In this, the first week after Joan Rivers died, one doesn’t feel charitable at all. How could one?
Joan Rivers’ death is a tragedy so profound that most ordinary people will not understand its significance for at least another 25 years.
An astute observer of human nature, Joan Rivers represented the last of those cuttingly funny characters who, deeply aware that we are all here to play our role on stage for only a season, were willing to poke fun at human foibles and frailty, but who also were willing to make fun of themselves in equal measure.
In a world that has become too literal, Joan Rivers remained a wonderful epitome of bluntness – refusing to apologize for saying what was on her mind and, most importantly, refusing to allow herself to lay supine in the face of the relentless march of militant political correctness that now permeates every aspect of our existence.
Joan Rivers was apparently on Facebook, mostly peddling vanity merchandize to make a buck. She would, I am sure, not have been impressed by Facebook’s lack of a ‘dislike’ platform. Yours truly is on Facebook, too, and is struck by how much people on Facebook try to pretend that everyone in the world is nice, a wonderful parent, not jealous, mean or evil. Facebook then hands them the perfect camouflage by deliberately ensuring that you can only like what someone has said or done, and have to express your dislike in a more wordy manner which, of course, most people today aren’t schooled properly enough to manage.
In other words, Facebook perpetuates an Utopian world in which everyone gets along; the idyll of the Garden of Eden before the first murder – a world that doesn’t exist, has never existed anywhere.
Yet, if you have gone to school and actually got an education, three-quarters of the people you are going to meet in your existence will be dim, stupid, clueless, vapid space-fillers who you nonetheless have to suffer gladly, silently or otherwise. Joan Rivers refused to suffer the fools of her world gladly but was smart enough to figure out how to make a living by throwing their idiocy back in their faces.
She has thus gone out of this world as the master of sarcasm, satire and blunt witticism that the politically correct brigade is working round the clock to extinguish in all humanity. Joan Rivers fell repeatedly in the process of practicing her craft, but always rose again. She would thus have appreciated Lauren Bacal’s (now, there is another icon we have lost this year) clarion cry about the world not owing anyone a damn thing – yet another reality that today’s mourning ninnies are trying to banish and replace with an entitlement mentality that must be nurtured until the entire world is one giant pity party.
Alas, Rivers has left us in a world where the purveyors of pity are trying to sell it to the world that to offend anyone could herald the end of the world as we know it. A world where we are being cowed into letting children tell their parents how to raise them rather than the other way round. A world that asks schools to do as the parents wish rather than as the rules the parents knew about in the first place dictate. A world where to beat a woman up, apologize to her and she walks down the aisle with you a month later means you must lose your job if the beating ever becomes public. And yet it is the same world that exhorts us not to judge others because to be judgmental is … bad, offensive, hurtful, blah, blah, blah.
It is the sort of shrinking violet, mourning ninny, Pollyana-esque world that brought us Adolf Hitler and is now creating fertile ground for Russia’s Vladimir Putin. It’s a craven world that has allowed lawyers to flourish and profiteer from the foolishness, cowardice and lack of common sense that has us running to sue every time a neighbor looks at us in a way we don’t like, or whenever someone “puts their hands” on our belonging. After all, how can we, the wonderful children of God that He put on this earth to be happy, be offended, angered, violated, ridiculed by others?
In the spirit of the pretense to perfection that pervades all the lessons we are now exhorted to learn by the so-called “experts” who make money telling us how to live our lives, it is little wonder that the BBC and CNN chose to pretend that Joan Rivers got the funeral “she asked for.”
It can’t have escaped the educated minds at the CNN and BBC that the statement they based their claims on had very little to do with Rivers or her real end-of-story wishes, but why expend valuable time being analytical when it is so much more convenient to be literal?
Of course Joan Rivers knew that she would get a Hollywood send-off – that is what anyone today who has had 15 minutes of fame, let alone Rivers’ lifetime, gets. Hollywood works like that.
Rivers was really telling us that at the end of the day we all end up dead, so to be offended or self-absorbed, to take ourselves so seriously that we fail to laugh at ourselves or others is silly. She was telling us that are we are entitled to our cosmetic make-believes, but that we should also accept it with grace and equanimity when others laugh at our efforts.
It’s in that light that she mentioned Beyonce’s pretend “hair” which requires air machines to make it look dramatic. Only a very brave person would put money on Beyonce’s husband ever having seen what her real hair looks like but it doesn’t matter. We should enjoy the illusion, or laugh at it, and move on.
In her inimitable way, Joan Rivers was telling us to enjoy the trappings of life – cosmetic enhancements, butt implants, horse-hair extensions, excellent cuisine, Valentino gowns, jewelry. We should also enjoy the pleasures that are brought into our lives by the incomparable talent of artistic icons such as Meryl Streep because at the end of the day we will all end up dead.
End of story.