Joseph Brean of Canada's National Post caught up with me at the Art Spiegelman retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario for a discussion of art and jokes in an age of fear and jihad:
Mr. Steyn, likewise, has a darkly funny line about Barbie dolls in Islamic dress in an essay that is republished in his new book, which he promoted this week in Toronto, The Undocumented Mark Steyn: "You'll be glad to know the dolls are anatomically accurate: Burqa Barbie has no clitoris."
"I like taking old jokes and applying them to war and Islam and Ebola and all the rest of it," he said, such that the humour arises from the contrast of highbrow and low.
That is what The Interview does, he said. Like a remake of the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby movie Road to Morocco, it features two madcap Americans setting out on a wacky caper in a distant land.
"Effectively, what Seth Rogen and James Franco have done is made the Road to Pyongyang," he said. "They've taken a crappy old Hollywood formula and put Kim Jong Un in it. I give them credit for that. I think the Road to Pyongyang is a funny idea. I think the Road to Mecca would be even more funny, but it will get them killed.
It is, as they say, a wide-ranging conversation:
From The Interview, which cashes in on the diminishing returns of gross-out humour, to The Vagina Monologues, which was edgy in the '90s but is now seen as insensitive to transgender women, the counterculture has been so effective at "hollowing out" the real culture that there is barely anything left to counter, he said.
I can't recall ever describing The Vagina Monologues as "edgy". But I did tell Joseph Brean that I was amused to see that its annual "V Day" production at Mount Holyoke College has been canceled because of its "extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman". Hence, this Guardian headline: "Vagina Monologues playwright: 'It never said a woman is someone with a vagina'." As I said to Mr Brean, the revolution devours its own: Less than 20 years after Eve Ensler "empowered" women by "reclaiming" their vaginas, it seems a woman doesn't need a vagina at all, and it's totally cisgenderist to suggest you're not a woman if you're hung like a horse.
Evidently, that line proved too strong meat for National Post weekend subscribers, but I do hope you'll read the whole thing.
~Also on the matter of provocative speech, UPI quotes yours truly in a story on the French state's post-Charlie crackdown on freedom of expression. And John Hayward at Breitbart News picks up on some observations of mine with regard to "no-go zones".