Chris Rock outrage exposes Twitter's worst quality

It really does feel like the Twitter mob will not stop until all of the truly talented people have been erased from our culture.

Joseph Fang Toronto Ontario

It appears that the Twitter mob doesn’t stop for the holidays. Yesterday, old footage of the HBO special “Talking Funny” reemerged on Twitter and was quickly spread throughout the platform. In the clip, Louis CK and Chris Rock engage in banter and wisecracks about the N-word.

“He’s the blackest white guy I fucking know,” Rock says of CK.

“You’re saying I’m a [N-word].” CK responds.

Rock says that, indeed, CK is the “[N-wordiest] fucking white man he has ever [known].”

There are two other comedians on set. Ricky Gervais cackles and exclaims, “Amazing!” Jerry Seinfeld harrumphs and expresses mild disapproval.

This historic exchange between four comedic geniuses was apparently outrageous enough to become a trending topic on Twitter.

We live in a time when Conservatives are fighting for free speech and are being featured as heroes in Penthouse while Liberals are clamouring for war and want to censor everything, so it stands to reason that, by the end of the night, Chris Rock was being called a “coon” and Jerry Seinfeld was being hailed as a progressive hero.

Here's a very brief recap of Twitter outrage from this month:

Just two weeks ago, Kevin Hart stepped down as host of the Oscars for making problematic tweets almost ten years ago. Around the same time, Heisman trophy winner Kyler Murray was slimed on Twitter for things he said when he was a child. Now, Chris Rock gets torched on Twitter and is the subject of scorn in over 100,000 tweets over a back and forth he had in the mainstream, on HBO, 7 years ago. I could insert so many more examples of selective and retroactive Twitter “justice” but I hardly feel that’s necessary. The sane among us have see it and have taken note (often not in tweet form).

So what’s this all about? Have we progressed so much over the last 10 or so years that we are so flawless and absolved of our own personal responsibility that we now have developed the innate ability to judge and condemn the free speech of others? Is it okay to apply the woke standards of today to art and behaviour from the past? Is any of this healthy, wise, or sane?

The answer to all of the above is no. But it doesn’t matter because we have built the technology to do it and so we do. And it appears that people have become so hooked on the serotonin drip of ruining other people’s lives that this is not going to end anytime soon.

You see, it appears that the mainstream media is in on the game. One of my favourite voices of reason, Chloe Valdary, a contributor to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic, hits the nail on the head when she says, “Media outlets are trying to condition us to be outraged by *telling us we're outraged* when really we do not care.”

That is to say, it’s not about genuine outrage, it’s about being addicted to the artificial outrage that our current click-based cultural economy is built upon.

It really does feel like the Twitter mob will not stop until all of the truly talented people have been erased from our culture. At that point, it will be easier for mediocre, talentless, low-information people to thrive. It’s almost as if that’s the entire cultural and business model: divide and conquer.

What this relentless, pathetic, exhausting Twitter outrage reveals is not that we live in an enlightened, progressive time. In fact, it reveals that just around 7-10 years ago, our culture was much healthier; comedy was funnier; art was edgier; and people got along way better.

In my research for another article, I stumbled upon a powerful little clip from an otherwise dodgy episode of Star Trek: The Original Series.

In it, Lieutenant Uhura comes face to face with Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is taken aback by Uhura’s beauty and refers to her as, “A charming negress.” He immediately realizes he has misspoken and says, “Oh, forgive me, my dear, I know that in my time some used that term as a description of property.”

Uhura replies, “Why should I object to that term, sir? You see, in our century we’ve learned not to fear words.”

Let's learn not to fear words.

How wonderful would it be if we could find a way to take such a powerfully positive message like that to the people of Twitter and somehow get it trending? I think it would connect with the way most reasonable people think, but because of the way social and mainstream media manipulate these conversations, conveying this idea without getting attacked or smeared is an impossible dream.

Let’s say we were to start a hashtag like #DontFearWords, it resonates with people, and launches a movement. What do you think would happen next? “Progressive” Twitter would howl and rage, claiming that the words in the hashtag are violent.

If it really took off, and people held fast to the message despite the backlash, then the think pieces would begin. Huffington Post would declare: “Here’s why we should fear the #DontFearWords movement!” Vox would exclaim: “Fearing words keeps us safe!” Vulture would shriek: “The whiteness of the movement to not fear words is scary.”

I guess for now, we should try to relax, enjoy the holidays, avoid too much political talk at the dinner table, and brace ourselves for 2019, when the Twitter mob is sure to find out about the problematic comedy of Jimmy Carr and Eddie Murphy.

Here's hoping that by this time next year, this madness is over.


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