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My Response to the YouTube Video
I condemn it!
In addition to condemning Hamas—which we all must do these days before saying something, it’s imperative we condemn Hamas before going forward, so I’m getting it out of the way now, before anyone can get on my ass about not condemning Hamas—I would like to condemn something that happened today.
There is so much happening at the moment—an ethnic cleansing in Gaza, the US government cosigning and supplying weapons for said cleansing, a sense of futility about it all. And so forth. This is why it’s critical we must condemn Hasan Minhaj, as well, for making a 20-minute video replying to a New Yorker article.
You can watch the whole thing, if you want. I did. God knows why. There are many moments during the twenty-minute rant that he says something to the effect of, “I know the news out of the Middle East is devastating” or “clearly this is isn’t as important as the news out of the Middle East” (he always uses that phrase, for some reason, “news out of the Middle East”) and while I would love to believe you, brother, sitting down to record this whole thing and making the graphics and then editing it down to twenty minutes and then publishing it all strikes me as someone who is insanely pressed about how people perceive him.
I guess I get why he feels wronged; parts of the article feel a little like handwaving and wishy-washy, and he probably felt the need to preserve his sterling reputation as the singular, unvarnished South Asian comedian in a post-Aziz universe. You can see, in real time, the anger in his forehead, the genuine rage he’s trying to suppress while keeping with his TED Talk shtick. It’s weird.
Why did he do this? Why use his time and platform and budget and camera setup for this, at this time? I couldn’t tell you. Why he does also say stuff like, “I truly don’t care about prom anymore”? Really seems like it, man—for sure. Definitely.
At the end of this saga, which could potentially not be over, I’m left with much as I was before: a stale, gaping black hole. None of this feels like it matters, none of this feels like it should. There’s venom in his eyes when he explains his reasoning for responding—“Being accused of faking racism is not trivial”—but I don’t buy that this isn’t, in the grand scheme of the present moment, trivial. My mind immediately went to the consequences—the potential hordes of aggrieved Indians online who will now maintain a religious aversion to “the media,” weird and offputting and boring discussions about ethics in “storytelling comedy,” even a sense that this whole episode is just the kind of thing to make a seemingly agreeable (if annoying) guy turn into a Woke Outrage Comedian. I don’t even like him, really, and that would suck to see.
Again, all of this—black hole. It’s empty air. It’s thoroughly depressing in one sense that it doesn’t feel worthy of the moment, and in another that you can just go ahead and make an aggressive, hostile “reaction” video on your YouTube channel if you’re a celebrity now. There’s something “Kevin Spacey Christmas Videos”-esque about it. And it’s twenty minutes long—did I mention that already?
Look, everyone has gone a little nuts. Especially the past few weeks. There’s no hope and it all feels particularly bleak. What we must hold on to, however—what we must steadfastly cling to no matter what forces of evil may compel us to change our minds—is that this guy should no longer be able to make 20-minute YouTube videos where he seems hella angry. It just makes me feel weird and uncomfortable when his eyes are that big, and that’s reason enough.
The cycle of violence continues. New Yorker hits Hasan. Hasan hits back. Nabeel wades into the fray. Meanwhile I sit happily on the sidelines, munching Bjorn Quorn and asking people if they’ve seen Killers of the Flower Moon. Who’s the real winner here?