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.