Suey Park: Self-professed angry Asian woman and my current fascination.
I first heard of Park when one of my classmates, while staring vacantly at her fingernails, muttered something about the “angry Asian woman that attacked Colbert”. The only angry woman I was used to hearing about was of the black race so my interest was immediately piqued.
That’s when she went through an entire diatribe about the Asian woman, never mentioned by name, that had the audacity to criticize Stephen Colbert’s satirical genius. To be honest, I was so convinced by her brief run down that I initially agreed that the offender was merely a person with brittle feelings. I had personally been the center of much worse jokes. By the time I returned to my apartment, I was using my personal friend, Google, to find out as much as I could about the angry woman.
The immediate reaction to Park from many online publications was that she was too sensitive or ignorant to satire. She was mostly penned as simply being crazy. I started to question my own sanity, because after reading her Twitter feeds and examining the Colbert interaction I didn’t think she was crazy at all. More importantly, the disgustingly racist and sexist comments on many of these websites explained Park’s anger.
Having part of your identity used as the butt of a joke, despite how satirical it may be, is something that most of Colbert’s audience probably don’t understand. They do not belong to a “niche group”, they are merely the population that most things are associated with. They’re identity is all over the place, this country specifically- in the media, on our products, in our career associations…
These watchers are believed to be enlightened and thus able to appreciate the use of satire. What they easily forget is that enlightenment can only entirely be achieved through empathy, not sympathy. Until you are able to walk in the shoes of someone whose person has been objectified within the larger, more visible, more influential population, you will never understand the anger that it can stir within a person. You can never understand the frustration that a person feels when it takes a middle aged white man’s stab at satire to make people rethink their misguided assumptions against an entire race, of which you belong to.
No, I don’t believe that Colbert should be cancelled like Park asserted with her #cancelcolbert hashtag. I do understand her frustration, though. I applaud her for vocally expressing this frustration as well. Although, part of my excitement is that the angry woman at the center of a story is not a black, neck rolling, verbally abusive stereotype but a young, articulate Asian woman who is ready and willing to dismantle the system- one tweet at a time.