In early September, “Saturday Night Live” announced its three new cast members for its 45th season. A few hours after the announcement, news reports found racist tweets and videos of newcomer Shane Gillis. The revelations caused public outrage, with viewers asking SNL producers to fire Gillis.

Days after the remarks were discovered, Gillis issued an apology.

Zaria Turner

Turner is a broadcast and public relations junior and Community Voices columnist for The Shorthorn

“I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss ... My intention is to never hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires taking risks,” he tweeted.

At most, Gillis’ apology came off as disingenuous. Instead of addressing what he said and holding himself accountable for it, he used comedy to justify his actions, though his tweets had no comedic relevance.

After the backlash, SNL decided to let Gillis go. SNL alumni Rob Schneider and Norm Macdonald came to the defense of Gillis, shaming SNL for its decision to fire the comedian.

It’s ironic that all of the comedians coming to the defense of Gillis and slamming SNL do not belong to the groups that Gillis has targeted.

Who are comedians such as Schneider and Macdonald to tell people they shouldn’t feel outraged by what Gillis said? They have no place to say what is homophobic or what is racist.

Instead of painting Gillis as a victim for losing his SNL gig, we should sympathize with the marginalized groups who comedians feel it’s OK to constantly take shots at.

Cancel culture has become increasingly prominent throughout social media. Cancel culture can be defined as fans or an audience refusing to support an artist or celebrity because of unacceptable behavior or actions. Celebrities who have dealt with being canceled firsthand are Kanye West, Lena Dunham and Kevin Hart.

Comedian Dave Chapelle’s latest Netflix comedy special, Sticks and Stones, also struck a nerve with viewers like myself because of his cheap shots at the LGBTQ community and the #MeToo movement.

As a fan of Chapelle it was hard for me to watch him degrade members of the transgender community in the name of comedy. It’s unoriginal when comedians have to come after members of a marginalized group in order to enhance their content.

Chapelle is a talented comedian with a large following. In the future, he should be more responsible with his platform.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t believe that cancel culture has gone too far in certain circumstances. We all make mistakes, but the difference between celebrities and I is that their life is monitored under a microscope. Private citizens have the privilege to make a mistake in their own life and learn from them.

Gillis went a step too far and should accept the consequences of his actions. Saying racist things and using comedy as a shield to spread your hate will not go unnoticed.


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