Quantcast
subscriber help

artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Has David Letterman gone too far?

Interpret that question as you will. Did Letterman go too far with his tasteless joke about Palin’s daughter getting knocked up by a Yankees baseball player, even if you buy his explanation that he was referring to the of-age Bristol, and not the underage Willow? (I do buy that explanation, and while I do think the joke was in poor taste, it’s clearly a snarky reference to the young woman’s public work as a promoter of sexual abstinence, and not a random sexist swipe at an undeserving figure. It’s a deliberate swipe, however poorly constructed, at her public hypocrisy.) Did Letterman go too far when he apologized last week for the outcry over the joke? (Since when do comedians apologize for being idiots with no sense of appropriateness?) Did Letterman go too far when he apologized again yesterday?

All right, here – I’ve been thinking about this situation with Governor Palin and her family now for about a week – it was a week ago tonight, and maybe you know about it, maybe you don’t know about it. But there was a joke that I told, and I thought I was telling it about the older daughter being at Yankee Stadium. And it was kind of a coarse joke. There’s no getting around it, but I never thought it was anybody other than the older daughter, and before the show, I checked to make sure in fact that she is of legal age, 18. Yeah. But the joke really, in and of itself, can’t be defended. The next day, people are outraged. They’re angry at me because they said, ‘How could you make a lousy joke like that about the 14-year-old girl who was at the ball game?’ And I had, honestly, no idea that the 14-year-old girl, I had no idea that anybody was at the ball game except the governor and I was told at the time she was there with Rudy Giuliani … and I really should have made the joke about Rudy …” (audience applauds) “But I didn’t, and now people are getting angry and they’re saying, ‘Well, how can you say something like that about a 14-year-old girl, and does that make you feel good to make those horrible jokes about a kid who’s completely innocent, minding her own business,’ and, turns out, she was at the ball game. I had no idea she was there. So she’s now at the ball game, and people think that I made the joke about her. And, but still, I’m wondering, ‘Well, what can I do to help people understand that I would never make a joke like this?’ I’ve never made jokes like this as long as we’ve been on the air, 30 long years, and you can’t really be doing jokes like that. And I understand, of course, why people are upset. I would be upset myself.

There’s more (from The Live Feed).

Has David Letterman gone too far? Whatever that may mean to you.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/flick/public_html/wptest/wp-content/themes/FlickFilosopher/loop-single.php on line 106
  • Ryan

    It was a stupid joke, and he apologized. Enough said about it.

    The reason i am ticked at Letterman is because the Palin camp LOVES this sort of stuff, it’s on her level and she can use it to rile up her base.

    What needs to be kept front and center about Palin is that she is not qualified to run a Subways, much less our country.

    Not because of her gender, or her age, or how she dresses or where she is from…because she is not intelligent, and because her policy decisions would be a disaster.

    Anything that lets her obfuscate and deflect onto comedians and media types is to be avoided.

  • Ann Nonymouse

    No. I’m sure if anyone actually asked the 14 year old daughter which sister she though Dave was referring to, she’d say something like, “Oh, my big whore of an older sister.”

  • Glenn

    The original joke was in poor taste and not funny, but he’s apologized for it, what, three or four times now? I’d like to see any single person who made a Chelsea Clinton joke do the same.

  • MBI

    It’s hard to tell if the Palins are a prominent political family or reality stars, and I say they’re fair game. I wouldn’t have made that joke either, but I say they’re fair game, as much as Jerry Falwell’s late mother was game for Larry Flynt. I don’t even think an apology is warranted (except for P.R. purposes, I guess). I guess I’m far more dismissive of offended people, though; I thought Don Imus and Michael Richards got a raw deal too, and I’m certainly not trying to say I’m fans of either. I don’t care that Wanda Sykes wants Limbaugh’s kidneys to fail, I’m not scared by Limbaugh singing “Barack the Magic Negro,” I don’t care that Maher thought that the 9/11 hijackers were “brave.” Don’t like it, don’t watch.

  • Newbia

    Even though Bristol Palin was dumb to get pregnant, we shouldn’t make jokes about her. Imagine the embarrassment of having to go to school when you’re pregnant, and face all your peers; now multiply that embarrassment by around 300 million times, where you have to face the whole country. Letterman should apologize directly (as in actually saying “I am sorry”, not this beat-around-the-bush “I would be upset…” stuff), and then we should forget about this whole incident.

    LEAVE BRISTOL ALONE! *sob*

  • Robert McCoy

    The biggest problem w/ the Letterman joke was that it wasn’t funny. Offensiveness is a tricky business when it comes to comediens, check out Lewis CK or Dave Attell (not to mention Carlin and Pryor), but the quality of the joke is the bottom line. Besides, this might fire up the right wing base, but getting into a smack down with a late night comedien is hardly Presidential.

  • Drew Ryce

    It isn’t just what gets said. It’s also where it’s said. Letterman isn’t Carlin or a shock jock like Imus. Letterman’s time and market slots are broad and in the family living room. If he goes after children, and yeah an otherwise legitimate targets 18 year old daugther is still viewed protectively in much of the country, then it is inevitable that he will trigger the sort of shit storm he has in fact triggered.
    That said, was he “wrong”. No. Just dumb. Daughter + baseball game = stay away. Seriously, what was he thinking?

  • Letterman should not have apologized. Who gives a shit about a dumb joke, first of all, but most importantly: caving in to knee-jerk, small-minded lunacy is not the way to fix even such a trivial faux pas as this. I lost respect for him after this whole deal… I had no idea he was just another Imus.

    Own it, Letterman. Tell the joke again.

    Or, better yet, tell a new one. Make fun of Trig, or other kids, or dead babies, or whatever you want. Because anyone who gives a fuck about this ridiculous bullshit is obviously too dumb to heed anyway.

    Those of us who are not insane… we got real problems to worry about.

  • Mike

    How does America manage to stuff so many tempests in our national teapot? We may not be #1 in productivity, longevity, democratic participation, environmental protection or literacy, but when it comes to meaningless outrage, we still got it!

  • And, you know… if he’d had any balls at all Letterman could have used this controversy to finally get some ratings.

  • the rook

    what everyone seems to have failed to notice is that until the blowup between letterman and palin all the press about late night teevee was about conan o’brien taking over the tonight show from jay leno. o’brien was getting all the press and his guests were being pre-announced on evening news broadcasts.

    without palin’s complaints, letterman’s joke would have simply disappeared into the ether. whether palin realizes it or not, she revived letterman’s show and ratings. if i didn’t know any better, i’d almost suspect this was planned. after all, letterman has always had fairly decent relationships with republican politicians (such as john mccain). the argument between letterman and palin has revived attention to letterman’s show and allowed palin to show righteous indignation.

  • nolacuse

    He should have apologized for telling an unfunny joke. But Bristol is fair game because she has made herself fair game. By campaigning for abstinence education, she is out there on her own as an entity apart from her mother. She has been hypocritical on the issue of teenage sex (she originally stated expecting teenage abstinence is unrealistic) and I think a comedian calling her out on it is perfectly acceptable. I just think Letterman wasn’t funny, so it tanked hard. Not to mention he used a strange context to make the joke. It really didn’t make any sense.

  • misterb

    I’m upset about his reference to Alex Rodriguez (for those who aren’t really following, the joke implied that Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees was responsible for the “knocking-up”)
    Hasn’t the poor guy been the butt of enough jokes? And it’s really just because he dates celebrities, not because he’s ridiculously overpaid for playing a kid’s game.

    Where is the outrage, folks?

  • bats :[

    I think the more times something has to be apologized for, the more it comes across as a teacher (or parent) having. to. explain. very. slowly. to a slightly-deficient student (or child) why the apology was necessary in the first place.

  • Angel

    Did Dave go too far? I thought the joke was tasteless and dumb, but I’ve heard a lot worse.

    What infuriated me was that the Palins used it as another opportunity to be the media whores that they are. When they started talking about rape and then intimated that their daughter wasn’t safe around David Letterman, they really went over the line. Talk about slander – and she just didn’t even seem to understand that what she said was far worse than anything he said.

    I’ve read a lot of comments about how the reaction would have been different if the joke had been about Chelsey Clinton or the Obama girls and I just don’t buy it. The Clintons and the Obamas (and the Bushes and the McClains) have enough class and discretion not to let their daughters become part of public scandals.

    By making Bristol the poster child for teenagers who can’t figure out how to use a condom, and then letting her become a spokesperson for abstinence, Sarah Palin allowed her daughter to become a public figure. And as such, she’s fair game for jokes. And no one seriously thought Letterman’s joke was about the younger daughter until the Palins decided to use it for publicity and to “rally the troops”.

    Now, let’s talk about how she would react if she was in the White House – is she really going to bitch and moan and slander and whine until she gets her own way? Unbelievable! It makes me embarrassed to be female.

  • Not only should he not have apologized, he should continue going after Bristol Palin. Here’s a woman who could serve as the perfect, if somewhat sad, cautionary example of the dangers of stupid, uneducated teens having sex. But no, she goes around as a spokeswoman for abstinence-only education, ensuring that many more young women will end up just like her.

    Seriously, go after this chick hard. Maybe if she’s an object of ridicule no one will listen to her horrible message.

    It’s not like I don’t feel sorry for her – she did the one honest interview where she admitted that abstinence-only was nonsense, but then the family (and party people) press ganged her into becoming the spokeswoman for the very nonsense she doesn’t really believe in.

    So she’s not just a stupe who’s trying to make people’s lives worse, she’s also a hypocrite.

  • Nathan

    if he hadn’t apologized the balloon would have just gotten bigger and bigger every day, and the right-wing outrage-artists would become a perpetual motion machine.

    apologize, and if they continue bleating about it they look like idiots.

    don’t apologize and they keep getting attention.

  • nolacuse (Tue Jun 16 09, 1:14PM)

    He should have apologized for telling an unfunny joke.

    This is ridiculous. By your logic, Lorne Michaels should be out in front of every episode of SNL begging forgiveness for the last 10 years of awful, so-called late-night ‘comedy’.

    Bad jokes don’t require apologies any more than stupid politicians require our attention.

  • Lisa

    -didn’t think it was funny
    -thought the Palins made too much of it – who would remember this now if they hadn’t

    – if you were Bristol tho you would probably feel bad about it

    bad enough being Sarah Palin’s daughter all that abstinence spokeswoman thing is a face saving exercise don’t you think – she’s probably being forced into it for her mum’s sake and now she’s got to put up with being linked to A-Rod on national tv

Pin It on Pinterest