How Samantha Bee Show’s ‘Nazi Hair’ Joke Backfired In The Best Way Possible

There’s a silver lining

Samantha Bee is one of our strongest comedic voices, and her show Full Frontal often reminds viewers of the best days of The Daily Show with a powerful, feminist kick. But there’s no denying one recent joke on the show went from political kick to foot in the mouth after one of Bee’s correspondents accidentally mocked a young man with cancer.

During a segment ridiculing CPAC, the annual conservative gathering near Washington, D.C., Full Frontal correspondent Michael Rubens made a joke about how popular the “Nazi haircut” had become with young Trump supporters, showing a montage of CPAC attendees with the cut. However, one of the young men singled out in the clip was Kyle Coddington. It turns out, Coddington doesn’t have a “Nazi haircut; he has Stage IV brain cancer. The shaved portion of his head was from chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The mistake was first brought to attention by Outset, a conservative publication where Coddington works. Coddington’s sister also tweeted about the clueless joke, which quickly went viral:

Opinions on the “high and tight” haircut remain split, even a few years after its hipster heyday. Commonly derided as the “Hitler youth” cut, the undercut buzz with a longer hair on top looks great on movie stars like Tom Hardy, but has some obvious baggage after being embraced by actual modern Nazi sympathizers like Richard Spencer.

Once they were made aware of the embarrassing mistake, the Samantha Bee show quickly apologized through its Twitter account, removed the Coddington joke from the segment, and made a $1,000 donation to Coddington’s GoFundMe page for his cancer treatment:

However, Coddington said that while he was “moved” by the donation, he didn’t find the apology very sincere. After all, it references him being “offended” rather than simply owning the mistake outright.

“The effects of the comments made on Full Frontal go further than my battle with a serious illness,” he said in a statement. “Everyone in that video was targeted unjustly and profiled without facts or proof of the accusations made.”

But there’s an upside to all of this that goes far beyond policing jokes or settling political scores. That’s because all of the attention has resulted in a massive surge of donations to Coddington’s GoFundMe page—at $85,000 and counting—far exceeding his initial goal of just $2,500.

“I am overwhelmed by the support," Coddington said, “and am grateful to everyone who has contributed.”

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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