Sam Kinison. I was never a huge fan. Not from a “make me laugh” standpoint, anyhow. I didn’t mind him, I just never found him to be all that uproarious. Nevertheless, I respected the hell out of him. Of course now that he’s passed, the entertainment industry has made him into a martyr. A more modern if slightly chubby Lenny Bruce, if you will. But I have to wonder if Sam were still alive, would Hollywood still fawn over him, or reprimand him as a homophobic race-monger?
I think we can all take a wild guess.
Whether it’s the feigned offense from the derogatory use of the word “gay” in Vince Vaughn’s “The Dilemma” or Tinseltown’s constant hurt feelings over the op-ed journalists at Fox News, one’s thing’s for sure; Hollywood doesn’t exactly have a thick skin.
At least not when it comes to the things that the media elite love to huddle around. Sure there are the old whipping-post standby’s like Christians, conservatives and white men. They’re fair game. Turn the guns on the politically correct cause du jour however, and “funny” seems to go right out the window. Even equal opportunity offenders aren’t welcome (see Sean Penn’s feud with Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park
Sam Kinison made fun of all of it. Actually “assaulted” is probably a better word. The man was a former minister, so he had his finger to the pulse of Christian hypocrisy and he knew how to push the right buttons within the community. Just as surely, he’d turn around on a blistering rant about neo-Liberals and their pansified antics. If there were targets, he would hit them.
Could he do that today? I mean, could he REALLY do that today? With people like the ACLU, Tim Robbins and Sean Penn, political correctness is no longer about being offended but about goons attempting to intimidate people into their way of thinking.
If the idea of Sean Penn as a goon makes you laugh, please understand that I’m only using the term in a psychological sense as yes, Sean Penn would most likely get bitch-slapped by Vern Troyer.
With the entertainment industry elite, it is no longer enough to be “offended.” It is now also their duty to prevent people from offending any further. Whether it’s blacklisting, boycotting or simply public badmouthing, the intimidation machine of Hollywood is a powerful one and you can be sure that today, it would fear a Sam Kinison.
It’s for that very reason that comedy today, while still funny, has rendered itself topically irrelevant. From SNL’s kissing of the King’s ring to David Letterman’s one-sided skew, mainstream comedians are afraid to truly go against the grain. Instead, they decide to play it safe and then herald themselves as biting political satirists.
No, Hollywood, making your thousandth joke at the expense of Christians isn’t treading new ground and doesn't make your tired material any more cutting edge than Gallagher’s watermelon schtick.