The recent shot of Kathy Griffin holding up what appears to be Donald Trump's severed head --
-- has gotten a lot of attention. People have likened the shot to an ISIS beheading. It's also brings to mind Perseus holding up the head of Medusa, maybe because of all the hair:
Everybody reacted in predictably silly ways.
Trump himself had to weigh in by Tweeting that Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. (How much better if he had just ignored her.)
The photo evidently came to the attention of the Secret Service. (They do have to weigh each and every last threat, but this is a little ridiculous: Griffin, a comedienne who makes her living by being outrageous, is obviously not a threat.)
A number of people from both Left and Right, eager to demonstrate their virtue, condemned the photo as "offensive" and "inappropriate" and "disgusting" and "wrong."
Griffin herself, reeling from the almost universal condemnation, issued an insincere apology: "I am sorry. I went too far. I was wrong." (She had predicted a negative reaction, and was obviously sorry only for its strength and seeming unanimity.)
The most interesting outcome will be how it affects her career. It will probably have little long term effect. It was, after all, Trump she was mocking. And in the end, Hollywood is not going to punish one of their own for essentially toeing the company line.
What's most telling about the incident is how the reaction compared to what would have happened had some Hollywood figure held up a bloody replica of Barack Obama's head.
That person's show biz career would have ended. The TV show appearances would disappear, the gigs would dry up, and that would have been that. Griffin's career will suffer some short term damage, but in the long run should be fine.
Back in 2010 I wrote about what comedians should have said about Obama -- and the deafening silence we got instead -- here and here and here.
Personally, I thought the photo was sort of funny, just because it was so wrong. I've always been a big Kathy Griffin fan, and what I like most about her is her outrageousness. A comedian's job is to push the boundaries, and maybe step over them. Otherwise, they're just not funny. (Griffin is, by the way, as merciless about herself as she is about everyone else.)
And there's nothing lamer than a comedian who's afraid to offend anyone.
The only thing I find offensive about this incident is the hypocrisy implicit in what would have happened to anyone who mocked Obama similarly.