(Warning: Explicit language)
Even factoring in that life regularly boils over with befuddling complexities, it’s tough to imagine the same comedian who opened a recent stand-up routine with stupefyingly crass — and arguably racist — cracks about murdered “white kids”, went on to quip heartbreakingly about some of human relationships’ most fundamental truths. It’s a reality blast from a disorientingly unexpected source. Startling.
In his new Netflix special Tamborine, funnyman Chris Rock devotes a sizable chunk of his material to the topic of his still-smarting divorce woes: his overarching neglect of his wife, serial philandering, pornography addiction and the marriage’s resultant, distressing dissolution. “I was not a good husband,” concedes the foul-mouthed fifty-three-year-old. “I didn’t listen. I wasn’t kind. I had an attitude, I thought, ‘I pay for everything; I can do what I want.’ ” The porn problem exacted a price, too: he became “like sexually autistic … desensitized”, unable to maintain eye contact and key into verbal cues. Sexual satisfaction became deepeningly unattainable for him.
Definitely unflattering stuff. And Rock owns it, branding himself a “f***ing a**hole” and insisting, “I brought this sh*t on myself.”
About halfway through, amidst hammeringly gratuitous profanity, splashes of blasphemy and some downright gross bits, Tamborine incongruously delivers a refreshingly practical how-to-save-your-marriage rant. Rock offers nothing less than penetrating counsel for those aiming to preserve long-term wedded bliss.
“Take out the ‘mother*****r’s, of which there are many, and you could almost be listening to an unusually sharp-witted pastor,” remarks National Review‘s Kyle Smith.
Amidst the wisecracker’s puckish, bug-eyed delivery and the audience’s guffawing, the alert viewer will pick out biting poignancy; genuine regret. When CR begins pointedly riffing on his marital infidelities, a palpable tone of heaviness intrudes into the comedic proceedings. The non-funny punchline is explicit: “I’m talking from hell … Divorce — you don’t want no part of this sh*t … You got somebody you love, hold tight. Commit.”
Ooof. Gut punch.
I can’t recommend Tamborine. Its befouling and relentless crudity cancels any thumbs-up from me. Even so, it does contain nuggets of invaluable wisdom. Chris Rock is a middle-aged ex-husband and father, admitting to something many a younger man would be well served to embrace. Something many will discover sooner or later: it ain’t smart to make your penis the end-all-be-all of your existence. Yielding myopically to heedless sex-mania can strip a person of the most precious treasures.
At another odd juncture, Rock allows he’s trying to get his life together, half-heartedly confessing, ” I’m tryin’ to find God before God finds me.” One wonders: like too many others, has the entertainer fallen under the misapprehension that the Creator frowns on sensual gratification of any type, of making whoopee altogether?
Let’s settle this issue: Sex is the remarkable handiwork of a gracious Lord. All of its emotional comforts and exhilarating pleasures? His idea. He electively wired those features into the lovemaking act, designing it as not only the means of propagating the human race — a rather momentous by-product, I’d assert — but also the ultimate expression of intimacy between a man and woman pledged in exclusive, lifelong commitment to one another. Hint: that’s “marriage” I’m referencing — the actual kind, mind you, not its phony LGBTQ counterfeit so much the rage lately.
Contra the vaudevillian version peddled by hipster modern culture, Judeo/Christian-based religion — at least when it consistently hews to its biblical roots — is anything but anti-sex. As with any inherently good thing, God is exuberantly pro-coitus; providing it’s not misused, perverted into something illicit. Notwithstanding other impressions generated by His well-meaning but misguided servants, the Lord of All is an unambivalent booster of sexual affections — between spouses.
The Scriptures are eminently comfortable with the notion of a married relationship’s enthusiastic, fulfilling eroticism. Anyone denying that is either dishonest or has never attentively read the Book. Frank and plainspoken when addressing romance and “birds-n-bees” themes, it, nonetheless. never stoops to leering salaciousness. A common biblical phrase, for example, describes the primary sex act as a man “going into” a woman — unflowery, restrained, utilitarian; it gets the point across without needlessly titillating.
It’s the “Mr. and Mrs.” piece that causes such dyspepsia to short-sighted, live-for-the-moment secularists/materialists. They insist the orgasm-as-plaything option be accorded equal affirmation to the traditional sex-within-marriage model. That former paradigm – the decoupling of amorous intimacy from wedlock – has dominated Western Civilization for decades. The widespread fallout? A tsunami of sexually transmitted diseases; industrial-scale abortion; collapse of the nuclear family; adolescents and teens addled by pre-mature sex-saturation; #MeToo; the wholesale vulgarizing of modern culture.
Ben Shapiro recently observed that, having eradicated the requisite husband/wife foundation for sexual activity, 2018’s social circles are forced to concoct comically grotesque systems of pseudo-rules for horny humans’ libidinous laborings: permission required for each concupiscent step, learning to decode when “No” means “No”, versus “No” connoting “Go for it”, etc.
A simpler solution? The honeymoon night as neon-bright line of demarcation. Two individuals of the opposite sex covenanting themselves to each other for a lifetime and investing the balance of that lifetime learning to enjoy one another on a sexual level (and every other); working at it, consciously establishing it as part of their sacrosanct union; relishing this singular facet of existence which they share with one another and no other person on the planet.
That approach puts a radically glorious spin on “the horizontal bop”, doesn’t it? Sure beats a few moments of mere biological grunting and climaxing.
Turning suddenly serious during his Tamborine gig, Chris Rock ruefully advises, “Some of these lessons, you’ve just gotta learn … I’m retired. You get a certain age … I’m done cheating.”
Mind you, he could have grasped these insights decades ago. The God Who thought of sex in the first place revealed them millennia past. That said, for the remorseful joker the revelations came, but late – which, though undeniably painful, is better than never.
First published at Clash Daily
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.