Saturday, August 8, 2015

Darn Old Trump

I'm sure by now everyone's seen and heard this little clip of Donald Trump responding to Megan Kelly's question at the GOP debates:

Wow! The way he was browbeating her it was like she was a cop kicking in his door and he was a greasy slob wearing nothing but a dirty wife-beater and some even dirtier gitch violently resisting arrest.

Bad boys! Bad boys.... etc.

But besides his egregious defence of his indefensible behaviour, something else he said struck a chord with me.  He actually used the term "political correctness" to both dismiss Kelly's criticism and excuse what he has said.  It absolutely irks me because I hate political correctness as much as the next free thinker in a healthy democracy.  I even created a few monkeys that serve to expose and attack all of this political correctness, or as Seth MacFarlane called it, the "outrage industry".  Trump's remarks here are more of a setback than a help to that cause.  Now more people will associate him with that and say "Hey, if political correctness keeps Trump from talking then I'm all for it."

No! The main purpose of destroying political correctness is so that everyone, not just white males, can speak their minds, create their movies, books, plays or youtube videos without any fear of reprisal.  That absolutely gives everyone the freedom to criticize whatever they wish as well also with no fear, just so long as that incessant criticism doesn't lead to cancellation, the making of a pariah, or even jail time.  Nobody should get the same treatment as rapists and murderers just for saying words or creating art.

For comparison, here are some examples of some gloriously politically incorrect material:

George Carlin - The Seven Words by AlbertinaChavers

Ah, the master himself George Carlin.  He was very vocal about his hatred of political correctness on many occasions.  He hated its pretentious notion that softening the language will somehow soften the content, such as referring to 'death' as 'passing away'.

Sarah Silverman tells Mark Wahlberg to shut up... by ChristOlaf

The great Sarah Silverman! Mad Magazine once referred to her as a "venom-tongued hottie".  I can agree with that.  In this clip she's so raw and out-spoken she even makes Mark Wahlburg cringe.

From Blazing Saddles!  If movie executives saw footage like this in their dailies today, they would be nervously dripping all manner of fluid into many many buckets.

Bigots by Daffyduckandthedinosaur

Here's a sketch that would get so many people in alot of trouble if done today.  They seem to be gleefully defying the very essence of political correctness back when it was still relatively young.

Bugs Bunny - Southern Fried Rabbit (1953 Banned... by DemonPreyer1

 And now here's some wonderfully "incorrect" stuff from Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam. It even has a big ol' Confederate flag in it.

What all of those examples have in common is that they all expressed an uncomfortable truth.  It's a truth that's not always attractive, but an avenue must be left open for it to be said.  A society grows richer when all types of ideas are allowed to flow.
This brings me back to Mr. Trump's remarks.  The only truth they revealed is that he is an over-ripe man-child with his head firmly up his ass at all times and is woefully ill-equipped  to handle criticism.  While they are certainly allowed to be spoken in a free society, they are not above ridicule.  His use of the term "politcal correctness" was just an attempt to make himself appear more noble like that examples I cited above (plus many more great examples that I wish I had enough bandwidth to include).  But, his only retaliation in the face of any critiques are childish ad-hominems like "pig" and "slut", etc.  He's not even able to challenge the ideas presented to him by Megan Kelly, Rosie O'Donnell, or anyone else.  He goes right to the name-calling and thinks that's enough.

At this time I'd like to bring up another incident, somewhat involving Donald Trump, that Donald could have used to support his claim of political correctness ruining things.  Does anyone remember a beauty contestant named Carrie Prejean?

She was Miss California back in 2009.  In the question portion of the pageant she was asked about her opinion of same sex marriage.  Her answer included 'marriage is between a man and a woman'.  She was rather abruptly removed from the pageant entirely based on that answer.  That entire situation was wrong.  I'm not referring to her opinion on gay marriage.  I don't agree with it myself but she has every right to that opinion.  The wrong part is that the question should not have been asked, and definitely not asked in that way.  The judge asking that question was fishing for the 'politically correct' answer there and held the attitude of "you'd better say it or else...".  But, in her naivete, she gave her honest answer instead saying what that judge wanted to hear, and she paid a huge price for it.
Donald did come to her defense.  However, he did not site any of the issues I stated here, he simply said "Carrie is extremely beautiful".  Inversely, when Rosie O'Donnell joked about him during that brief time she was on The View, Trump's response was "Rosie is fat and ugly".  That just shows how simply his mind works.  In his mind, any lady he deems 'beautiful' is valuable to him while any lady he does not see in that way is worthless and not worth considering.  A simple philosophy for a simple mind.

I guess my basic message with this blog post is this.  Feel free to enjoy the demented circus that is Donald Trump's candidacy and even indeed his life.  But, for the love of everything sacred (I think there are 2 or 3 things left that are), please do NOT associate him with anything relevant.  And absolutely do NOT associate him with the presidency.  To any ladies reading this, if you are one of the unfortunates who has been called a "dirty pig" by this man, consider it a compliment.  All it means is that you bruised his childish ego enough that he had to immediately pull a word out of his 'insult hat' and possibly even caused his brain to be put to use for once.
Frankly, I'm glad to be associated with all of you courageous women who have stood up to that asshole.

AAAAWWWWWWW!!!  Am I being compared to Donald Trump again.  I'm always put with the worst people.

So, to the American voting public I say, if Trump does indeed become the Republican candidate, or even if he doesn't, please disregard him and anything he says as the childish jabbering that it is.

I'll end this post with Seth Meyers giving Trump the roast he deserves.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Apacheeeeeeeeeeeeeeez what a grouch!

I'd like to take this time to give my thoughts on the whole debacle with Adam Sandler's latest movie The Ridiculous 6 where, if you haven't heard by now, a few actors of Apache decent walked off the set in disgust by what they saw.  What got them most offended were the spoofy Indian names Beaver's Breath and Wears No Bra as well as how the set designers seemed to have got most of the Native symbols either misplaced or just plain wrong.

I'm not going to say anything disparaging about the actors who walked off.  They had every right to leave if they didn't feel comfortable with anything on the set.  Hell, they had every right to leave if Kraft Services got their frappaccino order wrong.  I will say though that their actions could have been an over-reaction, but not nearly as big as the over-reaction on social media decrying this movie as "horribly racist" or even "hate speech".  I've even seen people who are calling for a full boycott of this movie, all Happy Madison projects, and possibly building a time machine and travelling back to January 1, 1966 to stop Stanley and Judy Sandler from conceiving of a subversive yet juvenile offspring.  Many of these people are forgetting some rather important things.

Keep in mind that the object of the offence as of now are just isolated jokes.  Context is everything.  You've got to see how these jokes play within the entire screenplay before you can even begin to examine whether they are an insult or not.  For example, if you tuned in to Schindler's List on some movie channel right at the part where that girl is yelling "GOODBYE JEWS!!!!!" over and over it would be easy to say "oh my, what a mean-spirited anti-semetic movie".  But, if you actually took the time to watch the entire movie you would see that "oh, it's actually sympathetic to the plight Jews had during the holocaust and shows a bright uplifting event within a very dark period in history".  I'm quite certain that this 'direct to Netflix' comedy is not anywhere near the same category as Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, but it still does deserve the same consideration of being judged on it's whole rather than just a few less than ideal parts.

Something else you need to remember is that this whole movie is a spoof of an old Western, namely The Magnificent Seven.  Like any spoof comedy, it's a good idea to check out the very thing they are spoofing.  That would help people better understand the jokes being delivered, especially the offending jokes about the Indians.  Maybe they're a send up on what Sandler and his writers felt were racist portrayals of minorities in the original movie.  Here's the trailer to give you somewhat of an idea:

I can see lots of people applauding the actions of these actors walking out the way they did.  I for one would like to applaud Adam Sandler and his crew for NOT changing the script when faced with this situation.  Let the creators create I say.  No special interest group should be allowed to infiltrate and commandeer the creative process whether through guilt, intimidation, or even straight up violence.  Let the production be fully realized.  If you don't like it you don't have to watch it.  To force this movie to cease production now over this would be like punching a fetus because you swear you saw it flip you the middle finger in the ultrasound.

Like what's been said about Sandler's humour elsewhere, he definitely works on a very low brow level.  The comedy in pretty much everything he's done (from SNL to today) seems to be grown from a group of 10 year old boys in their treehouse fort giggling over a stolen Penthouse magazine.  Of course he's going to enjoy names like Beaver Breath and Wears No Bra or any other cheeky sort of name they can conjure up.  And it's not like this is the first time he's upset people with his content.  Remember that SNL skit from around 1994 with Alec Baldwin where the aggressively flirtatious scout master nearly molested and possibly could have raped Canteen Boy?  SNL and NBC received many angry letters and phone calls about that one.  If both he and Alec Baldwin can survive that incident and keep going, then Mr. Sandler will most certainly get through this heated situation without a problem.

One thing I will say on the disgruntled actors' behalf is that the set designers getting the Apache symbols wrong could be problematic.  Just because it's a comedy doesn't mean that they don't have to take the time to get any of the details right.  I'd even go so far as to say the wacky Indian names like Beaver's Breath etc. would be more acceptable if the Apache environment were as authentic as possible.  That could be the key element to fix that would make people, possibly even those same disillusioned actors, to feel better about this movie.  But, the mistakes in the decor could also be a part of the whole "making fun of the original racism" that I talked about before.  Once again, it's best to see the entire movie before making a final judgement call.

But at the same time, I'm not in the biggest hurry to see this movie myself.  From what I've gathered from Adam Sandler's filmography, if you've seen one of his films you've seen them all.  I'm personally of the opinion that whenever Sandler comes out with a new movie you're better off just watching Billy Madison again.  It'll be pretty much the same thing only cobbled together a bit better.  Like it or not, Billy Madison is Adam Sandler's equivalent of Citizen Kane (except in this case "Rosebud" is a flaming bag of dog shit).

I'd like to end this post with another comedy film about American Indians starring Buster Keaton that is actually quite progressive for 1921.  I'm not 100% sure of this but I do think it might be the first movie where the Indians are portrayed as victims of caucasian colonial treachery as opposed to the Indians in all of those cheap John Wayne westerns where the they are just one dimensional war-like savages who keep getting in the way as a ragtag group of clean cut cowboys try to create America.

Ladies and gentlemen of all tribes, I give you The Paleface:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Is laughter really the best medicine?

By now I'm sure the entire world has heard of the death of Robin Williams.  I've seen many people on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. give their condolences to his family, lament the tragic loss, and run through a roster of their favourite TV and movie moments.  I myself, like so many, have enjoyed pretty much every performance Mr. Williams has ever done.  Mork & Mindy is easily a childhood favourite of mine for example.
And yet, among all the heartfelt mourning, the great big scalely fire-breathing elephant/dragon hybrid in the room that alot of people are talking about is clinical depression, specifically the type that may have inspired Robin Williams to take his own life. It's got many people asking "why?"  He had Hollywood sized fame, legions of fans, many hit movies, a frequent favourite guest on talk shows (whether he had a project to push or not), an Oscar win, a loving family, and of course enough money to keep said family comfortable for a few lifetimes. What exactly could he be depressed about?

Well, first of all, I'll say that the "sad clown" is not exactly a new concept. It goes back as far as the Italian opera Pagliacci in the late 19th century.  Many many famous comedians have dealt with a deep depression of their own.  For instance, Jerry Lewis once attempted a grizzly suicide.  He even had a gun in his mouth and was ready to pull the trigger.  What saved his life, he claims, is that in the distance he heard some children laughing.  That was enough to inspire him to put the gun away and keep on living.  Another famous comedian with this affliction that I'll mention is Groucho Marx.  He never attempted suicide but he did accurately define a psychological complex that only he could fully understand.  Also, it did rather traumatize his children in any one of his four marriages.
One more comedian I'd like to mention is one that, like Robin Williams, gave into the demons inside his head and took his own life: Richard Jeni

Though not nearly as accomplished as Mr. Williams, he did have a nice career going.  He was always touring with his stand up routine.  He got the part of Jim Carrey's best friend in The Mask.  He also was the star of a sorely under-rated sitcom in the '90's called Platypus Man.  He even had a very supportive wife.  Here's a bit of this man in action:

Sadly, for some reason or another, this funny man woke up one morning, put a gun under his chin and pulled the trigger.  He was pronounced DOA at the hospital.

What on Earth could have possessed either of these men to commit suicide, especially in such a violent manner?  Richard and Robin were guys who clearly hated themselves.  How can anyone hate someone so funny and so willing to share his whimsy with everyone?
One clue I think can be found in something Mr. Jeni said at one point.  He said, "it's very hard to get over the rejection you experience when starting out as a comic".  It is true that you do retain negative stimuli more easily than positive stimuli.  Perhaps that's it (or at least a part of it).  No matter how much laughter and applause these artists received at the height of their careers, they couldn't feel fulfilled knowing that a few audiences didn't like them.  The memory of that one scowling face in Hoboken 30 years ago could not even be erased by a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden rolling in the aisles with rib-bruising laughter.
But I'm sure even that is very small part of the larger picture.  The human brain is an intricate maze of mystery and we're not even close to finding everything it's capable of doing.  This type of psychology has many unanswered questions that we won't solve anytime soon.

Earlier I said that people all over the internet and TV were talking about their favourite Robin Williams moments.  Well, right now I'd like to bring up one of his LEAST liked moments.  I'm talking about that infamous Mork & Mindy episode that I do believe is ranked as one of the worst episodes of anything in TV history.  It's the one where Mork shrinks down into a parallel universe and gets mixed up in a battle between the Sillies and the Glums.  The basic story line is that the Glums (depressed people) have taken over the land and forced everyone to be miserable.  But, the ragtag revolutionaries known as the Sillies (happy people) are waging a war against the Glums to make their land happy again.
Besides being awkwardly written, directed, acted, etc. the entire concept is all wrong and easily demonstrates just how unfit the writers on that show were for TV or any medium.  In reality, within a comedian's brain, the "glums" and the "sillies" work together to create the comedy.  They've all learned to play with their pain.  Charlie Chaplain could do it.  Tina Fey always does it.  George Carlin and Richard Pryor were masters of turning their pent up frustrations into great comedic bits.  By separating the two elements in that episode they render both of them utterly useless for any entertainment value.  The Glums are just boring while the Sillies are just empty impressions of famous people.

Watch that episode embedded below and see what I mean:

While still on the subject of depression, I'd like to give a little tiny lecture to someone at Fox News, namely Shepard Smith, for referring to Robin Williams as a coward for his suicide.

Sir, that is rather unfair and uncalled for.  You don't know what he was going through.  You don't fully know or understand his struggle.  Be grateful that he remained strong for 63 years and gave us such wonderful entertainment in the process before he gave in to his demos.  Mr. Smith, your comment is like seeing a man carry his entire house on his back from Los Angeles to New York and then coming down on him for not taking it all the way to Bangor, Maine or maybe even Greenland.  Very shabby, sir.
*huff* *puff* I only did something extraordinary instead of something super colossally amazing.  Shepard Smith is right.  I am a failure.

This brings me to what the title of this blog post means.  We've all heard the saying that "laughter is the best medicine".  The theory is that a good laugh no and again will help shake any depression away.  If you're worried about any medical, financial, or relationship situation then laughter can help take the edge off and thus let you cope with said situation with a clearer mind.  Heck, that was the basic philosophy behind a Robin Williams movie Patch Adams.  So, in light of this recent suicide, the question needs to be asked: "If the king of merriment can't be saved from the torment in his soul, then what chance do we mere mortals have?"  I'd like to attempt to give an answer for that query in the hopes that it can help someone in some small way.
Since we are equating laughter to medicine, then it is important that we talk about it like a drug.  The  dosage of this drug depends on the size of the malady.  Remember that one's feeling of sadness is subjective and based on perception.  So, if you're feeling a bit irked because of a trivial "first world" problem, then a bit of humour is in order; a good knock-knock joke, a nasty Yo Mama joke, etc.  If the sadness is in more of the crippling category, then a good sitcom, possibly a marathon viewing of that sitcom would be a good idea.  Or, instead of merely watching something funny you can go ahead and write something funny.  Remember, that's how all of these comedians got started.  They kept using humour as a coping mechanism for their dark feelings and the next thing they knew they had their own HBO special.
It's also important to remember to keep up the doses regularly.  Keep those spirits up.  Maybe that's why Robin died on that fateful day, he had forgotten to take some of his laughter medicine.

Well, I guess that just about wraps up this blog post for me.  I know for me writing it feels very cleansing.  I hope all that read this feel the same way.

Although before I go, I will say that we can all do our part in preventing the next suicide.  Please keep in mind that artists of any medium such as stand up comedy, screenplay writing, comic book illustration,  song writing, song performing, etc. always put quite a bit of their own personalities into everything they do.  When they hear someone say "I don't like this bit of entertainment" to them it sounds dangerously close to "I don't like you".  That can weigh heavy on the soul.  I know it's important for artists to develop a thick skin and learn to tolerate negativity, but as we've seen, it can only get so thick.  If you feel the need to criticize any work of art you see just remember to keep it constructive and less like a knee-jerk just to be negative.

I will end this post with a video of Robin Williams doing what he did best, manic rapid-fire improvisation.  Enjoy!

And thank you for everything, Mr. Robin Williams.  Your divine impact on this world will not be forgotten.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Free Pussy Riot Right Now!!!

Ok, I'm going to weigh in on this Pussy Riot saga, because I know the whole world is waiting on pins and needles for me to do that.  So, here I go.  I hope I type something worth reading.

For the benefit of the two people who may have just recently had WiFi installed in their caves (finally) and have not heard of this entire scandal, here's a link to an article about it.  Now for my 2¢ about it.

My assessment of all of this is that the band Pussy Riot is being unbelievably harshly punished for disobeying a law that shouldn't even exist.  Come on!  Hooliganism???  Is that the charge the Russian police are going with here?  Smashing a window display or vandalizing some kind of landmark with aluminum bats, crow bars, or fire (or all 3), THAT'S hooliganism.  It's especially bad when it results in physical injury or even death.  If these ladies had done anything even close to that, then they'd be rightly imprisoned.  Simply saying the unsolicited thoughts that enter your mind about the country's leader in a public place is NOT HOOLGANISM!  It is simply free speech!  In a healthy democracy, people are applauded for that, not punished.
It seems to me that Mr. Vladimer Putin is too much of a big cry-baby that can't handle criticism.  If that's true, then he is not fit to hold office.

And it really feels odd to me that part of the reason for their arrest is for blasphemy.  Here in Canada, we can't go 5 minutes with being blasphemous in one way or another.  In the animation school from which I graduated, there was a student there who drew up a storyboard in-which, in the background, Jesus Christ could be seen selling crack cocaine to little kids.  As I recall, jaws were on the floor but no police were called.
And here's sketch from a great Canadian comedy troupe, the Kids in the Hall, where they combine the Bible with Dr. Suess:

I know.  Pretty sacrilegious, right?  How could they desecrate Dr. Suess like that?  (Oh yeah, and for any Religious Right members watching this, the guy playing Jesus in that sketch is very much a homosexual and proud of it.  Is he going to Hell?  If they have $5 margaritas, he hopes so).  As of right now, all 5 kids in the hall still walk the streets with no fear of indictment.

And, of course, there's me.  I made a comic book called Jesus Needs Help which angered this preacher enough to speak out against it not just once but twice (and about 8 other times in private emails).  I'm sure if he had his way, I'd have been arrested by now.  But, I still definitely walk the streets and I still have the freedom to blog about anything I choose.

The only criticism I could give to the girls at all is that the statement that got them in trouble doesn't really make sense.  Urging "the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin"???  What kind of a weak sauce threat to a world power is that?  She's just a 2027 year old virgin.  What is she going to do to Putin, have sex with him that is so tense and awkward that he kills himself?  There are other biblical figures who would be much more of a threat I'm sure.  David could easily throw a rock at his head.  Hey, maybe even Goliath could wear a rock-proof head band and stomp Putin's dumb ass into the ground.  I'm sure if Delilah let Sampson grow his hair down to his ankles, he'd be more than strong enough to bring the entire Russian government to its knees.  Daniel could unleash his lions.  Jonah could lure him into a whale's belly.  Any one of the four horsemen could make short work of him easily.  Or, the best idea would be to take an actual Bible, one that's really thick and heavy, and just simply club Putin on the head with it.  I know, ironically there's a passage or two in that Bible that preaches against that, but double ironically there are other passages in that same Bible that contradict them so it all evens out.  But, out of all the possible threats they could have made, they went with the Virgin Mary.  Okay!

Like I mentioned before in this blog post, there is no such thing as being arrested for blasphemy in Canada.  Therefore, I hereby urge the members of Pussy Riot and all of their management staff to relocate this band to Canada.  They will definitely have an audience here.  Although, according to some recent findings, one of the girls DOES have citizenship in Canada.

So, it looks like them moving here to work and perform in complete artistic freedom might just be possible.  For their sake, and the world's sake, I hope so.

In conclusion, I would just like to add my voice to the Free Pussy Riot brigade.  I'll end this post simply with one of their songs.  Ladies, this is the best publicity you could ever get.  I wish you all the success in the world.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Star Spangled Banner by Jimi Hendrix

It's my birthday again.  On this day, I've enjoyed going onto the blogosphere to talk about some woefully misunderstood things.  In the past, they've all been cartoon characters, namely Daffy Duck, Pepe Le Pew, and Tweety.  This year, I'd like to try something in a different vein.  So, as a birthday present to myself, I will talk about a woefully misunderstood non-cartoon related thing, Jimi Hendrix's version of the Star Spangled Banner.  Of course, before you read even one thing I have to say about it, listen to it in the embedded video below:

Most people don't quite understand what Jimi was trying to say with this song.  They're not at all sure if this is for or against America.  I have known some people who think it is just a blind jingoistic tribute to  "Yankee Doodle Land" and it makes them sick.  (Always sticking feathers in their hats and calling them macaroni.  Sheesh!)  And there's others who feel that Jimi took a cheap stab at America by simply converting the Star Spangled Banner into the raukus "noise" of his guitar.  This attitude was portrayed brilliantly in Pixar's first Cars movie, by the way.  (Yes, the clip below is in Spanish)

However, most people simply just don't understand the song and dismiss it as Jimi just making noise for random reasons.  I remember one stand up comedian talking about it.  His comment on the part where Jimi breaks into Taps was "do you get the feeling he forgot what song he was playing part way through?"  Well, if I could find that comedian, I would tell him that Jimi was very much aware of every single sound he was playing during the entire song.  It all added up to one, not cheap knee jerk, but rather a very brilliantly, scathing satirical assault on America.  "How?" you ask.  Well, I think I've got it figured out.  If you want to know as well, read on.  (Although, if any of you reading this had it figured out already, that is awesome for you.  You're invited to read on and possibly add a few points I may have missed.)

The clue for the song's message is in the "noise" Jimi interjects at different parts of the song.  Go back to that youtube clip and listen to it again.  Those aren't just random sounds.  They are the sounds of war, specifically the Viet Nam War.  They are sounds of:

Bombs dropping!

Tanks muscling their way around!

People screaming in terror!
And the basic anguish most of the people felt for being in that impossible situation.

Notice he starts playing all of that right after the part where the song usually says "and the rocket's red glare".  This of course is how he shows that war has always been a part of America's anthem.  (By the way, for those who aren't aware, the rocket's red glare in the original anthem is a refernce to another war that America lost, namely the War of 1812.  Here's a fun song about that:

Tee hee)

So, the playing of Taps is to commemorate all of the people who were needlessly killed in that muddled conflict.

Sadly, very very sadly, Jimi's message in that song is just as relevant for America today as it was in his time.  The evidence for that is painfully clear.

I guess it'll take more than song and a few thousand deaths before America will finally learns its lesson. Oh well, maybe after America invades Iran or Syria and some other musician writes a song against that will America finally squint their eyes passed that "rocket's red glare" and see the light.

Come on, Ms. Gaga.  You can do it.

I'll end this post with a similar misunderstood song about the whole Viet Nam situation.  Most people stupidly assumed it was a partiotic song about the good ol' U.S.A. when it's actually putting down the way the U.S. government treated the veterans of the Viet Nam War.  President Reagen even used that song for his re-inaugeration when he was re-elected president in 1985 (and some people look back with fondness at him???????)  Anyway, enjoy the song:

And always:

(aaaaaaaaaaand.............. Happy birthday to me!)

Friday, July 8, 2011

My response

Here is a recent review of my book, Jesus Needs Help:

ForeWord Clarion Review


Jesus Needs Help

David Germain



One Star (out of Five)

The divide between free speech and hate speech is as uncomfortable to define as it is to discuss. When broached in casual conversation, passionate reactions often supplant a civil discourse about the context of the speech in question. David Germain’s graphic novel, Jesus Needs Help, falls prey to these rhetorical traps at the cost of detracting from his fable’s anti-censorship message. The story is straight forward. Jesus, attempting to deliver his Sermon on the Mount, is harassed by a band of censoring monkeys, each representing a different stereotype intent on suppressing freedom of speech. These include: the goose-stepping Nazi Monkey, the sword-wielding Not Muhammed [sic] Monkey, the Afro-sporting and gun-toting Black Panther Monkey, and the Feminist Monkey with deeply sagging breasts.

Shocked by the abuse, God declares “I do intend to put my son through a brutal crucifixion soon, but this is too much.” The Almighty cages the monkeys and forces them to watch winged beings enjoying forms of art and expression that challenge the very ideas they wish to suppress. Heaven, as experienced by the simian antagonists, is a hell of their own making.

An independent animator living in Nova Scotia, Germain produces comic strips for his own blog and, occasionally, for the Dalhousie Gazette. He has a great love for classic animation. And, as exemplified in both his blog and Jesus Needs Help, he ardently fights all forms of censorship and perceived threats to free speech through humor and illustration. His work challenges the idea of political correctness and demands the reader’s attention with a blend of shock and Juvenalian satire.

But when it comes to race, racism, free speech, and censorship, context is everything. In the context of Germain’s avocation, his Horrible Mother Monkey, for example, could be read as more than a Jim Crow-era mammy complete with hair rollers and a muumuu. Rightly or wrongly, she’s a homage to Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 1940s and 1950s, now censored due to culturally insensitive blackface gags, cannibals, and the perpetually rodent-plagued Mammy Two Shoes. Sitting on a shelf at the comic book store, however, the context of Jesus Needs Help is reduced to an Anglo Christ whose sermon to an Anglo crowd is interrupted by a parade of brown apes.

Germain’s portrayal of Heaven faces a similar challenge. Intended as a celebration of free speech, punk rockers entertain crowds in one area of Heaven, while violent movies and banned cartoons are screened in another. And it works until the reader sees a drawing of a slant-eyed Asian in a sedge hat removing a victim’s brain presented in the context of protected speech as being equal to a staging of Oh Calcutta [sic] or a gangsta rapper dropping a culturally divisive and defining N-bomb on stage with no consideration for the difference between hate speech and free speech.

Germain attempts to use shock value as a way to raise awareness about the dangers of censorship in a society claiming to value freedom of speech. But his use of outdated and painful stereotypes obscures the noble cause for which he stands.

Joseph Thompson

Most people, upon reading such a review, would be screaming bloody murder right now (or "bloody redrum" if they were in a hotel in Colorado). "AW! He don't like my book. He must be one of them-thar jerks or something. Where's that vice of mine I use as a replacement for my mother's nipple? WAAAH!!"
But, I'd like to think I'm better than that. And besides, there's no two ways around it, that is a well written review. Joseph Thompson has obviously done himself some book learnin'. There is absolutely no need to assassinate his character. However, that doesn't at all mean that his review was perfect. There are more than a few things that he got wrong. That is what I am responding to with this blog post.

I'll start with the one really big thing that bothered me about his review. He made the egregious assumption that all of the monkeys looked like black people (no I'm not going to call them "African Americans" here because they live in other countries besides America don't you know). Ok, so then I guess he thinks that Tom Cruise is a black man.

If he is, then he's doing the greatest, most consistent white-faced minstrel show
I've ever seen (which, as a white man, deeply offends me >;P ). Or perhaps he thinks all the nazis were black. That must have been why they were all so pleased with Jesse Owens' athletic performance at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Or, perhaps looking at the American Monkey makes him think that all Americans are black even though they are considered a 'minority'. Ok, I think I've made my point with all that sarcasm. The truth is, all of my monkeys are exactly that: monkeys. Just monkeys wearing costumes, that's all. The Horrible Mother Monkey is NOT even close to an homage to Mammy Two Shoes. Case in point, here is the previous comic I did with these monkeys in-which they go after Tom & Jerry themselves. You can see Mammy and the Horrible Mother within the same comic to make your comparison. Or, better yet, here's a good shot of Mammy from the cartoon Saturday Evening Puss, the only time her face is revealed.

You're welcome. (Confidentially, my mom actually thinks that the monkey is based on her, even though I've never seen her wear a muumuu).

There was also something else about his objection to the monkeys that not so much angered me but more-so just struck me as odd. He seemed to find offence only with the more left leaning monkeys. Notice that in that review he singled out the feminist and black panther, not to mention the Not Muhammed Monkey whom most of your modern-day political correctness police would object to for making any kind of a statement about the actions of some people in another culture no matter how crazy or destructive they are. He didn't seem to mind my depictions of the more conservative right wings monkeys like the victorian, the american, or the preacher.
Maybe he thought those depictions were "spot on". Clearly, Mr. Joseph Thompson made the mistake of approaching this book with his own political bias. That is a big mistake to make with this book. The monkeys are designed to make fun of the extreme Ann Coulters and the James Carvilles of the world. If you are one of those two people, or a fan of one of those two people (or anyone like them), you will not enjoy this book of mine. You will consider me a "Kool-aid drinking
stooge for the other side" and then get angry. Chris Rock said it best during a stand up routine of his, "anyone who uses only one political ideology for every issue is a fool." There's no doubt that both Coulter, Carville, and most other out-spoken pundits like them fall under the category of those types of fools. However, it is my sincere hope that Joseph Thompson is not one of them. Hopefully he can rise above that type of petty bickering in his own life. I just wish he would have revealed that more in his review.

Oh, one more petty little thing he got wrong. That wasn't punk rock being played in Heaven, that was heavy metal. Though I wouldn't object to a punk rock concert upon entering the pearly gates, it was indeed heavy metal I was going for, more specifically the type of metal that had parents like Tipper Gore all concerned back in the 1980's. Like this.

But, in all fairness, like I said, Joseph did basically write a solid review of my book overall. Even though he disagreed with some of the philosophy within the content, not once did he assassinate my character. Heck, he even built me up higher than I think I am even. That is a glimmer of evidence that he is capable of rising above the petty partisan bickering I mentioned before.
I'm not at all bothered by Joseph Thompson's 1 star review. You can't please everybody. I'm secure in the knowledge that most of the people who have read my book have liked it. The people I really object to are the ones who quickly glance at the cover, assume it's some kind of a Jehovah's Witness pamphlet and then walk away. They are people with closed minds who are truly missing out. I certainly can't force anyone to buy or read my book. All I can do is urge everyone to look passed the cover. Read at least 5 pages in before you decide what type of book it is.
Or, for contrast, here's a more positive review of my book written by one of Todd Rutherford's staff. Don't just go by Thompson's opinion. Read both reviews, then read the book and make up your own mind. That's all I can ask of anyone with regards to my book. If you can't find my book in any stores, then you can definitely order a copy from Amazon.

Or maybe I'm being a bit too hasty. Maybe I can persuade Mr. Thompson into liking the book after all. Come, Joseph. Come over to my side. Come join the small intimate party of those who enjoy my book. It's okay. You'll enjoy yourself. Come. Come.

"Come play with us, Joseph. Forever..."


"...and ever..."


"...and ever."


"Tony, my big wheel bike is soaked with urine right now."