At the end of May, Kathy Griffin staged a photo where she posed holding a fake severed head of the American president. As you could imagine, that didn’t go well and she came under fire from pretty much everyone. Donald Trump and the whole first family attacked her on Twitter, she received death threats from Trump supporters, became the subject of a secret service investigation, lost hosting and stand-up gigs and even best friend Anderson Cooper turned on her.
At the time, Griffin responded to the backlash by posting an apology video and holding a tearful press conference where she, in her own words, ‘played the victim.’ It’s been three months since then and the comedian has made a complete 180. She’s no longer apologizing for her photo, her comedy or her political opinions.
‘President Trump just pardoned Joe Arpaio, who was essentially running a concentration camp in the Arizona desert,’ she told The Cut this week, ‘He said there are some good Nazis, and he’s kicking out young adults who were brought here as kids by their parents, and I’m the one who has to continue to apologize?’
Griffin is no longer willing to tiptoe around her controversial comedy while the president of the United States feels no need to monitor the statements he makes. She sees her criticism of him as a crucial part of democracy. And she’s kind of right about that.
‘I would be abandoning my principles as a comic and a human being if I backed off President Trump or any public person,’ she said, ‘Comics by their nature are anti-Establishment. They are charged with the often unenviable task of going after people in power. I will never abdicate that responsibility.’
And she’s certainly demonstrating that. Her new (and first-ever) world tour is called Laugh Your Head Off, clearly playing off the controversial photo. She also told off the host of Australian morning show Sunrise. The host, Samantha Armytage, cited the response of other comedians as evidence that Griffin went too far by posting the photo. Griffin replied, ‘No, you’re full of crap, stop this! Stop acting like my little picture is more important than talking about the actual atrocities that the president of the United States is committing.’
While Griffin has a point, it’s also kind of a cop-out to point fingers when it comes to offensive public statements. You can’t just say ‘But he said something worse,’ and expect things to go away.
We’re interested to see if this is a brand new harsher Kathy Griffin or really just the same one we’ve both laughed and cringed at all along.