Someone Should Tell Clint Eastwood and His Internet Toadies That the “Hoodoo” is Here to Stay
I spend a few moments outside of the craziness of my days as full-time mother and part-time writer engaging with people online. More specifically, I write jokes.
Sometimes I take on the role as faux proselytizer and ride-or-die cat lady, other times wine-o extraordinaire and well-mannered malcontent — the fact that I mention Dungeons & Dragons in my bio would give anyone a clue that I’m here for laughs. And also cat gifs. And yes, it’s mostly laughs, or laughs followed by top-rate conversation followed by laughs; the community is full of brilliant professional comedians, armchair comedians and myriad combinations of those who followed them in. We disagree, debate, fake fight, use potty language and enjoy the connection, mostly.
And then, on rare occasion, I hit a nerve.
Sometimes I know it will happen — like when I hit out at rape culture deniers with an indisputable photo. But most times the vitriol is an unexpected tsunami, one that strangely causes (mostly) men to reach out from behind that glorious cloak of cartoon avi’d or ‘Father, Son, God, Patriot’ online anonymity in hopes of doing nothing less than seeing to my destruction. Everything from calling for my rape and murder (“use those sheets to hang yourself”), to telling me my womb is hollow (after three kids it fucking better be), to, gasp, “you like cats so I bet your apartment smells like piss,” and many other nanny nanny poo poos — a list too long to include here.
So, on August 4th, when Clint Eastwood - yesteryear’s chiseled cowboy -announced himself as today’s shriveled racist/misogynist-in-denial, the goons readied for attack. His comments prompted most proper news outlets and humans capable of feeling to scratch their heads, while conservative firestarters like Breitbart and Sarah Palin quickly ran to his defense. Not only did he, an old white man, tell the country to get over racism, but he also invoked the word ‘pussy’ to label an entire generation. Part of me wanted to take it as a compliment although I knew it wasn’t intended that way. A verbal invocation of female genitalia from the mouths of aging, American men generally means attack.
So in between lunch and teaching my kids about the Norman Conquests, I did this:
Fighting fire with fire is, of course, not the best way to engage in conversation, but within the framework of 140 satirical characters, it’s usually a solid way to hit the target.
And then this happened:
There were others, many others.
I retweeted and responded to most without taking the bait, thanking them for being so helpful - “yes, I’d love to watch some of the YouTube makeup tutorials you recommended so I can fix my terrible face!”
The guy who direct-messaged me to “die” luckily did not get his wish.
The next day my friend, Wayne Gladstone, asked what all the fireworks were about. “Not sure,” I said, “Either it’s Trump Viagra or people really love Clint Eastwood. Either way, a totally disproportionate response.” He agreed. Our mutual friend and social experiment aficionado, Maura Quint, took down a few trolls for me — encouraging me, as ever, to test and fight back (her expose on The Fat Jew is the stuff of legend.) After a brief exchange, Gladstone posted the offending tweet, my tweet, as his own. After six hours of exposure there was a whole lot of…
A few angry fuck yous were outnumbered by tweets complimenting him on his word usage and sarcasm — the same words and sarcasm I was disparaged for, abused for. I’d like to say that this was an isolated incident, but I’ve seen it happen time-and-time again to women tweeters. We’ve all seen it. And, if you needed solid evidence, the results of a recent study at The Guardian show that women and people of color are given far less respect for the same words, sarcasm and opinions. In short, the same article, or tweet, is far more acceptable coming from the mouth of a cis white male.
And I’m not asking for a Baby On Board sign to shield me from the internet’s aggressive drivers. I expect, even welcome, a bit of verbal rumble-tumble — but there’s a difference between passionate, angry discussion and an ad hominem gutting.
The fact that I called out Clint Eastwood for turning a blind eye to the gender and race segregation of his youth and its legacy does not mean I smell of piss or have a barren womb or eat shit or deserve to be murdered or am a liberal or a Clinton supporter. All of these things may be true, but really I’m the only one whose voice or written word make them real. Clint Eastwood, in denying racism, aligned himself with the likes of Holocaust deniers and all the other deniers of things that happened and happened hard. If they aren’t screaming for unadulterated ridicule, I daresay nothing is.
In the end, for the online trolls and faux-news agencies, this isn’t really about defending Clint Eastwood. It’s about anger toward that “pussy” generation — a generation of empowered women and empowered people of color who will no longer stand down; a generation of white men who will not carry the fraternal torch of hate.
I hope you all make sure the “hoodoo” is here to stay.