I don’t write funny. There’s a pretty good reason for it: it’s tough to do good comedy. In fact, the axiom among comedy circles is: “dying is easy; comedy is hard.”
It’s an axiom that seems to be too-oft forgotten in today’s easy-access self-publishing online world. For every great comedian of our times, there’s a hundred dime-store shucksters who think that access to a WordPress.com account and a hipster-witty Twitter handle will make them infamous for their belly-laugh-inducing skillz.
This would be excusable if not for the sheer amount of crap comedic writing that is passed off these days by talentless hacks who want to obscure — while simultaneously revel in — gleeful racist hatred.
With the growing usage of Twitter as a platform for social justice discussion and organization, a persistent question has been whether and how to combat casual racism in 140 characters or less. The success of hashtags like #NotYourAsianSidekick suggest that Twitter is a powerful tool for bringing together like-minded Millennial activists, yet Twitter is also a hotbed of racism, misogyny and bigotry that can, at times, derail those same constructive conversations.
Over the weekend, two examples of casual anti-Asian racism had “Asian Twitter” in an uproar: a racist Facebook persona awash with yellowface stereotypes created by a local NYC artist, and a Twitter storm of racism and misogyny targeting University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise.
Both examples of casual racism used Twitter and Facebook as a platform for their racism, and both were the targets of overwhelming Twitter-based backlash. These back-to-back incidents beg the question: does Twitter promote, or merely amplify, casual racism, and how effective a tool is it in combating that same racism?