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Jokes 2: Johnny Vegas - A case in point (alleged sexual assault on stage)

Liddle ol' me Avatar
8y, 7m agoPosted 8 years, 7 months ago
"Along with hundreds of others I watched a set during which Johnny Vegas, without any discernible artistic or comedic merit, gratuitously groped a young woman on stage. Judging from some of the furious postings on the internet that followed the gig, I was not the only person asking if he had crossed a line."

Full article here (live link in post # 2)

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/theatre/2008/05/johnny_vegas.html
Other Links From Case:
Liddle ol' me Avatar
8y, 7m agoPosted 8 years, 7 months ago
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#1
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/theatre/2008/05/johnny_vegas.html

"I have no problem with the view that comedy should be allowed to address any idea or subject it likes," says Fiona Knight said: "Ideas cannot hurt anyone until they are turned into actions. But any performer has a responsibility for what they (or their character/persona) does, just as the audience has a responsibility for its reaction to their actions."

Do we need to go much further with this understanding that "Ideas cannot hurt anyone until they are turned into actions"? This alleged case provides an obvious example of that move from words to action. What isn't always so obvious is the effects words have on subsequent (seemingly unrelated) actions. To use recent news examples, think about these questions:

* What discourses (words/ideas) allowed those young men to kick and stamp the Goth,Sophie Lancaster to death?

* What discourses allowed Suzanne Holdsworth to be found guilty of killing Kyle Fisher by repeatedly banging his head against a wooden banister when there was no evidence that she had done so?

* Do you think that 'anything goes' when it comes to the discourses used in comedy? If so, why?
#2
I have just read the article and the comments from others who saw the gig, however I feel that I will reserve judgement unless I see the routine for myself. It's really hard to have an opinion as to whether he over stepped the line without having been there.
#3
caz1cool
I have just read the article and the comments from others who saw the gig, however I feel that I will reserve judgement unless I see the routine for myself. It's really hard to have an opinion as to whether he over stepped the line without having been there.


But it is possible to have an opinion on the issues involved. Personally, my interest is not in judging the comedian, but the alleged actions. Take it as a hypothetical situation if it makes you feel easier. What would your opinion be?
#4
very OTT !!!
Some could argue that she didnt have to get up there..But she couldnt really have known how far he would take it..The words that he said just screams out that what you would expect to hear when watching a rape scene on crimewatch.
She probably didnt want to say no infront of a large crowd.
#5
"I have no problem with the view that comedy should be allowed to address any idea or subject it likes," says Fiona Knight said: "Ideas cannot hurt anyone until they are turned into actions. But any performer has a responsibility for what they (or their character/persona) does, just as the audience has a responsibility for its reaction to their actions."

Do we need to go much further with this understanding that "Ideas cannot hurt anyone until they are turned into actions." This alleged case provides a very obvious example of that move from words to action. What isn't always so obvious is the effects that words have on subsequent (seemingly unrelated) actions. To use recent news examples, think about these questions:

* What discourses (words/ideas) allowed those young men to kick and stamp the Goth,Sophie Lancaster to death?

* What discourses allowed Suzanne Holdsworth to be found guilty of killing Kyle Fisher by repeatedly banging his head against a wooden banister when there was no evidence that she had done so?

* Do you think that 'anything goes' when it comes to discourses used in comedy? If so, why?

[ Added this to post # 2 as well ]
#6
Liddle ol' me
But it is possible to have an opinion on the issues involved. Personally, my interest is not in judging the comedian, but the alleged actions. Take it as a hypothetical situation if it makes you feel easier. What would your opinion be?



Sorry, that's the point that I was trying to make.
These are alleged actions, and the actions are different depending on who is recounting the gig.
To really have an opinion I would have had to have seen what took place for myself, read the body language of the girl, facial expressions, the actual actions etc.
#7
I take it with a pinch of salt until it's proved. If it was so bad why didn't any of the people complaining stand up and stop it at the time?
banned#8
from what i have read i have asked myself if it is true, was the girl actually part of the act

Although i struggle to understand anyone finding it remotely funny, whether she was part of the act or not, why would anyone find someone being groped entertaining, you have to think that those who would find it funny, a bit like the other jokes the other day, is it only entertaining to those who think they are so distant from it, would they find it amusing should it be more closer to home? I tend to try and put myself in the other persons shoes and make a call from that
#9
caz1cool
To really have an opinion I would have had to have seen what took place for myself, read the body language of the girl, facial expressions, the actual actions etc.


Fair enough. Nobody can force you to take a stance on such issues, even when discussing hypotheticals.

dmissy13
I take it with a pinch of salt until it's proved. If it was so bad why didn't any of the people complaining stand up and stop it at the time?


Perhaps for the same reasons you might be unwilling to do so here. Take this small quote from an audience member: "I only wish I had had the guts to say so at the time."

sassie
from what i have read i have asked myself if it is true, was the girl actually part of the act


I think that will be resolved in time now that the allegations have been made public. The comedian has so far refused to comment on the matter. I suspect he would have taken the opportunity to explain himself if she was indeed a 'plant'...
#10
dmissy13:
I take it with a pinch of salt until it's proved. If it was so bad why didn't any of the people complaining stand up and stop it at the time?

Perhaps for the same reasons you might be unwilling to do so here. Take this small quote from an audience member: "I only wish I had had the guts to say so at the time."


If i felt something was wrong i would be willing to do so here or anywhere, i would rather report something and be wrong than spend my time thinking i could of stoped it
#11
dmissy13
If i felt something was wrong i would be willing to do so here or anywhere, i would rather report something and be wrong than spend my time thinking i could of stoped it


Well, if that were completely true I'd be quite surprised. Most people, it seems to me, spend a large part of their lives avoiding taking a stance against things they see as wrong. It's just to much bother, not to mention (socially) dangerous. Working on the assumption that you, like me, see many things that are 'wrong' around you, how often do you take a stance against them on your own initiative? And it's probably best to discount those examples where it is socially safe to do so (e.g. after it is clear that many others hold the same opinion)? I know sassie is such a person from her responses to 'wrong' things on this forum, but she is one of the very few few that I see who are brave enough to take the lead in such matters. Perhaps I've missed some of your own contributions though? Anyway, good to hear you are willing to take a chance, but I wonder if you had been in that theatre and watching what happened (if it happened as alleged), what you would have done? I very much doubt you would have done anything. Most people wouldn't, and I probably wouldn't have done more than walk out in protest.
#12
jellybaby22
I would like to THINK i would have done or said something..but as you have pointed out..it would be so difficult in a large place with so many people to be the one person to say something. If others were saying something then its easier.


People could have walked out though and demanded there money back rather than speaking out.
1 Like #13
akme
People could have walked out though and demanded there money back rather than speaking out.


Yep, but you also get a real sense from the writer (she shouted at the girl to get him off) how difficult even that is. In a situation like this, you are in some ways under the control of the comic. He is a celeb, he's on stage, he's doing 'comedy', you are aware of comics using their position of authority (and humour) against protesters, you fear you might not be 'getting it' or overreacting, you are 'hemmed in' by the audience, you dread social sanction by them, you don't want to appear prudish, etc. etc. the list goes on. You DO need to be brave to take a stance I think.
#14
Liddle ol' me
Yep, but you also get a real sense from the writer (she shouted at the girl to get him off) how difficult even that is. In a situation like this, you are in some ways under the control of the comic. He is a celeb, he's on stage, he's doing 'comedy', you are aware of comics using their position of authority (and humour) against protesters, you fear you might not be 'getting it' or overreacting, you are 'hemmed in' by the audience, you dread social sanction by them, you don't want to appear prudish, etc. etc. the list goes on. You DO need to be brave to take a stance I think.


like the bystander effect. LINK
#15
guerilla
like the bystander effect. LINK


That's interesting. Didn't know such a thing had been theorised/studied. Thanks! :thumbsup:
1 Like #16
no problem, it came up in another thread a while back, i'd not heard of it until then
#17
how often do you take a stance against them on your own initiative?


Perhaps I've missed some of your own contributions though?


what you would have done? I very much doubt you would have done anything.


i would have gone to get a member of staff to get the manager of the venue and if it was really bad i would have heckled him to stop. If i was one of the members of the public on the stage and it played out like it said i would have gone over and stoped him. If you wouldn't then thats a shame i treat people how i would like to be treated.

you are very quick to judge a person from posts on here this site is about finding a bargain not disclosing my morals.

I take a stand whenever i feel i need to i have got a blackeye from trying to stop a fight in the street, I am part of a group about to launch a new charity helping people with a rare condition as there is no help and support for these people in the UK and i have put my honest opinion in all my posts including the parking ticket post where i told a member they were totally out of order for what they said, so yes i have the guts to do it here and in real life.
#18
Was thinking about guerilla's introduction of the new term 'bystander effect' as I read back through the earlier posts on this thread, and another term jumped out at me: false consciousness. Most people probably know this term as one introduced by Marx. The general idea is that dominant ideologies can lead people to think/act in ways contrary to their best interests (without necessarily realising that they are doing so). They do this by 'blindly' following common beliefs and values taken for granted in their society. I'm now thinking of three (sets of) actors here:

(1) that girl who allowed herself to be taken up to that stage

(2) the audience members

(3) the majority of females who responded on this thread.

Any thoughts..?
#19
dmissy13
i would have [...] If you wouldn't then thats a shame [...] you are very quick to judge a person from posts on here this site is about finding a bargain not disclosing my morals. I take a stand whenever i feel i need to [...] and i have put my honest opinion in all my posts [...]


Hmm... the tone of your posts suggests you have misinterpreted my desire to tease out issues as a personal attack on you. That wasn't my intention, but sorry if that's how it came across. :oops: Glad to hear of all those things you are involved in. Good for you! :thumbsup:
#20
I wonder whether if you had linked to another review you would have got the same response ?

http://www.chortle.co.uk/shows/misc_live_shows/t/16072/ten_best_stand-ups_in_the_world_ever._gig_1/review/

It's not rocket science to know that Johnny Vegas + Improvisation = Big Trouble nor is it a secret as to what Vegas's act might involve. He also nearly always includes some form of female interaction in his routine.
How far Vegas has taken this interaction previously and in this act I would guess would depend on how much alchohol he had consumed together with his perception of how far the audience members could be taken.

Vegas has always been a tragedy waiting to happen and I don't think there would be any doubt that at some stage he has or will overstep the mark. I think many of his audience go to his shows in the same way audiences go to car or motorcycle races, to see the possible carnage caused by a crash.
Of course they wouldn't own up to that but it's surely true ?

As for what happened that evening, the young lady obviously had enough witnesses and we certainly have in place the correct procedure to make sure anything that was lawfully wrong can be taken to task.
#21
hottoshop
I think many of his audience go to his shows in the same way audiences go to car or motorcycle races, to see the possible carnage caused by a crash. Of course they wouldn't own up to that but it's surely true ? As for what happened that evening, the young lady obviously had enough witnesses and we certainly have in place the correct procedure to make sure anything that was lawfully wrong can be taken to task.


Given what you've said about the reasons for people going to his shows, and what we've already noted about the powerful/powerless positions of performer/audience members in this context, does anyone think that the police should consider investigating this alleged sexual assault irrespective of whether a complaint is made? Or do you think this is unneccessary / a step too far?
#22
dmissy13
I take it with a pinch of salt until it's proved. If it was so bad why didn't any of the people complaining stand up and stop it at the time?


jellybaby22
I would like to THINK i would have done or said something..but as you have pointed out..it would be so difficult in a large place with so many people to be the one person to say something. If others were saying something then its easier.


akme
People could have walked out though and demanded there money back rather than speaking out.


Heh. It's funny. Someone linked to the Wikipedia article on the Bystander Effect, which is exactly what I was just about to do.

My thread about the Bystander Effect from just a couple of days ago.

As I say, the "bystander effect" can seem a little bit unrealistic. Everyone's reaction is "well I'd always speak out or help" but then when it comes to the situation, that never happens.

Even if there's no hard evidence in the theory, it could change a lot of situations if everyone was thinking about it at the time.
#23
He's on friday night with Jonathon Ross this week
#24
dmissy13
He's on friday night with Jonathon Ross this week


jonnyq
the guardian article has been pulled down - the lawyers are on the case


Never watch JR, but just checked it on BBC iPlayer. Very interesting.

JR brought it up, JV looked uncomfortable and eventually JR changed the subject after JV stumbled around the subject for a couple of minutes. Here are a couple of quotes from JV (more or less verbatim):

"It's really hard to talk about it, because it was suggested I molested someone on the stage. [multiple hesitations] It's a really difficult subject. [...] tried to suggest something much darker was going on. I'm very ... how can I say ...? I've got to defend myself. No, I don't have to defend myself. I did nothing wrong."

Watch it yourself and make your own mind up.
#25
look forward to watching it later.
#27
jonnyq
I think it is being implied JV was uncomfortable because he was guilty - I don't think so. it is not something anyone would like to discuss - let alone in front of an audience on a chat show.

It must be really saddening to have someone accuse you of something serious like sexual assualt - and also in such a manner, it's not like the writer confronted him in person - this prompted other people to have a dig who didn't even see the show

whether or not it was sexual assualt - i dunno - charges haven't been brought forward and we don't have the full picture - you may not like him or his comedy but that doesn't justify these accusations

just because it is the guardian - doesn't mean we shouldn't treat the journalist any different - they were out of order and there was a lot of exaggeration on their behalf - if i didn't know who JV was, I would thought he was some sort of monster who reguarly did a seedy stand up for the sole purpose of trying to grope up women


Let's get a few things straight to begin with re my position here. I have no personal opinion on JV whatsoever - in fact, I've never seen him in anything, standup, TV or otherwise. Watching the interview on iplayer is the longest continuous viewing I've ever had of him. I recognised his face though, so must have seen him on ads or the like.

Now, to your comments about the Guardian piece. You are doing the same thing with the writer of that piece as you accuse her of doing. I'm not sure how you can tell that there was a "lot of exageration" because, by your own admission, you can't make that call without having been there. And the "monster" reference is a bit strong too - and you've certainly gone too far with your "sole purpose" argument. Only an emotional and clouded reading could prompt you to think that such an image was being deliberately constructed by the writer. (btw, remember that she was there as an audience member and didn't have this impression before the event - she claims that, anyway). I didn't come away with such an impression, but I did come away with the impression that he had crossed the line, and that the time has come for such issues to be discusssed. That's why I brought it up.
banned#28
lol JV is so talentless and unfunny

If she didn't like what was going on couldn't she have stood up and walked away at anytime?
#29
Btw, jonnyq, if you or anyone else has a copy of Mary O''Hara's original blog from the guardian, I'd love to get my hands on it. Wished now that I had emailed it to myself or friends as I usually do. Can't find it online yet - I will do the same if I find it.
#30
PS: where can I watch it?

Friday night with jonathon ross is repeated tonight/tomorrow morning at 1.45am
1 Like #31
You can see the article if you search through google and view the cached version instead of clicking on the actual link
#32
jonnyq
i should have said in general - not specifically by you - it may be implied he is guilty because of the way he spoke about it on jonathan ross


Yes, well I should be more transparent here and say that you could read such implications into my comments, because, tbh, the reporting of the piece along with my previous knowledge of the writer. has lead me to believe she had no reason to lie. She reported things as she saw them, and clearly under the full knowledge that by doing so she was making a serious allegation. I doubt she'd throw away a career unless there is a serious case to be answered (not to mention that her article would have had to pass through editorial control/the Gardian legal eagles etc before going out and staying 'live' for so long).

jonnyq
there was a lot of exaggeration - i say that because i read from different sources and some comments from people who claim to be there had a very different story - also the tone of the piece was strange - the title 'since when was sexual assault funny' and the writer saying how normally she doesn't see gigs or something along those lines are examples


Yes, her article title left us in no doubt that she felt this is a very serious issue indeed. Which I agree with, if the basic facts of her report are to be believed. And as posted above, I have no reason to doubt them. If there were a reasonable explanation (such as audience plant), I'm sure the accused would have supplied them by now.

jonnyq
i got mixed up - the other news story also made an attack on johnny vegas and that is why i got that impression - i don't find JV very funny myself - i think O'Hara is playing on people's dislike on JV and pushing her views rather than trying to be objective

the way i read it - and i think how it was intended - it gave the impression that sexual assault had taken place and that is a serious allegation to make

i may be emotional about how it was reported etc. - rather than toward JV


Imo, whether JV is funny or not is not relevant. This has moved beyond questions of how far a joke can go, to the question of whether in fact someone abused their 'power' to demean and sexually assault. And yes, of course O'Hara is pushing her views, primarily the view that such behaviour is intolerable in a decent society. As for objectivity/subjectivity, just like in academia, too many people put false hope in the ideal of objectivity. There is no such thing as the completely objective reporting of events. By their very nature they must be subjective. It is more fruitful to look at the issues from a normative perspective. That is, starting from 'what ought to be' rather than some form of impossible 'what is'. By such a process we might actually get to a more complex understanding of 'what actually happened' - an understanding that accounts for all the different perspectives...
#33
jcampwala
You can see the article if you search through google and view the cached version instead of clicking on the actual link


Thanks for that - I'd forgotten about the cached copy! (rep left) Just got it - it's here:

http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:m9iZpZEmyEwJ:www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/01/gender.comedy%3Fgusrc%3Drss%26feed%3Duknews+johnny+vegas+guardian&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=3&gl=uk

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