Social activists have channelled the use of social media to promote their cause through hashtag activism, as Suey Park did in her “#CancelColbert” campaign, on Twitter. However, to fully understand Park’s position and her calls to cancel Stephen Colbert’s show we need to establish her character as a social activist on Twitter. Park initiated the hashtag “#NotYourAsianSidekick” to urge Asian women to join in the conversation and resist the stereotypes and oppression, doing a quick search of either of Park’s initiated hashtags you can understand the scope of her campaigns. However, without discrediting her prior attempts of hashtag activism, the “#CancelColbert” hashtag was as frivolous as was Colbert’s, since deleted, tweet: “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” In Josh Depp’s tweet in response to Park’s interview with Huffington Post: “Ahh, the righteousness of professional umbrage-takers. @suey_park wasn't muted or silenced. I invited her to explain herself & she declined,” he makes a point that Park’s activism belongs only on social media, in replying to another Twitter user by saying: “Pretending that a silly idea isn't silly because of the race of the person holding it is condescending and racist, @FatBodyPolitics” he backs his stance. Depp’s tweet eluding to hashtag activism and calling out Park for thinking that a joke made by a known abrasive comedian can be taken out of context to the point where “#CancelColbert” was a trending topic in America further proves Park’s influence on social media.
Nonetheless, a hashtag is nothing more than a cry for attention, whether it be personal or for a cause, once you log out of your Twitter account the hashtag being used is no longer relevant, just like after hearing Colbert’s joke and laughing it is no longer relevant. Park’s criticism of Colbert can be framed in Colbert’s use of superiority theory in his humour, and Colbert’s remark were something framed within relief theory – innocent enough to laugh at without feeling offended by the supposed racial jab at Asians. In analyzing Park’s response and Colbert’s original joke, it can be established that Zepp was right in his tweets and calling out Park for her overreaction to Colbert’s humour. Superiority theory is focused on the character of the observer and the condition of the observed to explain why we find something funny. For that reason, Park is offended by Colbert’s joke – because he laughed when he told it and so did many when they heard it. Contending that humour is focused on our feelings of superiority over other people, Park made this joke into a political one, one that attacks Asian Americans if we look at the Colbert’s audience being just in the USA. In the audiences laughter Park thought this was the result of people feeling greater than the Asian Americans. However, it is important to consider that the laughter that Colbert’s joke garnered is one of limited emotional involvement. Assuming Colbert’s audience watches his show for witty jokes, which result in laughter, Park took the joke out of context. Park thought Colbert was holding himself to a higher position compared to Asian Americans when it was a play on the Washington Redskins name and in his attempt satirise the organisation’s owner’s attempt to calm the backlash of the team’s name. In taking to social media, Twitter specifically, and initiating the “#CancelColbert” hashtag, Park was channelling her right of free speech through hashtag activism. However, in doing this she was trying to show her sense of superiority theory, even though it was not in the context of humour, it was her chance to upstage Colbert. Superiority theory in humour can help illuminate instances of humour in media and bring serious social matters like the Redskins’ outrageously racist name to the forefront, people like Park, taking the joke out of context and seeing it as an attack on another race take way from the initial issue. Park’s assumption that Colbert assumes he is better than Asian Americans is as equally as silly as the Redskins’ name. In Depp’s remark he is purporting this and calling out Park for her outrage by comparing her argument to that of Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, and not wanting to change the team’s racist name to something more politically correct.
Zepps, Josh (joshzepps). “Ahh, the righteousness of professional umbrage-takers.
@suey_park wasn't muted or silenced. I invited her to explain herself & she declined.” 28 Mar. 2014, 8:19 a.m. Tweet.
Zepps, Josh (joshzepps). “Pretending that a silly idea isn't silly because of the race of the person holding it is condescending and racist, @FatBodyPolitics.” 28 Mar. 2014, 8:28 a.m. Tweet.