As you know, I take to my bed for a week in the fall whether I’ve come down with cancer or not, and this year has been no exception. Last weekend, because I am fond of her, I took gay icon/cult figure Margaret Cho to bed with me.
She’s got a new book-video combo out. To double my Cho, I read the book (I Have Chosen To Stay And Fight) while watching the video (Assassin). The book is a collection of short, showbizzapolitical essays about stuff like how it’s lame to hate Courtney Love and how Dubya is a fucktard.
The video is Cho’s standup show, where she says basically the same thing as the book but spends a lot more time in the character of a gay man who goes "Girl?!" a lot. My mom watched the first part of it with me. "Wow, she’s really lost some weight," she said. I was relieved that she left before Cho started pantomiming how the GOP gave Mary Cheney cock-sucking lessons.
Anyway, the vid kind of drags, so I recommend watching the trailer instead, which hits all the highlights in about 2 minutes, conveniently freeing up your busy invalid schedule for a restorative nap.
Maybe I prefer the book because I was born without the standup appreciation gene. I get antsy when comedians, even when they impersonate flaming faggots, wait expectantly for the audience to get the first part of the joke before continuing with the second part of the joke. Just tell me the joke! I’ll catch up, I promise!
Parts of the video, I am sad to say, are actually kind of creepy. In addition to the performance footage, there is a lot of Cho-as-Messiah stuff that I found frankly weird. Fans and bedazzled acolytes are shown gushing over how the great Cho speaks "for the people," members of her entourage are shown gushing over how she is the most important radical philosopher of her time. At the end, the camera follows her in her smart red leather coat as she rushes down empty halls to her waiting, definitely not of-the-people limo, which speeds her off into the night, probably for drinks with the cool trannies. Why is she rushing? Will the rabid Cho-maniacs tear her limb from limb if they catch her? It reminded me of that scene in Apocalypse Now where strippers rush back to the helicopter, pursued by a thousand erections. Celebrities, I guess, even the populists, are always prisoners rushing from their own fabulosity.
And I’m sorry, but at one point the video shows Bob Mould, a former hero of mine, using the phrase "at the end of the day" not once, but twice. Et tu, Bob?
The part of the book that made me the happiest is where Cho says something like "if you’re not a feminist you should just fucking kill yourself." I guess I’m down with that!
She also tells a nice story about her great-great grandmother, "the legend of [whose] ugliness spread far and wide" and "who killed people with her bare hands." Particularly riveting is Cho’s confession that she has inherited this distinguished relative’s abnormally tiny pinky fingers, which she calls "dinkies." After reading this I scrutinized the video closely for evidence of these dinkies, but I couldn’t really see that her fingers were that different from regular pinkies. Maybe after she gets shot–Cho seems to believe that she will be shot for being a mouthy Asian activist chick–she will donate her body to that museum in Philadelphia where they keep freaks in formaldehyde, and we can get to the bottom of this dinky mystery.
The part of the book that made me leeriest–and you have to be a little leery when dealing with celebrity personalities who ride in limos yet make a point of saying that they take the bus and eat at McDonalds–is where she says she is a devout Christian. The words "devout" and "Christian," when spake in the same breath, are usually code for "nutjob." Cho’s devout Christianity appears to take the shape of loving everybody–Michelle Malkin, Bill O’Reilly, the people who call her a fat chink cunt–so I guess it’s pretty harmless. But still. It was a nasty jar.
You know, people are going to read this and think I’m all anti-Cho. I’m not! I’m pro-Cho! She’s a firebrand! She hates the patriarchy! It’s great that she likes belly dancing and eats as much pizza as she wants and hangs out with cool trannies. Pointing out the hypocrisy of, say, people who hate gay marriage yet enjoy "Will and Grace," or of gay-bashing popes who wear gold dresses "and live in the Vatican with 500 mens" is useful and worthwhile. And I can appreciate that, to people who are used to Time magazine or CNN, the statement "George Bush is fucked!" may seem gutsy and blasphemous.
But let’s keep it in perspective. Remarks like "I think Laura Bush is pretty, but you know her pussy tastes like Lysol" may help bridge what for some may be a difficult or confusing gap between politics and entertainment, but are not really the stuff of insurgent iconoclasm. Cho’s dressed up like Patty Hearst, but she’s an Air America personality, not a militant.