I am not hugely interested in inter-paper mudslinging, as a rule, but Willamette Week's coverage of this weekend's all-woman comedy festival All Jane No Dick is beyond problematic: They chose to cover a four-day festival that's bringing a lineup of genuinely exciting comics to town with a piece entitled "Laughing at Rape in a Crowded Theater: A Brief History of the Rape-Joke Debate." Because... ladies be talking about rape jokes all the time? I guess?
The piece is by Rebecca Jacobson, whose writing I happen to like. And I believe that she's committed to improving coverage of comedy at Willamette Week, as her recent efforts to get local comedy scenesters to vote in a "Best New Comic" poll demonstrate. But this piece is a painful misstep.
On its own, the article would be fine. The ground it covers is fairly well-traversed, but it's a decent timeline. I particularly appreciate that Jacobson links to Patricia Lockwood's staggering poem "Rape Jokes"; more eyeballs on that is a good thing. As their sole coverage of this festival, though, it's gobsmacking. It's not useful—it quotes Lindy West, for example, but fails to mention that she'll be appearing at the festival on Sunday; nor does it mention any of the festival's headliners by name. (The brilliant Cameron Esposito, who's headlining, even wrote a great piece about rape jokes! She didn't make the timeline, though.) And more crucially, it reduces a diverse group of female comics down to one issue. It marginalizes a group of performers who have historically already been marginalized. And it's illustrated with a photo of Daniel Tosh, for fucking fuck's sake. I understand why they didn't give the festival the level of coverage we did; determining what to cover every week in a busy, artsy city is a balancing act. But to cover it in this way was a profoundly wrongheaded and out-of-touch choice.