Joyce Carol Oates’s Twitter feed is insane



First of all, I stand by the addition of apostrophe-s to make possessive names ending in s, and so should you. If typing like EB White is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Second, and possibly even more important, Ben al-Fowlkes alerted me to this tweet from Joyce Carol Oates:

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I admit that I was skeptical. I suspected that this Oates tweet might be parody. And that is how I discovered the treasure trove of insanity that is Joyce Carol Oates’s Twitter feed.

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The unpopular position: rape isn’t funny

I opted to not go with a rape-related image for today's post. Although, frankly, this picture may be funnier in that context.

Today's graphic will, you know, not relate to the subject at hand. Although it is probably funnier in that context.

Alert reader/irascible curmudgeon Ben Fowlkes sent me a link to this post over at the feminist blog Shakesville, in which the author lambasts Ricky Gervais. The comedian—whom you probably remember from the original British version of The Office, or from this comedy about a man whose paranoid schizophrenia leads him to become fixated on a woman in his building—recently came under fire in the British press for the following joke:

“I’ve [driven drunk] once and I’m really ashamed of it. It was Christmas—I’d had a couple of drinks and I took the car out. But I learned my lesson. I nearly killed an old lady. In the end I didn’t kill her. In the end, I just raped her.”

First of all, that is not a funny joke. Who can tell when non-John Cleese British people are being funny, though? Bafflingly, the UK press describes it as a “drink-driving joke” and seems to find it objectionable on those grounds—in response to which I refer you to the second sentence of this paragraph. Gervais, in his own defense, says that the turn is “comedically justified” because it addresses the phrase “nearly killed her.” The idea is that rape is less bad than murder, kind of, and the sudden recontextualization of the “nearly killed her”—from hyperbolic expression to literal statement—is funny. Explanations like these are why you shouldn’t talk during comedy or sex, but that’s beside the point. Gervais argues that it’s not a rape joke, which is a difficult position to maintain when you compare the joke with other jokes that do not contain the word “rape.” Shakesville blogger Melissa McEwan argues that the joke is unfunny—in fact, unacceptable—because it’s about rape. I contend that Gervais’s joke isn’t funny, not because it’s about rape, but because it’s not funny. So in fact the subject of today’s blog is that rape isn’t funny, which is why it’s such a good subject for jokes. Gotcha!

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