This is the lede on a Deadline piece written yesterday in regard to an attack that Michael Che made on Steven Hyden, a music critic, author of four books, former writer for Grantland and The AV Club, and now a critic for Uproxx (full disclosure: I also write for Uproxx, though I do not believe I’ve ever had the opportunity to interact with Hyden):
Don’t mess with Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update team. That was the takeaway after segment co-star Michael Che posted a series of vulgar rebuttals to an article attacking his fellow host, Colin Jost.
Wait? That’s the takeaway? “Don’t mess with Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update team.” In case you missed it, last week Hyden wrote a piece entitled, “Why Does Everyone (Still) Hate ‘SNL’s Colin Jost?,” which largely endeavored to get to the bottom of why there is a disdain for Jost among those who Hyden sees in his Twitter timeline (and in this case, I think those on his timeline are fairly reflective of the broader SNL audience). While Hyden himself admitted that he doesn’t hate Jost (although, there’s something about him that “bugs” Hyden), he successfully distilled what it is about Jost that irks many of us about him: He’s a “company man.”
“Jost is nothing less than the epitome of white-male mediocrity, an empty vessel who is handsome (but not that handsome), smart enough (but not all that smart), and, well, passably funny (though only if you grade on a generous curve). He seems less like a comedian than a cardboard ’80s movie villain — like James Spader if he looked like a beefier Andrew McCarthy — with zero self-consciousness when it comes to bragging about how he gets his boat shoes wet at the finest beaches in the Hamptons.”
The piece really wasn’t that scathing: It basically boiled down to, “Why this mediocre white dude?”
Meanwhile, Michael Che is no stranger to spending a week off from SNL getting into it in a comments section. Recall that he spent a day lashing out in the Pajiba comments section a couple of years ago, at one point calling one of our commenters — a goddamn Saint who spoke of the police’s unwillingness to help after she was raped — a “goofball.”
At any rate, Che took issue with Hyden’s piece and accused him of “sucking off rescue dogs and stray dogs.”
Whatever, it wasn’t even a particularly good comeback, and Hyden — to his credit — blew it off.
Dear Michael Che, I don’t feel harassed. Your bit about me having sex with dogs was hilarious. Have a nice Easter. Your pal, Steve. pic.twitter.com/pjBKgRndS0— Steven Hyden (@Steven_Hyden) April 20, 2019
But back to the point: Really Deadline? That was the takeaway? Don’t mess with “Weekend Update” anchors because an edgeless edgelord will accuse you of blowing dogs? Michael Che has yet to face any consequences, either for this interaction or over previous ones with other writers, and I’m not sure that he will or even if he should. He has every right to make an ass of himself for the whole world to see to defend a guy who doesn’t need defending (Jost is fine). As I often say to the writers here, never get in a fight with a reader: Even if you win, you lose.
All that Che has proven (again) is that he’s easy to bait and — as alway — that his brand of comedy has absolutely no bite to it whatsoever, which is again the problem with both Che and Jost hosting SNL: They are the exact wrong for this era of American politics. But for Deadline to characterize this whole interaction as a win for Che and “Update” again illustrates how consistently tone deaf. While Nikki Finke — who used to run Deadline — was a horrible bully, at least she wasn’t a boring, kiss-ass company man, which is to say that Deadline in recent years has become the Colin Jost of trade publications.