Sarah Silverman: cancel culture is killing comedy

The comedian was fired from a film after producers uncovered an old blackface sketch.



Comedian Sarah Silverman revealed last week that she was fired from a film when producers unearthed old photographs of her in blackface. Silverman was wearing blackface for a sketch in The Sarah Silverman Show.

‘I recently was going to do a movie, a sweet part’, she told The Bill Simmons Podcast: ‘Then, at 11pm the night before, they fired me because they saw a picture of me in blackface from that episode.’

The joke seems to have haunted Silverman in recent years. In 2015, she described the skit as her ‘most regrettable joke’. Twitter users continue to share stills of her in blackface which look, she added, ‘totally racist out of context’.

But back in 2007, when the skit first aired, Silverman was praised for it. ‘It made me famous!’, she told GQ last year. Though, looking back, she said she saw it as incredibly naive: ‘That was such liberal-bubble stuff, where I actually thought it was dealing with racism by using racism. I don’t get joy in that anymore. It makes me feel yucky.’

In today’s ‘cancel culture’, transgressive comedians like Silverman are given no leeway to experiment or get things wrong. What’s more, regret and remorse for past transgressions offer no salvation. This is a climate that is totally inhospitable to comedy.

Silverman describes the current climate as one of ‘righteousness porn’. ‘If you’re not on board, if you say the wrong thing, if you had a tweet once, everyone is throwing the first stone’, she told The Bill Simmons Podcast. ‘It’s a perversion. It’s really, “Look how righteous I am and now I’m going to press refresh all day long to see how many likes I get in my righteousness”.’

We need to fight back against this ‘righteousness porn’ before more comics find themselves ‘cancelled’.

Picture by: YouTube.

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18th August 2019 at 8:25 am

Hoist by her own petard. No sympathy. I daresay getting caught by “the rules” interrupted her calling out any other person that transgresses the “right on” crowd’s rules.

Where does she go now? She’ a “right on” outcast.

Amelia Cantor

15th August 2019 at 9:54 am

Sarah Silverman: cancel culture is killing comedy

And racism kills people. How many times does it need saying? Hate speech is not free speech. Silverman is a cisgender white female. If women of colour support her “free speech”, they will say so and get her reinstated in her movie role.

They won’t say so and Silverman won’t be reinstated, because women of colour know the truth: hate speech is not free speech. Comedy has always been a core engine of racism and the racist meme of blackface is indelibly linked with the genocidal slave-trade and cisgender white racist culture in the American south.

Ed Turnbull

15th August 2019 at 12:32 pm

Point of order here Amelia: you wrote (more than once!) ‘*women* of colour’. ‘Wo*men*’? Really? Dearie me Amelia, you know as well as I (in fact you must claim the credit for teaching me this valuable lesson) the correct soubriquet is ‘*wombyn* of colour’. Please be more aware of your language in future, lest you impute undue toxic masculinity to our brave sistahs of colour.

BTW I completely agree that racism kills people. So, when are we starting the campaign to end the racist murders of Afrikaaner farmers by the vibrant, diverse communities of colour in South Africa?

Amelia Cantor

17th August 2019 at 10:36 am

It was an experiment, Ed. Someone suggested to me that using “wombyn” when addressing rightards was a step too far. One needs to use “standard” English (i.e. racist and sexist English) so as not to trigger their cisgender white male fragility. I was dubious, but I thought I would give it a try…

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