I don’t write stories. I don’t write fairytales. I am addicted to cultural ephemera and take rock and roll far too seriously. I am not the freak to come to for carefully considered, delicately written tales which say little very beautifully at the pace of dripping molasses. I am more a wam bam, thank you ma’am kinda word-vendor. I like to think of myself up on top of the piano, tie loosened shouting “Shake, mama!” In short, I am sincere but not restrained. I was born to rock the boats, hoist the mainsail and tug on the bowline, knife between my teeth for that fork in the tongue of the politicians, holding accountable those perpetually and unfairly offended by the suffering of others.
I am a piratical rabble-rouser, who claims to have no political interest, whilst peering through the windows of the rich and powerful, the middle class and comfortable, the safe and tutting citizens of Dullsville and Calabasas from my fiery perches in campgrounds and now my bijou (ok…so tiny, but I like to be pretentious since I got inside) apartment on one of the best blocks of a troubled area, looking at my poppies growing on the window sill and worrying about leaf rot. I cannot keep a rosette succulent alive. They rot and die. It irritates me. I know I am over watering them, and resolve to ignore them, but still they decay. Like the world outside, despite my tender ministrations, my love for all you crazy motherfuckers, and various adorations of the human condition, it is rotting at the root, turning to mush at the stem and bearing no fruit except an ugly and diseased decay.
I suppose it is all a case of point of view. Dylan once said that “you are right from your side, and I am right from mine”, but that is some wishy washy lacking in the strength of his own convictions placating of the operators of the pitchfork and ducking stool. I am fond of my more disorderly and prickly sisters, in fact I myself might be an ideal candidate for such behavior modification. Society insists on strapping the witch, the scold, the whore: the one who disagrees with the rank and file, the one who strays from the herd, into that chair, and repeatedly duck them into a pond or a stream, teach the straying woman a lesson, show ’em what happens if you happen not to agree with the prevailing view. It is a little like waterboarding on steroids. Watching the decimation of the wonderfully fierce Whoopi Goldberg via social media and the media was akin to watching a medieval ducking of a woman who refuses to submit to society’s insistence that she be gentler, quieter, less opinionated and altogether nicer. Fuck nice. Fuck nice and compliant. Give me shocking, offensive, bold and dedicated. Give me freedom. Fleetwood Mac sings, “been down one time, been down two times, never going down again….” Duck me as many times as you have the stomach for, if you want to shut me up, you will actually have to go all the way and kill me. I am not demanding anyone else raise their female fists to the air and say the same thing, but even if I disagree with your views, I will never swerve from defending your right to express them.
I do not agree with Whoopi’s initial analysis of Nazi Germany’s motivations in their murder of millions of Jews in World War 2. The Nazi’s were developing a practise of ‘racial hygiene’ which led to a holocaust of over 6 million dead Jews, killed because of their race. I admit to cringing inside as she put the holocaust down to ‘man’s inhumanity to man’, and willing her to make the jump towards the historical reality of Hitler’s motivations, whilst laughing my socks off at the sheer power of Goldberg.
Whoopi has never given a flying fuck about what others think, from what I know of her, and she has always been a somewhat ‘ovaries to the wall’ purveyor of edgy opinions, shocking humor that shines a light on, as she says, ‘man’s inhumanity to man’, and a spirit that pushes itself onto the public consciousness as indominable in the extreme. That is why she has been so successful, Whoopi gives the stage her all, she doesn’t hold back. She gives everything of her glorious self, no holds barred and like Chappelle who came after her, like Eminem, Bukowski, Hunter S Thompson, Howard Stern and Lenny Bruce, we, the audience throw flowers and dollars at their feet in exchange for their utter brutal honesty and the brave laying bare of their souls. Whoopi is a rare woman, a total toughie, a freedom fighter supreme. We pay for Whoopie to make us cringe and look at ourselves a little deeper. We pay for her to shock us into some semblance of humanity. How many people have been enlightened over the holocaust because Whoopi made her own journey? How many people did she educate alongside her own historical investigation? Whoopi lives her life in public. She makes her mistakes in public, and then society is not content with her apology, not happy with her redemption, it also wants to punish and deplatform her! Bring back Sharon Osbourne. Bring back Whoopie. Pay them to be as obnoxious, opinionated, loud, and intense as they can be. Pay them to wake society up. Pay them to get that dialogue flowing, because these are our heroes of free speech and the instruments of the removal of the rot in our now world wide internet connected society. How can we cut away the decay if no one shines a light on it?
I would say she can afford to make enemies, with a net worth listed at over 60 million bucks, but that is not quite the full picture, is it? I am sitting here, despite my extreme poverty, a terrifying and dangerous husband that I can’t secure a divorce from even if I am away from him, my various troubles, problems and dangerous difficulties, unfairly safe in my white skin. Whoopi takes risks, she says what she means and she means what she says, and to hell with the consequences. That takes both bravery and bravado. Whoopi kicks ass, and even if I do not agree with her, which I often don’t, from one woman with a big mouth, to another with a loud and defiant one, she remains a shining light of sheer ‘don’t give a fuckedness’ that is admirable in the extreme. Whoopi is an inspiration.
It is hard, especially now, in these days of ducking-by-social-media to say what you want, and say what you mean. I am not ok with that. To quote misquote Dylan once again, ‘if my thought dreams could be seen, they would probably put my head into a guillotine’, and so I keep my unpopular opinions to myself. I don’t enjoy doing so, but I cannot afford to be too controversial, and have enough problems without being cancelled on top of being everything else that I am within this glorious state of illegality in California. I don’t agree with Whoopi that women who push men physically should expect to be beaten. Jay Z hitting Solange horrified me, as well it should, but I sure as heck defend Whoopi’s right to her own opinion, however controversial and antithetical to my own it might be, and that is the entire point of democracy. Only an idiocracy stops questioning, learning and testing the boundaries. Good taste can go take a hike. Good taste is stifling. Throw open these windows, ask these questions, challenge each other and take opposing opinions on the chin. Accept that we are not all alike, even if I will fight to the death for equality.
Whoopi said something shocking, said what came into her head, partly through the no-filter-filter of being a comedienne, partly because a good old argument is entirely what The View is about – something to get those juices flowing, and partly because that is truly what she believed at the time. People grow, people change, and people evolve. Goldberg has already said sorry, adjusted her views in accordance with the facts presented to her, and explained how, absolutely understandably, that she sees history through the lens of being black, female and American. If this country cannot see and accept that, and insists on punishing Whoopi for articulating her view and her pain, then we are in more trouble than I might have suspected.
Man’s inhumanity to man is never more apparent than when the slavering hoards come out in force to ‘cancel’ someone who goes their own way, who is different to the majority, to punish individuality. It is ironic really that Whoopi shining her light on this ended up with her public censure. For what little it is worth, I’ve got her back, I am on her side, and I hope she never gets cowed into being less than, smaller than, quieter than she has every right to be. Team Whoopi.