Uh oh, Patton Oswalt made Twitter mad again. This time by tweeting about rape in a way that angry, so-called "male rights activists" -- many of whom follow Oswalt -- could hopefully understand:
Fellow nerds: y'know how mad we get when jocks confuse Marvel & DC? Women feel that way when men confuse rape with sex (x1000) #excelsior
While it was favorite and retweeted by thousands, many took issue:
@pattonoswalt i think i understand what you're going for but if you don't get why this is a terrible thing to say you should probably logoff
— Reuben Poling (@liesandperfidy) May 30, 2014
.@pattonoswalt you're still garbage, I see
— Sam Knight (@samknight1) May 30, 2014
Guys, come on, youre acting like its patton oswalt's job to come up with clever and ethically responsible jokes about social issues
— the hurt walker (@WalkerBristol) May 31, 2014
patton oswalt: the holocaust was like when Firefly got canceled *pauses to consult actuarial tables of utilitarian suffering* but like x1000
— TORMNIABLY PIACKEELS (@Tormny_Pickeals) May 31, 2014
Oswalt, who has thrown his support behind the #YesAllWomen trend since it began in the wake of last week's mass killing, has routinely shaken the hornet's nest that is Twitter over the last year, often in regards to the ongoing to debate about misogyny and rape culture. Routinely winning and losing followers on both sides of the issue, he has become a touchstone for how we talk about how we want our comics to talk.
One thing social media has brought into bold relief lately is the large number of angry, young men who follow comedians like Oswalt, Daniel Tosh and even Stephen Colbert, who have no qualms about sending out hateful messages to women on twitter, often in defense of the aforementioned comedian.
This was no more evident than in the days following the great rape joke debate of 2013 between Lindy West and Jim Norton on "Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell." After the even-handed and thoughtful conversation broadcast, West's twitter account was inundated with death threats, rape threats and all manner of disgusting comments, which she responded to here.
Jim Norton made it clear on a subsequent episode of Opie & Anthony that this was not what he wanted. Similarly, in the wake of the #CancelColbert scandal, Stephen Colbert made an appeal to his fans to stop attacking Suey Park:
"Now all of this was started by a hashtag activist, or hashtivist, who has been viciously attacked on twitter and if anyone is doing that for me, I want you to stop right now. She's just speaking her mind and that's what twitter is for..."
But these incidents and the many others like them, the response to Daniel Tosh's rape joke incident is another good example, point to a problem that is difficult to address. Is a comedian responsible for the hateful speech that is spewed online by their fans in their defense? How do they respond to those fans who seem unable to react to ideas, as Norton asked, rather than verbally attack individual women?
Oswalt's latest twitterversy seems to be an attempt at a solution; to try to level with his more difficult fans and put things in cheeky, yet apt context. Here's his three-part explanation after twitter went into overdrive over the DC/Marvel tweet:
(1 of 3) Wow. The Marvel/DC rape tweet. Everyone, please...
(2 of 3) I was trying to speak directly to all of the MRA dolts in my feed and all their disgusting reactions to #YesAllWomen.
(3 of 3) That ANY of you took it for a joke is beyond me. There is NO comparison between rape & any MRA concerns. THAT WAS MY POINT.
What do you think of Oswalt's initial tweet and the response to it? If he'd said it on stage and not twitter would it be any different? Do you think comedians need to begin addressing their more troubling fans or is that not their problem?