You All Got Played

Over the weekend many people lost their minds in defense of Suey Park, the creator of the #CancelColbert hashtag, but judging by this it was all for naught.

During an interview with The New Yorker, Park admitted that A) she actually likes Colbert and doesn’t want the show canceled and B) she was putting on an act.

In our conversation, Park admitted that despite the hashtag’s command, she did not want “The Colbert Report” to be cancelled. “I like the show,” she explained. Instead, she said, she saw the hashtag as a way to critique white liberals who use forms of racial humor to mock more blatant forms of racism. “Well-intentioned racial humor doesn’t actually do anything to end racism or the Redskins mascot,” Park told me. “That sort of racial humor just makes people who hide under the title of progressivism more comfortable.”

[...]

During our conversation, she mentioned Kanye West and the politics behind his public persona. Park suggested that she, like West, is playing to a part and, in the process, satirizing what we might expect from a twenty-three-year-old hashtag activist. “There’s no reason for me to act reasonable because I won’t be taken seriously anyway,” she said. “So I might as well perform crazy to point out exactly what’s expected from me.”

I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t take you seriously after this.

Not only was much of her outrage an act, it also sets back so-called “Twitter activism” as a whole because in the future even well-intentioned hashtag campaigns will be viewed with greater skepticism by otherwise reasonable people.

And this act comes at the expense of Native Americans or “Redskins.”

In his satirical take on Dan Snyder’s ironically-named outreach foundation, Stephen Colbert was punching upward toward Dan Snyder and naive (mostly white) fans of the franchise. This was seemingly lost in the outrage parade as Suey Park incited people to attack Colbert rather than Dan Snyder. Colbert was not punching downward any more than Mel Brooks was when he created the timeless classic Blazing Saddles.

To suggest that Colbert was being maliciously racist while mocking racism is to fundamentally misunderstand satire. The point is to be so pointedly ridiculous as to lower the position of the subject being satirized.

Some people will say Park proved a point with her “crazy” act, but it’s not clear what that point is.

If the point was to show that people don’t respond well when you abandon reason and “perform crazy,” I suppose you could say the mission was accomplished. Some of the responses to her were almost certainly over the top. I’m sure some were even misogynistic and racist, but those responses shouldn’t necessarily be associated with people who have offered reasonable rebuttals and people who have no prior history of displaying such poor qualities.

Is it possible some people who see themselves as liberal are actually racists who are comforted by racial satire? Is it possible some of these people watch The Colbert Report? Of course it’s possible. There are even conservatives who watch The Colbert Report who don’t understand that he is mocking them, but you’re talking about a minority of a minority of viewers. Is exposing this marginal group of closeted liberal racists or conservative dupes worth the costs of this minstrel show? Who are you really helping while endeavoring to do so?

Dan Snyder’s hackery continues while attention is focused elsewhere on social media and Twitter activism itself has seen its credibility knocked down a notch.

I consider myself more of a Democrat than a Progressive, and I’m certainly not hiding behind any titles as I devote my attention toward the real enemy: Dan Snyder and the messaging hacks he hired to rehabilitate his image — Frank Luntz, George “Macaca” Allen, Lanny Davis, and Ari Fleischer; a who’s who list of infamous characters and GOP cronies.

#CancelRedskins

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  • D_C_Wilson

    I can tell you exactly what Park’s point was: “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!”

  • Ipecac

    “Well-intentioned racial humor doesn’t actually do anything to end
    racism or the Redskins mascot,” Park told me. “That sort of racial humor
    just makes people who hide under the title of progressivism more
    comfortable.”

    While I disagree, that is a legitimate argument that she might have made. What she did do, however, hurt the cause and hurt a progressive ally just to gain attention.

    • Sabyen91

      Just read her Twitter and you can see how little she thinks of her progressive allies. To me she seems to be a conservative, considering how much she despises white liberals.

  • mdblanche

    Just because she was acting doesn’t mean she isn’t crazy.

  • Nefercat

    “twenty-three-year-old hashtag activist”

    I don’t want to sound curmudgeonly, but is this a career choice these days? I’m assuming it is a part-time endeavor? I feel so old.

    Now all you whippersnappers get off my lawn.

    • Brutlyhonest

      What? You have to talk into my good ear.

  • Badgerite

    #CancelSusyPark
    I can’t say that her little stunt added anything to anything. Other than her name recognition.

  • zirgar

    Personally, I think her initial reaction was sincere and once she saw how wrong she was and how upset people were with HER, she did what lots of people do when they get called out on their bullshit, she stepped back and said, “I was just joking.” Rush Limbaugh has made a career out of using this tactic.

    • captkurt

      Exactly! I don’t think she thought about her actions as being satirical, until it was convenient to do so. Or, maybe when she heard so many saying that she did not understand satire, she responded with “I do so know what satire is! In fact, I was being satirical!” Of course you were.

    • trgahan

      Yeah, I’d put my money on your reason for the back peddling over believing this was all some Andy Kaufman-esque meta-satire by Ms. Park.

      Columnists, commentators, pundits, and such have throughout time made liberal used the “You all just didn’t get it!” or “it was tongue-in-cheek, you idiots!” to cover their asses for insanely stupid/insensitive/half-assed work. She is probably just the first to publically use it as an excuse for being stupid while twittering.

  • http://vermillionbrain.blogspot.com/ Vermillion

    “Well-intentioned racial humor doesn’t actually do anything to end racism or the Redskins mascot,” Park told me. “That sort of racial humor just makes people who hide under the title of progressivism more comfortable.”

    So….she is still insinuating Colbert is racist, or at least saying he was wrong for making the joke in the first place. Only now, she wants to word it in a way that gets people off her back.

    And using Kanye West as an example? Oh, no no no. If she was trying to convince people that her message was what mattered, rather than her ego, that is the LAST person to name check.

  • http://cendax.wordpress.com/ Norbrook

    I’m so glad you used a Blazing Saddles clip. My first thought reading through her “original” justification was that this woman needs to watch that movie. Matter of fact, so do all the idiots who took up “the cause.” Yes, it’s using language that we don’t use these days, yes it trots out every stereotype under the sun and takes them for a spin. It also happens to stand everything on its head and makes its point about racism… hilariously.

    • http://vermillionbrain.blogspot.com/ Vermillion

      Seriously.

      I still take to heart something Mel Brooks said. When someone asked him why he did so much comedy stuff with Nazis while being Jewish, he said that he wanted Hitler’s ideas to be seen as so ridiculous, so utterly mockworthy, that no one will ever take those ideas seriously again.

      That was the point where I understood satire.

    • D_C_Wilson

      What’s sad is, if Blazing Saddles were released today, it would be greeted with storms of protest. So would shows like All in the Family. If we can’t mock bigots, then the bigots have won.

  • nellcote

    so Park admitted to being the very definition of a Twitter Troll. I hope that gets spread on Twitter as well.

  • Claire

    I do think Suey Park do want to make a difference. The hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick did a great job of starting a public conversation about the racism that Asians face.

    However I do think her #CancelColbert was a misstep. The point that one racial minority often get thrown under the bus to prop up another is a very true point. Hell, that’s how the stereotype of asians being the “model minority” came about: To prop up Asians at the expense of Blacks/Latinos.

    However that point got lost over the weekend and what happened is something that I hate: Someone taking an issue that has nothing to do with them and making it all about them and their feelings. It’s straight out of the Derailing for Dummies Handbook.

  • mrbrink

    We must stop these terrorist racist killers, like Stephen Colbert… now watch this drive.