the function and purpose of jokes.

I think about that class every day of my life.

Almost all theories of comedy boil down to this: comedy functions on contrast. We break into laughter when two ideas are smashed together in surprising and satisfying ways. Humans are hard-wired to laugh at incongruity. If you doubt this, go tell a child the sound a duck makes is “moo.” The child will laugh and/or get really mad and hit you with a toy truck.

Every joke has a set-up and a punchline; an expectation and a surprise. Obviously, you can’t just throw two contrasting things together for the hell of it. That’s when you end up with tweets like this:

Citizen Kane and Peanut Butter. #PutTwoThingsTogether

The success of a joke is in the clarity of the set-up and the surprise of the punch-line.

Sometimes, the set-up is an actual line.

Set-up: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Punchline: To get to the other side.

When this joke was new, it killed. The expectation for an elaborate, clever response was set-up and then broken by a simple, obvious response.

A lot of modern technology cracks unwitting set-up and knockdown jokes. For example:

Me: Hey, Google Maps, how should I get to Chipotle from here?
Google Maps: Drive your car into the Pacific Ocean, Joseph.

But a lot of what makes us laugh doesn’t have a literal set-up line. The set-up line is just a “truth” we’ve culturally agreed on.

Back when we culturally agreed that men do not wear dresses, a man wearing a dress was hilarious. Now, not so much. As a joke, it’s tired and expected. As a cultural truth, many of us believe traditional gender norms are changing. Anyone can wear a dress and if you don’t like it you can go drive your car into the Pacific Ocean.

A lot of our humor is getting weirder. Strange cultural truths are being challenged. For example, our long held belief that handsome, charismatic leading men don’t look like otters. But as Benedict Cumberbatch and Tumblr proved, holy shit, that expectation can be broken. And it’s very satisfying.

BenedictOtter

We laugh when we see someone slip and fall on a patch of ice because the sight of another person flailing their limbs in a desperate attempt to stay upright shatters our innate idea of humans as advanced, intelligent beings.

Set-up: I am a dignified, respectable human in control of my body.
Punchline: Ha, ha, motherfucker, you just broke your coccyx.

Comedy, by its nature, is violent. It’s all about breaking, shattering, falling, killing, and driving into the Pacific Ocean.

But just because it’s inherently violent, doesn’t mean it has to be offensive.

I think a lot of outrage about comedy is because of the targets comedians pick. A lot of jokes still function on the agreed upon cultural “truths” that women are whiney or gay people are always flamboyant or all straight men only listen to women talk so they can “hit that puss.” (That last one is an actual joke I heard an actual comedian say out loud on purpose in 2015.)

Sometimes the audience is offended, but often the joke just isn’t funny to a lot of people because we don’t share that truth anymore. The set-up makes no sense so why would we be entertained by the punchline?

People talk about don’t punch down, instead punch up. Which makes sense to me. Don’t make fun of poor people. Instead make fun of the giant asshole corporations that are keeping them poor.

I think that’s a great starting point.

But even if you pick a worthy target for your comedy, it’s still an aggressive violent pursuit. It’s still punching.

If all you want to do with your comedy is punch, that’s great! There are plenty of weeds that need to be pulled out of our cultural garden. If the violent action of tearing a living thing out of the ground can create the positive, healthy reaction of laughter, then we’re already doing well.

Comedy is always destructive. It always will be. It’s always going to rip the weeds out of the garden. But I’m trying to think of clearing the weeds as just the first step. Since we’re tearing shit out anyway, maybe we can plant something new.

A new idea.

A new truth.

A new way for the chicken to cross the road that no one has ever thought of before.

A joke so powerful, it can pay off all of my student loans at once.

I can dream.

Thanks again for reading! If you enjoyed this, you can help make more comedy possible by supporting me on Patreon here!

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life

Underwear That’s Fun To Wear

UnderwearThatsFunToWear

One of the reward levels on my Patreon is suggesting a topic for a blog post. I was thrilled a few months back when a kind patron suggested “Underoos” as a topic. This patron was shocked and amused that the underwear line was being relaunched for adults. He told me he’d like me to address this question: “Why? I mean, just why?”

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Underoos, they were extremely popular character-based underwear sets that were around from the late ’70s to the early ’90s. They featured a t-shirt and tight little underpants depicting superheroes, Star Wars characters, and more. The packaging declared Underoos were “underwear that’s fun to wear.” In the 1980s, it would go without saying that these are for children. Now, not so much.

As a child, I had Superman Underoos and they made me bitter every time I wore them. I desperately wanted Robin, The Boy Wonder, Underoos. I vividly remember standing in the shopping mall, feverishly pawing through the display looking for Robin Underoos. But the city bus was coming to take us home and it was Superman or nothing.

So I settled.

“Well, I won’t have to settle now,” I thought when I heard Underoos for adults were being released by Hot Topic.

Just a few days after the blog suggestion came in, I was out walking with a friend. We happened to pass a Hot Topic so I checked out my Underoos options.

It was my turn to be shocked and amused. It’s always interesting to revisit things from your childhood because you notice stuff you didn’t as a kid.

For example, I tweeted this.

I mean, I understand Skeletor is a self-involved megalomaniac, but he’s just standing there dreaming, “What if there were underwear of my naked, ripped purple chest and dark, foreboding underwear of my loin-cloth area? AND what if they were available in men’s large?”

Every single fucking thing about it was absurd.

I loved it.

I knew I wanted to get a pair when it was time to write the blog post.

A few weeks later, I added a new milestone goal to my patreon. If I reached the goal, I’d add photos of myself wearing Underoos to this blog post. It was unlocked faster than I thought.

I went back to Hot Topic. All the Skeletor Underoos were gone. Most of the Underoos were gone. I asked the cashier about it. She said they hadn’t been selling very well, but suggested I call some other locations.

After I processed my shock, I, an adult man, called a Hot Topic and said, “Hello. I’m wondering if you have any Skeletor Underoos?”

And the voice on the other end of the phone said, “Oh, sir. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry, but we’re all out of Skeletor Underoos.”

She waited a moment. I think to see if I started crying.

Then she continued, “And…and I don’t think we’re getting any more. But I know we still have some superheroes on our online store!”

I couldn’t believe it had happened again. I was truly reliving my childhood in the worst way possible: I COULDN’T GET THE UNDEROOS I WANTED.

It was weird, as an adult geek, to be denied something. I’ve become used to our obsession with nostalgia and the huge popularity of everything I loved as a kid. I can buy an ice cube tray shaped like Han Solo’s face, for fuck’s sake. I can have anything, right?

I was determined not to let the bitterness seep in like it had when I was a kid. I couldn’t have Skeletor, but there would still be other good options.

I went online and picked out two of my favorite superheroes as an adult: Batman and Captain America. Sorry, Superman.

I was excited. I found myself legitimately asking the same question my patron had posed: Why?

Why was I, an adult man, excited to order novelty superhero underwear from the internet?

So many things lose their sense of magic and fun as you grow older. It’s easy to get bitter and complacent. Who cares about underwear? Putting them on is just one more damn thing you have to do in the morning.

As an adult, people only have two feelings about other people seeing their underwear: acceptance or hope.

You’re going to be in a horrible car accident or your date is going to go well. Either way, you just want to feel presentable.

I’m happily married, so for me, every day is a date that goes well.

But I don’t think Underoos are about what other people think. They’re not like wearing a t-shirt that says “I Frakking Love Battlestar Galactica.” They’re not about broadcasting a message to other people.

They’re about trying to make a busy, cranky adult support their secret belief that underneath it all they’re a noble hero.

Eventually, my Underoos arrived. First, I tried them on to see what I had really got myself into. The shirts were awesome and comfortable. The colorful extremely tight underpants were, uh, mildly alarming. I briefly regretted the decision to share photos.

But real heroes don’t feel shame. They strap that ridiculous shit on and own it. And then take pictures to put on the internet.

My wife and I had a fun photo shoot.

I felt very heroic as Captain America.

CapPatriotic

I did some brooding as Batman.

BatBrooding

I reflected on the current state of democracy.

CapReflecting

Eventually, I got sleepy.

BatSleepy

All in all, the packaging was right. They were fun to wear.

Thanks,
Joseph

P.S. I am well aware that I can buy Skeletor Underoos for grossly inflated prices on eBay. There aren’t a lot of lines I won’t cross, but buying used underwear from strangers on the internet is one of them.

Thanks again for reading! If you enjoyed this, you can help make more comedy possible by supporting me on Patreon here!

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life, Uncategorized

The 7 Maybe Best Tabletop Games Ever

The7MaybeBestTabletopGamesEver

I was honored to be a guest on an episode of my friend Wil Wheaton’s awesome show, Tabletop. I played the game CONCEPT with Wil and the great comedy duo Rhett & Link. Here’s a fun screenshot!

JosephTabletopShame

Huge thanks to co-producer of the show Boyan Radakovich and everyone at Geek & Sundry. It was an incredibly fun experience!

I’ve always been a fan of tabletop games, but after I recorded the episode, I thought about how much tabletop games have walked through my life with me. I realized I wasn’t thinking about the BEST games but rather the BEST moments and memories. So here’s my top 7 tabletop memories. Enjoy!

1) DEATH STAR ESCAPE

My first tabletop experience was playing the very early Star Wars board game, Death Star Escape. To my foggy recollection, it was not technically a good game. It was mostly random luck based on the whims of a cheap cardboard spinner. It was sort of like Candy Land, but with more space and death. My parents bought it for my older brother and me, but my brother had little interest in playing it. So I found a more willing partner–my teddy bear. His name was Chocolate. When it came to playing Death Star Escape, he was a cunning warrior. I would take turns spinning for myself and spinning for Chocolate. For some reason, my teddy bear almost always defeated me. This infuriated me. I realize now my teddy bear, Chocolate is clearly a Stih Lord. I still own both Death Star Escape and my teddy bear. Soon there will be a re-match. Chocolate will pay.

2) TRIVIAL PURSUIT

I’ve always loved the title Trivial Pursuit because it sounds like they could have called the game Shit That Doesn’t Matter But You’re Going To Take It Too Seriously Anyway. I was introduced when my Grandmother bought it for us one Christmas. We played it. My Grandmother lost. Mostly because my brother and I could answer all of the comic book and sci-fi questions. The next night, I got up in the middle of the night and discovered my grandmother sitting in the darkness hunched over the Trivial Pursuit cards. Lit only by the demon glow of her Virginia Slim cigarette, she was furiously memorizing the answers to every question. The next day, we played again and she defeated her young grandchildren handily. Well played, Grandma, well played. (She was also a Sith Lord. Always, two there are.)

3) CHEZ GEEK

Eventually, I found better people to game with than my invincible teddy bear and cheating Grandmother. After I graduated from college, I was lucky to stumble into a friend group that was close-knit and family-like. We played many games and we drank many beers and we yelled many things. One of our favorite games was Chez Geek. One of the cards in, I believe, the original deck became my role model. The card was for Mr. Enthusiastic. In the illustration, he wore a t-shirt that read “Liev Schreiber Rules!” It was a happy time in my life and much like Mr. Enthusiastic, I was always up for one more game, one more beer, one more yelling. I had a penchant for being excited about things like poor, maligned Liev Schreiber who was really quite good in the Scream movies. Back then I had no idea I’d later become friends and creative partners with the man who drew Mr. Enthusiastic. Someday, I’ll get a t-shirt that reads “John Kovalic Rules!”

4) THE HILLS RISE WILD

This is my favorite tabletop game ever made. The Hills Rise Wild is bizarre and beautiful. The game has a goal, but the main point is for a bunch of Lovecraft-inspired hillbilly characters to run around shooting each other in the back with shotguns and magic balls of death. The best tactic to survive this game is to just hide in a shack. One game, a friend got upset and yelled that we were all just sitting on our porches drinking lemonade. The next game this was shortened to “Stop drinking Countrytime!” The next game after that it was just, “Stop Countrytiming.” After that it was just an insulting mime routine of an old person swirling a straw in lemonade. I love how even a game about evil cultist hillbillies murdering each other for no reason can create new forms of communication.

5) FURY OF DRACULA

I only played Fury of Dracula a couple of times, but it stands out in my mind because the friend running the game would insist on creating a spooky mood by shoving cheap plastic vampire teeth in his mouth. This would make his speech warped and cute like he was a big, evil baby. There was also a lot of sucking noises as he tried to keep the teeth in place and not drool. That friend is now the VP of a major gaming company. If he really wants to make an impact, I hope he wears his vampire teeth at important meetings.

6) STAR WARS MONOPOLY

About two years ago, some friends bought me a copy of Star Wars Monopoly for Christmas. So I got them together and played it. The fools. Star Wars Monopoly is like any other game of Monopoly, except there’s extra stress because you don’t want Luke Skywalker’s little pewter lightsaber to get bent. I hadn’t played Monopoly in YEARS. We played with the typical house rules where a player can randomly win a bunch of the community chest money back. Of course when you play the game that way, it’s like The Simpsons, it will go on so long you get confused and frightened and you don’t even understand reality anymore. After playing for roughly 27 hours, we agreed to revert to the more basic rules where the rich get richer and the poor are utterly screwed. No bail-outs. No lucky breaks. In almost seconds, Darth Vader totally destroyed everyone. It was a great reminder of the true power of the dark side of capitalism.

7) BRITISH RAILS

I’ve had many gaming partners over the years. Teddy bears, grandmas, drinking buddies, comedy pals, and more. But my favorite partner in recent years has been my wife, Sara. Everyone I know is a ridiculously busy adult and it makes it hard to find time for a gaming night. So for our anniversary a few years ago, my wife and I bought ourselves a two-player game: British Rails! We spent a few months living in the UK and my wife (having worked at the James J. Hill House in St. Paul, Minnesota) is a big fan of locomotive history. The goal of the game is to build a train empire by delivering goods to different cities. It is a nice, slow, calm game that pairs well with a Sunday evening and a giant glass of smokey whisky. But like all tabletop games I’ve ever played, it also pairs well with yelling. And so it was, one peaceful night of gaming, I repeatedly yelled at my wife, “I JUST WANT TO BRING RUBBER TO MOTHERFUCKING CARDIFF.”

Of all the things I’ve yelled while playing Tabletop Games, that might be my favorite. I love tabletop games. They don’t even have to be great games, they just need to create the opportunity to build memories and to accomplish something. I think humans are often at their happiest when they’re striving to do something. There’s a joy in getting lost in the pursuit of a task: escaping the Death Star, defeating your grandchildren, defending the honor of Liev Schreiber, murdering a Lovecraft hobo, spitting through your Dracula teeth, sending Obi-Wan Kenobi to the poor house, or just bringing the rubber to Cardiff.

Wil’s tagline for Tabletop is “Play more games.”

Whenever I hear that, I add in my mind “and bring the rubber to Cardiff.”

Thanks for reading. Thanks for watching the episode. Enjoy your games. Enjoy all the memories they create. Don’t cheat like my grandmother.

Play more games.

Bring the rubber to Cardiff.

If you enjoy my posts, you can help make more happen by supporting me on Patreon. My next post will be about Adult Underoos and thanks to an unlocked Patreon goal it will include photos of me in my underoos. You’re welcome and I’m sorry.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life, Uncategorized

MYSELF: Obsessed Ep 74

A special, weird episode featuring host Joseph Scrimshaw discussing his obsession with himself! Featuring guest host Hal Lublin! Thrill to such topics as Benedict Cumberbatch, small dogs, feminism, the best episodes of Doctor Who for cats, spending student loans on action figures, the phrase “dark wiggle room,” and much more. Special thanks to Patreon backers for unlocking this episode as a milestone goal!

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

Listen, rate, review, and subscribe to OBSESSED on iTunes.

If you enjoy the podcast, you can help make it happen by supporting me on Patreon!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Obsessed, Podcast

My Name is Joseph

MyNameIsJoseph

The name my parents gave me is Joseph Aaron Scrimshaw. When I got married, I took my wife’s maiden name as a second middle name. My current legal name is Joseph Aaron Stevenson Scrimshaw.

While I was growing up, I pretty much let people call me whatever they wanted: Joe, Joseph, Joey, Scrawny Little Asshole, etc. I never corrected anyone. It felt rude. I figured, “These people are seeing me from the outside. Maybe they’re just picking the name that matches what they see.”

As I got older, my name basically settled into being Joe with the occasional Scrawny Little Asshole.

Once I started a career performing and writing, I consistently used Joseph. After a few years, it started bugging me that despite listing my name as Joseph in every bio, program, press release, interview, etc. people in my professional life would still call me Joe.

I decided, over a decade ago, that if I wanted people to use Joseph, I needed to be consistent. I made a point of telling people that for anything professional, it was Joseph. People and publications still called me Joe.

I decided to start introducing myself to any new people I met as Joseph. I began trying, ever so gently, to correct people if they called me Joe.

At this point in my life, I have a handful of very old friends who know me as Joe. Besides that, my name is Joseph.

Joseph feels right. To me, there is a world of difference between Joe and Joseph.

Joe is a big strong guy who lifts weights and watches football. Joseph collects action figures and is pretty sure he’s a Hufflepuff.

Joe likes America and eating raw steaks cooked on the hood of a big old muscle car. Joseph drives a Toyota Yaris and likes to write comedy essays about Aquaman’s feelings.

I am a motherfucking Joseph.

Still, people call me Joe. These days, the Joe-calling mostly happens on social media. So people are literally calling me Joe while responding to my twitter handle @JOSEPHScrimshaw. I think some people feel shortening names is a way to suggest friendship or intimacy. For other people, maybe two syllables just feels like too much work.

Did you know the beloved actor known as Ben Cum originally went by the ridiculously long name, Benedict Cumberbatch? Think about all the mouth time we would have wasted if he’d insisted BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH was his actual, preferred name? Do you know how many syllables that is? Who has time to even count! Thank God for Ben Cum!

I know people aren’t calling me Joe with malice, but it continues to bother me. And I continue to feel rude correcting people. I feel fussy and uptight saying, “No, no, no, you HAVE to use this version of my name. The longer one. The one that sounds like a guy who has a degree in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature. Yes, the one who has an Excel Spreadsheet to keep track of which Doctor Who DVDs he doesn’t yet own.”

But why do I feel rude asking people to call me by my preferred name?

I think there is a subtle, yet pervasive idea that we should let our identities be dictated from the outside. That we, as individuals or groups, don’t have the right to determine our identities.

Because that’s what a name is. It’s your identity. It’s one of the ways you tell the world who you are. Why would anyone want that taken away from them?

It’s like if your name was Steve and you started working at a new job, said your name was Steve, and then everyone in the office just decided to call you Shithead.

“But my name is Steve,” Steve might say.

“Yeah,” the boss would respond, “But we prefer Shithead.”

“I actually find Shithead kind of offensive,” Steve would say.

“Come on, loosen up, Shithead,” the boss would cajole. “We actually mean Shithead as a term of RESPECT. In our office, we have a long history of calling the best employee Shithead.”

“Yeah, I don’t really care. It’s my name. Please call me Steve.”

“WHOA! WHOA! Way to overreact and take away my freedom of speech, Shithead!” The boss would yell while stomping around and blowing the office air horn designed to shut down further discussion.

Then, ideally, Steve would flip everyone off and use his jet pack to just blast off and fly away. Sadly, we don’t have jet packs yet so this resolution is just a fantasy.

The point is please call me Joseph. It’s my name. It’s my choice.

I know there will always be people who call me Joe out of habit or laziness or even attempts to be friendly and informal. To those people: I know you mean no disrespect so I will attempt to begrudgingly understand.

And if you hear my preference, understand it, and still, without my permission, choose to call me Joe–that is your right.

Just like it’s my right to start calling you “Shithead” in retaliation.

Anyway, thanks for reading this long, sensitive, wordy essay about how our names are signifiers of our identities.

It’s a real “Joseph” thing to write.

If you enjoy my posts, you can help make more happen by supporting me on Patreon. My next post will be about Adult Underoos and thanks to an unlocked Patreon goal it will include photos of me in my underoos. You’re welcome and I’m sorry.

6 Comments

Filed under Comedy Real Life

DAVID FOSTER WALLACE: Obsessed Ep 73

Comedy writer and producer Mark Ganek (The Wil Wheaton Project, Pop Up Video) is obsessed with author David Foster Wallace. Thrill to such topics as how to endnote your own thoughts, the existential dread edition of Galaga, solo DnD play, and a He-Man spec script written by David Foster Wallace!

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

Listen, rate, review, and subscribe to OBSESSED on iTunes.

If you enjoy the podcast, you can help make it happen by supporting me on Patreon!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Obsessed, Podcast

DISNEYLAND: Obsessed Ep 72

Writer, producer, and Disney expert Kristen Rutherford (Attack of the Show, The Nerdist on BBC America) is obsessed with Disneyland. Find out the exciting truth of the hidden mickeys, dapper days, how to best defend the park from zombies, why falling in an elevator is relaxing, and how to blue card Mary Poppins for lying to a child.

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

Listen, rate, review, and subscribe to OBSESSED on iTunes.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Obsessed, Podcast

DEXTER: Obsessed Ep 71

Comedian and writer Brock Wilbur is obsessed with the TV show Dexter. Wrap your home in plastic and thrill to such light fun discussion topics as serial killers, being a jerk on twitter, magic murder amulets, creative swearing, and Florida! Fun! Also, did you know there’s a Dexter rap? I’m sorry, but there is.

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

Listen, rate, review, and subscribe to OBSESSED on iTunes.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Obsessed, Podcast

Beer, Burgers, and The Future

Beer Burgers and the Future

To me, the Super Bowl commercials are like a cultural state of the union.

My initial reaction to the picture painted of modern America this year was: We are afraid of death and we want to fuck our cars.

I think the subtextual messages of the commercials are important because I think those ideas are more lasting than the actual commercial message. For many of the spots, if you happen to look away at literally the last two seconds of the commercial you will have NO IDEA WHAT WAS BEING ADVERTISED.

You’ll just be awash in a montage of the Grand Canyon, beer, small children, breasts, puppies, Liam Neeson, expensive cars being driven by the ghost of your disappointed father, and if you’re me, a sudden desire to move to Canada.

One theme I was affected by was the desire for kindness and human connection.

Coke’s ad featured a plot of strange soda-based cyber terrorism in which some sugar water infects the internet and instead of corroding the enamel from our teeth through wi-fi signals, Coke sends messages of kindness.

McDonald’s ad showed customers paying for their breakfast burritos with hugs which is apparently a real campaign. I applaud the sentiment, but I’m terrified by the reality. I don’t eat at McDonald’s but if I did I would want a six piece chicken McNugget with honey mustard sauce and a huge helping of emotional distance.

Still, it was an interesting trend. A reflection of forward movement. Coke and McDonald’s, two of the largest corporations in the world, paid millions of dollars to air what was basically a CRY FOR HELP.

We are longing for more human connection and I’m going to do my best to help with that by sitting alone in my home and tweeting about it.

Anyway, the commercials that affected me the most were two commercials that advanced stupid, outdated gender ideas: Carl, Jr’s ad for burgers and objectification and Budweiser’s attack on craft beer and the educated wimps who drink it.

The two commercials resonated for me because of our current cultural discussions about feminism. Particularly, the idea that knocking down old, horrible stereotypes about women is also beneficial to men because in the process we’ll also dismantle old, horrible stereotypes about men, too.

The  Carl, Jr. spot was the most offensive ad to me.

HERE’S WHERE I DON’T LINK TO IT BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO GIVE THEM VIEWS.

Basically, a busty woman in a bikini walks around being gawked at by men. You know, to make you want to fuck eat a cheeseburger. In one shot, a tomato is in the foreground to look like it is the woman’s butt. A hand reaches in and squeezes the tomato. In other words, a woman’s body is the same as a tomato–it is something to be evaluated and consumed.

I grew up with these kinds of images and ideas being the norm. I always understood intellectually they were trying to use natural attraction to the human body to sell stuff, but I’ve come to realize it’s so much more insidious than that. Thanks to shitty, sexist campaigns like that, I grew up with the constant message that I, as a man, should treat women like they were a product and if I did not, I was somehow not a man.

More on my lack of manliness, in a moment!

I think it’s important to say these kinds of messages of objectification are not okay. So, the commercial’s message of evaluation and consumption has worked on me. I’ve evaluated my thoughts and I will never consume anything at Carl’s Jr. When I drive by McDonald’s, I will think of a weird, desperate attempt to get me to call my father. When I drive by Carl’s, Jr. I’ll just think, “Hey, fuck you, Carl’s, Jr.”

AND NOW, IN ALL CAPS, MY MANLINESS.

There’s been a lot of excellent dissection of Budweiser’s anti-craft beer commercial.

ALSO NOT LINKED TO HERE.

The ad was very new in its confrontation of the divide between craft beer and traditional “sad dad juice in a bottle” beers like Budweiser. But that ad kicked it old school when it comes to reinforcing stupid gender stereotypes about masculinity.

The ad portrayed people who enjoy craft beer as wimps. According to the words and images in the commercial, here are things that sissy craft beer men do: They fuss, they sip, they dissect, they drink fruity peach beers, they wear glasses, and sometimes they tweet a nice thing to a male friend and don’t even hashtag it #NoHomo.

Okay, that last thing wasn’t in the ad.

Here are the words and images associated with real men who drink Budweiser: Hard, wood, axes, horses, tradition, strong forearms, big pounding horses, throwing a beer to your friend who does not wear glasses and is able to catch the beer without flinching, did I mention horses? Horses being driven by men of authority wearing uniforms?

Seriously, if Budweiser loves horses this much they should just start sponsoring every off-broadway production of Equus.

This commercial, like many other commercials I grew up with, felt like it was mansplaining how I should be a man. The only women seen in this commercial are serving Budweiser, the KING of beers, to men. So not only are the signifiers of HARD, OLD, AXE-WIELDING, FOREARM MUSCLES what I’m supposed to be as a man, they are implicitly not gender neutral attributes.

As much as I reject the casual objectification of women by Carl’s, Jr. I reject the hard-pounding assertion that I am not a man if I don’t drink low ABV canned beer that makes me daydream about riding a big, angry horse.

I grew up letting things like stupid fucking beer and burger commercials tell me what it is to be a man. They are not just commercials. They are reflections of societal norms broadcast to millions of people. Thanks Carl’s Jr. and Budweiser, but I think I’ll decide for myself what makes me a man.

Sometimes, I fuss. Sometimes, I make fast, reckless decisions. Sometimes, I sip. Sometimes, I chug. My forearms are weak and my favorite horse is Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony. I like action movies where Liam Neeson punches ambiguously Eastern-European men and I do push-ups every morning. My weak forearms ache as I type this.

But NONE of these things are gender-specific. Here’s the most important thing about being a man to me right now: I don’t give a damn what it means to be a man. I just want to figure out what attributes matter to being a good human being. The kind of human being who reaches out in friendship and compassion without Coke taking over the internet.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go meet a friend for drinks and pound some Belgian witbier. I have a lot of female friends who can put away craft beer like nobody’s business, so tonight I’ll be drinking #LikeAGirl.

POUNDINGLY,
Joseph

P.S. There was also an ad for Scientology–a massive, well financed, secretive religious organization–that wants you to think for yourself. Thanks, Scientology, I think I will!

If you enjoy my work, you can check out all the comedy words and things I’m making via Patreon.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life

CRAFT BEER: Obsessed Ep 70

Artist, illustrator, and animator Sara Pocock (Comsos, Community) is obsessed with Craft Beer! The drinking of it, the analyzing of it, and the opportunity for socializing! Thrill to such beer tasting sounds as pouring, sipping, attempting to burp off mic and more! PLUS can you spot the exact moment in the podcast where Joseph goes from tipsy to “Jerry Lewis Town”???

And if you’d like to drink along, here are the beers we drank:
Eagle Rock Brewery’s Manifesto!
Eagle Rock Brewery’s Solidarity Black Mild!
Stone Brewing’s Cali!
Allagash’s Curieux!

Cheers!

Listen, rate, review, and subscribe to OBSESSED on iTunes.

If you enjoy the podcast you can help make it happen by supporting me on Patreon.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Obsessed, Podcast