Earlier this month, comedian Gilbert Gottfried and rapper 50 Cent tweeted incredibly callous remarks regarding the devastation in Japan and its effect on Hawaii and California. This crude humor has been met with public condemnation. While I’m proud of the world-wide response to the horrifically insensitive remarks, I’m furious at the stars for making the statements in the first place.
Gottfried posted on Twitter, “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘There’ll be another one floating by any minute now.’” He added a one-liner about every Japanese apartment having flood lights. With 8,000 confirmed dead, I just can’t see the humor in imagining the thousands of bodies floating in the dirty rivers of the ravaged city of Sendai.
Then 50 Cent tweeted that he’d had to evacuate his “hoes” from Hawaii, Los Angeles and Japan because of the tsunami. The rapper later claimed that he says such things for the shock value. I don’t know which is worse: that a person is capable of being so cruel just for an extra 15 minutes of attention, or that I understand his viewpoint. Charlie Sheen’s recent drama has shown that, the more controversial a star is, the more media attention he or she gets. 50 Cent and Gottfried prove just how perverted this reality has become. But there is a line you just don’t cross in the name of fame. And mocking the annihilation of a city is it.
It occurs to me that Gottfried and 50 Cent might not be so light-hearted about this catastrophe if they had lost someone in the tsunami. Somehow, I doubt the comedian would joke if his 5-year-old daughter was among the missing.
Now that reports of radiation are reaching the shores of California where the rapper lives, 50 Cent doesn’t seem to be in the joking mood. Is the danger hitting too close to home? Is he worried that his loved ones might be in danger now?
Two years ago my family and I visited Hawaii for a 10-day vacation. It is a wonderful, welcoming and beautiful place. It has also been ravaged by the tsunami. My grandmother, who has been to so many places in her lifetime, is heartbroken by the news of Hawaii’s damage. She feels a kinship to the island that I share as well.
With a heavy heart, I wonder what those landmarks that fascinated me now look like. How much did some of those warm people, who treated me as though they had known me all their lives, lose? It’s hard to think about it without my throat aching and eyes watering.
I can’t even imagine what those who have lost family members in Japan must feel.
Even though both stars have apologized, it is too little, too late. The words were said, the tweets reached the eyes and hearts of those grieving. What’s happened to us? It shouldn’t take a personal tragedy for us to connect to the agony of others. We shouldn’t have to lose a relative to the tsunami in Japan to mourn alongside those who have. We are all connected by a common ancestor. It shouldn’t be easy to see a fellow human being suffering, dying. And it definitely shouldn’t be funny.
When a person mocks the brutal destruction which has befallen so many innocent lives, there’s something missing in the core of that individual. Whether you call it the soul or the conscience, such things are beyond my understanding.
But I do know this. If you can look at the bodies floating in filthy water, people screaming out in terror as buildings collapse around them, and families crying for lost loved ones, and can still make a joke of it all, then you have lost the part of yourself that makes you a human being.