#Cancel Colbert: The Politics of Being Offended

Comments

1
Group membership is no guard against internalized prejudice or identifying with the majority. We know this.
2
I am totally offended by the things Joffrey does on that Game of Thrones show. I think we should start a petition to get HBO to fire the actor who plays him.
3
I wish that that person of color whom the Stranger hired to write about pop culture and the intersection of race and gender had been writing about this instead of about network TV shows.
4
Jiminy fucking christmas, y'all - AUTOPLAY: PUT IT BELOW THE JUMP.

It's not that hard. You post like three of these Viacom videos a week, it's not like you don't know how the embed works. Put them below the damned jump.
5
Man, that piece by Joslyn Stevens--whom I hadn't heard of before I hadn't heard of Suey Park--is ickier than Park's stuff.
6
Being offended every now and then is the unavoidable price that we all must pay for the right to free speech. People who can't stand being offended need to either grow the fuck up, move to a foreign country, or at least acknowledge that they are opposed to free speech.
7
Why does everything that happens on Twitter seem so petty and provincial? I can tell all of this matters A LOT to a few unfortunate souls but the rest of us should have stopped talking about this several days ago.

That said, it was all worth it for Colbert's Malkin dig. #shaaaaade
8
Love Colbert's dick-swinging response to being hounded by a twittering twat: bring the co-founder of Twitter on his show and prove he's on top of the whole game.
9
Meh. Someone who didn't bother to read the whole article/watch the whole scene got offended by something that was not meant to be interpreted literally and made a bit of a fool of herself. It lasted a few days and now it's fixed. This doesn't look like that big of a deal from over here.
10
Man, I think Park's behavior has been counterproductive and ego-driven, but that Joslyn Stevens piece is some nasty personal bullshit and doesn't deserve the clicks.
11
And... B D Wong has got some shit to do.
12
Totally as an aside, but when, exactly, did the quality of being offended by everything morph into the job title of "twitter activist"? And has there ever been a less useful moniker? I feel like if someone bragged to me about being a twitter activist, I would feel compelled to point out that I graduated first in my class in preschool.
13
@12: Complaining about being offended is now seen as activism by an oddly large number of people.
14
Hell, if she's this mad about satire, where's her ire about Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck or any of the other right wing ditto heads who say darker, more racist things WITHOUT the excuse of satire to protect them?
15
>shows white men have something to say too

Seriously?
16
Blaaargh I really appreciated #notyourasiansidekick, but Suey Park really is going off the rails in a pretty vile, prejudicial way. This is definitely reminding me of the Don't Ask Don't Tell activist Dan Choi and the consequences of his time in the spot…
17
The service is Twitter, the messages are tweets, and the users are twats.
18
Well, I think her argument would be that it's important not to give a free pass to people just because they're "on our side," especially since they can end up normalizing casually racist behavior among people who identify as good liberal anti-racists.
19
@2,

There are many people who personally attack Jack Gleeson because they hate Joffrey.
20
@ 5, 10

Disagree. Sometimes removing the concealing curtain isn't kind, but in this case the revealed truth is important. Calling out crazy has social utility. Calling out stupid opinions has social utility. And calling out misusers of racism, sexism et al. labeling has social utility.

This woman's a whacko.
21
Considering how many Tumblr social justice warriors declare themselves immune from criticism because they're gender queer or disabled (for some reason, this always brings to mind Roy's, from the IT Crowd, plaintive cry), I can't say I have much of a problem with Joslyn Stevens' critique of Suey Park. If you're such a delicate flower that you can't stand up to criticism, then get the fuck off the Internet.
22
At first I thought Suey Park must be a parody to ridicule the 'social' justice movement but then I realized that she is, in fact, quite typical of this brand of asinine politics. Just look at Slog.
23
By the way, did Suey get dumped by her white boyfriend or something?
24
@18: It's not a free pass, it's satire.

It's important not to tolerate stupidity, because it can end up normalizing stupid behavior among people who identify as good liberal anti-racists and not just the twactivists.
25
The more coherent people who sympathize with Park's pov point out, quite rightly, that Asian-Americans are often an easy target, and it's unlikely that Colbert or his writers would have used a black or Hispanic stereotype in place of Ching Chong Ding Dong.

I like Colbert a lot and find Park increasingly repellent, but saying "it's satire!" isn't a blanket justification.
26
@ 18 - Whose argument? If you are talking about Park's point, then no you are wrong. I actually heard her accidently explain exactly how she was wrong in an interview. She said something along the lines of "satire depends on the satirist's expectations of what is acceptable." She was trying to say that Colbert was relying on his audience's acceptance of making fun of asians. But it is the opposite. Satire depends on your expectation that the audience will find your satirical analogy offensive. If they don't, it will appear as though you are actually supporting the thing you are trying to mock. Swift's essay wouldn't have worked as satire if his audience thought it was acceptable to eat poor irish babies, and Colbert's audience wouldn't have gotten the joke unless they found the idea of the fake charity patently and unquestionably offensive.
27
Colbert is a national treasure. As is Stewart. I expect to see his renewed attack on campaign finance per the SCOTUS decision today.
28
@25: "it's unlikely that Colbert or his writers would have used a black or Hispanic stereotype in place of Ching Chong Ding Dong."

This doesn't ring true at all. If I had time for Youtube I could probably find more than a few satirical bits about "burritos" or Obama being a "Gangsta."
29
I dunno, do you see Colbert doing a thick-lipped Stepin Fetchit impersonation?
30
@ 25 - That isn't how satire works. You want to make your satiracal opinion as obviously wrong as possible, while maintaining the analogy with the opinion/action you are satirizing. It is important to point out that Asians are not the target of the joke, the Redskins organization and Dan Snyder are. But, if it were truly more acceptable to make fun of asians than some other ethnicity (if Colbert believed that, or believed his audience would) it would have made them less likely to pick a fake asian charity, since the whole point is to pick something that you know your audience will find offensive (or wrong, or whatever you are trying to say about the real target).
31
If it was appropriate to the satirical point, sure.

Which ethnic minority *would* have been an acceptable reference for this particular piece?
32
More proof that far left wing race and gender activists have zero sense of humor.
33
@ 25/26 - I think you are conflating satire and stereotypes/impersenations. Did you watch the bit? He didn't do any impersenations (and it is hard to imagine a scenario where the type of impersenation from @29 would be effective) and he didn't make fun of any racial stereotypes. He was just making fun of the use of offensive names.
34
The problem is the "conversation" about this is too speculative to really change anyone's mind, and seems more like a retroactive justification for what began as misplaced outrage. Arguments about what jokes would've been used depending on the group may tell us something about society, but isn't that what the satire was supposed to be doing in the first place?
35
@33 I did watch the bit, it featured a re-airing of his original Ching Chong Ding Dong impersonation from several years ago. Which is intentionally buffoonish and awful, but I can see how it bothers Asian-Americans who have gotten that sort of shit in their lives and don't want it being laughed at on national television even if the point is satirical. You never know who's laughing at the satire and who's laughing at the funny dialect.

@31 Colbert doing old black stereotypes would never happen, even if he felt it was an appropriate way to satirize a target. He, or the network, would know that there would be a backlash, from people saying, "Even if it's satire, these stereotypes are part of an extremely painful history that you aren't part of and shouldn't exploit for a quick joke."
36
Oh gee, Dan - how *edgy* of you to take down some person who is female and not the same color as you for talking about something you do not know a single goddamn thing about, personally, and about which you will not consider that hey, you might be wrong? as a male white person of a lot of goddamn privilege. How original of you.
37
I like Colbert and think that the outrage over this particular joke managed to be a bit overblown, but it's a bit troubling that Dan didn't actually list any responses from people of Asian descent other than the originator of the hashtag. Yes, the first response is from a WOC (who seems to have a personal vendetta against Suey Park, but that's a separate story), but being a person of color is not the same as being an Asian person, and that's the specific community the joke mentions, not all people of color.

Like I said, I do like Colbert and think he's generally terrifically on target, but I don't think it's wrong to acknowledge that this joke was a poor one. Yes, he's making a larger point, but that doesn't necessarily mean Asian people have to deal with offense towards their community.
38
Could see what people of the back of the bus! Now that's What I call equity!
39
Good to see white people at the back of the bus now that's what I called the equity!
40
Thanks for sharing that first link, Dan. It echoed some of my, to borrow Colbert's shtick, "gut" response to her.

She strikes me as a damaged person who has a self-fulfilling complex that guarantees that every venomous thing she visits upon others (which she dubs activism) is mirrored back to her (making her a victim). If you see her new interview in Salon--the latest in their flood--she is arguing that all white people, everywhere and always, are bullying oppressors no matter whether they agree or disagree, speak or remain silent, empathize or pathologize,. She is basically arguing that because she lives the daily experience of racism that she is therefore given a free pass to attack, demean, and bully any white person and that if they object they are "tone-policing" and confirming her presumptive dismissal of them. She cannot be wrong, ever, and she is never responsible for her own conduct.

"Anti-racist activists" like her make me insane. They make it impossible to have a genuine conversation about race and racism and they are PC gifts for the right. It's not an accident that Malkin, Ms. Internment = Yay!, counts her a friend.

41
@40: Yeah, the Salon interview sealed the deal for me; she is not interested in any sort of positive outcomes from this. She also sounds like one of my grad school classmates who loved to babble lots of academic jargon as a smokescreen for the utter lack of original thought or courageous conviction.

http://www.salon.com/2014/04/03/cancelco…
42
@41: You only had one!?!?!? I'm jealous!

I have an American Studies PhD, and on some particularly disheartening days in grad school I feared this was the consensus of the field, especially when a simple question like, "Ok, what evidence do you have for that argument?" would prompt a harangue about how I hid behind empiricism so that I wouldn't have to acknowledge my white privilege.

And just round the corner from that ad-hominem were the "The scientific method is another tool of the oppressor" rants.

Yep, don't miss those either.

What I will say for Salon, however, is that this interview does seem to be showing that she is unstable, narcissistic, and so consumed with venom towards white people that she has no capacity for intellectual honesty, let alone grasps of basic empathy, nuance, or contradiction. As such, she is not someone sincere anti-racists should be touting.
43
@42: Well, I had another one, but he actually knew what he was talking about and applied that knowledge towards utterly odious positions that I'd repeatedly punch him (verbally) on in class. He was so used to intimidating people (how ironic that the loudest zealots for social justice and anarchy rely on bullying tactics) that he never knew how to respond. And there was a whole group for whom "Revolution!" would be the answer to all of society's woes. It was an interdisciplinary program, but rather overrun with anarchist sociology people who were so far left they were right-wing. They also loved to pick on science... even as they exercise more empirical beancounting methods than I do (biology and philosophy background - I do theory).

I agree that the Salon interview is very effective to that measure. As someone who is an Asian mutt, I grew up always having to explain myself, and guess what? I get tired of it sometimes, but the guillotine ain't the right answer, so I just keep a FAQ sheet around to hand to the ignorant. I'll bet she'd dismiss me as indicative of White Man Hegemony anyway.
44
My instincts on this: She was in fact trying to claim Colbert's scalp and not really making some kind of satire, believing it would make her some variety of celebrity that would potentially make her a career of some kind. Her almost-success has been almost as good, turning a basically unknown 23-year-old into someone who's getting a lot of press (for at least 15 minutes).

She got as much attention as she did because there are lots of people who would like Stephen Colbert gone for reasons completely unrelated to the joke that got him in trouble when quoted out of context. I also wouldn't be surprised if some of the Twitter support she got was paid shills, which happens all the time to make certain hashtags "trend".

Stephen's original joke was clearly just that, a joke, and the whole point was that Dan Snyder's real foundation was no more acceptable than Stephen Colbert's fake foundation. Anyone with half a brain could see that.
45
getting back to the redskins, what's a more serious act of disrespect or violation of rights?
1. mr. Snyder maintains the name redskins and oh about 1 million fans just love it; most Native Americans, and many others, are offended by this name.
2. All Americans maintain a system in which DC residents lack voting rights; as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, A. Samoa, VI, etc. This isn't "disrespectful words" but an actual legal system of second class citizenship, putting some 6.5 millions into a legally subjugated status without democracy.

isn't it a bit hypocritical for americans outside of DC/Puerto Rico, etc., to complain about 1, but not 2?

46
oh, i wandered onto the wrong website. it has a hipstery white liberal design, but i'm getting a creepy white conservative vibe.
47
Privilege is the new N-word.