Today’s culture war is brought to you by Samantha Bee, who, on her TBS show Full Frontal on Wednesday night, called Ivanka Trump a very rude name. Bee was talking about her own disagreements with the immigration policies of Ivanka’s father, specifically the ones that affect innocent children. Showing a photo that Ivanka had posted on Instagram of herself and one of her children, Bee commented that Ivanka ought to be thinking of other children as well. The host pointed out that Ivanka is no ordinary mother — “She works in the White House” — and called upon Ivanka “as one mother to another: Do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless c***!”
Oh, my. Bee’s use of the obscene word set the internet and cable news on fire, with tons of conservative observers invoking — who else? — Roseanne Barr, as in, why does Sam Bee get to call people names but Roseanne doesn’t? Well, here’s why: Bee’s line was a political joke criticizing Donald Trump’s policies. It was also about the way Ivanka is always trying to have things both ways: One minute she’s a trusted adviser to the president; the next minute she’s just a starry-eyed mommy. Pretty concise joke to make both of those points, don’t you think?
Also, it’s an artfully written joke. “You feckless c***” contains four syllables: unstressed, stressed, unstressed, followed by another stressed syllable. In poetry, the technical term for it is a “diamb”: two iambic feet. In layman’s terms, it just has a nice, decisive rhythm to it. “You feckless c***”: ta-DUM-ta-DUM. Say it out loud.
Or rather, don’t say it out loud, especially if you’re a guy — women have more of a right to appropriate such a hostile term. Or at least that’s true in America; if you live in England, the C-word isn’t considered much more than naughty. Those posh-accented folks toss the C-word around all the time, and no one raises an eyebrow. Here, however, the word has the power to shock … which was Samantha Bee’s point. She wanted to startle her viewers, to make them feel the anger she feels. Well, she got her wish. Now watch cable news and Twitter go crazy for the next 24 hours about this: lots more feigned outrage over what everyone knows is a throwaway line.
UPDATE: Samantha Bee apologized for using the offensive word on Thursday afternoon. In a statement, she said: “I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night,” Bee said. “It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.” TBS also released a statement: “Samantha Bee has taken the right action in apologizing for the vile and inappropriate language she used about Ivanka Trump last night. Those words should not have been aired. It was our mistake too, and we regret it.”
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on TBS.
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