Last night, Stephen Colbert devoted his entire first show since the eruption of #CancelColbert to respond, addressing the outrage on Twitter over misconstrued satire the most effective way possible—by mocking Twitter through the use of satire. It was an admirably fearless response to the din of angry people on social media, who’d briefly overtaken the larger, slightly less focused din of angry people on social media with their accusations of racial insensitivity, directed toward a Colbert piece created to mock racial insensitivity.
Colbert called in breeding expert BD Wong to help stop that controversy from reproducing any further, and he reminded everyone that the tweet, which came from the Comedy Central-run @ColbertReport, was an out-of-context quote from a larger piece—a piece that didn’t stir up any controversy at all, until it was stripped of nuance and tossed into the hall of echoes and mirrors that is Twitter. “Who would’ve thought a means of communication limited to 140 characters would ever cause a misunderstanding?” Colbert asked of this, the devil’s telegraph.
You can watch Colbert’s response below, in which he also attempts to circle back to the joke’s target, Dan Snyder’s Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (“which Twitter seems to be fine with, because I haven’t seen shit about that”). He also shared his hopes that “no one tweets about the time I said that Rosa Parks was overrated, Hitler had some good ideas, or ran a cartoon during Black History Month showing President Obama teaming up with the Ku Klux Klan because, man, that sounds pretty bad out of context.”
These segments all culminated in Colbert bringing out Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, who helped him delete the @ColbertReport account for good—thus welcoming a new Twitter age, in which jokes will never again be deliberately misunderstood in the manufacturing of indignation, by individuals who bill themselves as crusaders for justice, insofar as that crusade never leads them too far from Candy Crush. And now Twitter can once again be used for its original purpose: ensuring the continued devaluation of creative content, but in a less contentious way.