Alex Blaze

Kathy Griffin, LGBT advocate extraordinaire

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 20, 2010 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement

Remember how HRC wants Kathy Griffin to be the face of the movement? kathy-griffin.jpgWell, who would have seen any problem with putting a straight woman who's built an entire career off insulting others because she's constitutionally incapable of going five minutes without making one of her four or five sex jokes in charge of our image? I mean, no one could have seen something like this coming:

In case you missed it, on this week's "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," the mouthy reality star was being quizzed about her political knowledge by CNN's smug marrieds John King and Dana Bash.

"Who is that guy," King asked Kathy as he held up a photo of Brown.

"Scott Brown, who is a senator from Massachusetts and has two daughters that are prostitutes," Griffin said proudly as King, a Dorchester homey, appeared horrified and his wife laughed.

At that point, the TV screen froze and Griffin narrated the following onscreen scroll: "And now a brief message from Bravo's Legal Team: Scott Brown's daughters ARE NOT prostitutes. We now return you to our regularly scheduled negativity."

That's funny because...?

And of course no one would have thought this could happen:

At HRC's Rhode Island Avenue NW headquarters, Griffin is run through talking points on the DADT debate. Every time she tries to crack a joke, her Washington handlers pretend to glower at her. Accompanied by HRC head Joe Solmonese to Frank's office, Griffin tells the congressman that "I need [DADT] to be repealed by Thursday, because I'm leaving Friday" and if it's not, "that's a bitter pill to swallow."

"My guess, Kathy, is it's not the only pill you've swallowed this week," the Massachusetts congressman replies. The air in the room goes staler than normal.

"It's obvious I'm bombing [with Frank]," Griffin says later. "He doesn't know when 'American Idol' is on? He doesn't care about Liza Minnelli? How is this guy even gay?"

In the car, Griffin tells a Roll Call columnist that she's on her way to "meet with a big queen named James Clyburn." The next day, when Roll Call comes out, the dourpusses at HRC are none too pleased with that quote and ask her to call Clyburn's office and apologize.

It's all theater and the episode pokes along, proving once again the dreary effects that Washington can have on reality TV. Moreover, Griffin's constant jokes about her ardent fan base, "the gays" (as she calls them), start to wear thin. She thinks references to Cher, Liza, bathhouse sex and lesbian golf are still hilarious and fresh. (And why wouldn't she? Everywhere she goes, it seems there are gays and lesbians ready to cackle at her routines.)

This is just embarrassing. I don't know what HRC sees in Kathy Griffin - however much their staffers or board may like her, she's just not cut out for this kind of work. She's not invested in the policy, much less understand it, and she doesn't seem to get the politics much either (who cares if she's "bombing" with Barney Frank? Does anyone believe he'd vote against DADT repeal?).

Anyway, Frank took this moment to scold her about the comment about Scott Brown's daughters:

And while I don't usually feel compelled to comment on what various entertainers do, since you did include me in that show I wanted to make it very clear that I thought what you did was wholly unfair and inappropriate. It's the kind of thing that makes it less likely that I or others can cooperate with you in the future.

I think a grown adult who needs that explained to her repeatedly shouldn't be put in charge of DADT lobbying, and, by extension, made an important voice on other LGBT issues in Congress and in the media.

There's something with the gays and wanting to have a famous straight face smile upon them. As much as I'd like to see that aspect of community media and advocacy gone, could someone meet me half-way here and just get rid of Kathy Griffin? Even I'm offended by her fag joke routine.

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Well, let's face it there is a reason this woman is on the D-list. She is using the material used by the Divine MS. M who also did bathhouse humour of course she was performing in bathhouses at the time.
Not a person I enjoy listening to I guess. I don't see her as a ally just as an opportunist looking for material and boy does she need material her joke is really getting old, wish that she would learn another one.

Renee Thomas | July 20, 2010 3:29 PM

Memo to: HRC-DC

From: The Grownups

What is this a bad joke? This is serious shit, profoundly effecting people’s lives and those they love and you're making lame jokes? What the hell is wrong with you people?

Grow the hell up - we've got too damn much riding on this for you so-called leaders to fail to grasp the urgency of the hour and not act accordingly. Focus on the message and for
christsake use your heads when you cast about for an effective messenger.

Daaamn, I can't believe you people need to be schooled in this!

SkepticalCidada | July 20, 2010 5:01 PM

Alex, you should have linked to or at least attributed the long middle quotation to its author, Hank Steuver of the Washington Post, whose piece--as is often the case with his pieces--was oozing with pretentious derision, an aspect of the LGBT community that *I'd* prefer to see gone.

We get that you don't care for Griffin's humor. That's too bad. Many of us do. Your critique was little more than a subjective whine. Hysterical hyperbole about putting Griffin in charge of the movement isn't an actual argument.

Of course you were as irresponsible as others who have been failed to acknowledge that the Scott Brown joke was an allusion to his creepy offering of his (adult) daughters to men during his acceptance speech in January. Plenty of us who immediately got that connection thought it was funny--and fair game.

I've never bothered to watch her myself. But on her using our rights for a few strained giggles?

Still my favorite comment on the issue:

" Solmonese, for example, should have apologized for the ( Kathy ) Griffin rally—it was a sorry exercise in star-fuckery that had no place in the serious debate over Don't Ask, Don't Tell." — Washington Blade Editor Kevin Naff in an April 23 commentary."

SkepticalCicada is a Kathy Griffin fan? What a surprise.

I don't know how you're getting from "available" to "prostitute," and honestly I wouldn't have much of a problem if they were prostitutes. But, um, that's not really a great way to influence people.

But why am I arguing this one? Yeah, I think I'll go to lunch now, and I'll call the sandwich guy a cock-sucker if he doesn't hand me my sammich quickly enough. The world according to SkepticalCicada.

Terms of Service violation by Alex Blaze. How is your nasty remark to the poster above NOT a violation of the Terms of Service? It is nothing but a personal attack.

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

What surprises me just a bit is how long it seems to have taken for so many to see how "off the rails" Ms. Griffin's sensibilities are. I used to watch her often on cable and it became clear fairly quickly how much of her material is inappropriate. Needless to say, it didn't take me long to find other programming. My thought at the time? Isn't it time for there to be an "E List"?

As briefly as I can state it, our message and it's serious and important nature loses it's effect when the one delivering the message becomes the focus for the wrong reason(s).

Oh ... and because Scott Brown jests, like many other fathers, that he'd love to see his daughters find suitors does not make his children, or any other politicians children (regardless of age) fair game to be slurred. As a corollary, imagine a gay couple's child taking "slings and arrows" because someone disapproves of us, something we do, or something we say. It does happen and we don't like it much! I had thought most of us got that by now but I guess not.

I have no problem with edgy humor, but there is a time and place. Lobbying on behalf of servicemembers who can't speak for themselves due to DADT is not the place for this kind of humor.

I was appalled when when I saw this episode.

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Ron weaver | July 21, 2010 2:07 AM

What a bunch of self important suits the HRC has become. Kathy has done more for gays being accepted as human beings than the HRC or Mr Frank ever will. Helloooo! We are talking the common gay here not you self important slimes.

You do realize that this story is "HRC + Kathy Griffin against Barney Frank," right? Your knee-jerk HRC hate doesn't apply here. You need a more refined version.

I think Kathy Griffin now knows she was in way over her head. We have a problem with enabling well meaning celebrities.

I've been accused of having a beef with celebrities or some non-sense. I don't...I actually like Kathy Griffin and many other celebrities very much. I watch her every week. But this tactic of trying to use celebrities as our megaphone is stupid...especially when they're straight.

There's a reason why Ellen's jokes work. Because she's gay, and she knows what types of things anti-gay people could twist and use against us. I tell inappropriate gay jokes to my friends that I would never tell around people who aren't my friends...that I wouldn't even say here on bilerico. The audience matters.

I'm not angry with Kathy Griffin anymore than I am with any other person who doesn't seem to realize that if this activism and lobbying stuff was easy, we would've repealed DADT by now. It has not been for lack of trying.

This is yet another wonderful reason why our friends at HRC shouldn't "represent" the LGBTQ communities... they have no idea what's going on.

The issue at hand is our civil rights, not some ratings ploy for this years sweeps.

Kathy Griffin's humor can be funny in short amounts, but it has the ability to spread ignorance quickly.

HRC is trying to make light of our struggle for equality... isn't that nice? Let's just explain to the thousands of LGBTQ Americans that have already been dishonorably discharged by the unfair policy that we call DADT.

HRC's conversation with a recently dishonorably discharged LGBTQ Veteran:
"We know that your life was pretty much ruined as a result of this legislation, but you don't mind if we put a comedian up to bat for you, right? K, thanks! Oh yeah! Want to buy a ticket to the gala dinner?"

While jumping, Ms. Griffin should be careful not to catch her Prada heel on that shark fin.

Wendell Cochran | July 21, 2010 3:50 PM

From the heart land of America, specifically Oklahoma: Kathy Griffin is a non sequiter as an effective, meaningful spokesperson for gay equality rights and issues. Some on the HRC board must have an unnatural facination for her broad and bawdy style of irrelivant performance materials. I can't seem to find the courage to call it humor, unless one is amused by shockingly smutty remarks that invoke embarassed titters in a certain class of people rather than gut wrenching laughter. Sorry to say, Ms. Griffin is much to full of own self-importance to be a convincing spokesperson for the magnitude of the issues affecting gay rights and gay lives in today's political climate. I wish she would crawl back to her own little world and try to discover that most gay men and woman out grew their appreciation for potty humor about the same time they exited the turmoils of puberty. If she thinks that calling a man's daughters prostitutes is genuinely comedic, I've got a whole bunch of similarlly nasty names I could call her that would make her squall with laughter. But why should I waste my time on a person who is not now nor will ever be a viewed as a serious spokesperson for gay causes anywhere beyond her status as a one-joke character rather than a three deminsional human being. While she panders to her faithful gay followers, she alienates the greater majority of society who supports us for the right reasons. Kathy Griffin -- vital HRC causes? In deed! Huh!

hahahachu | July 22, 2010 1:51 PM

i'm a fan of the show though i don't watch it religiously. while i haven't seen the episode i can tell you what i think of it from the description given. The whole (meta) premise(?) of the show is how kathy griffin must become the ultimate opportunist time and time again to remain on and move up the fame ladder, or whatever. I try to see it as what it is, a comedy show. Every episode she gets into uncomfortable situations and must make a joke out of it. The washington episode has been a long time coming. i agree her gay jokes are stale (like liza minelli stale, seriously?), however the TRUE joke is that she's saying them to the wrong person, at the wrong time. And honestly gays, how is that even a surprise to yous that THE HRfuckingC would waste time, money and resources (did i mention money?) on misguided campaign strategies (e.g., Advocate Mag, LOGO network, kathygriffin, other corporate rendezvous(e.g., pridefests, HRC shopping guide pamphlet, etc))? ISn't the ultimate joke the fact that HRC, the queer kid who wants to be down with the big (straight) dogs on capitol hill, has an eerie parrallel to a desperate hollywood D-list performer?

I felt compelled to mention that on Facebook today, my little recommendation box on the right told me that I should "Like" HRC. The justification? "Many who like Kathy Griffin like this."


K. Griffin & some of her (gay & other) humor may not be everybody's cup of tea; it is a certainty though that she has done more for GLs than anyone out of that sorry parade of humorless prof. queer busybodies on display in said episode, incl. Barney Pompous

The gay/les community has monumental issues that need serious representation. Would you want her as a gay rights advocate if you had a child with leukemia who desperately needed your life partner's insurance? Griffin's humor is about stressing gays as self involved shallow preeners, and lesbians as simply good for building stage sets. That's her public take on glbt. How can we expect serious liberals to prioritize our issues if we send the message that a tactless alienating self serving comic is our choice for our voice? And rest assured, any political stomping she does will have little to do with issues and everything to do with acting out for ratings.