What Michael Che Wrote About Women is Really Depressing
A few weeks ago, I tweeted something flippant to the effect of “What are we mad about today? I want in.” The Internet trades in outrage. That’s not going to change. A good portion of the time, it’s over nonsense. What’s happening online to women as a result of Gamergate and, well, just their everyday livesis not an example of nonsense. This is real and it’s pretty terrifying and, honestly, depressing.
I cover ‘SNL’ on a weekly basis and have been a staunch supporter of Michael Che’s recent rise to the ‘Weekend Update’ desk. He’s brought new life to ‘Update’ that was noticeably missing with the previous team of Colin Jost and Cecily Strong. I believe that Che teamed with Strong might have been an even better team than the one we currently see with Che and Jost. But, Jost is the co-head writer and doesn’t appear in sketches, while Strong does, so this was the move ‘SNL’ made and that’s fine. Che is a big reason why ‘SNL’ is better this season. This is why reading his sexist joke -- his fake "apology" in response to a video of a woman being harassed on the streets of New York City -- this morning didn’t ignite feelings of “outrage,” just pure disappointment and sadness. If a smart guy like Che can’t read the current climate and realize, “Hm, this is maybe not the right tone for this kind of joke,” then I’m starting to think there really is no hope.
I’ve been told that I wear my emotions on my sleeve, in that people can always judge what kind of mood I’m in just by looking at my face. I bring this up because a few weeks ago I was walking down the streets of New York City when some random dude (who had obviously been drinking) told me to “smile.” My first reaction was bewilderment. Like, What had just happened? I don’t know this person. My second reaction was anger, because I was in a bad mood and in my own personal space walking down the street and fuck this guy for telling me what I should do. What I didn’t feel was fear, because I knew I at least had a 50/50 chance of defending myself if he should get aggressive. A lot of women do not have this luxury. This is exactly what the recently released video of a woman being catcalled at all day – the one Che is joking about -- was trying to prove.
Like, with everything going on right now, how could Che be so unaware of the current climate? It’s not funny. As much as he may not want to be, he’s a public figure now, and I guess it sucks that he’s now SOOOOO famous that he doesn’t want to pose for pictures with strangers -- and that he feels that somehow equates with what a woman goes through on a daily basis. For the life of me, I don’t understand how someone so in tune with comedy that he could ascend to the ‘Weekend Update’ desk could be so out of touch. I mean, he’s doubling down on his comments by issuing a second fake apology and retweeting the anger against him and mocking those that are mad at him. I honestly have no idea what Che is trying to accomplish by doing this. All of this makes him look like an asshole. It makes zero sense.
God, I hate writing stuff like this. I love ‘SNL’ and I’ve really enjoyed what Che has brought to ‘Update.’ And I’m by no means calling for some sort of ban on Michael Che, I’m sure the real apology is coming soon. The PR staff at ‘SNL’ is top notch and I suspect they will have Che looking good by the time ‘SNL’ airs this weekend – maybe he will even address it on the air. I just hope that whatever he says, that he actually means it. This is not a case of being politically correct or silencing “edgy” humor, this is a case of one of the funniest people working today being completely tone deaf about an issue that’s completely in the cultural zeitgeist and is very, very scary. Anyway, it always sucks when someone I admire does something this foolish and doesn’t understand why it’s foolish. Again, I’m not mad about any of this, just really sad.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.