Tag Archive: Comedy


“All of the great artists get censored!” – Linda (voiced by John Roberts)

“Bob’s Burger” is an animated series created by Loren Bouchard and premiered on television in 2011. It centers on the misadventures of the Hamburger restaurant owning Bob and his family. The family consists of his wife Linda, who is perky and peculiar, and their three children: the continually exaggerating Gene, the socially awkward Tina and the sly, mischievous Louise. “Bob’s Burger” is packed with great lines and quirky dialogue, and finds its way to dealing with impressive subjects from time to time. The show is also pleasant in its interesting depiction of a working-class family; “Bob’s Burger” is not a “down-to-earth” realistic but does portray the plight of this class’s persistent economic trouble, which is important and appreciable to represent. And it is firmly refreshing to see a show that is which is finally female-friendly (i.e. free of overly sexists jokes) in this genre (naturally excluding the “Simpsons”).

Left to right: Louise, Bob, Gene, Tina and Linda

Left to right: Louise, Bob, Gene, Tina and Linda

In “Bob’s Burgers” first season, the eight episode “Art Crawl” tackled the issue of censorship. More specifically the episode was about censoring art, as well as has some amusing musings about cultural assumptions about art itself.

The episode begins with Bob walking around the neighborhood with his kids as they check out the neighborhoods annual street event focused on art. The event is an “Art crawl”, where people display their indolently done paintings. Bob points out quickly that he does not want the children to think that the Art crawl represents what real art is meant to be or obtain. Considering how artist and art have at times been the punching bag for mainstream comedy, it’s pleasant to have Bob make a sincere defense of art. Tina then suggests that they visit a museum to learn more about Art. This is met with strong protest from Bob and her siblings (this is met with the idea of a “art visit” is going to far). Already in the first four minutes of the episode lazy and stereotypical attitudes towards Art, especially mirrored in television culture, are confronted and parodied. Bob points out the “art festival” is a profoundly narrow idea about what Art both is and entails. The scene defends art as a cultural form, stating that it is much better than many may believe, yet uses a singular relatable scenario as showing Bob falling into the common and routine avoidance of culture.

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The show also plays with the myth of the unstable and conceited artist as well. Gayle, Linda’s extremely insecure and erratic sister whose art the family is not allowed to critic, is a an embodiment of this trope (it is mentioned that she had eaten lipstick to become “red inside”).

Linda's sister, Gayle

Linda’s sister, Gayle

However, the idea of the unstable artist is also satirized. The youngest child of the family, Louise (voiced by the always awesome Kristen Schaal ) sees the potential in making money in the “Art Crawl” phenomena and tries to get her siblings Gene and Tina to make street art for her. However her siblings express themselves as “true” artists, to which Louise then decides that she must cut off her brother’s ear, in reference to a supposed action done by Van Gogh. This highlights how people focus on outsized legends and absurd stories to constantly create the odd mythical presence of the mad artist which alienates these workers in Art from the normal working class. The constant mystification art, and the creation of art, to the point that art and artists are viewed more as characters from ridiculous melodramas instead of being engaged with as serious creators of our visual culture.

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However the most prominent theme of the episode is censorship. Other popular cartoons have dealt with censorship before, for instance “The Simpsons” episode “Itchy and Scratchy and Marge” and the two-part “South Park” episode “Cartoon Wars” (which was later discussed again in the episodes “200” and “201”). These two previous shows dealt with censorship through fictional controversies, i.e. with the Simpsons cartoon violence and with South Park the representation of the prophet Mohammed. In both of these cases the object of controversy was not a product made by a family member. In “Bob’s Burger” this is the case.

Gayle, Linda’s sister, visits the family for a while and hangs her new paintings around the walls of Bob’s restaurant in tandem with the neighborhood Art Crawl event. To Bob’s horror, Gayle has devoted all of her works to the depiction of various animal’s anuses. Bob surmises, quite correctly in fact, that the paintings will have a negative effect on the customers eating in his establishment. Bob makes the case strongly to his wife, Linda that she has to tell her sister that Gayle has to take down the paintings. When she refuses, Bob comes up with a scheme to take down the paintings without Linda noticing. He also decides to come clean with Gayle and state that he just doesn’t want the paintings hung on the walls of his restaurant. This plan quickly changes after Edith, the elderly woman who runs the “Art Crawl” event, shows up to complain about Gayle’s paintings. Bob explains that the paintings have been removed, to which Edith than replies: “Good, they were indecent” adding “I won’t allow them to be shown”. Bob becomes furious after hearing Edith state that she won’t allow people to see this art given her own interpretation of what art should be available, and therefore hangs all of the paintings back up. Bob’s actions are strikingly similar to an old saying: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”, that Voltaire among others have used when defending freedom of Speech and expression. Bob absolutely hates Gayle’s paintings but will not let her work be censored by authoritarian personas. He decides to make a stand since he feels that someone has tried to rob him and others of their choice to express themselves. Edith continues to protest against the paintings while Bob tells Gayle to paint more. Bob fights back against censorship by encouraging more provocative art. So Bob takes his protest against censorship a step further – he not only will defend Gayle, but encourage her as well. Bob takes the idea of defending a person’s right to express themselves freely, but also encourage them to express themselves in a way he doesn’t like.

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The Episode “Art Crawl” takes an interesting turn on censorship when the family discovers one morning that the paintings have been vandalized. The animals have been given pink underwear as a cover up. Bob assumes the person responsible is Edith and heads over to her store. There he confronts Edith and vandalizes her artworks in revenge (by giving all of the paintings in her shop “anuses”), only to find out later that it was his wife Linda who vandalized the paintings, since she was so disgusted by them. While Edith wanted to censor the paintings, Linda is the one who actually takes to vandalism to censor. The family pays Edith for the damage caused and Linda realizes that she should have perhaps just honestly told her sister her opinion of the paintings. The episode portrays the vandalism as an act of censorship, which it is. Edith praised the vandalism act but did not do it herself. Linda did because she could not express her dislike. Naturally, it is harder to critic art when someone close to you is the creator, but it is pointed out that Linda should have just voiced her opinion. Once again the importance of expressing one’s self is highlighted. It is also stated that Bob’s anger was understandable, but his action of changing Edith’s paintings was over the top, since he also does a form of censorship by editing Edith’s paintings against her will.

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“Art Crawl” illustrates the measures a person will go to fight against censorship. Bob can’t stand people bossing others about their expression. It rings a truth about censorship in the real world; to defend freedom of speech, people must sometimes defend things they despises themselves. “Art Crawl” strongly defends freedom of speech, realizing that we will not always like everything culture produces, but censorship is not, nor is ever, the answer.

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Hello everyone,
A lot has happened. So, a lot has been written and talked about. Here’s a short guide to some recommended post.

Kelsey Wallace over at “Bitch Media” wrote about the ten douchiest reactions to the Sandy Hook Tragedy.

Ann Somerville wrote about Gun Controll.

The author Vijay Prashad wrote about the deaths of children that don’t make news.

Rebecca Carroll viciously attacked Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, “Django Unchained” and rightfully so.

Nuala Cabral, a feminist activist, wrote an open letter to Universal Music Group’s corporation CEO Lucien Grainge regarding the music corporations constant exploitation of women of color.

On the same note, click here to watch a video where women of color tell the rapper 2 Chainz what they want for their birthday (in response to his hit single, “Birthday Song”).

If you haven’t or have heard of 2 Chainz and his single “Birthday Song, check out the Rap Critics deliciously funny review of his hit single.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Best Regards, Maaretta

Stand-up comedy is a old, beloved tradition which has given us some of the finest comedians in the world. In this post, I will feature four notorious clips of famous atheist comedians talking about their experiences and opinions on religion, it’s history and it’s impact on society.

Dave Allen (1936-2005) was a Irish born comedian that identified himself as a “practicing atheist” and was known for the joke: “I’m an atheist, thank god!”. He was well known for his relaxed, intimate way of performing his stand up and was widely popular in Canada, Australia and Great Britain. Even if Allen often joked about religion, he didn’t feel that he was mocking belief, but rather rituals and church customs. He explained this ideology in 1998, when he stated:  “The hierarchy of everything in my life has always bothered me. I’m bothered by power. People, whoever they might be, whether it’s the government, or the policeman in the uniform, or the man on the door – they still irk me a bit. From school, from the first nun that belted me”.

In this clip Allen talks about his first experience with Religion:



Eddie Izzard
is a English comedian who has become widely famous for dressing up in drag while performing his Stand-Up comedy. His humor is often partly social commentary, partly popular cultural spoof and parody and surreal telling of historical as well as biblical stories. Izzard has also acted in films, his latest being “Mystery Men” where he played a villain. Izzard has been openly atheistic for many years. In this clip he talks about how church of England was born:

Bill Hicks was a Texas born left-leaning comedian that’s Stand-Up was unusually political. Hicks spoke of legalizing drugs, allowing gays to serve openly in the military and criticized extreme and blind faith. Hicks was never shy from speaking his mind; he was one of the most bold and intelligent comedians the U.S has offered, and was token from us way to early in 1994. In the clip I’ll show Bill Hicks talks about his encounter with some religious fanatics.

And of course, lastly I will show the legendary George Carlins clip where he completely rejects all ideas of religion and belief. This bit is very strong, so be warned. Carlin is also one of the first political comedians from the U.S. He became infamous for his Stand-Up routines on religion and censorship. He died in 2008.

 

– I just said to George today that…
– Who’s George?
– He’s the devil. He’s not that bad once you get to know him.
“Bedazzled”, 1967

The Devil is a popular character humans love to analyze and make their own adoptions of. Satan, or Lucifer (whatever we decide to call him) has little to say in the Bible. He is mostly talked about by others. His biggest role in the Bible is tempting Jesus in the desert. Even if Satan has a small part in the Bible, the big book does make one thing perfectly clear to us: this creature is pure evil and must be avoided at all cost. But since Satan has so little lines, humans have naturally grown curious about this fellow. Who is he, really? What are his motivations? What are his feelings?

“Leaves out of the book of Satan” (1921), a movie by Carl Theodor Dreyer, is a movie based on D. W. Griffiths, movie “Intolerance” (1916). Dreyer’s film, as Griffiths, tells different stories from different times. The Devil appears in this movie as a sad person who must tempt people. For it is what is required of him. The Devil succeeds in tempting people, which hurts him and makes him feel bad. He doesn’t really want People to do bad things, but he must tempt them, for there must be a struggle between good and evil. Already in early cinema Satan’s character has been portrayed as sympathetic, humanely. The Devil is not a bad tempter; he’s a guy stuck with a job he hates.

John Milton wrote an epic poem in blank verse named “Paradise lost”. It was published in 1667. It tells the story of Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden. It is said to be Milton’s attempt to justify God’s ways to man, but the poem has become mostly famous for its portrayal of Satan. Satan is a complex character in the poem. He is the first major character to be introduced to the reader. At the beginning, Satan is the Angel Lucifer up in Heaven who rebels against God since he doesn’t want to accept the fact that God has power over the angels. He convinces fellow angels that Heaven is an unfair monarchy, and that the angels should have equal rights to God. Satan later shows up convincing Eve to eat the apple, promising her that she will become equal to God. Milton describes Satan as a charismatic and persuasive person who’s also quite in love with himself. But also as someone who is independent enough to question authority. Milton allows Lucifer speak his mind, express what makes him angry. His belief in equal power, i.e democracy, is interesting in the way that it’s considered a common, acceptable belief now a days, which actually make his attempt to overthrow God seem good. Here’s a part from the poem in which Lucifer convinces some angels to follow him:

Who can in reason then or right assume/ Monarchy over such as live by right/ His equals, if in power and splendor less / In freedom equal? or can introduce/ Law and edict on us, who without law/ Err not, much less for this to be our Lord,/ And look for adoration to th’ abuse/ Of those imperial titles which assert/ Our being ordained to govern, not to serve?”

A funnier adaption of the Devil is George Spiggott from the movie “Bedazzled” (1967). George Spiggott is a man who offers people seven wishes in exchange for their souls. He offers Stanley, a troubled young man, one of these deals. While granting Stanley his wishes, George also tells Stanley about his relationship with God and Heaven, telling his side of the story. In this version, the Devil has changed his name from Lucifer to George since he thought that Lucifer, which means “bringer of the light”, sounded a bit “Poofy”, as he puts it. George spends his time doing small pranks, since he must bring evil into the world to even out the good others bring in. He also is trying to get back into Heaven by winning in a deal he’s made with God. Spiggott has many wonderful, hilarious comments about himself in this movie, but the funniest one is probably when he explains why he rebelled against God. He simple explains that since he and the other angels were always worshipping God and telling him how great he was, Spiggott became bored and thought that they could exchange places for awhile. “Bedazzleds” portrayal of the Devil is of one who is stuck in a job and home that he doesn’t exactly like. He finds the world tedious and wants to get back to Heaven, his original home. It’s easy to sympathize with Spoggott’s character when you realize that he doesn’t really want to cause any trouble, he just does it since it’s a part of the deal. Satan in this version mostly is a person that has made a silly mistake – in his cause of going against God – lost his home for it, and does what he can to get back what he’s lost. Something we all can relate to.

The Portuguese writer Jose Saramagos adaption of the Devil in his novel “The Gospel according to Jesus Christ” is probably the most sympathetic one to date. The Devil goes by the name “Pastor” in this book which tells the life of Jesus Christ from Jesus’ point of view. Jesus first meets Pastor in his late teens. He and Pastor are shepherds for a flock of sheep while Pastor tries to warn Jesus about worshipping God. Jesus, a highly religious man who doesn’t know he’s the son of God yet, finds Pastor’s ideas frightening. They separate due to Pastor’s frustrations with Jesus. Years later, when Jesus is confronted with God and what Gods plans are for him he realizes that Pastor was only trying to help. God explains that Jesus must die for him so that he can get more people to worship him. Pastor, who shows up during this discussing between God and Christ, gets God to list all the people who like Jesus will have to die in order for God to get more followers. God lists them and how they all died painful, torturous deaths, making Jesus panic. Turning to Pastor, Christ ask for help, but it’s too late. In “The Gospel according to Jesus Christ”, God is portrayed as a power-hungry madman who wants people to suffer and die for him. Pastor is a calmer person; he doesn’t have any need to be worshiped and doesn’t see why anyone should die for God. He tries his best to help Jesus, but knows when it’s too late.

Even if I do love Pastor, I would have to say that my favorite adaption of Lucifer in any form and culture is that of Satan from “South Park”. “South Park’s” Satan is an insecure man often confused and tormented by the difficulties in his love life. His first major role in “South Park” was in the movie “South Park: Bigger, longer and uncut” (1999). There Satan plays the tragic villain. He desperately wants to take over the world since he longs to be where the sun shines, flowers bloom and people are happy. In Hell there’s only misery, which exhausts and irks him. Satan is also having problems with his boyfriend, Saddam Hussein, whom he feels neglects his feelings and who is only interested in sex. In this film Satan sings one of the funniest, but also most sympathetic, songs about being the Devil. (Check it out on the end of this post!) In other episodes Satan is seen as a very easy going fellah. He celebrates Christmas and has to choose between a nice boyfriend and a bad boyfriend. He’s undeniably human in his mixed feelings about the world and humans. His confusions are honest. Satan is so human he becomes hilarious. How can you NOT love this guy?