By James Randall Chumbley
Palm Desert, California (The Hollywood Times) 09/18/2023
In Michelle Wolf’s third-part standup performance, It’s Great to Be Here! on Netflix — all airing in September, made a callously horrendous joke concerning AIDS: “I think Lesbians are so scary that even AIDS was like, let’s stick to less terrorizing things like needles and buttholes.” I immediately turned off the flat screen — literally aghast. Michelle Wolf, there is nothing funny about AIDS, certainly, when its ominous cloud first darkened and lingered over the gay community.
Although I was enormously disturbed, I wasn’t surprised a comedian like her would “go there.” Other members of the LGBTQ+ community I have spoken with are equally disgusted. Analogous, the powers-that-be at Netflix didn’t cut the egregious joke from the program. “… let’s stick to less terrorizing things like needles and buttholes.” Are you F-ing kidding me, Michelle and Netflix? From where I’m standing, my view is that she is soulless. That Michelle Wolf crossed a line — rocketed herself over it. What appalls me as well, was the boisterous laughter from the audience.
Michelle Wolf’s meaning, was, again, at the dawning of AIDS, lesbians were more frightening than the tremendous suffering and fear mirrored in the eyes of the some-100,777 young-to-older men who died horrific deaths between 1981-1990, and those — including the women, babies, and children to later follow.
The survivors, me included, wondered when we would be next — for a time, little was known about what was referred to as the gay plague. Wondering when our bodies, too, would turn old almost overnight. Wondering when the day would come, our bodies would become skin and bones as we too suffered in a hospital bed consumed by a number of infections and viruses related to AIDS: the skin cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma that covers the body, face included, with brown lesions; Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, a lung infection; a version or versions of Cytomegalovirus, an infection that affects the eyes, lungs, liver, among others. I can’t remember how many funerals and memorial services I attended — deeply saddened for the demise of my deceased friends as that fear of my own possible death waiting in shadows amplified with each one attended.
Michelle Wolf was eight years old in 1981, in the beginning of this horrifying and deadly epidemic that attacked — void of mercy — the gay population in the United States as in other countries, but that doesn’t give her a pass. By Wolf’s joke, she has exponentially disrespected those who agonized in pain before meeting their deaths. As she does the partners, family members, and friends who had to stand by watching the plague consume their loved ones. As she has done the same to all who have HIV and-or AIDS past, present, and future. To this day, globally, AIDS still kills millions of people.
So lethally aggressive, in the 1980s, AIDS nearly wiped out a whole generation of men. And due to the prejudice and indifference of President Ronald Reagan and his administration, it took him some four years to speak the acronym, AIDS. Four years, at the expense of the grave suffering and death of thousands of men — human beings. Besides birthing this great injustice, Reagan — as had the mass majority of the straight population had no compassion. No compassion for the sick and dying. No compassion to act for their welfare. As they, religious leaders preached from their pulpits — AIDS was an act of God.
“Ronald Reagan first mentioned AIDS at a press conference in 1985, four years after the first cases of AIDS was announced in Los Angeles. By this time, the AIDS epidemic had long been a well-known public health crisis in America. In the conference, Reagan expresses sympathy for parents scared of sending their children to the same school as children with HIV — discounting the Centre for Disease Control having already confirmed that casual contact poses no risk of infection.” (AVERT)
Paraphrasing an article written by Caitlin Gibson for the Washington Post, she conveys: “ …by the time President Reagan finally addressed the epidemic with any seriousness in 1987, some two years after his first mentioning of AIDS when his focus was on the concerns of parents sending their non-infected children to schools with children who had HIV — by then nearly 23,000 people had died of the virus. Furthermore, Reagan ultimately labeled AIDS as ‘public health enemy No. 1,’ suggesting its spread might be slowed by ethical behavior — i.e., abstinence. And when it comes to preventing AIDS, doesn’t medicine and morality teach the same lessons?” I imagine the only thing Reagan was seriously concerned about was if his hair looked good, and his shoes were suitably shined, and his belt matched them. Basically, the subject of AIDS was material for jokes in the White House as it apparently is to comedian Michelle Wolf.
President Reagan and his administration’s failure to allot money for research, impeded the advancement of medication that possibly could have prolonged lives and lessened suffering. The deaths of these men were on his hands at the time, but he couldn’t have given a damn. Outwardly, so does Michelle Wolf or she wouldn’t have made the joke.
Comedians like Michelle Wolf believe they have a license to joke about whatever they want — regardless of how some of them are highly inappropriate concerning other people’s excruciating pain and suffering. Regardless of the long and wide scars resulting from being fatally cut. Regardless of human decency. And like Michelle Wolf, they take these unacceptable jokes all the way to their bank accounts. What’s next Michelle? A repertoire of jokes relating to Hitler’s genocide of the Jews.