Watch Stephen Colbert's Response to the #CancelColbert Twitter Campaign (VIDEO)

By Tim Surette

Apr 01, 2014

The past few days have been rough for Twitter reactions and out-of-context satire. The internet—well, part of it, anyway—got out its torches and pitchforks on Thursday night when the The Colbert Report's official Twitter feed clicked "Tweet" on the following:

(That's a .jpg and not a direct link, because the account was deleted during Monday's show.) OMG so offensive, right? Well, it was part of a larger bit from the Thursday show that of course wasn't included in the tweet. Such is the paradox of Twitter: Almost every tweet is out of context, because contextualizing something in the span of 140 characters doesn't always work. The line above was from Wednesday's show; it was part of a bit about Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder starting a foundation called "The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation," a charity for Native Americans. Snyder, who's a huge asshole (IMO), created the organization in response to repeated calls for the Washington Redskins to change its name. "Redskins" is a derogatory slur aimed at Native Americans, yet Snyder and supporters of the name can't see that. So Snyder shoved it in their faces—or, and this is very possible, he's just THAT stupid—when he included the term in the name of the foundation that's supposed to support Native Americans. 

Stephen Colbert's response to The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation was to shine a light on its inherent insensitivity with his own horrible name for a foundation, and thus The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever was born. (For what it's worth, I'm of Asian heritage, and I found the idea hilarious.) That was during Wednesday's show; on Thursday, the @ColbertReport Twitter account, which is run by a promotional department at Comedy Central and not Colbert himself, tweeted the joke, but didn't add a link to the original bit or provide any context. An Asian-American activist group picked up the tweet and started a campaign to get The Colbert Report canceled, and before long, the #CancelColbert brouhaha was in full swing. 

Because Thursday's episode had already taped and The Colbert Report doesn't have a Friday show, Colbert wasn't able to respond until last night—at which point he spent a whole show on it. Watch the intro—which features BD Wong in a near reenactment of his Awake character—and first desk bit from last night and take a stand on this atrocity/misunderstanding!

Let's hear it, America! Big deal or no big deal? 

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  • TrentLane Apr 02, 2014

    Well Tim, I guess it's okay if you say so. You have two women on opposite ends of the political spectrum who found the bit and tweet racist and offensive, and gained a pretty large following who agreed with them. Like it our not, neither you nor me nor any of the posters here are the final arbiters of what is or is not offensive.

    While I don't agree with Suey Park on some things, she is right in the fact that there is a lot of casual bigotry aimed at the Asian community that needs to stop.

    Also, satire is not a defense for being racist. Was the tweet meant to be racist? No. That doesn't forgive the fact that it was.

  • smithinjapan Apr 02, 2014

    Classic response! Made Colbert all the more lovable.

  • MandySCG Apr 02, 2014

    I think Stephen handled the whole thing really well. I was very impressed when he asked people to stop attacking Suey Park. I'm certain I don't agree with her about all this, but she has a right to express her opinion. Disagreeing with her is fine, but threatening her ain't cool.

  • wudntulik2know Apr 02, 2014

    Hilarious - it's not even too soon to snark the junk in the Indian Ocean. Dog bless America, it's uncanny ability to stop caring about tragic events in 7 days, and Stephen Colbert.

  • MirelaPilipo Apr 02, 2014

    Twitter - the most useless, ridiculous corner on the interwebs!

  • ben45tpy Apr 02, 2014

    I watched last Wednesday's episode and thought it was fantastic and Monday's episode was just as good. Colbert is doing a lot of good to fight bigotry and you can't do satire without engaging your subject matter.

    However it does make me think. Some of the people offended by the tweet were genuinely offended by the slur itself and find such slurs offensive even if they are used satirically. We shouldn't stigmatise people like that for being thin-skinned. It makes you think about derogatory slurs, how some are more acceptable than others. Now some have stronger negative ties than others but is that because they are intrinsically more offensive, or is just that they have had greater exposure and more vocal resistance. There are some slurs that Colbert would not dare to use like the n-word. Is that how it should be or should it be okay to use that word in satire, would that make the satire all the more effective? What are East Asian-origin people supposed to think when slurs against them are more socially acceptable than slurs against African Americans. And at the other end of the spectrum slurs against women like bitch are so commonplace that I bet many people don't even know they are slurs. Will all of these words eventually become unacceptable to use in all contexts? I don't know, I don't have any easy answers.

  • remediosbuendia Apr 02, 2014

    "Hashtag activist"? Is that an actual thing like for real?

  • ben45tpy Apr 02, 2014

    How did he compress that. Was it Hashctavist?

  • AshEngel Apr 02, 2014

    Yet another moment proving how awesome Stephen Colbert is.

  • Tanis_Ketra Apr 02, 2014

    I thought the tweet was funny even without context. I mean, it was so obviously a joke, it's unbelievable that anyone would take it as something genuinely derogatory. But on the plus side, Colbert got to take full advantage of the situation with his sarcastic and (jokingly) mocking tone. So yay Colbert :)

  • bkto Apr 01, 2014

    ""Redskins" is a derogatory slur aimed at Native Americans, yet Snyder and supporters of the name can't see that"

    you could not possibly be less correct if you tried. you could tell us four plus two in nineteen, and it would be closer to correct than your above statement.

    i am white [skinned], Jay-Z is black [skinned]. Ming Yao is yellow [skinned]. Marvin the Martian is green [skinned]. Jeronimo was, wait for it.. yes, thats right, red [skinned]

    there are five distinct anthropological "races" of human being. not a single one of them is white brown black yellow red azure heliotrope or aubergine.

    was colbert rude or insensitive? maybe he was, but that doesn't make it "racist"

    i don't support the name, or even watch any game of football, european or north american. i do, however, support understanding the reality of something, not just the party line you affiliate yourself with politically.

    now, who's going to be first to call me a racist?

  • ben45tpy Apr 02, 2014

    Not only are you bizarrely naive about what constitutes a derogatory slur, you're also naive about the details of this incident. Colbert's controversy had nothing to do with Native Americans. Read the tweet in the article above.

  • bkto Apr 05, 2014

    liberal?

  • ben45tpy Apr 05, 2014

    I don't see how my personal political persuasion has anything to do with my comment. And I thought from your comment you were more interested in whether popular assumptions about prejudice were incorrect, not a mindless polarised standoff on cliched political lines.

    For your information I have no interest or allegiance to any USA political party. In my country there is a political party called the Liberal Party which I want nothing to do with.

  • bkto Apr 05, 2014

    who said a word about any union of states?

    liberal is a political spectrum, not a political party. your own countrys political spectrum is entirely irrelevant to any discussion here. what was it you said about polarized standoff cliched political lines, again?

  • WallyAG Apr 02, 2014

    I won't call you racist, but I will call you ignorant. The meaning behind the term is what makes it derogatory, not the accuracy of the word. For example, if someone called me a bitch in a non joking matter, I'd be offended, despite the fact that I am not a female dog in heat.

    I mean, by your logic, the oh so famous and offense "n-word" shouldn't offend African Americans because it isn't strictly a race. Like, I get what you're trying to say with the word racism, but...seriously, how can you not understand it? Did you never take a single history class? Yes, technically we all share the same race as human, but, that's kind of the point with racism is that people are treated as not being human/less then human because of discriminatory views, so the "race" of racism is used rather loosely to refer to a group of individuals that share certain cultural/religious/whatever else traits, including skin color.

    Really, you can argue semantics all you want, but it seems like a moot point, because the title is clearly offense to a large group of people, hence all the attempts to get the name changed. What confuses me even more is in the initial quote racism wasn't even mentioned, the term used was "derogatory slur," which is 100% accurate without even having to argue semantics.

  • bkto Apr 05, 2014

    liberal?

  • bkto Apr 05, 2014

    +more
    "What confuses me even more is in the initial quote racism wasn't even mentioned, the term used was "derogatory slur,""
    this is where understanding party lines and english on a whole comes into play. so, liberal?

  • PaulaGonzalez Apr 02, 2014

    There are no such thing as "races", there's only ONE race, human race. I won't call you a racist, but I do think you don't understand what the concept of "derogatory slur" actually conveys. You don't get to decide what constitutes or not a slur for any specific ethnic group, the people who are named after it have the right to explain why it is or it isn't a slur, and more importantly, if they are being refered to with any kind of names, they most certainly can feel however they feel about it. The history of the word is what makes it a slur, it has nothing to do with the color of their skin or whatnot. "Spic", "coconut". "redneck", "wetback" - these are all racist slurs that have nothing to do with a person's skin color. It's these words' connotations, and not their denotations, what make them offensive.

  • bkto Apr 05, 2014

    liberal?

  • PaulaGonzalez Apr 05, 2014

    Ignoramus?

  • PaulaGonzalez Apr 06, 2014

    Correction: I responded with another question. ;)

  • bkto Apr 06, 2014

    i asked a question, you responded with insult. you never learned the idea of debate or discourse, i presume?

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