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An oppressive white privileged heteronormative look at Suey Park’s SQUIRREL! interview

By TBogg
Thursday, April 3, 2014 19:01 EDT

Yesterday morning I sat down at  ‘the place where the magic happens‘ (my desk) fully intending to write about the #CancelColbert nothing-burger that gripped America for a 72-hour news cycle before the country moved on to discussing more important things like waffle tacos at Taco Bell and Bruce Jenner plastic surgery.

But then Sarah Palin raised her Bumpit-ed head, and, well, what can I say? The heart wants what the heart wants.

What I was going to write about was the Colbert huff-n-puff as the most  recent manifestation of  #hashtagactivism, which is essentially ‘fighting the man’ without leaving the comfort  and safety of your own home and actually dealing with the world that you are going to change … 140 characters at a time. Not that there isn’t precedent for this sort of thing as you may well know if you have read Martin Luther King’s ‘Tweet from a Birmingham City Jail.’

But then King eventually got out of jail and did some other stuff and now we have a black president. Q.E.D.

The #CancelColbert birthmother is a 23-year-old self-described ‘writer and activist’ named Suey Park whose laudable goal is to rid the world of all preconceived notions of race and gender and class. Failing that, she seems to be quite content to settle for getting a Twitter hashtag to trend for 24 hours like current hot topics such as #PixelRace or #Buttflix because that is how to bring about change in the digital world.


Park, who has admitted that she actually likes The Colbert Report and doesn’t want to see it cancelled, was criticized and maligned and threatened (stop that, you guys!) for not ‘getting’ Colbert’s ‘racism in the service of making fun of racism’ bit.  Never mind the fact that the offensive tweet that set Park off came from Comedy Central and not Stephen Colbert’s twitter account, so shut up and  #CancelColbert anyway.

Michelle Goldberg attributes Park’s ‘hair-trigger offense’ to a manifestation of  Anti-Liberal Left-ism:

On the surface, the rhetoric appears more ambitious and utopian than ever—witness, for example, the apparently sincere claim by Suey Park, creator of the #CancelColbert hashtag, that Twitter activists intend to “dismantle the state.” But at the same time, activism becomes less about winning converts and changing the world and more about creating protected enclaves and policing speech.

While true,  a slightly more obvious explanation might be that Park is trolling/click-baiting/self-promoting the ‘Suey Park brand’ because being outraged – or outrageous – online  is a pretty sweet way to jump start a career online. Just ask Brandon Ambrosino.

Park may, or may not, have had that in mind when she agreed to an interview with Salon’s Prachi Gupta which only served to reveal that Park is, to put it nicely,  Not Ready For Prime Time.

The interview began with Gupta asking Park if she had watched Stephen Colbert’s Monday evening response to the ‘controversy.’

Park did not put her best foot forward:

Did you watch the Monday night segment on the “Colbert Report”?

No, and I think that’s an irrelevant question.

Why do you think that’s an irrelevant question?

Because you’re still trying to understand my context, rather than the reaction and the conversation that I was trying to create.

You don’t think understanding your context is just as important?

I don’t think so.

Why is that?

I think it was just an opportunity to use hyperbole in a way to make social commentary, which is what the [unintelligible] would want to do to begin with. So in that sense, it’s not about understanding context, it’s never about understanding nuance and complexity of a white man’s joke, when a woman of color is always read as literal, when to me it was never a literal hashtag. And so it’s all this like, “What can we do to get you to understand context,” like, “What did you know, what did you not know,” like, “You don’t understand satire, you didn’t see the show,” etc. … When the question is really, what is so complex about understanding someone who is both a writer and an activist, understanding how I use satire and hyperbole to make a political commentary.

Strange as it may seem, the interview actually goes downhill from there, but here is a small sampling of Park interview quotes taken out of context (because those are the new rules) for your reading pleasure, although I strongly suggest you go read the whole thing because it is dazzling:

I think as a result of the white ally industrial complex, for too long people of color have been asked to censor whiteness, they have been asked to educate their oppressor, they have been asked to use the right tone, and appease their politics in order to be heard.

….when are we actually going to have these conversations about how white supremacy has caused Orientalism, slavery and genocide? When will we actually touch on those big things? And I don’t think that we’ve seen that yet in comedy, and I do think it’s possible, but no one is ready to flip the switch to make the white person the subject of the archetype.

Richard Pryor just rolled over his grave.

I always paint my white characters to be singular, to be ignorant, to reverse the gaze onto them instead when they are our subjects, instead of always constantly saying people of color are fucked and a way to kind of always reinforce our subject’s location in reference to white men as some metaphor.I think it would be a more realistic socially commentary if I were able to joke about the totality of white supremacy, but I don’t think that’s going to happen on national television.

David Chapelle wept.

What is the best way to work with white people, to get them on our side?

I don’t want them on our side.

You don’t want them on your side.

This is not reform, this is revolution.

You say you want a revolution?

So what do you want to see happen in your revolution?

I mean, it’s already happening I think. The revolution will not be an apocalypse, it’s gonna be a series of shifts in consciousness that result in actions that come about, and I think that like, at this point is really like, ride or die, in terms who’s in and who is out. I don’t play by appeasement politics, it is not about getting my oppressors to humanize me. And in that sense I reject the respectability politics, I reject being tone-policed, I think we need to do away with this idea that these structures are … that the prisons can undergo reform and somehow do less violence as a structure. But any example like that.

Wait, can you ask that question again, I got distracted real quick, there was a bird outside my window.

Methinks someone’s jargon just outran their grasp and, with this interview, their fifteen minutes of fame  is just about up….


Also, too:

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 2.50.15 PM

Duly noted. Somehow we will all soldier on without you…

[Image Suey Park Facebook page]


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