Step 4: People who already have plenty of Twitter followers chime in with their opinion, whether they really care or not, because they don’t want to look like they are behind the curve.
Step 5: A few people who want to up the ante, in terms of getting attention for themselves, demand that someone be fired, or at least apologize, although they usually make it clear that an apology probably won’t actually satisfy their outrage or stop their tweets.
Step 6: People who write for a living finally weigh in—and the word count with which they weigh in is usually commensurate with how much social media attention the story has received.
Step 7: People who missed the original social media kerfuffle make sure that they are first out of the gate in the second wave, by using social media to critique the articles written about the original kerfuffle, and the social media storm that started it all in the first place.
Step 8: Seventy-two hours after the original offense was taken, everyone moves on.
Step 9: Wait a couple of days and start all over again.
I’m writing this piece right now, so I guess that means we’re on step 6 of the Leslie Jones controversy.
I’ve heard comedians say that you can joke about anything as long as it’s funny. And part of why Jones got in trouble, I think, is that her jokes—and her delivery—just weren’t as funny as Rock’s. But the other reason her bit didn’t work is that, like a lot of the most cutting humor, it comes not from a place of laughter but from a place of pain. Jones wasn’t trying to diminish our understanding of slavery. She was “joking” about the fact that while black Americans, in general, are far better off today than during slavery days, black women are often as devalued today as they were then.
That’s not funny. That’s reality. Our society is not kind to larger, darker-skinned women. That was the point of Jones’ joke. The realities of her experiences that probably inspired the joke could likely be summarized by the mantra “laughing to keep from crying.”
“Look at me,” she said. “See, I’m single right now. But back in the slave days, I would have never been single.