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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Opinion

The Colbert Report: think before tweeting


I’ve been watching “The Colbert Report” for as long as I can remember. It’s the perfect combination of ridiculous and funny, all while still remaining thoughtful — a feat that not every show on TV is able to accomplish.

Stephen Colbert makes his living by making jokes that push the envelope and make people, including myself, cringe and moan as they skirt the edge between truth and just plain dumb. Colbert has spent the last eight years crafting a show and a persona, both of which are defined by being over the top — he has made it his job to play the devil’s advocate.

It’s why I watch his show day after day; it allows me to see things which are controversial in a brand new light. Not even Colbert’s celebrity guests and authors are spared — everyone is given a nice big slice of humble pie, courtesy of Colbert.

The recent #CancelColbert hashtag has made it perfectly clear that people are willing to forget the countless years of crafting and hard work that Colbert and his entire team and crew have put forward, all in name of one simple little tweet.

The now-deleted tweet read, “I’m willing to show the #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”

Of course, when taken out of context, this tweet actually sounds racist. But then again, if one were to take a lot of things out of context, they probably sound incredibly racist. If someone just looked at certain parts of “Huckleberry Finn,” they would think Mark Twain was both a giant racist and a completely ignorant human being. Fortunately, this is not the case.

Colbert was referencing a sketch he had produced satirizing Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s efforts to reach out to the Native American community in light of the recent uproar regarding the insensitivity of the team’s name.

A group called the “Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation” was created to assist the Native American community as a sort of consolation for the NFL’s naming a team after a derogatory term for the group. The hypocrisy, of course, being that the very term that is so offensive to Native Americans is included in the name of a foundation that is supposedly meant to improve their status in the U.S.

In order to ridicule this still-offensive organization and the ignorantly racist mindset associated with taking this action — a classic example of “too little, too late” — Colbert used satire to create an example of an organization that would clearly be racist both for the sake of humor and to point out real racism that needs to be addressed.

However, something probably needs to be pointed out: the definition of satire, according to the Google dictionary, is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

This definition has apparently been lost on Suey Park and Eunsong Kim, who published an article March 28 in Time Magazine defending the hashtag — and if you don’t believe this whole thing is stupid, consider that I just wrote the phrase “defending the hashtag” — entitled “We Want to #CancelColbert.”

The article attempts to justify the movement by declaring that white liberals feel “entitled to make jokes about ‘The Other’ in the name of ‘progress.’”

But the “joke” isn’t targeting “The Other;” it is an “indictment” of the “hypocrisy” of the “actual racist thing that happened.”

More importantly, I’d like to point out that while I am a liberal, I’m a person of color and definitely recognize that comedians and hosts alike sometimes use us as props to make light of things that are not funny in any way, shape or form. However, Colbert is not one of these comedians.

Let’s ignore the fact that it wasn’t even him who wrote the tweet to begin with. In many ways, Colbert has done nothing throughout his career to indicate that his humor is meant to offend people of color. If anything, Colbert has shown time and time again that he is willing to make himself look like a giant moron for the sake of pointing out the other giant morons who actually exist among us today.

So don’t #CancelColbert. Instead, let us all #ThinkBeforeWeTweet.

Opinion columnist Carolina Treviño is an advertising freshman and may be reached at [email protected]

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