Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Daily Woes with Trevor Noah

Internet angrections™ are swift and dangerous! Barely 24 hours after it was announced that comedian Trevor Noah would be taking over as anchor of The Daily Show after Jon Stewart leaves, stories came out about “troubling” tweets that he sent as far back as 2009. So before the ink dried on the stories questioning whether he had the experience to host a fake news show, and before people could lament about him being non-American and brown and therefore Comedy Central was pandering to the politically correct, stories started running that he was a misogynistic anti-Semite obesophobe. I assume people couldn’t find any pictures of him holding toy guns as a child, so they could not run with the “he’s a thug” narrative. I just had no idea the second false narrative for brown people after “thug” was “misogynistic anti-Semite obesophobe”. I would have guessed “welfare kings/queens”.

I saw the tweets. A lot of them were from 2009, when he first got a Twitter account. They were NOT funny. They were schlocky, crude one-liners that I would expect of a first-time open mic comedian. One was about almost accidentally hitting a Jewish guy with his German car. One was about Jewish women’s…”oral”…talent. There were quite a few “no fat chicks” style tweets that were recycled tropes that I’ve heard come from the mouths of idiots who thought that no women were listening. There was one about Jews controlling music industry:

“Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man. #BeatsByDreidel”.

I’m sorry, but as a black man and a Jew, that actually was kind of funny. I want a Jewish rapper to come out and make a platinum album. Wait...Drake. Nevermind.

Looking at the breadth of the tweets, it looks like what a budding comedian would do. He was testing jokes to see what was funny and what was not. So many comedians use Twitter as their notepad. Look back at any big comedian’s Twitter feed, and if you have no life as I gather the people who were looking 6 YEARS BACK to find something on Mr. Noah, go all the way to the beginning. Amy Schumer, Patton Oswalt, Aziz Ansari, all have some rotten ones amidst their truly funny insights. Look at their live performances, though, and you’ll see what they polished off to present to the real world. Look at Trevor Noah’s standup specials. Judge him by that as well. Many likely won’t though, because as Trevor Noah tweeted in October 2014: “Twitter + Sarcasm = Disaster”.

It is interesting that this nontroversy™ and digital public flogging is stemming from South Africa. It is similar to the case of Justine Sacco, who was heading to South Africa. Just before boarding the plane in 2013, she tweeted to her 100 followers, “Going to Africa, hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding! I’m white”. By the time she landed in Cape Town, she was out of a job. The tweet was a terribly unfunny joke, and probably would have been better shared with her close friends, but since some people do not understand sarcasm and irony, she got off the plane, and was met with hundreds of thousands of raging angrections™ online. I feel sorry for Ms. Sacco. A misplaced attempt at humour cost her job. She slowly recovered, doing work in Ethiopia and getting a PR gig in the states, but the world judged her based on one tweet, not the breadth of her character.

So this is another case of a black man and a woman being targeted in the public circle, based on a very narrow bit of information about them. We in the United States call this phenomenon “Tuesday”. Is Justine Sacco a racist? Highly doubtful. She is definitely a horrible comedian. Is Trevor Noah an anti-Semitic misogynist? Well, he was born in South Africa to a white Swiss man and half-Jewish Xhosa African woman in Apartheid South Africa. He was literally born a crime. If he walked with a limp and kissed dudes, he would have free reign on ALL the jokes. He made some very bad jokes back in 2009 on the #1 platform for very bad jokes. I hihgly doubt he believes what he wrote.

One thing is for sure: while everyone was waving around their angrections™ at Trevor Noah, people seem to forget that BILL COSBY IS STILL ON THE LOOSE. Two more women came forward Monday alleging that he raped them back in the day! Meanwhile he is doing a comedy show called “Far From Finished”. Why didn’t he just call it “I Still Know Where to Get Roofies”? Can we stop beating up this young black comic who made some bad judgment calls on what to write, and talk about this old black comic who more than likely got away with horrible things? Can we stop pretending to be “conscious black people” and bending over backwards to cling to conspiracies about the nebulous “man” trying to systematically take down successful black men, and Bill Cosby is the latest target? Can we focus on the ACTUAL systems that are taking down black men, like the War on Drugs, and the for-profit prison system, and the Ferguson police department, and people who watch Empire un-ironically? Let’s leave Trevor Noah alone, and take Bill Cosby to task.

Yes, this entire article was a trap to get you to stand up against people who get away with serial rape. You’re welcome.

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