Actor Michael Che attends the “Top Five” premiere during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 6, 2014 in Toronto, Canada
*“Saturday Night Live” cast-member Michael Che has been criticized for his Instagram and Facebook posts reacting to a viral video about street harassment.
The video in question – “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” by Shoshana B. Roberts and Rob Bliss – shows Roberts being catcalled and verbally harassed by men more than 100 times as she walks around New York City. At press time, it had been watched more than 17.3 million times on YouTube.
Public reaction to the video has been strong since it surfaced on Tuesday. Women on Twitter and Facebook were commiserating with the filmmaker, while a number of men and women were shocked to learn that the kind of attention she received from men in the video could be unwelcome, much less considered to be harassment.
Che’s thoughts were of the latter. He posted on Twitter:
The Instagram post referenced in the tweets have since been deleted. But not before it was captured in screen shots and published in several critical stories about the comedian.
His deleted Instagram post was also a Facebook status update (also now deleted) that compared the woman’s experience on the street to the crazed reactions “SNL” fans have when they see him out and about. He wrote:
In a critical piece about Che’s comments, Salon’s Sarah Gray wrote:
Clearly comedy is often used as a method to explore topical and uncomfortable subjects — to both confront and understand them — but this joke reveals that Che doesn’t quite understand what is so problematic about street harassment: Men feeling entitled to direct their unsolicited thoughts at women — often but not limited to comments on their appearance or asking them to smile. Needless to say, this is very different from Che being recognized as a celebrity/public figure and being asked to take a photo.
After his jokes sparked criticism this morning, Che posted the following apology:
Side note: Che’s former “Daily Show” colleague Jessica Williams offered her take on this very subject in this piece that aired in September: