Monday, March 31, 2014

Long Live the Redskins

Some time ago, The Colbert Report covered the topic of the Washington DC Redskins:

The bit relevant to this starts at 4:45 of the 8 minute video.

The video makes fun of Snyder's (the k-word who owns the DC Redskins)  attempt to make good with the Native American community by having Colbert state that he was effectively starting a foundation to buy "triangle hats" for "orientals".

The problem begins on Twitter. It is rather routine for comedy shows to tweet punchlines from their episodes - what this specifically achieves is unknown. Perhaps it boosts ratings and elevates the show's profile somewhat. Have to hit that Twitter demographic.

The show chose to tweet the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong (now known as c-word-c-word d-word-d-word) without much context as to what it was referring to.

Enter Suey Park, a legend for all those little social justice warriors that dream to someday create a hashtag that becomes a trending topic. Big ambitions.

Ms Park saw the tweet (probably passed along via the outrage of another short-sighted Twitter user) and responded:

Note: Ms Park is known to highjack stock photos and/or pictures of other users, usually men, in order to to create a half-baked parody in search of an elusive point. For this reason, do not be surprised if @suey_park is sporting a photo of a sunglasses wearing teenage boy. It kind of suits her. Moving on...

As one could predict, Twitter exploded. Colbert - racist? It couldn't be true.

And it was not. The conversation diverted to whether Suey Park understood the joke, or had even seen it.

Stephen Colbert made a point of linking to the video to give the tweet context:

Colbert, like any rational human being, expects the truth is that none of the outraged people on Twitter even bother to watch his show.

All eyes on Suey, she replies:

Not "Yes, I've seen this before", or "Yes, this is the clip I was talking about" but a toxic insult about how Colbert is failing to please her funnybone.

If there was a sense of privilege or entitlement, it would be the idea that all comedians need to always entertain you.

The takeaway is that it's clear that Suey Park & co didn't bother to obtain context tbefore becoming outraged at c-word-c-word d-word-d-word.

Right out of the gate, we're at a point where the social justice warriors are playing the role of hypocritical assholes and word police.

It gets worse.

Suey Park goes on HuffPo Live:

Rough transcript of the interview exchange:

Josh: Why cancel Colbert? What do you hope to acheive with that?

Suey: *laughs* That's a loaded question, I think it's sad but unfortunately a lot of times our demands aren't really met unless we have really serious asks or generate these larger conversations... mmmm... unfortunately people usually don't listen to us when we're being reasonable so I think it's really to make a statement that this sort of thing happens weekly that Asian Americans are always a punchline and soI think we're just trying to make a point that people are going to be held accountable the next time they do these sort of things.

Josh: So just to clarify the context, the tweet was related to a segment that was lampooning Dan Snyder , who is the owner of a certain Washington DC football team that has a racist name -

Suey: Of course

Josh: -- it was meant to be satire, I mean, do you understand the point of satire? You say something that is intentionally absurd in order to ridicule not the people who are the target of what you're saying but other people who might say it?

Suey: Of course I understand satire, I'm a writer. I think satire caters to the audience that you're speaking to so it says something about what the audience finds humorous or acceptable when you're using those sort of jokes and I think satire is supposed to "punch up". Unfortunately he's not doing that when he draws a parallel to orientalism to make a point about native american mascots

Josh: But isn't his point that there are lots of stupid racist people who even in their attempt to be conciliatory on race end up putting their foot in it and saying something dumb?

Suey: I don't think we're going to end racism by joking about it, like I'm glad that the white liberals feel like they are less racist because they can joke about people who are more explicitly racist but that actually does nothing to help people of color

Josh: Why attack a satirical attack on Dan Snyder's racism instead of attacking Dan Snyder's racism?

Suey: Well if you're familiar with my activism or my work I've been very vocal about native american mascots, I went to the University of Illinois for my undergraduate career [Career? WTF?] we had Chief Illiniwek and I was incredibly vocal about it and had the same sort of backlash and that kind of backlash happens no matter what you're really attacking whether it be the word 'oriental' being used as a slur, yellowface, jokes against Asian American people or if I'm really talking about native american mascots and Dan Snyder - I know I helped trend #NotYourMascot on Superbowl night to fight, you know, the name Redskins and #NotYourTonto and I had the same sort of backlash so it really isn't fair to kind of individualize these things and ask why I'm not shifting my behavior because honestly if white liberals cared about really getting rid of the mascot there is a lot they can do to help organize or get involved besides caring about their joke so for them it's not really about whether or not the Redskins exist or whether or not racism is over, it's really about them feeling like they can't have fun anymore and feeling entitled to be able to laugh at things that aren't really funny

Josh: Part of the whole gag here is the use of the term 'orientals' which is such a weird old loaded, just a stupid stupid word, like to get upset about the use of that word when it's in a satirical context strikes me as misguided, I want to take a look though at a tweet which Colbert Report has tweeted out for the record --

Suey: Wait hold on. AS A WHITE MAN YOU DON'T...

Josh: Hang on Suey, I'll come to you in just a sec - (Reads Tweet : "For the record @ColbertReport is not controlled by Stephen Colbert or his show. He is @StephenAtHome Sorry for the confusion #CancelColbert") Colbert himself has responded to some of the criticism on Twitter, (quotes tweet from @StephenAtHome above) Suey - you were just going to jump in?

Suey: Uh, yeah, I was gonna say I feel like it's incredibly patronizing for you to paint these questions this way, especially as a white man - I don't expect you to be able to understand what people of color are actually saying with regards to #CancelColbert - he has a history of making jokes....

Josh: Suey- Suey- being a white man doesn't prevent me from being able to think and doesn't prevent me from being able to have reasoned perspectives on things -

Suey: (sarcastic interruption) : I know, white men are totally logical...

Josh: - I didn't give up my right to have an intellectual conversation when I was born

Suey: I know, but white men definitely feel like they're entitled to talk over me, they definitely feel entitled to kind of minimalize my experiences and they definitely feel like they are somehow exempt and so logical compared to women who are painted as emotional, right?

Josh: No, no one is minimalizing your experiences, no one is minimalizing your right to have an opinion, it's just a stupid opinion, it's a misunderstanding of what satire is and it's a misunderstanding of what irony is

Suey: You just called my opinion stupid. You just called my opinion stupid. That's incredibly unproductive. I don't think I'm going to enact the labor of explaining to you why that's incredibly offensive and patronizing

Josh: Explain

Suey: I just told you I would not enact that labor

Josh: Okay. Thanks for being with us, Suey

Suey: (silently smiles and nods into the camera in a sarcastic manner)


Where to go from here?

Some of the many crimes of Suey Park

Crime #1 - Failing to have basic context

It's one thing to know what happened and have an opinion about it. It's entirely another to become incensed about a 140 character view of an event. The event, in this case, happened to be a show which she did not watch.

To reiterate a question posed to Twitter:

Crime #2 Basic questions are not "loaded"

Simply put, asking what Suey Park hopes to accomplish with her #hashtag activism is not a loaded question. It's the first question.

Crime #3 Intentionally popularizing pointless drama

Suey Park verbatim : "unfortunately people usually don't listen to us when we're being reasonable" - implied in this is that she knows she's participating in unreasonable faux outrage about things that do not matter.

Crime #4 Misunderstanding Satire. Satire will never "punch up"

Anyone with any critical thinking skills realizes why satire will never "punch up" and meet some goals for politically correct cleanliness. It's because satire exists to be outrageous.

If it isn't an absurd, embarrassing and offensive to somebody, it's not satire. It's a knock-knock joke.

Of course, Ms Park doesn't mind offending people - so long as the punchline offends white people. Who cares about offending white people?

Crime #5 Pointless references to her "work"

Suey Park's reference to her activism about her university's mascot is ultimately pointless and stupid.

It's stupid because the opener "well if you're familiar with my activism or my work" underlines just how ineffective her activism has been in comparison to a 20 second joke on The Colbert Report.

Everybody in America knows about the Redskins controversy, partly because comedy shows aren't afraid to satirize race issues.

If pop culture just didn't touch the subject altogether and left it up to Twitter to opine about the problems, none of them will truly end.

It becomes more absurd when one realizes that Suey Park's "activism" relies on white people being "progressive" enough to care and listen while being "ignorant" enough to screw it up and needing her advice. There's a reason that Ms Park is not bothering to smear Fox News commentators - the Fox News audience already doesn't care about her issues.

Crime #6 Waking the beast that is Michelle Malkin 

Yes, it would seem the person most happy about Suey Park's critique of white "progressives" is an Asian American that wrote a book in defense of interment camps and racial profiling.

What a win this is for the end of racism!

Crime #7 Stealing the limelight from Native Americans

Why is there no Native American version of anybody in the above interview?

It's because they're all dead. They aren't in their dorm rooms following Ms Park on Twitter, they're dead.

The fact is that native peoples don't see Ms Park as their savior, no matter how much "intersectionality" invades this issue.

Suey Park took an issue that was supposedly offensive to Native Americans and asked people to think harder about just how Comedy Central chose to cover the issue.

Why should Native Americans care about Suey Park? Why should Native Americans view Suey Park as anything more than "White Folks 2.0"?

Ms Park loves to describe her defense as one of being on the side of "people of color". ("POC")

Yet let's examine a comment from a "Ryan Joseph" on this column:
Politely, I'm a white-passing Métis who appreciated Stephen Colbert's analogy between the Washington Redskin's mascot, and the sort of ignorant racism that's imposed upon Asians of any descent when backhandedly referred to as 'Orientals'. And didn't appreciate Ms. Park's dismissal of arbitrary (and equally racist) criticisms of 'whites'.
Should I be dismissed? I'm not white, but you could presume I am, if you were to look at me. How about Hungarians? Those of British descent? The Irish (who, in a historic context, have a history of being treated as equal to black slaves in early American history)?
Or is it the fact that I was born male-gendered that prevents me from understanding the racism inherent in both the use of faux-native imagery, and the archetype of the 'Oriental'? I didn't understand the need to bring my reproductive organs (and affiliated hormones) into the equation, at all.
I do wish this had engendered positive discussion. I wish it was along the lines of how Colbert does so traditionally - which is to say, satirizing like issues to draw important analogies that our society decides to not speak on - but after having taken the time to look over Ms. Park's (entirely serious) deconstructions of her views regarding race and gender, that doesn't seem to be the case. She meant this, both the sexism, and the racism.
And I'm glad for the outcome of her actions. And thoroughly ashamed of her. I'm a feminist, and I'm proudly anti-racist. And I stand firmly against Ms. Park's position. Shame on her - and those who'd enable her.
Taking a moment for Suey Park to look up the word "Métis" (we shall not "enact that labor")...

There exists some reality in which Suey Park's voice is one of authority, since she was offended by having to have heard c-word-c-word d-word-d-word in a comedy sketch about the Redskins.

In the troubled reality we inhabit now, however, it would seem we should be happy with the "Redskins" as if we choose to leave the fate of racism in Suey's hands it may be the only trappings of Native American life left within a culture of self-congratulatory would-be Twitter saviors that are saving us from the constitution...

And the "racist institution" of marriage...

Long live, long live, long live the Redskins.


  1. "Of course I understand satire...How is making jokes about racists supposed to end racism?"

    I think it's a mistake to call Suey Park's opinion "stupid." It is Suey herself who is stupid, not just her opinions.

  2. I am sad at Suey Park.