Kathy Griffin: Empathy Panhandler Pts. I & II

PART I – It’s as simple as both Griffin and Trump having mastered reality television, where “drama” is processed to the point of becoming doublespeak and insecurities and pettiness are aggrandized. In this way, and probably others, they’re similar. Both claw at their own skin for our attention, and both are so accustomed to having a national media platform from which address the public that it’s the first thing they reach for to solve their problems.

It’s like this: apologize, but don’t turn around and justify your action or insist on being understood. When you do, you’re  just arguing to keep your limitations. 

Griffin’s recent press conference called attention to the death threats she’s getting, as well as to the many male artists who have produced “far more disturbing” anti-Trump content. But “unlike these male artists, Kathy apologized,” read attorney Lisa Bloom, adding that Griffin has nonetheless “endured the most powerful man in America and his family using their power to target her and her employers” after doing so.

By drawing that red circle around Griffin’s apology, Bloom implied it should have had the power to maximize sincerity, absolve her client, stop Presidents, and even hop the great wall of gender bias that suppresses all women. Then Griffin herself took the mic and careened from empathy panhandling and self-pity to indignation, excuses and defiance. First, she dampened her worth with tears, then she doubled down, essentially vowing to mock Trump even more.

Now, I’m not saying the woman hasn’t been picked on, nor am I reducing inequality to the producer selling points used keep reality shows on the air. But come on. That press conference was a going-through-the motions performance piece if there ever was one, and a sloppy one at that. It all seems arranged for actors Trump and Griffin to call in their Twitter support strikes from other players and for alt-bootlickers to do their thing (i.e. turn Griffin into Willie Horton). And then the two will go right on being each other’s (topical-temporary) best friend.

And while Americans have become increasingly desensitized to blood and guts and bombs and bullets, Griffin’s prop Trump-head may still have been too realistic for the darkly funny workaday distraction she thought she was offering. Perhaps if it had been more cartoon-like and less accurately representative of the tissue traumas associated with real severed heads, the stunt might not have cost her sponsorships and jobs, including her lucrative co-hosting duties related to CNN’s New Year’s Eve programing.

To those like me who couldn’t care less about the fate of Griffin’s career, she has likely rendered herself permanently summed up in eight words: the lady with the chopped off Trump-head. 

But because this is where excuses go to die, I’m always happy to pick the fly shit out of the pepper in the name of character. So for Part II…




PART II – Get character or become one.

Yes-yes, 1st Amendment, I know, but the Constitution doesn’t protect people from the court of public opinion, nor does it shield those who solve problems with problems. Griffin failed to demonstrate the judgment required of public figures, particularly those with the media spotlight that she enjoys, and her “solution” came off as blaming, asinine, and foot-stomping.

All too often we allow others to decide who we are. When we reflexively surrender to our warm fart coping skills, we act hastily and often choose foolishly as a result. Things get even worse when we immediately claim we’re victims of something, because we probably landed on that designation as quickly as we reacted in the first place. This leaves us open to those who would use our knee-jerk responses to hang a crude signs around our necks for all to see. Griffin’s might read: “Went Too Far,” “Short-circuiting Like Bad Toaster,” or “Profiles In Foresight Scarcity.”

Griffin may have assumed that her stature in the community, the aforementioned protections afforded by the 1st Amendment, and her sense of righteous indignation would be understood, accepted and, if necessary, forgiven. She does claim, after all, to be an “in-your-face comedian.” But she took the tenuous nature of celebrity for granted and exposed herself to a classic “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” moment. 

The point here is not to discount the years Griffin has worked to survive in an industry slanted against age, minorities, and women. But Griffin’s post guillotine pleading has been a monumental failure in terms of accepting responsibility for making a dumb move. Anything she did accept was drowned out by her crybaby tone. Even if the President is out to get her, if the death threats she’s receiving are coming fast and furiously, she still should’ve taken time to consider ways to address those challenges that don’t involve grabbing her bullhorn to blame-splain.

Coping skills are a character thing: there’s no getting around it. And speaking of legacies…

Coming Soon: 
Bill Maher, You’ve Become Disoriented, Entitled, and Catty, plus You Look Embalmed. Time to Quit?