Comedian Patton Oswalt has long and contentious relationship with Salon.com. Dating back at least two years, the site has targeted Oswalt for being sympathetic to the idea of rape jokes and then picked a fight with him on Twitter for making fun of the San Francisco news station that reported fake Asian stereotypes as the names of Asiana Airline pilots.
Since then, Oswalt has accused Salon of becoming a liberal equivalent to Fox News, hurting the progressive movement in the process.
Now, in a three-hour interview with Salon’s David Daley, “condensed” to just under 10,000 words, Oswalt has hashed out his differences with the liberal site.
In a Facebook post, Oswalt said that the conversation was sometimes “tense and testy” but he appreciated that the site “let me speak and gave me a fair shake”:
Below are some highlights from the discussion in case you’re not inclined to read the full interview, which you should probably do anyway.
1. On liberals vs. conservatives.
It just really, really bothers me, if the liberal progressives have now become the scolds. We were the Grouchos! We’re not the Margaret Dumonts — and we’re turning into the Margaret Dumonts on a lot of levels. That lets the misogynists and homophobes and racists seem like the rebels: “Well, we’re saying what people can’t say anymore.” We should be having way more fun with language and jokes and going too far. If our side starts doing that, then I think we’re fucked in terms of moving forward as a society.
2. On the lack of female hosts in late night.
All the funniest people on Twitter are women, and I can name 50 hilarious female comedians and they’re all doing their own thing…
Yeah, they don’t get to do some boring-ass, 11:30, standard-format talk show, but they get to do “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Broad City” and “Girls.” They get to do stuff that actually has, I think, way more effect on society. Maybe a lot of them don’t want to be restricted by that format. It’s not the most free format.
3. On rape jokes.
Oh hey, putting my picture next to “rape joke” was hilarious. What a wonderful joke that was. By the way, don’t think I don’t know how powerful and crucial words are. I understand that. But that’s why I always give it a second and look at it again. I remember when the whole Daniel Tosh thing went down, and I’ve said this a million times. When he told that girl, “Wouldn’t it be funny if you were raped?” Awful. That was awful. That part was awful. Everything leading up to that, I will defend to the ends of the earth. I will defend any comedian being allowed to go onstage and try to make a run at making any subject funny.
4. On gay rights.
There’s one really frightening thing for people like the Ayatollah Khomeini or Jerry Falwell or a Fred Phelps: They want everyone wired to their sad little frequency. I think that’s why people like them are so violently against gay marriage. It’s not that they care about gays getting married. They’re afraid of the public saying, “Do whatever you want.”
I don’t even think that people are pro-gay. I think people just don’t give a shit. It’s almost at the point where some gay people get upset that they’re not getting more support — actually, indifference means progress. Go get married. I’m not going to give you a parade. Do whatever you want. Victory is indifference. In Portugal, this crazy Catholic country made gay marriage legal and then two weeks later, no one talked about it anymore. It was a huge uproar. It passed.
5. On atheism.
I feel, as an atheist, about people like Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher the way that Christians must feel about Fred Phelps. Look, being an atheist means you don’t give a fuck about what anyone believes in. I don’t think any of it’s real, but you can go ahead and do it. I’m not trying to destroy religion. I just don’t care about it. I have my own moral code, as twisted as it is, but it’s not a bunch of old, desert fairy tales that I live by.
6. On “outrage” culture.
I want way less outrage, and I want more pity and mocking, because outrage, they’ll wear that with a badge of honor. If people just laugh, that is what shrinks them. It deballs them. Mocking and pity depowers them, That’s what I always go for…
If you do it with outrage and anger, then all it does is, now it makes them look like some kind of First Amendment warrior now. But if you’re just like, “You can say anything you want, dude,” and you’re just laughing like, “Holy shit, are you kidding me? Wow.” Again, plenty of people denounce Islam all the time and radical Islamists don’t go after them — but the people that draw fucking cartoons and mock them, it’s terrifying to them. Fucking terrifying.
7. On 2016.
Democrats are basically moderate Republicans now. Elizabeth Warren for president, Bernie Sanders vice president. That’s my dream. It’ll never fucking happen because we live in this shitty time, but oh my God, could you imagine that? It would be the greatest.
8. On President Barack Obama.
I love President Obama for gay marriage. But the fucking drones? There’s no way to justify it. It’s horrifying. But the Republicans just stick together; it’s A-plus all across the board. And that’s fucking terrifying. You can’t do that, you just can’t. I will take the messiness.
9. On Fox News.
I don’t know if you noticed, but the first couple years of Obama’s term, conservatives – the neocons and the far-right-wingers — they got very, very polite and brittle in the way that they were speaking. It felt like in the basement of Fox News they had a big dry erase board. They wrote the word “n****r” on top and were like, “OK, what are other terms we could use?” And that’s why you started hearing anti-colonial, exotic, Kenyan, all that.
[Photo via Comedy Central]
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