June 25, 2004


Get Over Yourselves: Here's a little constructive criticism for two liberal icons: Margaret Cho, be more funny; Tom Hanks, loosen up. (Noy Thrupkaew, The American Prospect)

Dear Margaret, [...]

I know you're getting attacked viciously all the time. I know about the Drudge Report thing – how Drudge selectively excerpted portions of your performance at a MoveOn.org event where you criticized Bush in your usual fierce manner. FreeRepublic.com then linked to it, and you got torrents of awful hate mail from right-wing conservatives – people were calling you a gook, a slut, a pig. And just a few weeks ago, the president of the Omni Hotels, where you were doing a convention gig, turned off the mic and stopped payment on your check. He's a close friend of George Bush, so I guess he didn't like what you had to say about the Mess o' Potamia.

When stuff like this happens, I'm reminded just how radical – and, yes, revolutionary – it is for you to be you: Korean-American, feminist, queer, sexual, and scatological, an unflagging advocate and political activist on so many fronts of injustice. I see your Web site in support of queer marriage: loveisloveislove.com. I see you stumping for Ms. Magazine. I want you to keep on keeping on, you know? But I want you to make me laugh, too. Is that so selfish?

Yes, you can still be political and funny – whoever says those things are incompatible is too stupid to live. The issue is the approach. Before, it was enough for you to lean on the "I" in the identity politics. I felt blessed that you even existed. When I interviewed you for a story long ago, I was plotzing the whole time, and I couldn't find the wherewithal to thank you for being a role model, an inspiration to this Mini-Cho wannabe. That "I Will Survive" feel to your comedy – the same thing that made some magazine call you and Cher, Ms. "Do You Believe?", comeback queens – was exhilarating and great. But your shtick is starting to feel indulgent. [...]

Dear Tom, [...]

First Margaret, now you. I so appreciate your support of queer causes, of liberal politics, of little indie movies, even if they turn out to be as hideous as My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But does being a card-carrying liberal or progressive mean that you can't be a little bit evil, a little bit funny anymore? Look at your buddy Steven Spielberg, the prototypical Hollywood liberal. Too bad his humanistic feelings toward his characters have run rampant – his deep concern, his sense of moral righteousness, his inability to inflict unhappy endings on characters he loves keeps him from following the natural arc of his storylines and making the art he so badly wants to create. If someone came by and guillotined the last twenty minutes of almost all his movies, we'd have a serious oeuvre. If ET kicked the bucket, if the little boy robot of A.I. froze to death, if Minority Report's Detective John Anderton (Tom Cruise) rotted in prison forever... well, those would be some damn fine movies, instead of some damn fine movies nearly wiped out by a landslide of goo at the end.

No one says you can't be political and funny, rather, as Ms Thrupkaew herself accidentally argues, there's no such thing as liberal humor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 25, 2004 3:03 PM

First Ellen Degenerate DeGeneres, now Margaret Cho. There must be an Iron Law of Lesbian Comedy, which would read something like this: "If a worman who works as a standup comic self-identifies as a lesbian, the quality of her humor decreases in direct proportion to the time elapsed after the date of her 'outing.'"

Posted by: Mike Morley at June 25, 2004 3:21 PM


The problem is that it is their own lives that we're laughing at, but then they become "empowered" and can't make fun of their own pathologies any more. They become political...

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2004 3:26 PM

Was Margaret Cho ever funny?

Posted by: Chris Durnell at June 26, 2004 2:14 PM


Only when she made fun of being a fat failed Korean lesbian

Posted by: oj at June 26, 2004 3:01 PM


I never thought she was funny. Annoying, yes. Funny, no.

Posted by: Bartman at June 26, 2004 5:07 PM

Her advice sent sideways to Spielberg through Hanks seems off to me. Isn't the idea that a story must end badly to be good a rather liberal concept? Stories typically had happy endings until the gloomy liberals of the 20st century came along and decided that things just had to suck. Me, I like myself some happy endings.

That's not to say unhappy endings can't be good. The best ending is probably a combination of both--either glory tinged with sadness or sadness tinged with glory, demonstrated by the ends of Lord of the Rings, Spiderman and The Passion--but she doesn't seem interested in anything like that. Odd.

Posted by: Timothy at June 27, 2004 3:38 AM

uhhhh - I don't know what you morons are talking about, but Margaret Cho is NOT a lesbian. She has never "come out" as one, never so self-identified, or any other reason for you to reach that conclusion. She does have a lot of gay friends, according to her act, but that's a big difference. Other than that, I must agree that when she got overly-political, her humor decreased. A lot like Dennis Miller.

Posted by: David at August 31, 2004 4:48 PM