Clift’s Revenge
December 3, 2019 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Joey Clift is a comedian and a gamer. He was thrilled to be invited to guest on How Did This Get Played, a podcast about bad video games. Then he found out the episode was a Thanksgiving episode about Custer's Revenge (known as one of the worst games ever made for a variety of reasons) and he was being invited because he is an enrolled member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. Rather than turn down the offer, Clift decided to confront the hosts about tokenization (episode linked in story; discussion starts around 24:00).
posted by Etrigan (40 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow, what an incredibly brave move on Clift's part. Having run away from many conversations like this myself, I'm seriously in awe of his nerve and grace in confronting the hosts.
posted by sunset in snow country at 4:08 PM on December 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


I am a fan of this show and listened to the first third of this episode, but I have a pathetically low tolerance for social discomfort of this sort and bailed about five minutes after he first confronted everyone. Can someone who listened through tell me what happened? I'm so, so curious but truly cannot bear to listen further because I am at heart a terrible coward.
posted by saladin at 4:15 PM on December 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


There's a great follow-up with Joey Clift on last/this week's "Yo, Is This Racist?"

(I recommend Clift's other appearance on "Yo" this month, too.)
posted by Laetiporus at 4:16 PM on December 3, 2019 [7 favorites]


I'm listening to it now and it actually sounds pretty low-key (though knowing how it feels to be a part of such a conversation, I'm not deluding myself that nobody's heart was pounding). The hosts try to defend themselves for a bit and eventually stop, listen, and apologize. The tone is warm and friendly throughout.
posted by sunset in snow country at 4:19 PM on December 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


Wow, that's really impressive.
posted by suelac at 4:35 PM on December 3, 2019


Can someone who listened through tell me what happened?

I'll try to transcribe some of the high points/pertinent content:

The hosts come in asking about generalization of Native Americans in games. How it's problematic, which they admit, and how it is sometimes awesome which they give some examples of like Turok, etc.

Clift: "I mean, ugh, specifically me being on this episode of this show.... It would be hard for me to be on this show without talking about something for me without talking about something that's important to me and that is an elephant in the room and that's tokenization. And what I mean by that... And this isn't a bit, this is super serious. I think I'm the only Native American guest you've had on this show right?"

HostA: "Yes."

Clift: "So, you had me on an episode to talk about a video game where the whole point of the game is for General Custer to rape a Native American woman and it;'s for the Thanksgiving episode. That's like, and not a bit here, that's fucked up. And I guess: What the fuck? Why? What was the thought process in this episode?"

HostA: "I mean you're right to call us out on it. I guess we didn't think of the tokenization that much. We thought of you as a gamer and we wanted a Native perspective on something so grim and so dark. Um.. but you're right it's fucked up to put you in that box and say it's your responsibility to come in and talk about this fucked up thing."

Clift: "Yea, I mean, it bums me out... a lot. And ya'know apologies.... actually no, no I'm not gonna apologies, this is my emotions. But there is this thing often times especially with natives in the comedy community and I'm one of very few and it's tough because it minimizes us into being less than what we are. It kind of puts me into a box of not being a super funny comedy writer. And you two are people that I respect and Matt I consider you a friend. But it tells me you didn't bring me onto this show because I'm a funny comedy writer but because I'm a native comedy writer. And there's something to that that... it makes me feel less than..."

HostA: "I get what you mean and I will say that our thought process was, and again it is fair for you to call us out on this, is that this is a game that is dealing with something that is fucked up and about native americans and they way they are represented in media and we wanted a native perspective on that because, speaking of elephant in the room, we'd feel like there'd be an elephant in the room if there was not a Native person in the room with a relevant perspective."

HostB: "I think, and again not to minimize your feelings in anyway, but a lot of podcasting and booking guests is thematic. Right? So like if there's a show about gay comedy writers, I might be called in as a potential guest on that. And it's not because I'm not a comedy writer otherwise it's because there might be something I can speak to as a gay writer. And I think that unfortunately, for the sake of packaging, what would be the most interesting conversation to hear on this game and I think that might be with someone who has legitimate thoughts about native american representation and is Native American."

Clift: "I get what you're talking about but what gets me and bums me a little but like.... that's not what this show is. You guys don't often tackle this kind of stuff. You didn't have a black performer on the show on MLK day to talk about some game and the black experience but they're allowed to be comedians. I 100% understand packaging but it is this feeling of why is it just for Natives."

HostA: "I don't think we were going to discuss just this topic / Custer's Revenge. We wanted to get to know you and your perspective as a comedy writer, beyond the 'native' perspective in this game. Let me ask you: 'What's the best way to cover this? Is that a thing like 'hey let's not cover this' or 'let's not have a native guest for this?' or are you specifically talking about us having you on the show for the first time and covering a game that is so offensive towards your culture?"

Clift: "For me, I guess it's a combo of me being a native, this game being specifically very offensive towards native stuff, and also it being for the thanksgiving episode. There's a feeling that something that often happens for marginalized groups is that we are only brought in in the time of year where our thing that is circled. I know a bunch of super funny black comedians that only get a lot of bookings in February, during Black History month. For natives we get a lot of weird meetings in November for Native American Heritage month. An issue with that and how a lot of my friends feel is that we aren't looked at as people but are looked at as tokens. A example of that is how the first thing an exec asked me a few months ago how I feel about Elizabeth Warren. And didn't engage with me about anything I was writing or doing or me as a comedy writer. There was just a feeling of wringing hands and 'oh, I have a native in the room'. So something to your guys point, how do you cover something like this that is particularly about a marginalized group. I've got a couple of things to say about that. 1) This is the first time that you've had a native on the show and that feels pretty weird. There's not a pre-established relationship where I feel like I would be on the show to cover a different game."

HostA: "I can say that's not true. We would have had you. blah blah"

Clift: "Ok. The other reason is that, ya'know, it's about Custer raping a native woman, I don't think you need a native perspective to say that's bad. What do you need me for or to say about that besides to give really sad context like native american women are raped, murdered, and go missing at a far higher rate than other ethnicity and that still happens today. So I can offer that perspective... But ya'know that's not a really fun thing to talk about on a comedy podcast."

HostB: "I... so, two things: I don't know if it was my negligence as a human being but when we booked you I did not know you were a native american. I don't think it had ever come up. That being said, one of..... so... we talked prior and one of the things I wanted to ask you was "Are there any good representations of ingenious people in film or television?" because I couldn't think of anything. I wanted to ask you that because I don't have any authority to judge that media. For me that was... the game sucks, it sucks for women, it sucks for native americans, it blows.... You couldn't play as women yet but you could rape them... I was excited about this episode because "this is wrong" and "what can you share with us. I don't know..."

HostA: "We fucked up, we fucked up really bad. And I'm really sorry to you Joey. And you are someone I respect you as a comedy writer and I don't think of you as native first but I think of you as a guy who happens to be native and we thought you might speak to this but your points are salient and you confront this all the time of your life."

Clift: "I accept that apology and I hope y'all know I'm not Mr Callout. But I get these calls now and I'm a registered member of this tribe I grew up on a reservation and yaknow that didn't usually intersect with that I do in comedy and now people reach out for me on this and usually I ignore these emails or commiserate with my native friends but this situation was one where I know all of you and it burned a little more and I also talked to a lot of our mutual friends over the past week and all of them said you would engage in the conversation and I think this is one of those things where it's like there isn't a lot of good representation in TV or... podcasting...this is a conversation if I just went onto the show and said wow thanksgiving episode and just said "wooo, this game bad" how would that look to a native kid who wanted to be able to talk about other stuff."

HostA: "Sure, I mean it's useful. It's ironic that we've created the Custer's Revenge of podcast episodes in booking you..."

Clift: "I was going to say that too, but I appreciate you guys having the conversation and, well, I don't know if it will air or not."

HostA: "Oh we'll release this episode where we fucked up very badly, ha ha"
HostB: "And then we'll close the show... haha"

Clift: "Before we get into other topics, maybe a good thing to feel better is to book native folks to talk about other topics like Garfield Cart..."

... digression begins....

HostA: "I feel shitty. I know you speak passionately to native issues and that's part of why I thought of you. But everything you're saying makes sense if I'd thought through this more I'd have seen how really offensive this is to someone who is native american.
HostB: "Yea, we're really sorry."

Clift: "Well, that's what I'm here for is to force awkward apologies, hahaha. But also it sucks because this hasn't been fun for me to think of how I was going to talk about this. For anyone listening; tokenizing people sucks. For people that listen, people of color, they know it sucks. To answer your question, I'm not saying you shouldn't cover this game but the way things came together is lame. You were asking earlier about things that are positive for this issue are *listing begins*. But if this comes up I have to call things out because I'm the one guy who does native comedy."

later

HostB: "I will feel bad about this for... well the foreseeable future"
HostA: "You've been good to take these apologies and you're a good friend to miss the mark and it feels worse because you're a friend and we missed the mark and we thank you for challenging us and making us realize the error of our ways and helping us issue the deepest apologies we can."
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:35 PM on December 3, 2019 [93 favorites]


So, there's a rough transcript.

My take was mostly positive but still depressing. So the hosts listened and apologized and only had a small dash of excuses mixed in there but, well, Clift still had to shoulder the emotional labor in the preceding days and weeks and had to do the hard work of educating. Nothing new there.

I hope he goes back on to discuss something else. I don't do podcasts much but he seems like as good a guest as I've ever heard on the ones I have listened to in passing, he certainly deserves better than a token role as was the case here.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:42 PM on December 3, 2019 [24 favorites]


Thank you so much for that, RolandOfEld!
posted by curious nu at 6:10 PM on December 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


He is the host of “Chats on Cats with Joey Clift,” which is a monthly cat themed late night talk show at the UCB Theater
Excuse me, I need to feverishly buy ten years worth of tickets to... something.
posted by yomimono at 6:17 PM on December 3, 2019 [18 favorites]


Wow, good for him. Brave and honest and also fair and reasonable in his callout. And I also want to commend the hosts for not getting too defensive, for taking the criticism and trying to be open and take the criticism.

All around, this is how we can move forward productively. Good.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:44 PM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


The HostB part above, where they start with "I didn't know you were Native" then go in a breath to "I was excited to talk about Native representation with you" is such a desperate pivot, especially considering that HostA had softballed "Cool Native video game characters?" before the call out happened. Listening to the exchange, HostA took it on the chin through the exchange, while HostB took awhile to come round.

As podcasts become subsumed into media companies, I hope that the low barriers to entry to the medium stay open. Booking, especially in the LA podcast scene, is as much a work of expression as PFT's latest English-ish accented character.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:47 PM on December 3, 2019 [7 favorites]


The HostB part above, where they start with "I didn't know you were Native" then go in a breath to "I was excited to talk about Native representation with you" is such a desperate pivot,

Yea, that was the part where I was ready for some exceptionally weak sauce and/or total backpedaling of the heretofore good apologies and words on the part of the hosts. It wasn't great.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:51 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


I wonder what would have been the better thing to do? My guess would be either not talk about this horrible game at all and let it be forgotten, or talk to him before the episode to get on the same page first?
posted by bleep at 7:28 PM on December 3, 2019


The better thing to do would have been to ask him onto the show as a comedian and a gamer like any other guest, on an episode that wasn't premised on his heritage being relevant (and thus the only reason they thought to invite him).
posted by tocts at 8:03 PM on December 3, 2019 [22 favorites]


I really hope their episode on Untitled Goose Game immediately starts out with a disclaimer that this game is clearly amazing, and they just wanted to talk about it, because it is in no way a bad game!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:18 PM on December 3, 2019


The better thing to do would have been to ask him onto the show as a comedian and a gamer like any other guest, on an episode that wasn't premised on his heritage being relevant (and thus the only reason they thought to invite him).

And maybe not have their Thanksgiving episode be the one where they plan to yuk it up about this particular game and how shitty it is about Natives.
posted by Etrigan at 8:27 PM on December 3, 2019 [16 favorites]


I really hope their episode on Untitled Goose Game immediately starts out with a disclaimer that this game is clearly amazing, and they just wanted to talk about it, because it is in no way a bad game!

They had some issues with it. Nothing major, but they didn’t think it was the greatest game ever.
posted by jmauro at 8:53 PM on December 3, 2019


I wonder what would have been the better thing to do? My guess would be either not talk about this horrible game at all and let it be forgotten, or talk to him before the episode to get on the same page first?

I'm gonna go with option A. Custer's Revenge has already gotten far more attention than it ever deserved. It was a staple of lazy worst-games-ever lists on the early 2000s web because just describing the premise will shock someone who hadn't heard of it, which is convenient when you're writing one paragraph on each game. But the incredibly offensive premise really is all there is to say about the game. (Unless you want to get into a game-history tangent about the unlicensed console games market of the 80s, which is my jam but might be a bit dry for a comedy podcast. [Although the story of Venetian Blinds is funnier told straight than any joke one could make about Custer's Revenge.])
posted by skymt at 9:08 PM on December 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


I had never listened to this podcast before this episode and actually bailed on it before the (totally appropriate) confrontation, just because I got distracted. I did however listen to the episode on Duke Nukem Forever all the way through boy howdy did they glide right over how incredibly awful that game is to women.
posted by mmcg at 5:09 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


There's a great follow-up with Joey Clift on last/this week's "Yo, Is This Racist?"

People have asked elsewhere (in a weird sort of "gotcha!" tone) about why it's okay for the YITR team to have Joey on to talk native issues during November but it's wrong in this other context. He made the point pretty well himself, but the differences are that YITR has had him on several times before, they are explicitly about these topics and have done the prerequisites. And even after all of that, Joey still ribs them a little bit about tokenization, but he knows they can handle the criticism.
posted by Think_Long at 5:56 AM on December 4, 2019 [12 favorites]


The better thing to do would have been to ask him onto the show as a comedian and a gamer like any other guest, on an episode that wasn't premised on his heritage being relevant (and thus the only reason they thought to invite him).

It strikes me that a good next step for everyone is for the hosts to have Joey back on some random Tuesday in May or something, to discuss a game like the E.T. Atari game or something that's a slam-dunk thing for a comedian to riff on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


It strikes me that a good next step for everyone is for the hosts to have Joey back on some random Tuesday in May or something, to discuss a game like the E.T. Atari game or something that's a slam-dunk thing for a comedian to riff on.

They apparently did, and more:
Heather, Matt and Nick sent me individual apology emails the next day. They not only offered to bring me back for a more enjoyable episode, but they asked for recommendations for other Native comedians to bring on for episodes not focused on our trauma or scheduled around Thanksgiving. They even offered to give me final edit on the episode and asked me to write the episode’s description, which helped ease my nerves about the narrative forming around my appearance.
The HostB part above, where they start with "I didn't know you were Native" then go in a breath to "I was excited to talk about Native representation with you" is such a desperate pivot,

Having listened to the episode, I took it more charitably--that Heather didn't know Joey was Native American when they invited him, but did know by the time the episode was recorded. I don't know that she took longer to come around than Nick did, just a little longer to process the shock of fucking up so badly.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 8:36 AM on December 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


That was a hell of a listen. I appreciate that in the end there is no discussion of the game at all beyond its premise, just 20 minutes of processing the idea of tokenism and how ill-considered the entire episode was. Now to catch up on YITR.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:46 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I wonder what would have been the better thing to do? My guess would be either not talk about this horrible game at all and let it be forgotten, or talk to him before the episode to get on the same page first?

In the short-term, yeah, probably don't talk about the game. Or at least not on Thanksgiving.

But the real answer is to get beyond "what should they have done in this particular situation?" Like, I think Clift articulated specific reasons why the combination of Custer's Revenge + Thanksgiving episode + Native dude! is really bad, but it also looks bad in the context of just not having Native representation on the show, or only having Native people on to talk about games involving Native people or people doing terrible things to Native people. This is a problem that becomes less of a problem if Clift was a semi-regular guest, or if there were more Native guests on the show to set a baseline that is about those people's personalities specifically, and not "as a Native person how shitty is this virtual atrocity to you?"

tl;dr, I very much look forward to the March episode of Garfield Kart with Joey Clift that wasn't actually announced but should totally be a thing.
posted by chrominance at 9:48 AM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


How Did This Get Played, like it's sister show How Did This Get Made is lazy, snide, and bad. In general, I am completely fed up with any project where D-list comics and wannabes go looking for things to shit on. I never want to see another Honest Trailers for the rest of my life. Make your own games and movies if it's that damn easy.

Good for Clift in calling out this truly appalling booking fuck up, which could have been avoided if the showrunners stopped and thought about it for even a second, or asked a Native about their plans before they made them. I get the feeling that the first and only Native who they spoke about this with was Clift, on mic. What an awful spot to put a friend and colleague in. Hearing a guest pipe up like "Yo, this sucks real bad right now" is the first time I've been able to relate to someone on How Did This Get Played.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:52 AM on December 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Wasn't expecting to see a "critics should go make the things they criticize if they think it's so easy" take about the hosts of How Did This Get Made, all three of whom are working actors/comedians/writers/directors.
posted by sinfony at 10:35 AM on December 4, 2019 [16 favorites]


the Yo, Is This Racist followup was really good. his thinking that if he turned down doing the podcast it would probably just pass on his discomfort to the next native person to get asked makes sense and sucks.
posted by gaybobbie at 10:49 AM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


sinfony, agreed, and the How Did This Get Played hosts have either worked in the video game industry or have been video game journalists. I wouldn't lump either podcast in with Honest Trailers.
posted by lizjohn at 10:56 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


all three of whom are working actors/comedians/writers/directors.

No kidding? Maybe someone should do a show where they laugh at all the mistakes in their work. Maybe this is my dream project right there.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:57 AM on December 4, 2019


Maybe someone should do a show where they laugh at all the mistakes in their work.

I mean ... go ahead? I seriously doubt there's anything you could say about it that they haven't already heard, nor anything that would be worse than their own critique of themselves. I'm not really sure what you're even driving at, and honestly you're coming off as both unreasonably and personally aggrieved at the very idea of media criticism, which seems like a pretty weird derail here.
posted by tocts at 11:11 AM on December 4, 2019 [12 favorites]


Came here to share this essay from Joey that gives his perspective on the episode. What it really highlights is how truly difficult this was for him.
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 1:25 PM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


Revenge is actually a good description of what's going on here. I understand calling someone out when they are in a position of power, because they're unlikely to listen to what you have to say otherwise. But in this case we're dealing with liberal podcast hosts who are anxious enough about racial sensitivity and representation that they went out of their way to invite a native american comedian on the show just so they wouldn't upset anyone by being white and therefore unqualified to talk about a racist video game. I agree, this is not a helpful thing to do, and their guest was understandably creeped out.

But the offense here isn't racism. It's just the result of trying to make a stupid low-brow comedy podcast about an offensive video game, while also trying to be respectful toward indigenous people, and being clueless about how to do that. The hosts learned that if you do inclusiveness wrong, it's tokenism, and it's embarrassing. But that doesn't have to be taught by telling someone they fucked up and they should feel bad. It certainly got his message out there, but not without punishing people who honestly thought they were on his side.

Liberal white people are terrified of being racist and it doesn't take much to get them to admit they're wrong. You can scold them and make them feel even more alienated than they already are, but then they'll probably just be afraid to talk to you. What people are identifying as a political issue here is really about racial anxiety, which is something we all have to deal with on account of living in a poorly integrated society with a violent racist past. Generating more white guilt isn't going to fix anything.

I just find all of this stuff exhausting, and I'm disillusioned by it. Publicly shaming your friends and colleagues is not the way to a better future with more racial equality. This isn't speaking truth to power or building solidarity, and it certainly isn't making anyone feel better. I know, I can hear someone saying already, "It isn't anyone's job to make white people feel better about themselves." But we all have enough to feel shitty about, and if the goal is to trust one another and make alliances, then we shouldn't be aggressively calling each other out for failing to live up to some elusive liberal ideal.

The guest made a political choice to disrupt their show and create a confrontation. He was fairly civil about it, but it was an aggressive move, and it indicates that he didn't think he could trust them to discuss things privately, or that they wouldn't have agreed to talk about it on the show if they were asked to. I don't think that this was really the case. If you're going to hijack a show for your own political cause, there are more deserving targets than this podcast.
posted by mammal at 1:20 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


But the offense here isn't racism.

If you didn’t notice how excruciatingly careful Clift was to not use that word, then I have to ask whether you listened to the show or read the story before jumping in about how the real offense was being offended.
posted by Etrigan at 4:02 AM on December 5, 2019 [11 favorites]


Yea what a weird comment. I've actually been thinking about this on and off for the last couple days - I actually wanted to recommend that white people listen to the podcast as a great example of how an uncomfortable conversation about race should go. It's an honest, productive, kind dialogue. I don't want to puff up the white hosts too much but after the initial period where they try to defend themselves they display a remarkable lack of defensiveness and white fragility (which are big barriers to having these conversations), and at the end everyone still respects each other. I really take issue with your characterization of this as a "punishment" - they were made uncomfortable for a few minutes, that's all. But also, it's really common for white people to characterize stuff like this as PUNISHMENT and SHAMING precisely because that racial anxiety looms so large, and to get past it we really need to combat that fear response by having precisely the kind of dialogue that is had here. It's not going to be comfortable, but the alternative is having people of color shove down their discomfort (and worse) again and again to allow white people to be blissfully ignorant, and that's really a lot to ask.
posted by sunset in snow country at 8:01 AM on December 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


Publicly shaming your friends and colleagues is not the way to a better future with more racial equality.

Then the hosts should not have publicly shamed Clift by making him the token Native American on one of their episodes.

I understand that they didn't mean it, but it's still what they did.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:13 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


The guest made a political choice to disrupt their show and create a confrontation.

Even setting everything else aside: Clift was a guest on someone else's pre-recorded podcast; this isn't someone breaking into a live feed with a protest action, it's someone showing up after being invited, talking in a context where they have no control over the outcome and no idea how standing up for themself will be received. He even notes at one point in a ha-ha-but-seriously tone the reality that just not airing the episode could be the end result of his weeks of discomfort and this hard conversation he's putting himself through.

And for all that he did a really careful and accommodating job of saying stuff worth saying without doing anything more than showing up and being honest about how badly he felt about being treated in a shitty way and helping outline why that situation sucked and was endemic to a lot of media in general, not just specifically that moment on that podcast.

Confrontation and aggression aren't the same thing, and they shouldn't be conflated; Clift confronted some friends and colleagues on a massively thoughtless thing they did, in a situation they had the ultimate control over, and he did it in conversation and let them work through it, and treated the whole thing as the disappointing and shitty situation it was but not as some kind of world-ending moment or grounds for cancelling them. As much as I don't love that there were like five "okay but the defensible reason for this is..." gambits from the hosts before they moved on to actually just apologizing, Clift engages in a kinda sympathetic way on some of the structural weirdness of the media context they're all working in, too.

It's a good interview, Clift is kinder than he needed to be, and the hosts do a decent way of finding their way to "hey, we fucked up and I apologize". It's uncomfortable to listen to but honestly "because of how confrontational Joey Clift was" shouldn't really be anyone's takeaway on why that is. He did a really good and kind job, for the hosts' benefit, in a really crappy situation where he didn't owe anyone anything.

I've got to slot in the YITR episode to my listening still; I'm really interested to hear their conversation in detail after having heard about this the other day from my wife and listening to the HDTGP episode together. It'll be good to hear a version of the conversation where he knows the other folks on mic are gonna be on board to begin with and he doesn't have to do so much work for them in the process of trying to talk about it.
posted by cortex at 8:57 AM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


Largely absent from all this is also the touchier subject of the fan communities this podcast plays to - gamers and doughboys fans. The former have their documented issues with race as a topic. While I am a fan of doughboys and know the hosts to be genuinely good people, their fan community is often . . . lacking.
posted by Think_Long at 10:46 AM on December 5, 2019


then we shouldn't be aggressively calling each other out for failing to live up to some elusive liberal ideal.

So, first off, Clift wasn't aggressive, well, not by my defintion of the word anyway. He was pretty damn patient and calm and constructive throughout. Your comment shows how painstakingly hard it is for someone to talk about these hard issues without being labeled, essentially, a shit-stirrer for it's own sake. That's not at all what happened. I wish I had a tenth of his patience or ability to power through a situation like that without coming out sounding A) a helluva lot more aggressive and B) much less coherent and C) way, way less funny.

If he would have misstepped on any of those items then his career could have suffered, perhaps seriously.

If he no shows/cancels/refuses the invitation then he possibly burns bridges and/or doesn't get another invite to that show which, obviously, isn't helping him further his career.

If he doesn't talk about the issue that's at hand, namely tokenism, then he's literally betraying himself and his culture by being, ya'know, the token native guy on the Thanksgiving show next to the other fucked up representations of said culture that the dominant society has laid upon their shoulder.

If he does speak up and doesn't misstep then he maybe reaches some folks, which is great, while also having to face the firing squad of folks on the Right who will cry political correctness foul long and hard, which may or may not impact his life/career who knows, as well as nitpicky critiques from folks like you who think he didn't use the right words or setting or tone or what the fuck ever to say how the situation put him in a weird place and stressed him out because of the fact that he's a member of a group that has suffered being asked to talk about fucked up things done to that group on an episode celebrating a day that is pretty effing fraught for members of that population and, well, how that is fucked up.

TL;DR - I don't agree with your comment. You're missing several points. Or what Etrigan said above.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:12 AM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


it indicates that he didn't think he could trust them to discuss things privately, or that they wouldn't have agreed to talk about it on the show if they were asked to.

Did you even read the article posted above? He says he spoke to them beforehand saying that he was going to talk about serious shit and they said that's fine.

From the linked essay in the original post for fucks sake:

I wasn’t excited about blindsiding them with a conversation they’d earned, but weren’t expecting. Heather and Nick are both well-meaning people and though we aren’t close, they were some of my first sketch-comedy writing teachers when I first moved to Los Angeles and were influential in helping shape my early comedic voice. Two days before recording, I emailed to tell them that I was bringing a serious discussion about Native American representation to their show, which they said they were ready for.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:15 AM on December 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


But that doesn't have to be taught by telling someone they fucked up and they should feel bad.

I disagree. I think we need a lot more of white people being told they fucked up and they should feel bad. There is way too much tiptoeing around white people's delicate feelings.

So one white person to another: mammal, you fucked up and you should feel bad.
posted by medusa at 4:08 PM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


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