• Mon, Mar 31 - 3:38 pm ET

Asian-American Writer Destroys The ‘It’s Just Satire!’ Argument In #CancelColbert Debate

suey park discusses #cancelcolbert

Was it well-intentioned satire that people took the wrong way? Was it a failed attempt at a joke that fell flat on Twitter for legitimate reasons? No matter where you stand on #CancelColbert, this young Asian-American woman’s response to the infamous tweet will have you on your feet and clapping.

Josh Zepps of HuffPost Live interviewed 23-year-old comedian Suey Park about her perspective on the controversy. It starts off okay… and quickly turns condescending as all hell.

Zepps: It was meant to be satire. I mean, do you understand the point of satire? That you say something that’s 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?

Park: 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. Satire is supposed to punch up. Unfortunately, he’s not doing that when he draws parallels to orientalism to make a point about Native American mascots.

Right on. The issue with Colbert’s joke is that it relies on the assumption that the average American finds prejudice against Asian people absurd. Racism against Asian people is still alive and well in our culture– there’s nothing shocking about using the word “orientals” in a joke when people still use that word unironically.

Suey goes on to state her side rationally and logically… while Zepps goes on to smirk patronizingly and talk over her. When she gets the chance to actually speak, Park makes a really decent point:

Park: I’m glad that the white liberals feel like they’re less racist because they can joke about people who are less explicitly racist, but that actually does nothing to help people of color. … If white liberals cared about really getting rid of the mascot, there’s a lot they can do to help organize or get involved besides caring about a joke. 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 feel entitled to be able to laugh at things that aren’t really funny.

And then the video dissolves into a sloppy mess of a white dude claiming that he doesn’t have power over an Asian-American woman while he refuses to let an Asian-American woman talk. She calls him out for his condescending BS, he explains that being a white man doesn’t prevent him from having first-person experience with racism (sigh), she calls him sexist, he calls her opinions stupid. Pretty much your typical internet debate, but at least this one gave us a new badass lady to follow on Twitter.

Satire is complicated, delicate, and hard. We may not all agree on whether or not Colbert’s joke accomplished what it set out to do, but we can certainly agree that Josh Zepps needs a lesson in how to disagree with someone without writing off their opinions as completely insane.

Via Huff Post / Photo: YouTube

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  • Lindsey Conklin

    I completely agree with her

    • rockoman100

      Ew gross

  • Kaitlin Reilly

    I’m torn on the issue, because I do understand Suey Park’s point, and I think that a joke poking fun at the same subject could have been made in a more sensitive way. That being said, I also think it’s really important to look at who the target of Colbert’s satire was — Colbert’s entire purpose is to poke fun at hardcore conservatives, and the Twitter account was speaking in character as one. Good satire is supposed to check the power balances, as in, poke fun at the party with power and criticize it in a humorous way. I agree that this joke was not sensitive to the fact that racism (specifically against Asian cultures) is very prevalent in our society. However, the joke was intended to criticize people who think that casual racism is okay. Did it work? No, not really… but I do think the intention matters when it comes to people calling for cancellation.

    Perhaps this debate can educate Colbert — and his viewers — and show that racism doesn’t just exist in a small, vocal group of people.

    • CMJ

      I would also contend that they should at LEAST apologize and call out the Colbert fans threatening Suey Park.

    • Kaitlin Reilly

      Agreed, they should definitely apologize for insensitivity.

  • Guest

    The guy interviewing her is way too condescending. Ugh.

  • Corey Pierce

    Suey spoke over him first, and then told him that he wasn’t entitled to an opinion based on his race and gender. She is the one who looks bad here.

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  • Guest

    ugh, deleting thegloss now from my reading list- why would you promote this crazy chick. she’s rude and basically rolled her eyes from the start of the interview.

  • Brudder

    Of course it wasn’t a twitter account controlled by Colbert in the first place, but don’t mention that in your story or anything.

  • Elizabeth Alexander

    Stephen Colbert didn’t make that joke though. someone who works at the network tweeted it (which you should know since this site already reported that fact). so you really shouldn’t keep repeating that it was Colbert’s joke as that is misleading.
    and no matter how you feel about the joke, being mad at Colbert is pointless. should there be an apology from him on behalf of the network? sure. but calling to cancel him is ridiculous

    • http://sarahhollowell.com/ Sarah Hollowell

      Someone at the network tweeted a joke he said ON THE AIR as PART OF HIS SHOW.

  • rockoman100

    *facepalming* This woman just loves outrage. Yes, the joke was satire. In its context, it is in support of racial equality and dismantling racism. For some reason Suey can’t admit she made a mistake with her creation of the explosive faux outrage that was #CancelColbert. I understand it though, she has amassed a following and cannot leave it.

  • KidCharlemagne

    Ms. Park got a rather friendly if not biased “review” from the author of this piece.I found Ms. Park defensive when asked about satire. With what occurred, Mr. Zipps question to her about satire was legitimate not patronizing. I did not see anywhere in the interview where Mr. Zipps spoke over/interrupted Park, it just didn’t happen. The author refers to Mr. Zipps condescending BS .. huh ?, what ?, where ? When anyone, from behind their laptop calls for someone to be removed from their job/taken off of the air, that person better be prepared to answer legitimate/poignant questions even if those questions are coming from a “white liberal” or “white man”. I find Ms. Park’s compulsion for singling out “white liberals” and “white men”, somewhat alarming as well begging the question, who hurt you ?
    If anyone out there is interested or fascinated in Ms. Park, follow her on Twitter and take in the banter,the verbage of her and her “followers”. You’ll need to work your way through the jargon and the repetitive diatribe offered by her and her followers. I did this in an attempt to understand what this Colbert thing was from this particular activist.
    Ms. Park is intelligent and pretty darn sharp behind a laptop in the social media arena but could use some “seasoning” / maturing when it comes to handling herself in the visual media arena, very rough, not very polished and a bit thin skinned.

    • Corey Pierce

      It’s very amusing she starts the interview complaining she had a loaded question (which wasn’t) only to ask an actual one to the interviewer later herself.

      But this is the same person who went on camera about this, and now is complaining that her face was on Colbert last night because she’s getting threats (the bulk of which had already happened before the interview above)

  • Huffpo sucks

    That Zepps guy is an idiot. Kudos to this young woman for taking a stand. I just wish she didn’t silence her opinions at the end of the interview. I get that she was flustered, but she should’ve tore him down when given the chance to further explain herself.

  • hans

    Wow. Apparently if you are white AND a man, you are not entitled to have an opinion. Who is racist and biased now? #CancelPark