You might’ve heard that Marvel has rolled out an awesome new Pakistani-American superheroine. Her name is Kamala Khan and she also happens to be Muslim. She’s also the latest superheroine to assume the role of Ms. Marvel and she’s a polymorph. Rather than celebrate this breakthrough and hopefully bellwether moment for American pop culture, late night comic Conan O’Brien decided to use this opportunity to turn a cheap joke on her religion.
Let’s be honest. In 2013, this kind of joke is just so basic. It’s basic-ness is more offensive than its inherent racism and xenophobia — two traits which are pretty much fixtures within the American comedy universe. It’s almost like O’Brien — or whoever was at the helm of his Twitter–seems willfully ignorant of changing tides within the Islamic world.
This kind of tasteless humor alienated existing Conan fans, who were quick to laud the arrival of Kamala Khan and tut-tut the comedian on such basic non-humor.
From journalist Rania Khalek:
From New Inquiry contributing editor Ayesha Siddiqi:
From cartoonist Jamie McKelvie:
Still pretty bummed about Conan O’Brien’s Ms Marvel “joke”. On the other hand, I know the series is gonna do a good job dispelling myths so— Jamie McKelvie (@McKelvie) November 9, 2013
And a couple from long-time fans who might now be tuning out of O’Brien’s late-night TBS show:
I know that Conan O’Brien doesn’t write his own tweets, but that one about the new Ms. Marvel was pretty damn bad, bro.
— Paul Arrand Rodgers (@gh0stplanet) November 9, 2013
— أنيس (@AmericanBrother) November 9, 2013
It helps even the most seasoned of comedians to see how this kind of humor can be done right. Stephen Colbert’s coverage of the debut of Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel is a lot sharper and by contrast, exposes O’Brien’s humor for the dated palaver of yesteryear that it is. See for yourself:
(Conan O’Brien tweet via Mediaite)