Kathy Griffin, American Hero

I don’t know about you folks, but as soon as I saw that Kathy Griffin photo I was outraged and shocked.

“Is that a deli ham covered in ketchup?” I thought. “That’s frigging disgusting.”

And then I looked at what Kathy Griffin was holding and was equally horrified.

This oeuvre of Tyler Shields (the photographer) was to portray Trump with blood “coming out of his eyes, out of his wherever” – which as sharp observers would know, is a nod to the Megyn Kelly joke. Also good on Kathy Griffin for actually understanding the joke (blood coming out of her eyes, nose, ears, etc) unlike most stupid news anchors (redundancy in terms) saying that Trump was referring to Kelly’s period.

Even more keen observers will notice Griffin wearing a “pussy bow” blouse like Melania did at that one debate.


Shields is known for shock photography, featuring everything from Lindsay Lohan with a bloody knife to ex-girlfriend Francesca Eastwood lighting a $30k crocodile Birkin bag on fire (which one of his assistants swore to me was genuine, not a reproduction, making for one hell of a tax deduction).

burn it, burn it all

Kathy Griffin is equally known for shock humor, so it was a natural fit.

Shock isn’t shock, of course, without attention. Nobody cares about a gruesome murder in a Cormac McCarthy novel if it happened just a mile down the road from where the main characters are. If someone says the “c-word” in the forest, is a third-wave feminist outraged?

Outrage at the photo created more attention, which created more outrage and more attention. People spent a good chunk of their day calling, tweeting, and emailing CNN to get them to fire Kathy Griffin as an employee (despite the fact she’s not, she’s just contracted to do the New Year’s show and jokes about not getting asked back every year – it’s not like she’s Wolf Blitzer). “Squatty Potty”, which bills itself as an “elimination assistance device”, dumped her as a sponsor. The Route 66 Casino/Hotel in Albuquerque (ranked 57th out of 144 hotels in Albuquerque on TripAdvisor, no easy task) dropped her upcoming comedy tour date.

“barely acceptable!”

The Secret Service was forced to issue a statement saying that they’re investigating the “incident”, which must mean we’re paying for them to protect Halloween masks, on top of the White House.

After initially explaining the photo, Kathy Griffin issued a sincere and heartfelt apology video – which was obviously sincere and heartfelt because the famously vain Griffin wasn’t wearing makeup.

24 hours later we have…a chastened and rebuked comedian.

Instead of calling Squatty Potty to drop one of their dozens of sponsorships, imagine calling your congressman asking them to build the wall.

Instead of endless screeds denouncing a woman who tells jokes for a living for an “ISIS-inspired” photoshoot, imagine filing an amicus curiae brief to the district courts who keep shooting down the temporary refugee ban designed to keep ISIS terrorists out of the country.

Instead of contacting the Secret Service to investigate a comedian taking a photo, imagine signing a petition to establish a commission for intelligence communities to coordinate on known dangerous individuals (like how the attackers in Manchester, San Bernardino, Boston, and even 9/11 were on the radar of intelligence communities who didn’t connect the dots).

Equally useless is pointing out “double standards”.

The “what if they did it to Obama?!” argument may be factually correct, but it’s weak.  People would’ve said “omfg RACIST” – and they did when the Koran burning “pastor” hung Obama in effigy.

This photo was satire, and the media hates Kathy Griffin as it is.  Why on earth else would she have had to make a show about being on the D-List because she’s insulted so many celebrities?

pictured: a celebrity known for insulting other celebrities, also Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin did something many consider tasteless – which she’s now profusely apologized for. It was a picture depicting gore equal to about 30 seconds of Game of Thrones or one on-campus abortion protest photo – and speaking of campus, the Venn diagram overlap of keyboard warriors who contacted campuses to let Milo speak and comedy venues to cancel Kathy Griffin events is infuriating.

tfw they tell you to smoke outside

Kathy Griffin isn’t “the problem”.

Kathy Griffin’s an American hero.

She’s done scores of gigs for the troops, even when that wasn’t hugely popular for celebrities to do a decade ago.

She makes “liberal celebrities” extremely uncomfortable by pointing out their furious hypocrisies – have you seen her stand up specials?

She’s an extraordinarily effective mouthpiece for “freedom of speech” – which includes freedom to outrage, offend, infuriate.

Those who claimed “she’s just doing it for attention!” gave the photo the most attention of all, including plastering it across the news where Trump’s 11-year-old son was horrified by it.

When it comes to free speech, comedians are our most important asset. They keep us in line when we’ve gone too far, they point out our most important flaws – not to worsen them, but to identify and fix them. Comedy is in the founding of our country, from Benjamin Franklin’s writings to the cartoonists of the turn of the century – hell, the “Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say On Television” is a Supreme Court case.

Outrage is the most useless emotion – it’s overwhelming fury mixed with utter powerlessness. Outrage does nothing. Outrage is bluster, outrage has done nothing for American history.

Anger, on the other hand, is power. Anger is function, anger is useful. The majority of people who saw that photo weren’t angry – the most that’s been done is cancelling a comedian’s road gig for a picture they took.

The truly angry would shrug, move on, and do something productive. The truly angry would fight to ensure speech is widened, not narrowed. The truly angry would solve something.

Congratulations everyone, you’ve solved nothing.*

*update: Kathy Griffin has been fired from the CNN New Year’s broadcast, despite the fact she’s done it for a decade and mentions in her act how she’s barely hired back each year. But congrats everyone, let it keep you warm at night that Anderson Cooper won’t have to shift uncomfortably as the ball drops.