Tina Fey Is Done Apologizing for Offensive Jokes

Internet outrage culture is killing comedy.


Tina Fey

Comedian, actress, and producer Tina Fey recently gave an interview in which she said "steer clear of the Internet and you'll live forever." Her observation, it seems, was that social-media-generated outrage toward perceived offensiveness has gotten out of hand.

Case in point: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a Netflix show created by Fey, drew criticism for revealing that actress Jane Krakowski's character is Native American, even though Krakowski is a white woman.

Fey had this to say on the subject:

We did an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode and the internet was in a whirlwind, calling it 'racist,' but my new goal is not to explain jokes. I feel like we put so much effort into writing and crafting everything, they need to speak for themselves. There's a real culture of demanding apologies, and I'm opting out of that.

I haven't seen any of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, so I have no idea whether the choice to make Krakowski Native American was funny, offensive, or a mix of both. Perhaps Fey made a bad call in this case. But she's right that a lot of critics—and a lot of people on the Internet—seem ready to leap down comics' throats every time they run across a joke they don't like. Think of the attacks on the brilliantly funny Amy Schumer, who largely caved to public pressure to renounce her heresies.

If Fey is serious about opting-out of outrage culture, she might want to follow the leads of Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld and steer clear of college campuses.

Related: Can We Take a Joke? Standup Comedy vs. Political Correctness