If you weren’t already aware, on Twitter there’s a #cancelcolbert hashtag trending tonight because of this racist tweet.
Firstly, I would like to applaud your efforts to draw attention to each forward and backward step in the progressiveness of liberal satire, but I came across your post trying to find info on #CancelColbert, and now that I’ve found the truth I felt obligated to share it.
This article (among many others, but this one written by an Australian of Asian descent) explains the pretenses under which the hashtag was spurred and the fact that @StephenAtHome (the actual person) has no control over what Comedy Central decides to post on @ColbertReport, which has quite regularly lead to satirical comments being taken out of context.
It’s a little ironic therefore that the online protest associated with the hashtag has also mostly consisted of taking things out of context. Protest is certainly not a bad idea in response to this indiscretion, but it must be directed at the actual transgressor, the PR dept of @ComedyCentral, and with a level of reasoning higher than that which caused the mistake.
If I may make a meager suggestion: please continue to shed light on minority issues surrounding the use of language in liberal media, but also be willing to find the underlying source of any particular line of protest in order to avoid giving undue attention to red herrings. It greatly helps the respectability of all of us, liberals and minorities alike, to avoid them. Thank you !
Wow. I’ve never seen someone be so rude, yet so polite at the same time.
~Firstly~, if I can hurt the respectability of liberals by listening to and respecting the concerns of people of color, then liberalism doesn’t deserve any respect in the first place.
Secondly, the joke in the tweet wasn’t “taken out of context”, it was told out of context. All that stuff about the racist sports team’s charity? That was not in the original tweet. The Colbert Report’s twitter account, ie, the online face of Colbert’s show, decided that a portion of the joke—the part that makes it something other than blatantly racist—wasn’t necessary for it to be funny. Holding Colbert and his show accountable for this is hardly going too far. Someone needs to apologize. Someone needs to be fired. And Comedy Central needs to drastically change the way it markets its shows.
Also, I do actually do my research. Everything in your post, I already knew and took into consideration before making my two line post. The one that basically just said “hey here’s a thing that’s happening and this clearly racist tweet is racist”.
Thirdly, the context doesn’t help as much as you think it does. White people, like Colbert and myself, have gotten waaaaay too comfortable using disgusting racist stereotypes to mock ~the real racists~. At some point, we should at least be asking ourselves if we’ve done enough to earn the right to wield this awful history as a weapon. If we’re responsible enough to use it. If we’re even really as different as we think we are from the terrible white people we wield it against. If our motivations in doing so are to help people of color, or to separate ourselves from ~the racists~ and dodge any accountability for our own awful behaviors. If we are using satire and irony as a cloak of deniability to get away with simply telling racist jokes and putting on blackface.
White comedians aren’t doing that, at all. There are more comedy shows starring bigots that we’re “supposed to hate” than there are shows starring the targets of that bigotry. There are likely just as many white people—not on television—using racist slurs and stereotypes as a form of hipster racism as there are ~actual racists~ using them. Blackface is still being done in 2014, thanks almost exclusively to white comedians trying to be as edgy as the 100 other white comedians doing blackface since the 80s. There are white people that watch Colbert’s show, take in all of his messages, and are going after Suey Park, the creator of the hashtag, using racism and misogyny to attack her for speaking out against him.
Colbert and the rest of the liberal comedians have severe problems that go far beyond a single tweet.
Here are some articles that I feel are required reading for white people who want to do responsible comedy. If you must bring race into your act, I think you should at least have some basic understanding of what you’re getting into. These are long, and they may not be easy to get through, but everyone who reads this post should read them.
- Postmodern Geekdom as Simulated Ethnicity (potentially explains why white comedians are so desperate to cling onto their ironic racism. They want to separate themselves from the ~true oppressors~ and deny their own privileges in life. A very long read)
- A Historical guide to Hipster Racism (A huge listing of articles on hipster racism by Racialicious.com)
- This is White History (A tumblr blog that shows you what your high school history classes omitted. This is to gain some better understanding of what people of color have gone through, and how/why you and I as white people living in 2014 have benefited from it.)
- The perfect post about the issue (A short but sweet takedown of Colbert’s ironic racism.)
- Another post by the same blog
- The Devil and Dave Chappelle (An article about why Dave Chappelle left comedy in the mid 2000s. I’ve included it because it clearly illustrates how complicated racial humor with a mostly white audience can be, even for black people. This article is obviously intended for the black community, so bear that in mind if you read it. Also, it unfortunately references Eddie Murphy sleeping with a trans sex worker.)
Note: I think the problems involved with ironic racism and transmisogynistic humor are very different. Until very recently, there’s been no reason for liberal comedians to hide their disgust for trans women behind irony. They could just be open with it and face absolutely no social ramifications. This is in the process of changing within certain circles and if we all continue to work really hard at it, we can expect ironic transmisogyny within the next 5–10 years!