It Was Bound to Happen Eventually
by Noah Lugeons
I got an email yesterday that’s had me a little in the dumps. It’s something that was bound to happen at some point, but that doesn’t take much of the sting out of it. I won’t name any names or anything, but a guest I was really hoping to interview on the show just turned me down. By itself, this is not new. It’s happened a number of times before. But this particular guest declined based solely on how raunchy our show gets.
To her credit, she sent a really nice and non-judgmental email in reply to my request, told me she was flattered by the invitation and explained precisely why she was turning it down. And it wasn’t because we swear too much or make too many dick jokes, but rather because we have no filter when it comes to who or what we joke around about.
In her words;
… [T]he jokes about whores and junkies and Chinese midgets crossed a line for me. I enjoy and appreciate edgy, scathing humor — but not when it punches down. I’m just not willing to be part of that.
Like I said, it was bound to happen eventually. It’s a risk that we know we’re taking when we record the really cringe-worthy jokes. We know that we sacrifice some listeners and inevitably sacrifice some really interesting guests.
I was asked about this in a round-about way on a recent interview on “Rational Talk“. We were discussing the out-of-whack moral compass of the show and how it’s grown edgier as time went on. We were specifically discussing Heath’s penchant for political incorrectness, but everything I said of him has become true of me as well.
When we first started the show, I was a lot pickier about what I would and wouldn’t let in. I never shied away from an opinion, but some of Heath’s more over-the-top racist, sexist, Chinese midgetist jokes wound up on the cutting room floor. I would talk to him about it afterword and I would offer in defense the excuse that it “went too far.”
But how far is too far? It’s an arbitrary cultural line and, of course, it’s one that we wanted to cross. But I wanted to dip my toe in the water of “too far” and Heath wanted to dive in. And his justification makes perfect sense to me. If we allow a joke that is “a little” racist but not “really” racist, it’s as though we’re endorsing a certain amount of racism. It’s as though we’re saying “this much racism is okay.” But if we allow the joke to live all the way on the other side, it’s impossible to ignore the sarcasm. It’s impossible not to see how tongue-in-cheek the act is.
Let me be clear, we use our platform to denounce racism, sexism, homophobia and child abuse. But along the way we joke about racism, sexism, homophobia and child abuse. And since any joke on any of those subjects “crosses the line”, we cross the line. And we’ve rejected the notion that it’s okay as long as you swim in the shallow end.
All that being said, I don’t begrudge my would-be guest her decision. She didn’t say that she we shouldn’t be doing the show, she didn’t say she thought we should tone it down. She simply didn’t want to lend her name to it. I admire the principle even if I disagree with it.
Still, would have been a really cool interview though.