|Chelsea in real life, and in Jeff's sketchbook. I like the sleepy eyes and|
protruding lower lip--but yeah, that schnoz does take center stage.
Anyway, back when Jeff originally put the picture on his Instagram feed, he immediately experienced one of those weird instances only possible because we're living in the future hive-mind. Jeff actually was contacted pretty quickly by Ms. Peretti herself--who said she did not appreciate the picture or the hashtag. Jeff kindly shared his screencaps with me, which I now share with you.
All right . . . first off, let me say that if Johnny Depp had contacted me to criticize any of the 21 Jumpstreet drawings I did of him in the late 80s, I would have freaked right the hell out. But with the amazing power of the hashtag, any fan, commentator, artist, or teenaged worshipper can sometimes get the attention of a celebrity--whether or not they are trying to. Sure, hashtaggers might be attention hounds eager for any celeb eyeball time . . . or they might just be trying to create an easily indexable set of drawings, or reach out to other fans, or identify the subject if that person isn't particularly well known (as I said, I had never heard of her until recently).
Chelsea came in like a hammer: immediately calling for Jeff's death and forcing an early proof of Goodwin's Law by getting to Hitler in her second comment.
All right though, she's a comedian. They get an initial pass on stuff that might make me think someone is a raging asshole . . . she might be saying those things ironically, like in a comedian way.
But she goes on. She's irked that she was tagged. She states that other caricatures Jeff did made women look hot (did she take the time to look through his feed then, see other drawings of his?). She claims that caricatures aren't a super tricky art form, just give people big noses if they have a big nose.
Well, okay, yeah she has a point. Caricature can be highly rendered and incredibly complex--but it can also be a delightfully simple art form. If you drew a caricature of someone like Chelsea and gave them a small nose, the caricature would fail. But she echoes a joke I often tell when people ask me what caricature is. I say "Well some people think it's just a cartoon drawing with a big nose, but that's a vicious rumor started by people who are angry that they have big noses."
The comment exchange ends with her eloquently quipping "I don't hope you die I hope you have to make your living as a caricature artist bye boo boo."
Jeff is pretty calm, in my opinion, and retains some class and etiquette. He's a little sarcastic but he never name calls or derides her profession. And he complies with her request to remove tag and his other post. He tells her he likes her work and doesn't think she's ugly.
I didn't think she was ugly. Not until the comment thread anyway.
But seriously, it gets more irritating. I had heard she mentioned caricatures in her Netflix special, so I dialed it up and watched the whole thing. At minute 36, she talks about how social media and "comment culture" might have damaged great minds and artistic geniuses of the past. How young comedians at early stages of development might have their "artistic journey" stunted by jerks commenting about them online. She's being cheeky and sarcastic, but she's clearly trying to make the point on behalf of comedians.
Yeah, young comedians should be protected from that sort of thing, of course. How awful that they have to deal with folks saying rude things to them online. Like wishing them dead or comparing them to Hitler.
At minute 39, she mentions googling herself and discovering Jeff's caricature. She calls him "someone" and doesn't mention his name, but she talks about commenting on it and repeats these comments pretty verbatim. The audience laughs. She gives Jeff a saucy French accent and guesses he might have been at a State Fair when he posted it. She rips on the general art form and says its a way for bullies to get into art.
More laughs. Now, she's no dummy. Jeff pretty much handed her material to use on her comedy special. She used it, she's making great money from it, and if you ask me she really owes Jeff a fruit basket and a thank-you card, at the very least.
|Chelsea dishing it out.|
I have one big piece of evidence that tells me Chelsea really cannot be all that sensitive about the size of her nose. One big, anchor-shaped piece of evidence that sits in the center of her face. After years in the spotlight and probably seeing hundreds of troll comments saying "this chick would be hot if she just got a nose job," she has not yet paid an LA doctor to hack it off her face. I commend that. Having listened to her comedy special, I would say with confidence that any surgical change to her nose would throw off the nasally voice she does as a gag to describe her selfish or bored thoughts. It works for her the way it is now, she is smart to keep her nose. Kudos to you, Ms. Peretti. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
|Drew Friedman's take on Jerry Lewis.|
As I have said before, racialized features are a hot button--yet, if you think logically on it, isn't erasing or ignoring that feature way more offensive than celebrating it? If a feature has become identified as indicative of a certain race, then downplaying it would be dishonest and disrespectful. It says "I like you as a comedian, but wow, if I draw your nose the way it is you'll look JEWISH and that would be AWFUL, so I'll clean you up a bit and de-Jew you . . . there, isn't that better?" How condescending. My motto is that if a caricature is done with love, if the intent is celebration, then try and look at the art with that in mind.
Plenty of caricatures are done in celebration. If you want to take a tour of funny-looking caricatures of well-loved comedians, start with a search of "Robin Williams caricature" on google and see how many drawings make fun of his nose (not to mention his body hair, his beady eyes, his chin, and his lipless grin). With his recent death, many many artists took to the internet and posted their drawings of him out of respect and love. No one was trying to skewer the guy.
|Beautiful Robin Williams caricatures by Paul Moyse, Anthony Geoffroy, and Jeff Stahl.|
Robin is missed, and loved, by so many who make their living going for laughs--be it in the standup arena or on paper in theme parks and yes, State Fairs. These caricatures really do well at capturing his expression and evoking the feeling of who he was. I cannot imagine him complaining about how his nose grandly protrudes and dips below his mouth in all these depictions.
|Anyone remember Jennifer Grey? She had a face, a|
memorable cute face. Then she erased it. Still cute, but
now more meh-morable than memorable.
Too many women with great noses, or great unique features, are hacking them off and smoothing them out once they arrive to Hollywood. And I'm not sure doing so really does them any favors. Pretty might be pretty but it's a dime a dozen. Barbie doll features are only good for so long, and they're interchangeable. I'd like to think that stand-up comics are akin to caricature artists in that they have developed a really fine-tuned ability to make fun of themselves, and one another. Louis CK has elevated self-deprecation and making fun of his schlumpy, aging ginger appearance into an art form. Anyone who has seen a celebrity roast knows these guys (and gals) can really take it and dish it out when it comes to lampooning each other. A big-nose drawing should not truly rankle any comedian.
I'm glad Ms. Peretti's nose is still intact, and if her reaction to Jeff was an honest one, I hope she eventually gets a little more loosened up about having it drawn. If Robin Williams is any example, the more famous and beloved you become as a comic, the more people will be drawing you. Many of these drawings will have big noses, because you have a big nose. Some will be exaggerated, because that is what caricature does. And you have a choice at how you react to this. You can try and bully the artists one by one into removing hashtags and taking down their work (just, if this is the way you go, beware the Streisand Effect) . . . or you can embrace any caricatures you find as proof that you are getting more widely known and beloved.
|From John Martinez's deviant art page, part of a larger|
collection he did of the whole Brooklyn Nine Nine cast.
As for my end, I promise to do my best and refrain from going onto young comedian's Twitter or Instagram feeds to compare them to Hitler and hope that they die. Because, you know, that might stifle their artistic development.
And Jeff, I too hope you make your living as a caricature artist. You're damn good at it, boo boo.