Colbert’s response to call for his show’s cancellation

As one might have expected, when his show returned on Monday, Stephen Colbert had plenty to say about the flap that ensued after his show last Wednesday and the later tweet sent out by somebody at Comedy Central about his parody. In two clips, he walks us through what happened over the weekend when his show was off the air.

The call for his show to be cancelled was started by someone described as a ‘hashtag activist’. I am not sure what that is. I can understand someone who is an activist for some cause but what does it mean to be a communication medium activist? It would be like calling someone a radio activist or TV activist, no?

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(These clips aired on March 31, 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.)


  1. Schlumbumbi says

    someone described as a ‘hashtag activist’. I am not sure what that is … […] … communication medium activist? It would be like calling someone a radio activist or TV activist, no?

    It means that your activism is defined by getting keyboard SJWs to dogpile a particular victim for as long as their attention span lasts. And that’s a pretty spot-on description.

  2. AsqJames says

    re “hashtag activist”, I think it implies someone who’s “activism” extends only as far as tweeting about issues, although it’ll probably be applied to those who sign e-petitions too. The not-so-subtle sub-text is it’s not real activism.

    This is valid to an extent, but it depends what the issue is and what the goals of your activism are. A catchy hashtag, if it is picked up by others and starts to “trend”, can raise awareness which can have effects in the real world. Though this can only really work where your issue already has widespread support but the particular event or circumstances you are highlighting is not widely known, because you generally need more than 140 characters to make an argument and change someone’s mind.

    An example might be the teaching of creationism in UK state (public) schools. Probably few people know it’s an issue at all and most would be strongly against it if they knew it was happening, particularly in their area or at a school they’re associated with. A good twitter hashtag might inform enough people to get the media and politicians interested enough to do something.

    The same situation in the US might play out differently, because the argument itself is still being fought.

    Ironically a wider understanding of; the meaning of hashtag activism; when it can be effective; and the validity or applicability of it to a particular issue, are all necessary “context” for its effective use as a put-down.

  3. Richard Almaraz says

    “Hashtag activism” is the term used by people with platforms (a blog, TV show, what have you) to denigrate and demean activists who have outreach via twitter or tumblr as part of their platform. These are often women of color, and bear the brunt of death threats and a variety of other bullshit. Usually any good they do is ignored by people who want to just sweep them under the rug as “SJW”s.

    It’s similar to how “FTBullies” gets thrown around, really.

  4. says

    I thought that Sam Kinison adequately established the dangers of messing with comedians. It’s just a bad idea. Even if you think you control the media.

  5. Timothy says

    Thanks for asking, Mano. I was confused by that term as well.

    Activists aside, I thought Mr. Colbert’s response was brilliant. He dealt with the issue and he never broke character. I especially appreciated how he called off the Internet folks who were defending him in inappropriate ways.

  6. Schlumbumbi says

    #3 Richard – Nope. Aaaaaand nope.

    Firstly, let’s get rid of the annoying bit – the terminology around “SJW” / “Social Justice Warrior” has been established long before and without any help from opponents of FTB. So no, it’s not the same as FTBullies.

    Secondly, the term “hashtag activist” is really 100% spot-on. It doesn’t describe people who just happen to use non-standard channels to voice their opinions, but it refers to people who deliberately use the very limitations of their chosen media channels to convey arguments which otherwise couldn’t stand up to any scrutiny, had they gone through the proper channels.

    It’s the reason why we see what we see. Short bursts of gish gallops @ twitter don’t translate to a coherent argument when being interviewed on TV. When Suey Park was questioned @ Huffpost Live and got called out on her fallacious reasoning (and racist/sexist attitude), her entire imaginary campaign imploded within a few seconds. Even those who generally love to laugh at stupid folks like her, felt ashamed and sorry for her at that moment.

    #4 Marcus – Very true. If you propose banning satire, you better have a bulletproof case, or else…

  7. =8)-DX says

    Just a note: Suey Park was labelled a “hashtag activist”, but she herself doesn’t accept that label – she does her activism through various channels and twitter is only one of them. So yes, a nod to Richard Almaraz #3, “hashtag activist” is a term used to label and denigrate people who (among other things – of course), try to game up interest on twitter.

    Schlumbumbi is pretty much missing the point – twitter hashtag campaigns are *making use* of the advantages of twitter – namely calling attention to or spreading interest in a given problem – motivating participants to read up on a given issue or news item elsewhere.

    Either way Stephen is wonderful, could do with more like him =)

  8. hexidecima says

    hashtag activism seems rather similar to prayer. lots of noise, no actual work

  9. doublereed says

    Wow, Colbert handled that well. I especially liked him pointing out the fact that apparently people don’t give a crap about Snyder’s offensive Redskins foundation nearly as much, despite the fact that it’s, y’know, an actual organization and that’s what the joke was about. Apparently insulting Native Americans is totally cool and rad compared to insulting Asians. Well done internet. You got wound up about something fake instead of the real issue that it was trying to bring awareness to.

    Also, I think it’s ridiculous to use a hashtag “cancelcolbert” if you don’t actually want him canceled. It’s just sensationalist, irresponsible BS.

  10. =8)-DX says

    Also, Re:”SJW”. I haven’t yet seen this abbreviation or phrase used in any other context than to make fun of or denigrate people with concerns for social issues, so I’d pretty much equate it with FTBullies – it’s a term that has no meaninful purpose and contains no argument. It’s also just as disingenuous – Bloggers on FTB or the blog network as a whole are not bullies, similarly people advocating for social equality don’t consider themselves “warriors”. It’s similar to “militant atheist” (eyeroll).

  11. =8)-DX says

    Also, I think it’s ridiculous to use a hashtag “cancelcolbert” if you don’t actually want him canceled. It’s just sensationalist, irresponsible BS.

    Twitter hashtags *are* ridiculous. I’m really baffled by this approach: what is irresponsible about #cancelcolbert? No one seriously thought a one-tweet issue was going to get Stephen taken down. Twitter campaigns are about pointing out a specific issue, getting people to react and look up the context, half the time hashtags are either simple publicity or a kind of joke where it really depends on your taste.

    People who are offended by hashtags should just get off twitter (or block twits they don’t like).

  12. Mano Singham says


    You hadn’t heard of Malkin’s claim to fame? This was the book she published justifying racial profiling such as the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

  13. notyet says

    I don’t see the point of commenting on the validity of the #cancelcolbert campaign or the propriety of Colbert’s parody piece. Neither needs my input. What I would like to say is; that is by far the funniest Colbert piece ever. I laughed out loud a dozen times (something I rarely do). When he said,”Like Jesus” I had to pause the video until I stopped laughing enough to hear what he said next. This man has really come into his own and is now a legitimate rival to John Stewart for the title of funniest man on tv.

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