Twitter has changed the way that people watch television.
Many shows have verified Twitter accounts and encourage the use of hashtags. The verified accounts tweet quotes, behind the scenes looks or about upcoming segments that will appear on the show. These verified accounts are run by people who are hired in the media department of the show, rather than the host of the show directly tweeting. In some cases this can lead to problems, as Stephen Colbert found out on March 27.
Colbert is an American political satirist who hosts “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central. “The Colbert Report” is known to feature some skits that offend different racial groups. However, last week it was a tweet this time that offended a racial group.
On March 27, Colbert created a skit to poke fun at the owner of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder. Snyder refuses to change the name of his team even though it offends many Native Americans, but he tried to make himself look better by creating “The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.”
Colbert’s skit involved him bringing up an “offensive” character that Colbert created named “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong.” Colbert stated that some find this character an offensive depiction of an Asian American and he refuted this by saying that Ching-Chong Ding Dong from Guangong is a China-man who would choke if he ever heard that he was stereotyped. Colbert stated that people wanted him to remove the character, however, Colbert didn’t want to do that, and so for compensation he created “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” Obviously this was just a joke, however, it offended many Asian-Americans.
A person running “The Colbert Report” Twitter account tweeted “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” without adding any content from the original skit. The tweet sparked outrage all across America. Eventually a hashtag about the tweet was started, #CancelColbert and it was started by Suey Park, a writer and activist. All it took was one tweet and soon it became a trending topic. Thousands of people all across America were demanding for Colbert’s show to be cancelled.
Eight hours after the controversial tweet was sent, Colbert’s personal Twitter account (@StephenAtHome) got involved. Colbert personally tweeted “#CancelColbert- I agree just saw @ColbertReport tweet. I share your rage. Who is that though? I’m @StephenAtHome.” The Colbert Report’s Twitter (@ColbertReport) also tweeted “For the record @ColbertReport is not controlled by Stephen Colbert or his show. He is @StephenAtHome. Sorry for the confusion #CancelColbert.” These two tweets show that Colbert does not agree with and would never send out the controversial tweet. However, it does not change the fact that the tweet was sent out and it reflects the view of the show. People still feel the same way and are pushing to have the show canceled.
Starting the hashtag #CancelColbert and pushing for the show to get canceled is a drastic measure. Yes, the tweet was wrong but it fits with the nature of the show. Over many years, “The Colbert Report” has poked fun at and has said many politically incorrect things. This incident is no different from any other night on his show. People need to put the situation into perspective and realize that the tweet did not reflect Colbert’s opinion and let one of the greatest political satirists live on.