Monday, February 15, 2010

My thoughts on the Sarah Silverman vs. TED Twitter rumble

If you aren't aware of this little verbal tussle, you're probably the better for your ignorance. If you want to read about it, this Washington Post article is a decent place to start.

Short form: Don't we all have better things to do?

Okay, if that doesn't work for you, let me dive a bit deeper.

I'll begin by noting that I have no horse in this race. I like TED. I like it a lot. I've already registered to attend next year. I also like Sarah Silverman. I like her work a lot. I think she's smart and funny and challenging, and I catch her performances when I can.

Putting Sarah Silverman on the TED program was an interesting move by TED Curator Chris Anderson, and I applaud him for doing it. She was bound to make a lot of the attendees uncomfortable, and as far as I'm concerned, that's in the TED spirit of making people think.

When Sarah Silverman took the TED stage, she did what she does, which is to be a controversial, often vulgar humorist. No one who knows her work would have been surprised by her performance. In the course of her talk, she repeatedly used the word "retarded." Though comedians everywhere are doing this right now to poke fun at Sarah Palin, most of them don't have the chance to do it at TED. Silverman did, and she made the most of the opportunity.

Many audience members were, predictably and with good reasons, uncomfortable with this part of her routine--and, judging from the reactions of the people around me, with her performance in general.

That's fine. That's their right.

One of the people who hated her performance was Chris Anderson, who called it "god-awful" in a Twitter post that's now gone.

That's fine. That's his right. I don't even blame him for being upset; he clearly didn't know Silverman's work, and whoever researched her for him didn't give him all the material he needed. The Twitter post was not, however, an ideal move, because getting in a verbal fight with a comedian is at best a risky proposition.

Silverman fired back on Twitter.

That's fine. That's her right. I don't blame her for being upset; she gave the kind of performance one would expect from her, and behind every bit of vulgarity was a shrewd mind and a social agenda.

The Twitter sparring went on a bit, so of course the media picked up the story.

That's fine. That's their right.

Now, though, it's time for all involved to move on to a discussion of something that actually matters. Let's give both Sarah Silverman and Chris Anderson a break, and instead focus all this attention on any of the many issues that TED--and Silverman, however obliquely--highlighted.


J. Griffin Barber said...

Comedians are supposed to provoke a response. Looks like Silverman did her thing once again. I think it between her and Wanda Sykes for the best female comics working today.

Sarah has the added benefit of creating urges in my areas.

My two cents.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

Silverman definitely did provoke a response.

vampi said...

hahaha. you know i thought it was a bit odd when you blogged about sarah silverman performing. her humor isn't my style, but i have no issue with her doing it. i know not to seek it out myself.

hopefully, as more gaffs like this come from twitter, it will lose fashion. people need to learn to keep a filter between their mind and the internet. not everything you think is for public consumption.

Mark said...

I could not agree with you more about the need for some self-control and filtering.


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