"Offensive, hurtful and unacceptable": SNL fires new cast member over Asian slur

What’s the cancel-culture protocol for a comic slur in 2019? Something like:

“But he’s a comedian.”
“But it was a slur.”
“But comedians use slurs all the time.”
“But it was a slur about a different racial group, not his own.”
“But it was a joke!”
“But it was a lame joke.”


Here’s what got Shane Gillis in trouble. In the first clip below, from last year, you’ll hear him say, “Chinatown’s f***ing nuts. Let the f***ing ch*nks live there, huh?” In the second, he imitates broken English spoken by someone Asian. Both exchanges are tedious and hackneyed more than offensive; they’re also loaded with profanity, so take proper precautions if you’re at work. Complicating SNL’s decision about him was the fact that they just added the first Asian cast member in the show’s long history, Bowen Yang. What’s the greater handicap to Asian-Americans — being overlooked for 45 years by America’s premier late-night comedy ensemble or Gillis bro-ing out with his thoughts on Chinatown?

He was dinged for other crimes against progress after SNL announced his addition to the cast. And so today the axe fell:

And in a statement, an “SNL” spokesperson on behalf of “SNL” boss Lorne Michaels, told Page Six: “After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining ‘SNL.’

“We want ‘SNL’ to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we hired Shane on the strength of his talent as comedian and his impressive audition for ‘SNL.’ We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days. The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.”


Gillis replied:


He tried to clean it up a few days ago, saying that he meant no harm and offering to apologize to anyone who’s offended. Didn’t work.

I wonder if people would have gone dumpster diving through his old podcasts if he’d been signed for a movie or a sitcom or whatever. It may have been his misfortune to land briefly on late night, which from Monday through Saturday is now the wokest jurisdiction on American television. That’s the left’s space now, and SNL even more so given how much it depends during the Trump era on flattering educated liberal sensibilities. Keeping this guy on in that context would have been strange. Pity him, though, for having endured one of the special cruelties of cancel culture, having your dirty laundry aired *right after* you’ve achieved your professional dream. It’s like Kyler Murray getting zapped for offensive tweets he sent in his younger teenaged years days after he won the Heisman. No one cares about policing wokeness in people until the very moment they become hugely successful and potential cultural influencers. And so inevitably one of the best days of their lives becomes one of the worst.


Here’s Andrew Yang with a gracious take on Gillis’s slur this weekend. Yes, it’s hurtful, he says. No, he doesn’t want to see a guy lose his life’s ambition over it. Especially a guy who tells outre jokes for a living.

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