She was always surprising us, always defying the status quo, always courageous, loud, opinionated and damning. Her movie, The Girl Most Likely, starred Stockard Channing and was the funniest thing I ever saw on TV. A hilarious story of a girl who is mistreated and gets real revenge, instead of being full of forgiveness -- the usual female 'media message' fare.
Joan was constantly praised and then hounded by sexist Hollywood for having an independent point of view and a sense of unmatched female inner power -- no one has ever seen such a fierce woman in any media. She paid the cost to be the boss. Most comics couldn't hold up mentally to the kind of humiliation that Hollywood put Joan Rivers through. She turned it all back on their sexism though, like St. Joan the Conquerer. She kept getting braver and braver.
I must admit when she told fat jokes about Liz Taylor, I didn't like that at all! I didn't want anyone to point out Liz's weight, because I weighed about 220 pounds then. At one point I couldn't help but laugh at one of her fat jokes against my will. She could make you do a spit take! Laughing at what offends us can sometimes make everything feel lighter. After all, it's okay to be fat, and to laugh about it. Fat people fall in love and have sex and love to laugh at fat jokes because it's better to laugh than to cry.
It was better for us that Joan Rivers not only made fun of her own looks, but also the cultural pressure that drove her to worry about her looks in the first place -- which isn't just telling jokes, it's actual layered feminist social critique, of which Joan was a master. Like myself, she launched a lot of writers' careers, none of whom will ever show any gratitude for that fact, but oh, well. The jokes belong to the ages and to those who were lifted by them, not those who go on strike for higher percentages.
I loved her talk show and was honored to be on it after my unfortunate singing accident "19 Something." After being condemned by patriarchy AND President George the Elder Bush, himself, I felt like I had lived through a witch burning. I went on her show and she said: "Don't u think they are just mad at you bc you're a woman? I'm telling you if a man had done what u did, he would be a huge comedic hero and big movie star!"
I often think of Borat's 'reductive' (thanks, Madonna) signing of the National Anthem. How exact and on the money was Ms. Rivers?
As a Jew, I also appreciated Joan's comment that Israel needs good neighbors in order for a Just Peace to actually occur. As a Jewish mother, I also applaud the great job Joan has done in producing a successful producer, Melissa. As a grandmother, I know the great joy she felt when arguing with her daughter (on her reality show) in front of her cherished grandson. What a great service she provided that grandson -- to witness for himself that there is indeed a Higher Power than Mommy on this earth. Along with discount pancakes at IHop, this is indeed one of life's rewards for aging!
I was such a fan! I always will be. I wanted her to beat death's ass down, too, and prayed for that to happen, but she took her last curtain call instead, surprising me one last time.
Rest in peace, Goddess! Thank you on behalf of all comedians working today who know that you always fought the enemies of comedy. I loved it when you walked off of CNN -- which you were right to do, as smug persons are never the correct choice to interview any comedian. You controlled the room always, in the most professional way, too. You leveled the playing ground for all comedians. You'll be missed, but not forgotten. Copied but never matched. Never bested.