Saturday, March 29, 2014

America The Stupid: #CancelColbert

I've been wanting to write this post all day, but wasn't able to think of an approach to it. I'm still not sure I have. Sometimes the wave of stupid is so strong, that it's difficult to figure out how to point it all out. In case you haven't heard, there is a protest going on of Stephen Colbert, and his satirical "news" program, The Colbert Report. It manifested as a trending hashtag, #CancelColbert. And the entire reasoning behind it is, as I said, stupid.

The segment, which aired on Thursday night, was about the owner of the Washington Redskins, and his refusal to change the name of the team, despite the fact that the name is a racial slur against Native Americans. Now, before we get into the bit, can I ask, why won't they change the name? It's not even unusual for a sports team to change names or mascots, why on earth are they so attached to it? Anyway, the owner's "compromise" was to set up a charitable fund for Native Americans instead.

Colbert's bit mocked this notion by resurrecting a (purposefully) offensive Asian character, "Ching-Chong Ding-Dong." Now, let's first point out that the character was originally used in response to a Rush Limbaugh controversy, where Rush went on at length in a sing-song faux Asian voice. And, while Limbaugh did get a little heat over it for like a day, I don't recall conservatives being up in arms about it. Funny that.

Anyway, Colbert's entire bit was both a rip on the owner of the Redskins, and on age-old Asian stereotypes held by mostly white people. Even the "Orientals or whatever" part of the faux charity name was a jab at people who complain that ethnic groups sometimes change their preferred name, and deem older terms offensive. There was nothing in the bit that was out of character, literally. The character of "Stephen Colbert" (rather than the actor) is an obtuse, jingoistic, arch conservative. He's an educated, polished Archie Bunker.

I really believe that the only people complaining about this--on the left or right--fall into just a few small categories: a) humorless people who don't understand satire, b) knee-jerk reactionaries who overreacted to a piece of the joke tweeted out of context, c) people who are always looking to be outraged about something, and d) people who probably aren't really upset, but squawk about this for other reasons.

I suppose some people of Asian descent might be offended, not knowing the full context, or the original reason for the creation of the character. But I think that's still a knee-jerk reaction. We're all guilty of that from time to time. But for heaven's sake, let it go. This is not what you thought it was. And Colbert is not going to be cancelled over this. But he might have to make an unwarranted Martin Bashir-like apology. I really hope not. I hope he turns it into an even better bit.


People Want 'The Colbert Report' Canceled Over Asian Joke
Twitter users aimed to get the hashtag #CancelColbert trending on Thursday night after the official Twitter account for "The Colbert Report" posted a joke about Asian stereotypes out of context. The now-deleted tweet read "I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever." That was a quote taken directly from a segment on Wednesday's show that lampooned Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who announced he created the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation to aid Native American tribes while ignoring calls to change the football team's much-maligned name. . .

Read more at: TPM


Twitter killed Stephen Colbert’s joke

. . .The immediate backlash was spearheaded by young activist Suey Park who created the hashtag #CancelColbert as a way of galvanizing the twitterverse against the late night satirist.
“The Colbert Report” recently responded with roughly 140 more characters clarifying:
For the record @ColbertReport is not controlled by Stephen Colbert or his show. He is @StephenAtHome Sorry for the confusion #CancelColbert. . .
Read more at: Salon 

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