A few years ago, during my collegiate years, the Heineken corporation made “Grab a Heiney” their cheeky (as it were) advertising slogan. In the heart of PCU, some feminist and lefty activist groups—the “Take Back the Night”-ers, the Womyn’s Studies majors, the pink-triangle-on-the- backpack wearers, etc.-- were not, repeat, not, repeat again, in all caps, REALLY *NOT* AMUSED-- with multiple exclamation points added for emphasis--!!!!!!!
One young woman, I recall, even felt distressed enough about this eminently important matter to pen a letter to the local college newspaper. The amusing word choice of her sincere exhortation still sticks with me all these many years later. People in their ignorance may think that the grope–endorsing punnery of the beer merchant juggernaut was funny, she wrote, but they were quite mistaken—the slogan “Grab a Hiney” was, in fact, “very, very disturbing.”
Two decades on, contemplating the repetition of the exceedingly vague qualifier “very” still causes me to chortle uncontrollably at odd moments. After all, how much is very much? And if it isn’t enough to call “Grab a Heiney” a disturbing catchphrase, much less a “very disturbing” catchphrase, then how could one possibly stop at calling it a “very, very disturbing” catchphrase? Indeed, how many “verys” would be adequate to capture the atrocious audacity, the unabashedly misogynistic, incitement-to-rape hatecrime that is… “Grab a Heiney”?
Clearly, with this tuchis-pinching pun unleashed upon the world, permission had been given for uninhibited male mayhem. It was time to lock yourself in your sorority house, barricade the doors, and ready the mace cans, for an army of evil, sexist rapist zombies were sure to come surging down the streets, recklessly and relentlessly ass-grabbing every woman in sight, not even paying any heed to the “No means NO, you disgusting male jerk!” mantra drilled endlessly into their heads at freshman orientation.
PC-types often talk grimly about jests or witticisms pertaining to certain subjects—racism, sexism, homophobia, and the like—as being simply, and in all caps, NOT FUNNY. What they fail to realize is that humor is an utterly anarchic thing. A joke, jibe, caper, or wisecrack doesn’t ask permission to be amusing; it simply is, or it isn’t. (As Yoda reflects, there is no “try.”) One laughs, not to display righteousness or conviction, but because one is simply compelled to laugh, at times quite against one’s will.
Still, being disturbed by rape jokes is one thing—going berserk over something so silly and puerile as “Grab a Hiney” is another matter entirely. And now it appears that Seth MacFarlane, creator of the perennially tasteless (but often funny) show Family Guy, has ignited a similarly mystifying row among some of the humor-deficient population by daring to sing a silly song about women’s knockers at the Academy Awards show.
If you haven’t seen Seth’s daring, provocative, and supremely envelope-pushing musical number, here it is: “We Saw Your Boobs.”
To summarize: Seth MacFarlane has seen the breasts of many of the actresses present at the Awards ceremony. Not because he’s slept with said actresses, mind you, but because these women made the choice to appear topless in their movies, and Seth has seen these movies.
Call this song boorish, and call MacFarlane ungallant, and you may have a point. But its critics aren’t stopping there. Oh, no… As Slate, Salon, and Jezebel, and the rest of the usual suspects would have it, things are much worse than that… the song is deeply offensive, an assault upon the integrity of modern womanhood, even an invitation to celebrate rape! Or as the letter to the editor that I read long ago might have put it, “’We Saw Your Boobs’ is a very, very disturbing song…”
One can only sigh indulgently at the persistence of such flatulent hysteria, as well as reflecting with amusement that, just as references to buttocks and breasts seem to arouse the inner giggling 12-year old-boy in some of us, they also tend to bring out the stern Nurse Ratched-esque spinster schoolmarm in others. For all of its unendingly malignant influence, political correctness has in some ways changed nothing. People with power and influence still feel inclined to sanctimoniously condemn outré ideas and concepts as contemptibly wicked, and to conflate harmless juvenile witticisms, like the “We Saw Your Boobs” song, with actual repugnant behavior, like rape.
Other people, meanwhile, such as myself and perhaps most of those who read this article, continue in obstinate defiance of the new, artificial norms and utterly arbitrary mores put in place by the newly-minted opinion shapers. In daring to chortle, rather than be seized with apprehension, dread, and outrage at the very notion of fondling bottoms and ogling breasts, we mingle our admitted lack of maturity with the sort of flinty and unmitigated resolve Churchill might have implored in one of his WWII speeches. We few, we lucky few, we band of brothers will stand our ground and laugh whenever, and at whatever, we damn well please.