Franken and Trump, Hiding Behind Their ‘Jokes’

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In 2006 Mr. Franken was already contemplating his 2008 Senate run, which provides the picture all of the extra disturbing resonance. The groping, it appears to say, is nothing to fret about, simply a part of the act that gave him entree into activism after which politics within the first place.

He’s badured sufficient to snap a naughty-boy image and belief his viewers, together with Ms. Tweeden, who acquired a replica of the picture, to maintain it secret, to be good sports activities about it. It’s simply showbiz.

That dynamic — the performer, the enabling viewers and the lady who doesn’t notice she’s being objectified — is acquainted. Specifically, it jogged my memory of Mr. Trump’s infamous 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape. But perhaps not the half you keep in mind finest.

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Leeann Tweeden (proper) accused Mr. Franken of forcibly kissing her as they labored collectively in 2006 on a U.S.O. tour of the Middle East.

Credit
Staff Sgt. Patrick N. Moes/U.S. Army

That half was dangerous sufficient, after all: Mr. Trump bragging to a guffawing Billy Bush about grabbing girls by their badia as a result of “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

But the context for that line is chilling, too. Mr. Trump and Mr. Bush are driving to satisfy the actress Arianne Zucker of “Days of Our Lives,” on which Mr. Trump is about to make a cameo. Aboard the bus, the 2 males ogle her legs: “I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her,” Mr. Trump says.

When they get off the bus, Mr. Bush asks for hugs for each of them. Ms. Zucker obliges. She doesn’t know that the 2 males have been laughing and leering. Like Ms. Tweeden, she’s not in on the joke. She’s simply the fabric.

I’m not going to don a powdered wig and rule on whether or not Mr. Franken and Mr. Trump are equal, or whose offenses have been worse than whose.

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But each are examples of the collision of politics with the world of superstar, the place males have lengthy felt entitled to indulge their ids, to play the grabby adolescent after which to chortle it off.

As a candidate, Mr. Trump fell again on the show-business protection lengthy earlier than the “Access Hollywood” tape got here out.

In 2015, he defended himself on Fox News to Greta Van Susteren after Rolling Stone quoted him as saying, of his main opponent Carly Fiorina, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” Ms. Van Susteren stated that this was not the primary time he had made such disparaging remarks about girls, to which Mr. Trump replied, “Many of those comments are made as an entertainer, because I did ‘The Apprentice.’”

Notably, Mr. Trump didn’t reduce Mr. Franken the identical type of slack:

The Al Frankenstien image is actually dangerous, speaks a thousand phrases. Where do his fingers go in footage 2, three, four, 5 & 6 whereas she sleeps? …..


Donald J. Trump (@actualDonaldTrump)
Nov. 17, 2017

In his first response to the revelations about him, Mr. Franken fell again on the I-was-an-entertainer protection too: “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t.”

Hours later, he apologized extra abjectly, although he nonetheless cited his performer’s background. “Coming from the world of comedy,” he wrote, “I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive.”

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In the infamous 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape, Billy Bush (left) and Mr. Trump (seen right here at Trump Tower in 2015) laughed and leered at an actress on “Days of Our Lives,” who was not in on the joke.

Credit
Rob Kim/Getty Images

(On Monday, one other girl accused Mr. Franken of getting groped her, in 2010.)

The leisure protection is engaging due to the leeway our society has given performers. A politician’s gaffe is a comic book’s chortle.

Mr. Franken received election, as an illustration, regardless of being attacked by his opponent for his previous rape and badgraphy jokes. He apologized through the marketing campaign, however in his latest memoir, “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate,” he wrote that he regretted the apology: “I was just doing my job.”

Until his latest scandal, Mr. Franken had been advised as a possible 2020 opponent to Mr. Trump partially as a result of he would possibly be capable of weaponize the identical instruments of superstar. The candidate who efficiently merges leisure and politics is potent, as a result of you may declare to be joking to 1 viewers whereas one other sees you as a reality teller.

Mr. Trump has used this tactic as each candidate and president. His seeming endorsement of police brutality this summer time: a “joke,” in keeping with his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Take me critically, not actually! Lighten up and benefit from the act, snowflake.

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In each comedy and politics, nevertheless, this can be a privilege our society has been extra keen to grant to males. When the comic Kathy Griffin posed earlier this yr with a mannequin of the bloodied head of Mr. Trump, as an illustration, her critics, together with the president, have been much less keen to simply accept artwork or satire as a protection.

The concept that comedy is a protected area for testing boundaries — that it requires the liberty to take dangers and say what’s forbidden elsewhere — is an previous one. After the comic Louis C.Ok. admitted to badual misconduct that included masturbating in entrance of feminine comedians and colleagues, that concept sounds, at the very least in some instances, like an excuse.

FX, the TV community with which Louis C.Ok. is most intently related, rightly reduce ties with him. Abuses by performers and Hollywood executives are beginning to be taken actually and critically.

But we’re in an odd cultural crosscurrent, the place whilst some poisonous Hollywood males are going through penalties, politicians are in search of the form of license as soon as given to entertainers.

Mr. Franken could also be broken, in any case, however Mr. Trump was finally elected, regardless of quite a few accusations of badual harbadment and abuse. He survived the “Access Hollywood” scandal not like a politician however like a shock comedian. His viewers excused him as a result of they didn’t need the present to finish.

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