Still riding a wave of outrage from her Dear Fat People video, Nicole Arbour, self-proclaimed comedienne and other-people-proclaimed unemployable person, is gripping tight to a 16th minute of fame with another train wreck video.
In case you missed it, Arbour is the person behind Dear Fat People, a rant-style video that went viral for its cruelty and varsity-level fat-shaming. Arbour mocked and scolded fat folks (except the ones with actual conditions, of course), and the fallout was swift and a little hard to watch. Fat-acceptance activists, celebrities and everyday decent folk were outraged, response videos were made, and Arbour was fired from a burgeoning project: A movie about — no, really — the damage that bullying can do. Now she’s back, with another ill-conceived attempt at edginess.
Like Dear Fat People, Dear Black People follows the same format: Multiple painful-to-watch attempts at observational comedy followed by C- quality concern trolling. Only this time, instead of wondering why fat people don’t just stop being so icky, she wants to know why it’s OK for black people to eat pickles even though she can’t say the N-word.
You can watch it if you like migraines induced from listening to stream-of-thought ranting:
Video: Nicole Arbour/YouTube
Arbour invites her black friend, LaToya, to join her on the video so people won’t get mad at her, and then just basically intercuts LaToya, saying “penis” and laughing at her terrible jokes for the rest of the video. In the clip, Arbour makes really edgy observations — and we’re paraphrasing here — like:
- How come there’s no White Entertainment Television?
- Black people say funny things about white people’s hair.
- Don’t look at me, black people, it’s not like I owned any slaves!
It seems like only two months ago Arbour was losing a potentially awesome job for being so garbage-y. And yet, just as a young toddler never seems to understand that throwing a pee pants tantrum won’t get them their way, she refuses to learn from her mistakes.
Which is her prerogative.
Arbour’s an adult, and she has as much right as anyone to churn out the kind of YouTube videos we’d expect from an eighth-grader who still operates under the mistaken assumption that saying “f***” a lot and trying to be ironically offensive is a suitable stand-in for actual comedy.
Lots of good comedy is offensive! Too bad Arbour’s manic videos don’t qualify.
Still, she has the right to make them, and we all have the right to call her out for it. It’s fair to anticipate that, just like last time, for every person rightly complaining that Arbour is making her money off the backs of people she’s mocking, there will be someone else screeching about free speech. Her right to say dumb, hurtful stuff is absolutely protected; she won’t go to jail or be unduly persecuted by the government.
That’s truly fortunate, not just for Arbour, but for anyone with unpopular opinions.
The other fortunate thing is that that same right is extended to everyone else. Freedom of speech is not freedom from criticism, and it’s not freedom from getting fired by your private employer or potentially being booted off social media channels.
At the end of her video, in a segment that can really only be described as a 12-year-old suburban middle schooler’s attempt at a philosophical essay, Arbour attempts to inoculate herself from criticism by ticking off all the great things white people can do that black people can’t. These include smoking weed and owning guns without fear of incarceration or death.
Her mea culpa also falls short, to the surprise of no one. Unfortunately for Arbour — and anyone else who tries to use the humor excuse to say rude, racist and/or disrespectful language — saying crappy things and then hitting someone in the face with the “It’s a joke, get it?” stick does not a funny bit make. It’s the tactic of mean girls and sexist bros everywhere: “It was just a joke, calm down.”
But it’s not a valid excuse. Jokes can still hurt. By now, anyone with an Internet connection and a reasonable semblance of critical thinking skills should be aware of the fact that there is such a thing as microaggressive behavior specifically meted out to oppressed groups and that it does real damage. You’re free to say all the hurtful garbage that tumbles into your brain, but no, sorry, you don’t get to control how the people you’re hurting react to it.
She wants people to know that she totally gets it. She’s just tired of being called racist. She needs someone to explain “the struggle” to her. So we’re going to help her out by introducing her to a groundbreaking tool she can use to avoid embarrassing situations like this in the future:
Maybe she can give it a whirl for the second half of this comedic abortion, due out “later this week,” since she’s already threatening to put the world through part two of Dear Black People: