New Year’s Eve I wrote about my shock in watching the crude and often unhinged conduct of Kathy Griffin on CNN with Anderson Cooper. We switched over to the networks due to her bizarre behavior, but it appears it got worse as the night went on. Griffin followed her juvenile antics with a simulation of giving Anderson Cooper oral sex on national television. CNN’s response to this controversy is rather muted. While a “wardrobe malfunction” in the Superbowl merited weeks of discussion, simulated oral sex on a host appears to merit a return for Griffin to CNN the next day to joke around with Cooper about their wild time in Time Square.
Griffin has had a long and checkered history on New Year’s (though like many I was not familiar with her reputation or juvenile antics until two days ago). In 2008, Griffin repeatedly dropped the F bomb. Then she screamed that an onlooker should “knock the dicks out of your mouth” on national television. Then there is her taking her clothes off last year on television. Yet, CNN has repeatedly showed that it is only interested in ratings and invites her back despite the fact that New Year’s Eve is the only late night with a large number of children watching these programs, including my own. Networks (and advertisers) expect the highest number of children to watch on New Year’s Eve — recognizing that this is a common right of passage for kids to make it to midnight and watch the ball drop. Even my seven year old daughter made it to midnight and, before we cut her off, was exposed to Griffin.
We cut off the show after watching Griffin try to throw money into the crowd and actually wrestle with Cooper who went to a commercial. As Cooper clearly understood, such a moronic act would have likely triggered a stampede below and legitimate lawsuits against CNN. What is astonishing is that it is not (like much of her work) funny in the slightest. It came off as a rich entertainer throwing baubles to the masses. As she struggled with Cooper, she added the appearance of an unstable rich entertainer. She proceeded to substitute outrageous comments for humor such as insisting that the “fiscal cliff” should be called the “fisting cliff” as if that is remarkably clever. I find it astonishing that CNN would want to put one of its key anchors in this type of juvenile display.
By the time Griffin turned to the burlesque, we were gone. However, she told Anderson Cooper “I’m going to tickle your sack” and actually kissed his crotch. Cooper joked on twitter that people were playing a drinking game whenever he giggles nervously. I respect Cooper greatly but nervous giggles did not suffice in response to this performance. I fail to understand why producers or Cooper would subject people to this entertainer who appears a female version of Andrew Dice Clay. Even when Leslie and I saw the clip of faux oral sex, we found it unfunny and the type of thing high school kids do at parties. I realize that our entertainment is getting increasing raunchy and that this type of low-grade humor appeals to some. I just do not know why CNN wants to move so aggressively to that lowest common denominator.
When Janet Jackson had a “wardrobe malfunction” in the Superbowl, there was considerable debate over whether it was intentional and sanctionable. Griffin has repeatedly shocked the national audience to profanity and other crude antics, but CNN continues to invite her back. After the latest controversy, she reappeared with Cooper. She made rather stale jokes about the fiscal cliff and then said her mother gave her a thumbs down for her performance before saying that Suzanne Somers told her to be more crude (and that she would follow her advice). CNN then ran a series of images designed to show how funny they were together even though even the edited clip was notably not funny. Indeed, I am not very familiar with Griffin but she seems remarkably unfunny, even humor impaired. Like Clay, she appears to substitute outrageous acts or statements for actual humor.
My main interest however is how CNN had allowed this person to appear again on New Year’s Eve in a blind pursuit for ratings. Yet the only thing keeping viewers watching was the sense of a recurring car crash. The difference with Jackson is that the networks did not keep inviting Jackson to have repeat wardrobe malfunctions. This is a host malfunction and it appears a malfunction by design.