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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Eagle

Student leaders make wrong decision

Last Friday, I attended a screening of the new Quentin Tarantino movie, "Kill Bill." From its previews (including a scene with a little girl arriving home from school to find her mother engaged in a knife fight), I anticipated a lighthearted satire with an extra dose of violence in the same vein as other Tarantino flicks. Instead, I watched a movie saturated in gore and brutality that was altogether sickening and disturbing.

Given Friday night's experience, I should have done some research before I attended Margaret Cho's comedy show Saturday night in Bender Arena. I might have discovered that Tarantino and Cho used to date and decided to steer clear of the other half of this dynamic duo of disgust. Sure, I associated her name with risqu? references and boundary pushing. However, I did not know the extent to which her crass, crude and tactless brand of humor would offend me.

She continually relied on bathroom humor and shock value for laughs, including long tirades about self-defecation and exploding genitals. These jokes, coupled with her miserable attempt at physical comedy as she writhed and wriggled around the stage, were an indication of a comedian who lacks both style and originality. She would string together curses or scream at exiting audience members to illicit laughter and was often unintelligible. In addition, her repeated reliance on hyperbole and allegory was not refreshing; her blend of ethnic and racially motivated jokes were counterproductive to her proposed aim of tolerance.

As a Catholic, I was particularly offended and incensed by Cho's "Pope joke." The raping of any person, religious leader or not, is simply not funny. While the Catholic Church and Cho find themselves at opposite extremes on many topics, respect needs to be issued by both sides. Cho's lack of articulacy and common decency in expressing her views lost her some credibility in my mind.

Cho's act was, in a word, obscene. The Supreme Court, in Roth v. United States, determined that "The standard for judging obscenity is whether, to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material, taken being outrageous as a whole, appeals to prurient interest." Judging by the audience's response, people subscribe to notions of obscenity as entertainment.

Fortunately, I do not and recognize that it's possible to balance humor and the endorsement of political ideology without being so incredibly outrageous. A few years after the Roth decision, Justice Stewart said in Jacobellis v. Ohio, "I know it when I see it," in regards to obscenity. That somewhat ambivalent phrase occurred to me several times throughout the night as Cho straddled the stage and rattled off suggestive themes and overtones.

While Cho and I differ in our views on religion and abortion, I agree with her wholeheartedly in her support of gay rights. I am reminded of James Dale's visit to AU last year. You may remember Dale as the Boy Scout who was kicked out of the association because he was gay and narrowly lost a 5-4 Supreme Court decision. Here is a man who, through hard work and legal means, promoted tolerance, diversity and understanding for a noble and rising issue. Conversely, Cho was not lucid in conveying her thoughts and was demeaning toward those who hold alternate views - for example, she extended an upright middle finger to all pro-life members of the audience. The message is clear but I ask, where is the constructive formal argument for her cause?

Finally, Cho was a poor choice to cap off Homecoming Weekend's festivities. In a statement on Monday, Student Confederation President Nick Terzulli said, "The Student Confederation recognizes that her [Cho's] routine could be considered inflammatory and offensive." With that in mind, why did the SC still select her to provide the entertainment? A better choice would have been Lewis Black or Al Franken, who both offer intelligent and candid commentary about politics and other issues.

Now the SC must deal with the backlash it caused. Terzulli said, "I would like to formally apologize to any student or member of the AU community who felt disenfranchised, frustrated or upset with Margaret Cho's humor." Instead of uniting us under a common bond of AU pride, Homecoming's culmination has left us bitterly divided.

Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 

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