Michael Che, one of the newest additions to Saturday Night Live, set off a flurry of social media hatred today when he posted a mock apology on Instagram and Twitter, addressing all women for the past harassment to which he may have subjected them. “I wanna apologize to all the women that I’ve harassed with statements like “hi” or “have a nice day” or “you’re beautiful,” Che writes. “I can’t imagine what that must feel like. The closest thing I’ve experienced is maybe when a girl recognizes me from TB and they say things like, “AHHHH!! OH MY GOD!! SNL SNL SNL!! TAKE A PICTURE!! TAKE A PICTURE!! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!! WHAT’S YOUR NAME AGAIN?! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! WAIT SAY SOMETHING FUNNY!!” But even that is nothing like the harassment of having a complete stranger tell me to “smile.”
Che’s comments are in response to a recent viral video, wherein Shoshana B. Roberts is filmed in New York over the course of 10 hours in one day. In the video, viewers see many men catcalling the woman to varying degrees. It goes from simple, seemingly innocuous greetings to one man who walked beside her for more than five minutes. The video, created in conjunction with the Hollaback organization, was to prove that street harassment is a real thing and needs to be addressed. The video, seen below, was viewed more than 7 million times in one day.
After Instagram and Twitter followers expressed their digust – “You trivialized women’s struggles AND came off as a pompous douche. Way to make it about you being ‘famous,’ one woman tweeted – the Saturday Night Live Weekend Update co-anchor tweeted, “I think some of you are misunderstanding that post. I’m simply just making fun of something that is important to a lot of people.”
Cue more online vitriol aimed squarely at Michael Che, who threw more wood on the fire with yet another Instagram post. “I wanna apologize for my last apology. Sometimes I forget that I belong to all of you now, and that any thought I have should be filtered through you, and receive your approval,” Che wrote on Instagram. “It’s tough because I’m used to taking risks and finding humor in places of discomfort. But that’s all over, because I have a job on TV. And if I say the wrong thing you’ll see to it that it’s taken away. So the next time I have a silly thought, I’ll giggle to myself, keep my mouth shit and post a picture with my arm around a more famous person I met somewhere.”
One astute Instagram follower, a woman, summed up the situation like this: “Freedom of speech means we cannot be punished or persecuted by the government for what we say. It does not mean that there are no consequence to what you say or that people are not allowed to disagree with what we say. That being said, I love @chethinks and thinks he had some valid points but is missing the larger point.”