Baby Cobra

baby cobra

This post is not about a movie, it’s about a Netflix special. But I’ve done TV shows before, so I feel like almost any viewing experience is fair game because art! So.

This special, two of my really good friends whom I respect and love, RAVED about. Both, (independently of one another) said it was the best special they’d seen in a long time, and one is a huge feminist and one is my boyfriend so I trust their opinions a lot! So I was really excited to see the special. I even told other people about the special who asked what comedy they should check out. I was excited about the special!! First, I was really excited because the comedian (Ali Wong) was 7 1/2 months pregnant during filming. So she’s REALLY pregnant. And that’s cool as fuck. I’ve never seen a pregnant lady do a special, or probably stand up in general if I’m thinking about it. Representation! Women! Cool.

My roommate and I sit down with our glasses for our eyes and our glasses for our water and we are ready, and we turn this baby on. And it is so good!! For about 12 minutes. Then, she (Ali) starts talking about Feminism. And her ideas about love, and gender stuff. And WOW did I hate it. Some of the jokes are: “I hate feminism! I just want to be a housewife! Things were good before then because we tricked men into thinking we’re stupid so we didn’t have to work and wasn’t that great when we could watch TV and eat skittles all day?” and “I trapped my husband into marrying me! I had to trap his ass!” and “If you are married you have to try anal eventually to keep it interesting so the other person doesn’t cheat on you! A new hole feels like a new person!” Ok. So first of all, after about 30 min of this, I texted my friend and I was like, “I’m having trouble with this special” and she said, “Is it the feminism stuff?” and I said, “Why, yes.” So she told me to watch it until the end, because that affected her judgement of the whole thing. So I did, which was lots more jokes about the same things because Mrs. Wong kind of locked in and wouldn’t let these things go. Then, at the end, after explaining that she HAD to trap her husband because he’s a rich Harvard lawyerdoctor the TWIST at the end is that after getting married she found out he was 70,000 dollars in debt, which she paid off, and then she goes, “So he trapped my ass!!!” ………………………………………………………………………………..So, the TWIST is that if you view love as an exchange, that’s what it will be reduced to? I didn’t get it. After talking to both of them (boyfriend and friend), their point of view is that she’s being sarcastic the whole time! And isn’t that funny!

First of all, I believe that she’s being sarcastic about some of it, but not all of it. I think she probably does think you have to spice up marital sex so someone doesn’t cheat, which to me is a false premise because open relationships, and polyamory, etc. (That false dichotomy thing she does a million times because you can also be a feminist housewife!!!!! They’re not mutually exclusive!!!! But ok) but like, even to the stuff she doesn’t believe and IS being sarcastic- what’s the joke there? That some people believe that? There’s no joke. At best it’s lazy uninteresting joke-writing (you’re just regurgitating shitty views people have because they’re shitty? To make fun of them?) and at worst it’s damaging. Because maybe in Seattle (where it’s filmed), the audience was thinking “Wow what searing social commentary!” but probably the majority of Netflix audiences aren’t. It’s just a lot of people laughing because they hate women. Which seems extreme but that’s the basis for all that shit. Women who are threatened by other women so they create fake categories to devalue them by, men who are threatened by women so they can’t view them as whole people and reduce them to tired tropes, corporations and government who are trying to keep systems of power structures exclusive and financially profit off that exclusion, etc. etc. etc.

Every idea that she was supposedly lampooning as “satire” she just vaulted into a sphere of more acceptance. A smart lady saying she wants to destroy her husband’s self esteem so she can control him isn’t satirical if that’s what the cultural narrative of women is, which it is. Getting a roomful of people to laugh at things most people already believe isn’t difficult. #relatable!! #pumpkinspice

There were some funny parts to me, I wasn’t just grumping in the corner with my arms folded the whole time. She talked about how asian women don’t die, she talked about fucking a homeless dude, she talked about how female comedians never have babies (YES ALI PLZ KEEP GOING ALI) and all these things were very funny and great. But the majority of the topics she decided to cover (marriage and love, feminism, shitting at work) did not resonate with me, because I felt the premises were flawed and the ideas were harmful and unoriginal. Does she seem like a cool, funny, beautiful person? Yes. Did I hate this special to the depths of my core? Yes.

One out of three full diva cups, will never masturbate again.

 

 

 

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3 Responses to Baby Cobra

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is honestly one of the more perfect stand-up routines I’ve seen. I watched it a week ago and I cannot stop thinking about it. I admit that I too struggled through the first half of the set, but ultimately found her use of irony to be effective. It is super important to note that what Wong is offering is a performance, as opposed to a personal diatribe against feminism, and that it oughtn’t to be read as adherent to the artist’s biography or personal belief system.

    I would disagree with the notion that Wong is complicit within any social narrative for women, and I view her initial statements against feminism as a sort of over-conformation as a means of social critique. Moreover, she subverts the social narrative in her closing joke (negating any irony) with the statement that she’s paid off her husband’s loans “with her hard-earned tv money,” and that it was in fact he who has “trapped” her – which is clearly a gross oversimplification of a complex situation – and also very funny.

    While she is operating from a heteronormative position, Wong is addressing issues which pertain to women in a broader context, and her performance contributes a great deal in the way of normalizing (/destigmatizing) pregnancy. A decent article on the topic can be found here: http://www.vulture.com/2016/05/ali-wongs-powerful-pregnancy-joke-in-baby-cobra.html

    What I find really troubling in this situation is popular feminism’s impulse to criticize any person producing work which contributes to a feminist discourse for their inability to adequately address all of the issues encountered by women. This impulse is detrimental to the very project of feminism, and it detracts from the positive contributions of the work. The major topics addressed in Baby Cobra (marriage, love, pregnancy) don’t always integrate well with a feminist discourse, but that is exactly why it is so crucial to address them (but also pregnancy is rarely talked about in any meaningful way to begin with). Ali Wong is promoting a perspective that is too often marginalized (within both a feminist as well as a more general context) and it is perhaps for this reason that her special has been so pivotal for me.

    As a side note – I’m pretty sure that Netflix caters to a fairly specific demographic – which is maybe why the special was released there and not a larger platform. Point being, I think its important to credit the viewer’s of the special with enough common sense to understand that what is being performed to them is satire.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wish I was dead.

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