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Mar 28 2014

Uproar over Stephen Colbert parody

Stephen Colbert did a bit where he satirized Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington football team, for his ham-handed efforts to sanitize his use of an offensive name for the team. Colbert did this the way he usually does, by taking what the target of his humor did and carrying it to the extreme. Of course, it was to be expected that some would get angry at that satire and Anthony Zurcher explains what the fuss was about.

You can see Colbert’s clip below (as part of a segment that includes making fun of golf) or at this link.

(This clip aired on March 26, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)

15 comments

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  1. 1
    kyoseki

    … and then Deadspin had to go and do this:
    http://deadspin.com/gooks-dont-get-redskins-joke-1553907157

  2. 2
    kyoseki

    …. aaaand that’s what I get for not really reading the entire thing.

    The two authors of this post happen to be Korean-American—one of them, like Suey Park, is a Korean-American from Illinois.

  3. 3
    Matt G

    Illinois Korean-Americans? I hate Illinois Korean-Americans! (Apologies to The Blues Brothers and Illinois Korean-Americans!)

    This is the kind of humor used in The Office. The jokes were not racist, sexist and homophobic, but rather MADE FUN OF people who are racist, sexist and homophobic.

  4. 4
    Matt G

    And naturally Michelle “racism doesn’t exist and by the way it is liberals who are racist” Malkin is involved. Sad to say she was in my class at Oberlin.

  5. 5
    left0ver1under

    A charity for WROAF? Why? He never played for Washington, he played for New Orleans and Kansas City.

    http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/R/RoafWi00.htm

    Those getting upset at Colbert aren’t people who didn’t get the joke, they’re people who want to avoid it. They’d rather play the overly-sensitive card than recognize what he was getting at.

  6. 6
    DrVanNostrand

    I think this was a really classic case of taking the satire way out of context. Comedy Central kind of screwed up with the tweet part. Taken out of context of the full video, and out of context of Ching-Chong Ding-Dong’s origin (mocking Limbaugh’s racist Chinese impression), the tweet could certainly be offensive. In context, it’s blatantly obvious satire, that punches up at the powerful people who do these kinds of things seriously (both Snyder and Limbaugh).

    It kind of reminds me of the Daniel Tosh thing. Many feminist bloggers pointed out and made lists of dozens of rape jokes that didn’t inspire anger because rapists or rapey attitudes were clearly the butt of the joke. Being in favor of social justice doesn’t mean you have to give up satire.

  7. 7
    kyoseki

    I didn’t even watch the original bit and I still got the point, I honestly don’t know how anyone could see Colbert saying that and not realize it’s satire.

    I was rather questioning of some of the wording in the Deadspin article until I realize who wrote it.

    Context is everything.

  8. 8
    Reginald Selkirk

    …. aaaand that’s what I get for not really reading the entire thing.
    The two authors of this post happen to be Korean-American—one of them, like Suey Park, is a Korean-American from Illinois.

    And….? Are you saying it’s about to make “gook” jokes if you’re a gook, but not if you’re not a “gook”? That view is inherently racist.

  9. 9
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    From the Deadspin article:

    Snyder had hired Lanny Davis to launch a PR campaign that would somehow take the stink off his doomed defense of a racist name,

    Now there’s a match made in heaven.

  10. 10
    jamessweet

    Mano is missing some important context here (which is deeply ironic — you’ll see why in a minute): People are freaking out, not because of the bit, but because of a TWEET which had the “Ching-Chong” joke devoid of the context about Snyder. Without the context, the only joke is “har har, look at me being racist” — which is not really satire.

    The tweet was a mistake. The context is necessary in order to make it “punching up” rather than “punching down”. Colbert himself has disavowed the tweet, as I understand. Somebody messed up.

  11. 11
    demonhauntedworld

    Well, this Suey Park person is … interesting. She’s a self-identified progressive and Christian who is opposed to ALL marriage because, and I quote: “it enhances state power and violence”

    Pro-tip: If Michelle Malkin is agreeing with you, something is wrong.

  12. 12
    Matt G

    One thing that really bothers me is when people cry “racism!” only when their group is the perceived target. Anti-black joke? OK! Anti-Asian joke? Not OK! Which is why I don’t get rape apologetics among conservatives. What if it were you, or your wife, or daughter, or sister, or mother? Rape should not be a partisan issue, yet it is.

  13. 13
    kyoseki

    jamessweet

    People are freaking out, not because of the bit, but because of a TWEET which had the “Ching-Chong” joke devoid of the context about Snyder. Without the context, the only joke is “har har, look at me being racist” — which is not really satire.

    Despite never seeing the episode of the Colbert Report, I remember seeing the original tweet and immediately understanding that it was a reference to the Redskins owner, I’m almost positive there were a series of other tweets referencing the Redskins leading up to it.

    The only people flying off the handle were the ones who saw the tweet in isolation and didn’t bother to investigate any further, anyone who knows Colbert knows that there has to be more to the thing than plain racism, it’s just not his style.

    It reminds me of an incident a few years ago where I responded to the comment:
    “If it’s a choice between remaining in the EU or England becoming the 51st state, then I’m grabbing a star and starting to sew” with “yes, but a white or a yellow star?”

    An American commenter flew off the handle and started hurling insults at me because they thought I was making light of Jewish persecution by the Nazis because they didn’t realize I was talking about the EU flag, which is a ring of YELLOW STARS.

    Instead they made a connection to the only yellow star they knew of which was the one the Nazis forced the Jews to wear, how the fuck you make that mental connection I have no idea, but it doesn’t change the fact that their outrage was based in ignorance.

  14. 14
    jamessweet

    Despite never seeing the episode of the Colbert Report, I remember seeing the original tweet and immediately understanding that it was a reference to the Redskins owner

    Huh. Well, I hadn’t at that time heard about the “Original American Foundation” or whatever Snyder called it, so I for one didn’t catch the reference. Of course, I was learning about the tweet from an article about it, so it was explained in the next paragraph — after I brief cringe, I read on and said, “Oh! That’s different…”

    I’m almost positive there were a series of other tweets referencing the Redskins leading up to it.

    I don’t really tweet, but I’m pretty sure that rule #1 of Twitter is “Your tweets WILL be taken out of context” (rule #2 is you can’t use more than 140 characters). Isn’t that sort of the entire point of Twitter? A self-contained message that requires no additional context, and fits in 140 characters?

    Satire is a dicey business in general, and I don’t think there’s any way to argue that the tweet in question wasn’t a major misstep.

  15. 15
    kyoseki

    140 characters is a very short space to convey both context and punchline, context was delivered by the tweets leading up to the one people found offensive.

    So the corollary to the “your tweets will be taken out of context” rule is that “you should probably check the context before engaging outrage mode”.

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