Friday, June 02, 2017

"it looks like a good day for a hangin', gil, and gettin' us some god-fearing prairie justice!"

Not surprisingly, William A. Wellman's brilliant 1943 film, "The Ox-Bow Incident," came to mind as seemingly everyone in the media - and anyone who has access to a computer - gleefully piled on the comedienne Kathy Griffin for her adolescent prank involving the severed head of Donald J. Trump. The media just stopped short of suggesting tar and feathers.

"The Ox-Bow Incident," based on a novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, is a tight, 75-minute attack on America's deeply-seated intolerance and its lynch-mob mentality, both of which are clearly alive and well in 2017.

Americans thrive on hero reduction and especially love to place blame.

In the past couple days, ugly words have been enthusiastically tossed about in response to Griffin's act:

 "Disgusting!"  "Stupid!" "Immature!"

But aren't these the same, exact words, used by the same, exact people, against Griffin's alleged victim for the past 100-plus days?
The worst offender has been CNN, whose suits seemingly tripped over their feet to announce that CNN was firing Griffin.  Huh?  Since when is Kathy Griffin an employee of CNN?  She appears on CNN only once a year - co-hosting a New Year's Eve bash with CNN's Anderson Cooper.  So she was fired seven months before her next single appearance on CNN?

How convenient for CNN, which has been the primary target of the current administration's war on the media.  I mean, CNN and the new, invented expression, "fake news," are now irrevocably linked, thanks to Donald J.

"Hey, guys, a good way to break this link is to throw Kathy Griffin under the bus. Let's fire her and impress the administration." To exacerbate matters, Griffin's good friend, Anderson Cooper, made a statement distancing himself from her.  You know, guilt by association.  Not good.  Media people know that it's smart to lick the hand that feeds them.

Much of the chaos of the past two days is emblematic of Donald J.'s reign, which is designed to incite people and then attack them for being incited.

Kathy Griffin is a stand-up comic, noted for doing and saying the inappropriate and going over the edge. But when she does or says something that's poorly-thought-out, it has no real consequences. Her target, on the other hand, is also noted for doing and saying the inappropriate and going over the edge - and the consequences of his actions, also poorly-thought-out, have the power to reverberate for decades.

OK, Griffin joked about a severed head (which, I think, will be a popular Halloween prop this year) and Donald J. joked about "grabbing pussy."  So which is worse?

The last time I checked, Kathy Griffin isn't our Commander in Chief.

 *  *  *  *  * 
~top: Dana Andrews as Donald Martin, Paul Burns as Winder and Henry Fonda as Gil Carter in "The Ox-Bow Incident"
~photography: Warner Bros. 1943 ©

* * * * *
~middle: Donald J. Trump

* * * * *
~bottom: Kathy Griffin


Will said...

Well said, Joe. I have been stewing about this since it happened. What Trump does in actuality is far more hurtful to people -- especially those who voted for him -- than her obviously fake photo. I especially like the way you tied it to a movie, of course! You are a clever guy.

Ann C. said...

We've become this harshly judgmental society, always looking to blame someone and then demonize them. I'mbehind Kathy Griffin. I just don't know why she apologized.

Greg Thompson said...

Hey, Trump successfully shut up Rosie O'Donnell. Now, he's trying to do the same with Kathy Griffin.

v.h. said...

According to Fox News, Trump called CNN and called for the news station to fire Griffin: "Dear CNN, I must have missed your statement banning your commentator #KathyGriffin from future shows. Please resend. Thx," he tweeted.

Sheila said...

I find it odd (and disturbing) that it's the women commentators who have been the toughest on Griffin, especially on "The View." Sunny Hostin, an attorney, said repeatedly that the situation should be a career-killer. On the other hand, Paula Faris criticized Americans for being judgmental and unforgiving. She was the sole voice of reason.

Alex said...

I can't understand these venues that are hastily cancelling Kathy's playdates. I'm sure that her fanbase in intact and that audiences would attend in spite of (or maybe because of) the controversy. Sure, there would be misguided right-wingers there to protest, but so what! There's no such thing as bad publicity.

Tish said...

I agree with Alex. I hope that she milks this "controversy" for all it's worth. One day, it will make a great comedy riff in her act.

Charlotte said...

Joe- I like your "Ox-Bow Incident" analogy/comparison. Very clever, as Will said. I would also go with "The Children's Hour." I'm thinking specifically of the scenes where, one by one, the outraged parents takes their kids out of the school. The venues that are dropping Griffin are reacting the same way. I'm wondering when this country is going to experience outrage fatigue!

joe baltake said...

Charlotte- Yes, "The Children's Hour," a prime example of what happens when people over react and start behaving like sheep.

Sharon Bosart said...

Trump and his family will inevitably move on to other victims. Kathy Griffin will survive - and probably get a book out of this. Good for her!