By Pahull Bains
Date January 4, 2019
What is the web-o-sphere angry about this week? A despicable and unhumorous comedy set, an infringement of free speech, and the absolving of someone who never apologized for his mistakes. Here’s everything you need to know.
Louis CK’s Latest Comedy Set
THE STORY: On December 31, instead of Twitter exploding with New Year’s resolutions and year-end lists, it was full of tweets about a comedy set Louis CK had done the night before. The disgraced comedian began plotting his comeback with a series of unannounced appearances at comedy clubs just months after it was revealed that he masturbated in front of women at work. Leaked audio of his latest set quickly spurred outrage, and rightly so: CK’s “jokes” spanned everything from homophobia (mocking people who want to be addressed by gender pronouns like they or them) to racism (trotting out a tired routine about Asian men’s penises) to scoffing at the teen survivors of a school shooting.
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE:
When CK issued a public apology in November 2017 after the news of his behaviour broke, he wrote: “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.” So he listened for a year and decided that since he had nothing to lose—because his “life is over”—why not verbally attack everyone he can think of? More than anything else, what this comedy set shows is that CK learned nothing in the past year except how to fuel his own bitterness over “political correctness” and how to lash out instead of introspect. But the cultural climate has changed enormously since 2017, even if he hasn’t, and people are no longer willing to accept inoffensive material cloaked in the thin veil of humour.
Netflix Pulls a Patriot Act Episode in Saudi Arabia
THE STORY: Hasan Minhaj’s political comedy show Patriot Act launched on Netflix last October. The second episode of the series, aired on October 28, delved into US-Saudia Arabia relations and the latter’s possible involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (which has since been confirmed). Now, the Saudi government claims that this episode violates the country’s cybercrime laws, and requested Netflix to block streaming of the episode in their country—which they’ve done. “We strongly support artistic freedom and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request — and to comply with local law,” said Netflix in a statement to NPR.
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE:
Netflix basically capitulated to an authoritarian regime bent on curtailing free speech. And it did so by taking down content that itself addressed the regime’s history of curtailing free speech. Meta. At a time when journalists around the world are being attacked or killed for their work, and people’s right to information is being threatened, tech giants like Netflix need to step up and be on the right side of history. By restricting Saudi Arabian citizens’ access to the truth, they’re enabling a serious problem and also setting a dangerous precedent. However, they did leave the episode up on their YouTube channel, so lets see where this story goes next.
Ellen Degeneres Calls for Kevin Hart to be Reinstated as Oscars Host
THE STORY: A few weeks ago, after a bunch of Kevin Hart’s homophobic tweets from the past resurfaced, the internet was, understandably, upset. But not so upset that a heartfelt and honest apology wouldn’t fix it. Hart, however, who had just been announced as the host of the 2019 Oscars, had no intentions of issuing any apologies—instead, he chose to wax on about how he had grown and evolved as a person, and that since he’d apologized in the past, he didn’t need to do so again. The Academy removed him as an Oscar host and ostensibly began searching for a replacement. But as the world found out today, in a clip from his his forthcoming appearance on The Ellen Show, it turns out that Ellen Degeneres not only accepts his “apology” but she also recently called the Academy requesting that he be reinstated as host.
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE:
There are many things wrong with the conversation that took place between these two. For one, Degeneres has decided to paint critics of Hart’s homophobia as “haters,” saying “That’s a small group of people being very, very loud.” Now Degeneres has no right to dismiss the fact that people have been genuinely offended and hurt by Hart’s words, and also shouldn’t be commenting on how small or valid she thinks that group is. Two, Hart seems to think that the reason his past tweets resurfaced is because internet trolls are out there trying to “destroy” him. His perception of the situation makes clear that instead of regretting the pain he’s caused people with his comments, he’s upset at them for trying to hold him accountable. Degeneres seems to agree with this positioning of Hart as a victim, saying that by hosting the Oscars he wouldn’t let “whoever’s trying to hurt” him win. This bizarre conspiracy theory that people are just out to hurt Hart is baffling, and absolving him of all culpability—because he happens to be her friend—so that he may pursue his dream of hosting the Oscars is something Degeneres simply doesn’t have the right to do.
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