Bill Burr Riffs on Homophobia and Masculine Stereotypes (NSFW/Offensive Language)

Comedian Bill Burr addresses homophobia and how it is used to enforce gender stereotypes and ostracize those who don’t conform to them. Warning: Burr uses the homophobic slur “fag” in this bit. Obviously NSFW. Also not safe for the irony-impaired.

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  • Jin The Ninja

    “Comedian Bill Burr addresses homophobia and how it is used to enforce
    gender stereotypes and ostracize those who don’t conform to them.”

    firstly, isn’t a prerequisite of being a ‘comedian’ being funny? he isn’t. at all.

    secondly, he didn’t discuss ANYTHING. just another str8 dude saying ‘fag’ thinking it’s ironic. it wasn’t. it had NOTHING to do with gender roles, sexuality or stereotypes, except perpetuate them. particularly those of women and queer people. what i find offensive isn’t his comedy persay, it was the written introduction. what was written was complete mis-information, totally mis-contextualised from the actual audio.

    very poor taste in my opinion.

    • Ninja the Gin

      Why are you so mad?

      • Jin The Ninja

        come off guest and see.

    • http://www.sacredgeometryinternational.com/ Camron Wiltshire

      I laughed my ass off personally.

      • Jin The Ninja

        no doubt.

    • Matt Staggs

      I think the message of the bit is that homophobia – particularly in the context that homosexuality is wrongly conflated with being “feminine” or “sensitive” AND that all of these are similarly considered “weak” and thus undesirable for “regular” men – hurts everyone. By being so afraid to be considered gay (again considered by homophobes as weakness, just like femininity) men are forced into (a) roles that perpetuate the same homophobia; and (b) decisions that aren’t good for them and don’t make them happy.

      As a straight guy who grew up around people just like this, I can attest that this is exactly the way this is used, and it *is* a prison that can make you sick, miserable, repressed and angry, as well as utterly homophobic if you don’t have any other experiences to judge by, not to mention intolerant of “weakness” or traditionally “feminine” ideals or behavior. It’s toxic.

      This is my experience, but I wouldn’t try to walk in your shoes or pretend to understand your own experience and how you might or might not relate to this material.

      • Jin The Ninja

        i think perhaps you misunderstand my perspective.
        as a queer and a feminst, my position is already that gender roles, gender identity and sexuality are fluid- but culturally nuanced and socially pre-defined- which is unnatural. to me there is no masculine or feminine. but of course in a real world context i understand (of course) how feminine/homophobic language is used to infer weakness. i wrote my comment with my understanding of that implied (if i didn’t convey it properly i apologise).

        so i,of course, fully agree with your points; however but i didn’t hear that in the audio. i heard mis-used irony- and multiple digs at women. that doesn’t break stereotype or gender roles, just re-affirms it.

        comedy can be interesting in that it provokes discussion, deals with taboo, contains social critique etc (see Bill Hicks), but it lacks any substance if it hides beneath a veneer of social critique while actually utilising positions/language of power and domination to co-opt, misguide and entreat laughter without pause.

        if i did a comedy skit about southerners being backwards hicks but was introduced beforehand as ‘comedically breaking that stereotype,’ all the while not being a southerner myself- i doubt you’d enjoy that.

        my issue is with the introduction. not really with the video.

        • Matt Staggs

          I acknowledge your position and respect it, and genuinely appreciate that you took the time to share it with me. While I can’t say I agree with everything you’ve said, it’s good to have a pleasant and civil exchange of ideas. I’ll mull over what you’ve said.

          • Jin The Ninja

            likewise.

        • http://tycio.livejournal.com/ Ty

          >as a queer and a feminst, my position is already that gender roles, gender identity and sexuality are fluid- but culturally nuanced and socially pre-defined

          It occurs to me that there may be people who identify as either feminist or queer who hold different viewpoints. Such as sexuality not being fluid (the whole ‘you’re born straight/gay’ stance) or gender identity not being fluid (the whole ‘you’re born with a man/woman mind’ stance, common among both cis and trans folk).

          As such, I do not agree with your representing such viewpoints as inherent of either queers or feminists. Nor the implication that this is somehow there territory, as there are others (who neither identify as feminist or queer) who can share your opinions on those matters.

          • Jin The Ninja

            you are welcome to disagree; however, many radical queers and feminists do share my worldview and opinions. i use the terms: queer, feminist, radical, anarchist almost interchangeably. there are obvious differences, but they all intersect (intersectionality), draw from each other, and inform each other. this is the reason i refuse the ‘gay’ label. it de-politicised.

            i am less interested in a debate about subjectivity vs objectivity or experience vs information- i am interested though in identity, and how that identity shapes and forms our personal and social experiences. being queer or glbtq is one layer of experience and identity- a lens to which we view society and is used to view us, it is a modifier, not a static definition. while you may hold similar views, it holds a different context.

          • Rhoid Rager

            You’ve probably encountered Jamie Heckert’s work already then? Fascinating guy. I’ve never met him, but just had a couple of online conversations with him. He strikes me as a very centered individual, spiritually speaking.

            This is his latest dig, as posted on the Anarchist Academics mailing list:

            Erotic Anarchy

            Jamie Heckert

            22nd September, 7-9pm.

            Bluestockings Bookstore, NYC

            19th October, 11am-12

            Anarchist Bookfair, London

            The erotic is a profound awareness of being alive, a deep
            source of power. Anarchy is the experience of relating directly, freely,
            as equals. Welcoming the erotic into anarchism has the ability to
            transform social movements. Inviting anarchy into eroticism changes our
            most intimate relationships. This talk is an invitation to open up to
            the power of erotic anarchy as an ongoing exploration of our
            relationships with ourselves, each other, the Earth and existence
            itself.
            Jamie Heckert is author of the IAS Lexicon pamphlet Gender,
            co-editor of Anarchism & Sexuality: Ethics, Relationships and Power
            and contributor to numerous other publications including Fifth Estate,
            Queering Anarchism and Understanding Non-Monogamies. Jamie also teaches
            yoga, listens, organises and invites the impossible.

          • Jin The Ninja

            the name is familiar, but the work isn’t. however, it sounds very interesting- and i will definitely read further. thanks for the recommendation!

        • Will Yam

          Just stop. Your going the wrong way. It’s not intelligence, it’s ego that drives you.

          • Jin The Ninja

            i never asserted intelligence, i simply stated my opinion.
            while opinions are in fact an assertion of the ego- they also are prominent in discourse. to reconcile difference of opinion- is to diminish the role of ego. this is something you should work towards.

          • Will Yam

            Simply? bahaha. Your writing isn’t simple, it is pretentious nonsense that impresses the simple minded. But that’s my opinion. Like I said in a previous post to you above, but seems it wasn’t posted for some silly reason — opinions are like assholes , everyone has one… yours just stinks.

            The man is funny. If you cannot understand that, then it shows how uptight you are. I think, what happened to this person that they cannot laugh at this great comedian, that they go out of their way to say he isn’t funny. And the way you dd it. Good God, get a good grip.

            He made millions because he is just that: funny, because he can address the taboo issues that are on everyone’s mind but no dares talk about. . . while making millions laugh. One of the best comedians alive today. You? Well, you just don’t get it.

            Now let loose those pretentious words.

            You know what? Don’t. It’s boring and cringe-worthy. Work on that. It’s not about showing off, it’s about communicating in a simple way. But again, that’s just my opinion.

          • Rhoid Rager

            Quite the fragile one, aren’t you? I would normally be saddened when I see that someone doesn’t make an effort to at least try to understand another’s minority, dissenting opinion on a complex issue like sexual identity; but for you I just feel pity, because the only critique you can muster is a blustery way of saying that you can’t understand it.

          • Jin The Ninja

            if you’re a child under 10 or a case of mental retardation- i will consider using ‘plain english’ to communicate.

          • Calypso_1

            nonassertive intelligence to the hilt

      • http://www.sacredgeometryinternational.com/ Camron Wiltshire

        Thank you Matt for sharing your experience, I feel like such a fag saying that btw… (yes Jin I am kidding) Laughter is good medicine, turn the self-important-a-meter down two notches, watch it again and laugh with us.

        • Jin The Ninja

          a str8 guy saying ‘fag’ in a public forum, no matter the meaning is not funny, ironic or clever.

          you can do whatever you want, but no self-aware queer person will ever accept that mode of behaviour as benign.

      • Jin The Ninja

        i just wanted to add this as something to think about (or not, whatever): when the suicide rate for queer youth is something like 14-20% higher than the highest rate for heterosexual people in any group- i have a very difficult time finding the word, ‘fag’ used (or mis-used) ‘ironically’ funny.

        ‘fag’ as a word can be used intimately among queer people, among their close (str8) friends, but i really do not find others’ use of it especially publically- something so deeply and widely mis-used and abused, funny either.

        • Matt Staggs

          No one would deny that. I consider myself an ally, and part of my journey toward that was being called “fag” over and over and over for not fitting in. I’ve talked a lot about in in a few episodes of the podcast. One of the realizations I had in my life was is if it made me feel like jumping off a bridge, then LGBTQ youth must have it much worse.

          See the thing is that Burr’s friends weren’t using it ironically, and neither were my “friends”. It was meant as a hurtful insult; the worst thing that you could possibly call someone. It perpetuated the homophobic culture and made everyone miserable. Hell, just a couple of years ago a truckload of rednecks rolled by and called me a “fag” for apparently doing nothing more than standing on the sidewalk and talking on a phone. It’s terrible. As a non-homophobic straight man well acquainted with ignorance, I thought they were pathetic little hate-filled cretins, but as a teenage kid it would have destroyed me.

          When I hear him joke about dropping dead in his fifties having never enjoyed anything for fear of being called a “fag”then I think that I get where he’s coming from, because I lived it as a kid, and I hope that others get the message.

          • Jin The Ninja

            i understand burrs’ persepctive, but i think the comedic, discursive aspect was lost in translation- at least for me.

          • Matt Staggs

            Interesting conversation it’s provoked, though. Glad we were both able to share some of our perspectives. I love the opportunity to learn.

        • http://tycio.livejournal.com/ Ty

          >when the suicide rate for queer youth is something like 14-20% higher than the highest rate for heterosexual people in any group- i have a very difficult time finding the word, ‘fag’ used (or mis-used) ‘ironically’ funny.

          With the suicide rate of men being so much higher than women (I think to a greater degree than that of homosexual over heterosexual), does that mean misandric humor should similarly be off-limits for irony?

          I dislike that you prohibit the potentially affectionate use of terms like fag or gay to only that of “close friends”. Language should be open to everyone.

          • Jin The Ninja

            language that is used to dominate, dis-empower, and disenfranchise is certainly open to use by those who benefit from it or indeed anyone who desires to engage in domination, oppression or disenfranchisement.

        • Andrew

          Doesn’t “str8″ imply a male who’s in denial of their bisexuality or homosexuality?

          • Jin The Ninja

            maybe in some subversive connotation, but i’ve never heard it used like that. i just it use it as short form like hetero.

          • Matt Staggs

            Speaking of repressed homosexuality, you should really go check out the circus happening here in the comments section. You’ll see what I mean. :) https://disinfo.com/2013/09/mma-fighter-with-down-syndrome-garrett-holeve-wants-to-get-into-the-ring/#comment-1048474434

          • Jin The Ninja

            lol! i swear i didn’t mean it that way!

            i have been casually reading the posts on that thread from people i follow on disqus (you and a few others), but i will give it a look.

      • http://tycio.livejournal.com/ Ty

        >afraid to be considered gay (again considered by homophobes as weakness, just like femininity)

        I do not agree that being homophobic (afraid of those with homosexual erotic behaviours or preferences) means that someone perceives being gay as being weak.

        I could be homophobic in regard to fears of prison rape, for example, while viewing a prison rapist as a strong individual.

    • http://tycio.livejournal.com/ Ty

      >isn’t a prerequisite of being a ‘comedian’ being funny?

      Nope I think it just requires trying to be funny. Failing doesn’t mean it’s not your occupation. If a doctor fucks up and kills a patient they’re still a doctor. Possibly not if they lose their license. But I don’t think we license comedians.

      • Jin The Ninja

        ‘i think it requires.’

        it also ‘requires’ viewership, an audience, a public, shared cultural values that can be satirized and easily understood.

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      Note that he did repeatedly hammer home the unhealthy nature of that conduct, and the jealousy it invokes when watching someone unhindered by it, and the general horror at passing it on to another generation. It all drives a worthwhile point that “this might be amusing, I’m making light of it…but its a route to wasted effort, stifled emotions, dissatisfaction and early death.” I can get to that.

    • Will Yam

      He’s very funny. . . to people with sense of humor. He makes people laugh, a lot of people, therefore he is funny. He is worth millions because of this rare skill. But you, you and your ridiculous and pretentious use of vocabulary is cringe-worthy. I shook my head at one of your posts above. And your “opinion” about this great comedian is way off. Yup. that’s my opinion, and as we all know opinions are like assholes — everyone has one. Yours just really, really stinks.

      (Next time, I should use CAP letters to emphasize. But that’s very poor tastes, in my opinion,)

      • Jin The Ninja

        i find apologists without argument pretty pathetic myself.
        if you wanted to state your case: how i was wrong, why i was wrong for example- you should have made one. instead you did not (or could not).
        you should learn when you’re out of your league, out of your depth.

  • Ted Heistman

    I kind of see Jin’s point but I grew up in Cranston Rhode Island with a lot of Italians and Irish.(please don’t kill me for that stereotype. That simply how it was if you weren’t obviously Italian or Jewish or black it was assumed you were Irish.) Its a very similar culture to Boston where Bill Burr comes from. Its just a very macho, Roman Catholic working class culture. We even had school Prayer, and if anyone questioned it they would get their ass kicked.

    So I thought it was funny.

    • Ted Heistman

      This is the where I lived from age 4 to age 15:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/us/rhode-island-city-enraged-over-school-prayer-lawsuit.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      They are just now catching up with the 20th century

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      If it’s any comfort…I’m gay as hell and unapologetic about it, but coming from Irish working folks…he’s speaking the language of my youth and it resonates as funny to me too. I know its bullshit, and unhealthy, and it took years of wrestling with my ‘issues’ to iron out my worldview and self-image…but I can laugh at all that now and say “Oh shit! Yeah…it was just like that! Lawl!”

    • Sean

      I found this pretty funny.
      Oddly, I was called “fag” and every other name back in highschool…despite being a completely straight guy. Highschoolers don’t have much tolerance for people who are remotely stepping outside gender boundaries.

      For me it was art and music. Apparently you can’t like girls and make art/music. As though the only “manly” thing to do is chop wood and not ask for directions.
      I feel sorry for guys who feel they must conform like that.

      I’m physically a man….but my personality is very much 50/50 masculine and feminine. That’s who I am…and I like it. It works well for me. Makes life that much more interesting and diverse.

      AND…..what’s ironic is, once I went to college(and since then) I find it FAR more easy to attract women than buff macho manly man guys. I have a friend who’s 100% man…not an ounce of femininity to his personality…and he is constantly perplexed why girls give me more attention than him. He just doesn’t seem to get that girls aren’t attracted to stereotypes.

      I mean…if you want a perfect example…look at Mick Jagger, circa 1973. He’s the guy every man wants to be and every woman wants to be with. A gender chameleon who is somehow more of a man than your average trucker. Prince is another, albeit much more extreme, example.

      Women like guys who are 100% comfortable AND confident in expressing their feminine side. If you’re “too” masculine, it can easily come across as being too self-conscious.

      But….having said all that, I think it takes ALL kinds to make this world an interesting diverse place. I’m glad there will always be blue-collar rough rowdy “boys will be boys” kind of men in this world. It takes all kinds. That “hyper manly” thing can get a bit absurd….but it’s also kind of charming when you encounter a guy who’s “Y” chromosome is working at maximum. It takes ALL kinds. :)

  • http://tycio.livejournal.com/ Ty

    “fag” is not homophobic. It has a broader usage outside references to homosexuality, and even when used in reference to homosexuals is usually more hateful than fearful in nature.

    • Jin The Ninja

      ‘fag’ is used to denigrate a certain demographic. it certainly is homophobic. among other things.

    • atlanticus

      The use of the word “homophobic” to cover both hateful and fearful stances implies that the hate is stemming from repressed fear. Either fear of one’s own sexuality, or simply fear of “the other”.

  • Andrew

    As someone who was called “fag” (and occasionally beaten up) from 1st grade through 10th (Catholic schools), I found this absolutely hilarious. Hetero privilege, I guess.

    • Jin The Ninja

      i was quite reluctant to raise the issue of ‘privilege’- while an ephemeral concept i do believe holds integrity, i think it is mis-used, mis-applied (even by myself at times). i think the meaning itself is fluid among different groups.

      • Matt Staggs

        And this is exactly the kind of thing that reminds me why I respect you so much, even when I disagree with you.

        • Jin The Ninja

          i do appreciate that.

      • Andrew

        Privilege is a complex and painful issue for a couple of reasons. First, the problem of the rights enjoyed by privileged individuals is not that they enjoy them, but that others don’t. Second, most people are privileged in certain relationships and oppressed in others.

        • Ted Heistman

          yeah, that is a good way to look at it.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I think its an awesome measure of how far we’ve come that, me being gay, I can openly razz the shit out of my straight friends in ‘manliness’ contests. I hear somebody whine when they’re tired and its like carte blanche to go off on a doubly ironic gay rant at them. Ex: “WTF, dude? Seriously? We’ve been working like 5 minutes and already you start the waterworks? Butch it up a little, Mary…I’ve ejaculated in tougher queens than you!!! Move it, man! If this hard work shit is too much for you, I hear theres an opening at the nail salon!! Are you too hot? Need a cool drink? Want me to mix you a Pink Squirrel and get you a barcalounger while the gay guy swings the pick axe alone?”

    And rather than open warfare…thanks to having great friends…work mostly gets delayed by laughing til there’s nearly pee.

    Is it harmful…perhaps in a context other than the great life I’ve got with good friends, yes…but is it distinctly male behavior built on longstanding traditions of competitiveness that I understand even when I might disapprove intellectually…yes as well. And Bill Burr is fairly funny…even to those of us who are happily gay, but emerged from a working class tough guy background with all the hassles that entailed.

    • Ted Heistman

      Good points. I think razzing people, getting razzed, its something people do with equals.

  • DrDavidKelly

    Got to agree with Jin the Ninja – the intro hardly describes what follows. I think we are suppose to find the comedian’s internal thought process funny because it is at odds with the reality of his situation whilst at the same time acknowledging the truths of that kind of attitude in our society. His portrayal of his girlfriend was also a bit wrong … her sent up as the emotive female. Still I chuckled a bit at the idea of an umbrella being ‘gay’ – mostly for the sheer absurdity of it. What could be tougher than gay men? – they fuck men!

  • Guest

    I found this pretty funny.
    Oddly, I was called “fag” and every other name back in highschool…despite being a completely straight guy. Highschoolers don’t have much tolerance for people who are remotely stepping outside gender boundaries.

    For me it was art and music. Apparently you can’t like girls and make art/music. As though the only “manly” thing to do is chop wood and not ask for directions.
    I feel sorry for guys who feel they must conform like that.

    I’m physically a man….but my personality is very much 50/50 masculine and feminine. That’s who I am…and I like it. It works well for me. Makes life that much more interesting and diverse.

    AND…..what’s ironic is, once I went to college(and since then) I find it FAR more easy to attract women than buff macho manly man guys. I have a friend who’s 100% man…not an ounce of femininity to his personality…and he is constantly perplexed why girls give me more attention than him. He just doesn’t seem to get that girls aren’t attracted to stereotypes.

    I mean…if you want a perfect example…look at Mick Jagger, circa 1973. He’s the guy every man wants to be and every woman wants to be with. A gender chameleon who is somehow more of a man than your average trucker. Prince is another, albeit much more extreme, example.

    Women like guys who are 100% comfortable AND confident in expressing their feminine side. If you’re “too” masculine, it can easily come across as being too self-conscious.

    But….having said all that, I think it takes ALL kinds to make this world an interesting diverse place. I’m glad there will always be blue-collar rough rowdy “boys will be boys” kind of men in this world. It takes all kinds. That “hyper manly” thing can get a bit absurd….but it’s also kind of charming when you encounter a guy who’s “Y” chromosome is working at maximum. It takes ALL kinds. :)

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