One of these days Twitter is going to implode in a black hole of ill-advised comments and the inevitable white-hot outrage over those ill-advised comments. All that will be left is the little bird logo with its wings seared off and a few random hashtags floating in empty space. This is coming. It's only a matter of time. In fact, it's surprising it hasn't happened already.
Stop me if you've heard this one before, but a standup comic who's made a name for himself being a thumb in the eye of polite society has said something really horrific online. Yesterday Artie Lange of The Howard Stern Show and various drug overdoses and suicide attempts described in detail a sexual fantasy he claims to have had about ESPN2 host Cari Champion. It was a fantasy in which he, a fat and relentlessly self-deprecating white guy, was a slave master and Champion, an attractive black woman, was his slave. It was every bit as disturbing and awful as you might imagine, should you for some reason choose to.
Now that you've been scarred for life at the thought of Artie Lange enslaving both Cari Champion and Skip Bayless -- who looks like Double Dare host Marc Summers if he'd been desiccated by a brown recluse spider -- we can move on to the reaction to this assault on everything we hold dear as a society. It was almost instantaneous, with an #ISupportCari hashtag springing up as an online gathering place where those affected by this tragedy could come and tearfully embrace each other while defiantly rallying to the side of a grown woman who had just been made part of a dumb, self-destructive degenerate's joke. It was important that people be there for Cari during this difficult time in her life and thank God the aggrieved anonymous masses of the internet were up to the task. After spending a good portion of yesterday demanding an official statement from ESPN2 -- for some reason -- and chastising it for not providing one, the network finally said this to BuzzFeed News, hopefully in the form of Dawson's Creek GIFs:
His comments were reprehensible and no one should be subjected to such hateful language. They objectify and demean one of our valued employees under the thin guise of "comedy" and are offensive to all of us. We will not dignify them with any other comment.
Now please stop Tweeting at us. We're trying to figure out how to make competitive rock climbing good television. But it didn't end there. It turns out that Artie Lange had an upcoming appearance scheduled on Comedy Central's @Midnight and so of course that's now been cancelled due to his own stupidity and the indignant reaction to it.
And that pretty much sums up why, regardless of what you may think of Lange's particular brand of humor or his comments involving Cari Champion specifically, there isn't a coordinated Twitter campaign that will do shit to him. You can't make him pay for saying what he did for the simple reason that there's nothing you can take away from him that he cares about. What are you going to do, culturally ostracize him? He's a comic; he's already ostracized himself. He doesn't have a show that can be canceled and he doesn't have a burning desire to be accepted by polite society that you can exploit or damage. He doesn't give one, two, or three fucks what you think of him -- and that makes him bulletproof.
Earlier today, Lange fired off another series of tweets in which he refused to apologize for his little rant yesterday. Actually, he refused to apologize to those who inserted themselves into this whole thing and decided to take offense on behalf of Cari Champion. He said that if Cari Champion herself were offended then he was sorry, since that wasn't his intention. Lange uses his Twitter feed like a comedy club, one that's admittedly open to all but which you don't have to take a seat at if you don't want to. What he did to violate that possible "out," admittedly, was sending one of his tweets directly to Champion. In a way that dragged her into his little "club" whether she wanted to be there or not, or at least acted as the internet equivalent of yelling the joke right at her.
The result's the same, though. Yeah, what he said was fucking horrific, certainly racially charged and pretty much flat-out wrong, and if Cari Champion is in any way offended -- which she probably should be -- then Artie Lange owes her not only an apology but an act of contrition of her choice. But as for everybody else losing their minds over this? Everyone who's decided to be offended in Cari Champion's name and who are making this their latest "cause?" Just stop, please. Artie's not the only one who needs to shut the fuck up.
Hell, the tweets were probably his way of saying that he's gonna try to kill himself again soon, anyway.
(A follow-up to this story can be found here.)