I feel a deep connection to Artie Lange. As I wrote then, I feel a personal connection to Artie Lange. Without exaggeration or hyperbole, in many ways Lange's first book (actually repeated listens to the audio book while sitting in a car outside of a sad and sorry mall somewhere in Michigan) saved me from surrendering to some of my worst impulses during that summer of darkness.
Artie has a generosity of spirit and transparency about his pain that is the reservoir--like many of the great comics--for his humor and wit. Artie is an addict. His honesty about that pain can also be a source of inspiration for others who can and should learn from Artie's travails. His life is a caution to others; I worry that he cannot save himself.
I reached out to Artie on Twitter. To my surprise we shared a brief correspondence.
@chaunceydevega hey man. I respect ur opinion. But you're asking me (and indirectly) all comedians ever to stop something we can't. ArtieHe said that "he got it" about why his failed joke about raping Cari Champion, and the crime against humanity that was the Maafa, could be offensive to people on both sides of the colorline.
— Artie Lange (@artiequitter) November 15, 2014
@chaunceydevega ok. I get it. Thx for years of supportI also shared with Artie how I felt that his willful evasion of responsibility regarding his noxious and racist comments are rooted in the same character defect that allows an addict to live a life of denial by placing responsibility for his or her mistakes on to others.
— Artie Lange (@artiequitter) November 7, 2014
Last week, Artie was a guest on the The Joe Rogan Experience. Instead of being contrite and apologetic for his racist and ugly comments of several months ago, Lange doubled down on them.
This is troubling, but alas, not surprising. I am worried for Lange because his energy suggested a return to his drug habit. I am not surprised by Artie's comments about his fantasies of raping Champion, he turned to the standard script for when white folks are called to account for their racist speech and other behavior.
Lange defaulted to humor, a cry that his critics are "overly sensitive", claimed that he was "angry" that those critics "took something from him", and enabled by host Joe Rogan, that Lange (and by implication "comics", i.e. white comics, are the "real victims" when people complain about racist humor.
Host Joe Rogan of UFC fame enabled Lange's victimology.
While doing so, Rogan let slip one of the main code words of post civil rights era white victimology and reactionary politics, what is the much maligned "social justice warrior".
In all, Lange and Rogan put on a clinic in how white privilege, and white entitlement combine to determine how and to what degree the Other shall be offended. This is a perverse reality that typifies life for people of color in a society dominated by white privilege and oriented towards protecting the material, psychological, and political advantages of white people over all others.
Social scientists have developed a rich set of frameworks for analyzing race and racial ideologies in the "colorblind" post civil rights era. Language, however dense and accurate, such as the "white racial frame", "backstage racism", and "white racial logic", does an excellent job of describing life along the colorline. However, said words are not as compelling as actually witnessing white folks prove through their behavior the validity of those concepts.
Racism is not an opinion. White supremacy and the white racial frame are concepts that are made real, living through both white folks' individual behavior and the aggregate that is known as "White America".
Artie Lange's hurt and pain at being criticized for African-American chattel slavery rape fantasies in which he assaults ESPN's Cari Champion exist within a cosmology of Whiteness and the White Racial Imagination wherein many white folks are more offended by the basic social convention that the word "nigger" ought to be verboten as spoken from their mouths than they are the violence, racism, evil, and violation of black folks' humanity that inspired white people to invent the word "nigger" centuries ago.
I worry that my well of sympathy and concern for Artie Lange is now spent and exhausted. He is rich, white, male, and a celebrity. Lange does not need any of my material assistance.
Positive energy? That is another matter all together.
I will also no longer be able to comfortably watch UFC if I hear Joe Rogan's voice because of his white victimology enabling politics.
When people show you who they really are you had best listen. They know themselves better than anyone else. Artie has shown us who he is--again. What to do?