Yesterday, the internet seemed intent on burning to the ground Chris Rock and some of his friends over an interview taped in 2011. On the video Rock, Louis C.K., Ricky Gervais, and Jerry Seinfeld are discussing comedy or something and the discussion takes a sharp turn into race. What is interesting is that in 2011, absolutely no one gave a fat rat’s ass over this but yesterday the woke internet was squirting blood from it’s eyeballs.
The video clip joins the conversation with C.K. saying: “When a black guy gets rich, it’s a countdown to when he’s poor again.” Everyone starts laughing and Rock refers to C.K., who wrote and directed Rock in 2001’s Pootie Tang, as “the blackest white guy I f***ing know.” He continues to say, “And all the negative things we think about black people, this f***er” before C.K. interrupts, “You’re saying I’m a n*****?”
When watched in 2018, it’s at this exact moment when you can hear eyebrows raise.
Rock responds to C.K.: “You are the n*****est f***ing white man I have ever [met]” while Gervais can be heard in the background cracking up.
Seinfeld, who seems uncomfortable during all of this N-word talk, serves as the voice of reason through all of this saying he doesn’t think C.K. should use the slur. Seinfeld also added that he wouldn’t use the word anywhere. At one point, Gervais even says the N-word — and laughs while doing so.
To a great extent most comics are really like ten-year-old boys who’ve learned a naughty word on the school bus and use it for as often as they can get a reaction to it safe in the knowledge that their parents don’t have the guts to smack the living crap out of them. Rock can be immensely funny but frequently relies on mere shock effect to get laughs than humor. Very much the same applies to Ron White and a host of others. So them tying to shock their audience with by slinging about the “N-word” is a bit sophomoric and lowbrow but I suppose it pays the bills.
What they had not counted on is the fully woke left-internet where any offense to wokeness must be punished.
I know black folks who are completely comfortable with white people saying the n-word in their presence. Have had to tell a few white folks that I’m not that black person. Still it says something the only person who was uncomfortable was Seinfeld pic.twitter.com/8wrGGufBUS
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) December 23, 2018
Note how proud Ricky Gervais was of the fact he used the n-word. And Louis CK basically said he’s one because black folks ain’t shit. Chris Rock is getting crucified, but those other two deserve massive smoke.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) December 23, 2018
How serious is this? Well a Daily Beast writer named, I swear I am not making this up, Stereo Williams proclaims we are outraged. OUTRAGED!1!!1!
…Rock and C.K.’s friendship goes back years, but the now-viral video exposes what has always been a troubling dynamic when the “edgy” white comic who also considers himself The Down-Ass White Guy has been given too much latitude by his Super-Cool Black Friend.
The pseudo-fraternity of male comedians has been the subject of much scrutiny lately but one angle that’s gone under-discussed is the brotherhood of the “edgy” comic. Both Rock and C.K. are examples of comedians who became famous tackling taboos, and they often worked together in that vein. The belief that the edgy comic could and should say whatever he wants leads to the defense of some pretty reprehensible things—from Kevin Hart’s homophobic tweets to Rock’s bigoted Asian bits while hosting the Oscars—and it’s that belief that kept Rock from acknowledging the racism in his pal C.K.’s infatuation with that word, and it fed Rock’s need to give him a slap on the back for it. His need to “express a truth”—as so many comics often describe these kinds of transgressions—has never superseded a greater truth: that a white man can never be a “n—er” in a white man’s world. And no black man should ever let him forget that.
Rock has always had glaring blind spots in his commentary on race—the kind that often come when your contempt for racism is also tied to an anti-black filter born of surrounding yourself with successful white people….
One of the most galling aspects of being around The Down-Ass White Guy is the constant need for you, the Super-Cool Black Friend, to let them off the hook. Louis C.K. and Chris Rock’s exchange highlights so much of how racism works—C.K. wants to be called a “n—er” as a show of false camaraderie that disavows how his race has benefited him. Did C.K. ever want to be a “n—er” in pitch meetings with major studios? Does it even matter to him that not being one is what got him to his position of influence in the first place?
The public is seething over this video now. Chris Rock is undoubtedly taking the brunt of the criticism—and that’s understandable given the role he plays in this dubious exchange. But no one should downplay what Louis C.K.’s statement and stand-up history represent. Black people can’t give white people “permission” to use the N-word—we can enable the racism but, make no mistake, any white person that needs, wants or seeks “permission” to use it is only looking for a co-signer to what they are already comfortable doing. Louis C.K. says that word and so does Ricky Gervais. And they both think it’s funny. Chris Rock should’ve called them out and never initiated this racist conversation. But I don’t think for a second they would’ve behaved any differently had he not even been in the room.
I laughed a lot about four liberals getting Twitter-dragged over being so socially conscious that they were socially unconscious. I laughed a lot more at the battalions of woke zombies howling for their blood. But the underlying problem is one that isn’t going away. That problem is that public discourse…or what passes for it anyway…is being distorted by people who are intent of controlling people by controlling their speech.
The fact is, I don’t care what Louis C.K. said. I’m only vaguely aware of Ricky Gervais’s existence. What is more, none of them really matter. If Rock was offended, then he had the responsibility to speak up. If he wasn’t offended, the people that are can turn off the television or back away from Twitter or f*** right off. After all, the people watching this, an HBO special, were not forced to see it in order to get a drivers license or a dental appointment. They saw the show because they were fans of one or more of the four guys on it and that implies they knew something about the work for the four. It also explains why no one cared when the show aired. No one is forcing anyone on Twitter to watch this because that isn’t how things work on Twitter. The people trying to bully these guys and extract some kind of a craven apology from them are interlopers into a space where they have no business.
Chris Rock will never return the support the conservatives defending him have given him.
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) December 23, 2018
Kurt is completely right. But this is one of those things where we owe it to the country to defend people who would happily toss us to the wolves. This isn’t about Rock or Louis C.K. or Gervais, this is about an unhinged Twitter mob trying to become the arbiters of what can and can’t be said and demanding punishment for people who offend them. If the mobs were out to merely curb distasteful speech (I was raised in the rural South but I don’t use the “N-word” because it says much more about the person using it than it does its object), that might be understandable. But they aren’t. They are out after wrong actions, like, for instance, big game hunting and gun ownership. They are out after improper opinions. They are out after wrong thoughts. If we don’t stand up now, we all know where this leads.
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