When someone remotely non-liberal agrees to appear on The Daily Show, they are knowingly throwing themselves to the wolves. It’s dozens of people and thousands of dollars devoted to portraying the white male patriarchy as a bunch of clueless fuddy-duddies with hair growing out of their ears. Unfortunately, the segments always end up proving the opposite. The simple fact that it takes so many resources and deceit to make us look bad is proof we’re good.
A few years ago, Jon Stewart lambasted Fox News for their predominantly white male staff without realizing his staff was far whiter and maler and his audience even more so. After he left, they covered their ass with a pizza pie of multiculturalism that makes Al Jazeera look like Stormfront. Today when you Google “The Daily Show Correspondents” the top results are: Trevor Noah, Aasif Mandvi, Al Madrigal, Desi Lydic, and Hasan Minhaj. Host Trevor Noah is a half-white South African who personifies the network’s new commitment to diversity. “[He] brings a really unique and distinct point of view that’s really appropriate for 2015,” said Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless, who also brought us Larry Wilmore’s show.
I watched some of the early episodes with Noah and he began his global perspective by lampooning some of the despots from his home continent. The problem with making fun of Africa is there’s too much material and it’s too black. This is the place where albino limbs are magic and you can cure AIDS by fucking a baby. Mugabe eats baby elephant for dinner. This doesn’t fit the narrative. The left prefers to rag on the white male dentists who kill lions (even though their sport culls the lion population to the point where it saves African lives). So Africa-bashing was quickly abandoned and they yanked Noah’s perspective back down to exposing the sheer ignorance of white male dads.
This is where I come in. I wrote about women in soccer here so they came to me to discuss why women should be paid less. Like all people with a calculator, I obviously don’t think women should be paid less for the same work, but I’m happy to confront them with their facile straw man. I got Hasan Minhaj, who is best known as the guy outraged that Ashton Kutcher did an Indian accent. If you’re wondering why so many people feign outrage over nothing, check out what it does to their careers. Pretend a joke is offensive and you’ve got a job in comedy.
Hasan started out very friendly with a clueless-outsider act likely meant to disarm the guest. I didn’t need disarming because I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. Soon into the interview we abandoned all pretense and they assumed I’d assumed the position. “We don’t want these women thinking they can get paid as much as men,” said Minhaj to me with a crumpled-up “yucky” face to really drive home the patronization. I explained to him that this kind of smug attitude only works when you’re right and you’re talking to someone stupider than you. Neither is true in this case, I explained. I knew none of it would make it to air, but I am devoted to you, dear reader, and if I can bring a new experience to these pages, I would be remiss to let the opportunity pass.
What emerged was exactly what I expected, a totally edited segment that ignored my argument and attempted to depict me as a crazy person. They actually said “lunatic.” It aired Wednesday night and Media Matters grabbed it the next morning, claiming I’d been “called out.” We spoke for over an hour and I explained my position very clearly. Yes, American women’s soccer is on the rise and they did get unprecedented eyeballs for a game in 2015, but it was the World Cup. Though it would appear they were compensated less for all this success, their pay structure is very different from male soccer players’ so it’s almost impossible to accurately compare. Furthermore, the women’s soccer union negotiated this deal, so if they’re unhappy with how it played out, their problem remains in-house. This was all cut, of course, and we were left with a twisted response that ended with them taking a joke I made and pretending I was serious.
Though I’m confident I can discuss feminism and economics with clarity, I don’t actually know soccer players’ names, so when Minhaj asked me to name a few, I joked, “Bobby Daniels, Ziggler Norris, and a guy known to everyone as Junebug.” The last name was used to make it extra clear I was kidding. They had no idea. I know this because after the interview I told them they were made-up names and they were surprised. In the interview the correspondent was impressed with the names and called them “deep cuts.” In the edit they stick in a face where Minhaj sarcastically feigns interest like I’m an idiot. This is all over the interview. When you’re done talking, they capture a series of correspondent reactions they can put in later and they include this exasperated brow-pinching thing you do when you’re talking to a complete moron. On top of these edits, they add in voice-over where Minhaj can sound tough and yell, “You’re 0 for 2, Gavin” and “If you’re going to make up a name, you need to do better than Junebug.” Yeah, I know. That’s what a joke is.
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