AN OPEN LETTER TO DAME EDNA, OH NO! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
By Samuel Leighton-Dore
Barry Humphries, aka Dame Edna Everage, came out in support of Germaine Greer’s stance on transgender women. It really pissed Sam off.”
An Open Letter To Dame Edna Oh possum, what’ve you gone and done?
Yesterday afternoon I read something you supposedly said in response to something someone else said about the lifelong struggle someone else had with their body, and the brave choice this person made to appease it. In case you’ve forgotten (I know you’re getting on) it went a little something like this:
“I agree with Germaine! You’re a mutilated man, that’s all. Self-mutilation, what’s all this carry on? Caitlyn Jenner — what a publicity-seeking ratbag. It’s all given the stamp — not of respectability, but authenticity or something. If you criticise anything you’re racist or sexist or homophobic.”
You were commenting on political correctness and the consequences of “new puritanism” to the UK press, backing the claims of your longtime friend Germain Greer that “trans” women such as Jenner are men “who believe that they are women and have themselves castrated.” You also mentioned something mildly provocative about Americans being racist due to Downton Abbey’s all-white cast, which I suppose didn’t feel too outrageous coming from the performer who once remarked that sex “is the most beautiful thing that can take place between a happily married man and his secretary”.
Look, I totally get it. You’re a comedian, a personality, and a hilarious one at that. You’re opinionated, and have every bloody right to be. You’re a national treasure. I also understand that sometimes comedy comes at the cost of others. I’ve sat front row at a budget comedy show and been mocked for my hair, clothing and sexuality. I’ve also, embarrassingly, been guilty of making the occasional joke at another’s expense. Yes, political correctness can be a little dull and tiring at times. And there’s certainly something to be said for the new wave of social media vindication against those who don’t share so wholly in the beliefs of diversity and inclusion. But in the end, shouldn’t it all comes down to values?
Because, although I’m sure it’s super liberating to turn 81 and no longer give a flying fuck about what other people think of you, it takes a certain unattractive audacity to live and not let live, particularly when your own way of living has required the acceptance, celebration and hard-earned dollars of open-minded audiences the world over. I mean, let’s face it, you’ve made millions of dollars from being arguably the most famous female-impersonator in the World. Surely you understand, then, that female impersonators have historically struggled with the same cruelty, segregation, violence and stigma that the trans community continues to face on a daily basis? To your absolute credit, you’ve been an incredible advocate in dismantling some of that stigma in your own way. Shouldn’t Jenner therefore deserve to do the same, without facing unnecessary ridicule or rudeness from supposed allies of the greater cause?
Look, I can’t be sure what was running through your head when you called Jenner “mutilated”. But if your judgement of Caitlyn Jenner stems from her identity, perhaps you should take a look in the mirror. If your judgement stems from her money, fame or privilege, perhaps you should take a look in the mirror. If your judgement stems from her publicity-seeking behaviour, perhaps you should take a look at your own headlines. You know, the very same headlines which, I believe, coincide beautifully with your upcoming farewell tour. For which you’ve very clearly sought and received publicity.
Your comments certainly grabbed this fan’s attention, and have left me feeling a little uninspired.
Yours, One very disappointed little possum.