Tina Fey has some real regrets about her controversial take on the Charlottesville protests.
Talking to David Letterman on the latest episode of his Netflix talk show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, which dropped Friday, Fey was asked about her sketch taking on the white nationalist rally last August.
In the sketch, the University of Virginia alum was wearing a UVA sweatshirt and talked about the benefits of eating an entire sheet cake rather than protesting the white nationalists — basically arguing that it’s better to not give attention to hatemongers. The piece was slammed by some pundits who accused Fey of suggesting people should be apathetic toward hate speech.
“I’m on a plane, trying to write the thing … trying to provide some relief,” said Fey. “You try your best, you try to have your eyes open, try to be so mindful, but it’s also a fast-moving train. I felt like a gymnast who did like a very solid routine and broke her ankle on the landing. Because it’s literally within the last 2-3 sentences of the piece that I chumped it. And I screwed up, and the implication was that I was telling people to give up and not be active and to not fight. That was not my intention, obviously. … I didn’t want anybody to get hurt. … If I had a time machine, I could go back…I would end the piece by saying… ‘Fight them in every way except the way that they want.’ But I didn’t write that in time! I wrote that two days later as I was pacing in my house. It’s painful. I wanted to help, but I chumped it. But the culture of apology is not for me.”
Letterman, however, said he thought the sketch was “perfect… I marveled at it… here’s something to let the gas out of a situation that should not have happened.”
Fey’s original idea, it should be noted, isn’t entirely different than the guidelines for countering the alt-right on campus that the Southern Poverty Law Center issued last fall. The center urges students to avoid direct confrontation with alt-right supporters, saying many are supremacists eager to engage in street fighting with students and anti-fascist protesters. “Alt-right personalities know their cause is helped by news footage of large jeering crowds, heated confrontations and outright violence at their events,” the center said. “It allows them to play the victim and gives them a larger platform for their racist message. Denying an alt-right speaker of such a spectacle is the worst insult they can endure.”
The SPLC does suggest, however, an alternative strategy that’s more in line with what Fey said she would change: holding “an alternative event, away from the alt-right event — to highlight your campus’ commitment to inclusion.”
Here’s the original sketch:
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction is streaming now on Netflix.
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