Trevor Noah is being grilled by the internet, and for good reason too. Yesterday, a video of a stand-up routine he made in 2013 was unearthed on twitter. In the video, the Daily Show host made a lewd, insensitive, and quite frankly, disgusting joke about aboriginal (native Australian) women.
“All women of every race can be beautiful”, he proclaimed to the packed audience. “And I know some of you are sitting there going, ‘Oh Trevor, yeah, but I’ve never seen a beautiful Aborigine,’” he continued. “Yeah, but you know what they say? You say ‘yet’, that’s what you say; ‘yet’. Because you haven’t seen all of them, right? Plus it’s not always about looks, maybe Aboriginal women do special things, maybe they’ll just like, jump on top of you!” Trevor then proceeds to imitate the sound of a didgeridoo (an Aboriginal wind musical instrument), purposefully alluding to oral sex.
— LaVonne Bobongie (@_LaVonne_) July 22, 2018
In usual twitter backlash style, there have been repeated calls for people to boycott Noah’s upcoming tour in Australia, with several Twitter users “cancelling” him. “Cancel” in this context means social anathema, and even that is putting it mildly. You see, when a popular person or someone that wields some supposed measure of influence is caught in a “21st century ungainly act” (mostly racism, sexism, misogyny, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, prejudice against minorities, and rape, amongst other things), the person is immediately “cancelled”, meaning that the person will now be held in little or no reverence and whatever the person creates or represents will be consumed less, as a show of public disapproval. If the said person was a music artiste, for example, what follows is usually a termination of endorsements, a plunge in sales, cancelled interviews, features, shows and, quite possibly – awards, social ostracization, etc. The names that easily come to mind here is Chris Brown, Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. In other words, being “cancelled” is a sort of Malebolge-on-earth for celebrities. No one wants to be there.
But Noah is on the cusp of that now. Inadvertently, his joke meant that Aboriginal women cannot be tagged as beautiful, except in a sexual way. This is exactly the type of subtle sexism and, perhaps, racism that the liberal public has been trying to kick against. Now imagine the hurt that his fans – mostly people of that demographic – must have felt when one of their “shining lights” was found perpetrating the same attitudes he vociferously stands, and satirically speaks, against.
This recent backlash on a liberal media icon isn’t the first. Another darling of the liberal public that has been knocked off his high horse, Twitter style, is Justin McClure. Justin McClure is the father of the internet sensations, the McClure Twins. The McClure twins are a bi-racial set of twins with an Irish father, Justin, and a Nigerian-born mother, Ami (Aminat). Their parents started documenting videos of them in early 2016, and by October 2016, one of their videos went viral, garnering millions of views. They instantly became the toast of the internet with people making memes off the video and getting interviews on major shows.
By February 2017, they made an appearance on the New York Fashion Week runway. The girls were instantly launched into celebrity status, but much more importantly, their parents were paraded as a shining example of tolerance and love, in the face of the racially tense world which we live in right now. I mean, a black woman and a white man coming together to make beautiful babies, and show unreserved love for each other on the internet has all the makings of a 2017 romantic blockbuster, doesn’t it? You would think that they were the best combination since Agege bread and Ewa Aganyin and that they were beyond any impropriety or fault, wouldn’t you? Well, think again.
Justin McClure is currently “cancelled”! Gasp.
Last week, it was discovered that he consistently put out “racist” content on his Twitter timeline and blog between 2011 and 2014. Lots of his fans were devastated. They took to Twitter to rant about how disappointing the whole situation was and how they thought that he was one of the few reasonable white men around. A particular user even asked if it was possible to “cancel” Justin without the McClure twins themselves. Ami, his wife later shared in his precarious circumstance as evidence came to light that Justin wasn’t the biological father of the twins even though he had been touted to be. The fans felt betrayed, let-down and distraught, and I daresay their feelings are justified. I mean, I would feel the same if I discovered that someone I desperately looked up to wasn’t living up to the ideals in which I revered them for.
This is where the situation starts to get ominous. When a movement or revolution is in its infancy, people look up to one central figure, or more, that would embody the core tenets of the movement. It is a natural human trait. Because we realize our failings and deeply flawed human state, sometimes we align with ideals that we see in other people and project perfection into them. This leaves us at a risk of two things: first, we consciously hide their flaws and imperfections such that when someone points them out, we genuinely do not see it, and tag people that do infidels to our cause. This is what we see in people riddled with religious or ideological dogma. The second is that when we eventually see these flaws and catch our “idols” in their imperfect state, we are left feeling betrayed, let-down and distraught. It is with this sudden swing in extremes of emotions – deep affection and reverence to seething hatred – that we decide that it is time to expunge them from our state of affairs. They have hurt us, and they deserve to be punished. This is what I posit is at play here.
“They lift me up so high that I’m surely about to fall
The higher that I go the more unforgivin’ they are”
- Lecrae (Free From It All)
In the US, the liberal media – which Noah is a part of – encourages this tactic as a way of shutting down ideological opposition, so it’s a case of being a victim to a monster that you helped feed. He gets no sympathy from me based on that. But we have to ask ourselves serious questions, regardless of any perceived ideological divide: Is “cancelling” good people with good intentions, over negligible mistakes really worth it? Especially when we could be expending that energy on more important issues? Are we looking for perfect and flawless paragons of virtue in imperfect men?
In my opinion, except you’re looking for Jesus, you shouldn’t expect that type of perfection from any human being. It is unfair, dishonest and, as a matter of fact, inhuman. I mean, how many people can say with a straight face that they’ve never made an inappropriate joke in their entire lives? How many of us have never been racist, prejudiced and biased against someone that’s not ourselves, or a member of our group? Public outrage is a beautiful thing because it is a good way to feel the pulse of society and align yourself correctly, but what’s the point if we’re wasting our time on someone that made a joke about something FIVE YEARS AGO, when we know for sure that he holds no such views at the present moment? Are we wasting our energy on less important things?
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