The holiday season brought us many gifts, including two celebrity social media meltdowns. Viewed together, they’re examples of the worst and best ways to handle a tweetastrophe.

Ani Difranco, ’90s relic, was the first to offend when she announced a songwriting retreat that cost $5,000 a head and took place on the grounds of a former plantation in the deep South. Angry Twitter hordes battled, with defenders citing DiFranco’s past progressive actions, and attackers seeing white privilege gone haywire.

There was even a double-agent incident of unclear provenance: Was this a white DiFranco supporter pretending to be a black DiFranco supporter? Or was it a black DiFranco hater pretending to be a white supporter pretending to … guh. Head spinning. Must sip grande Frap, adjust hoodie.

The silence seemed interminable, spanning an entire weekend; with no end point in sight, it was as if Justine Sacco had leapt into a wormhole of unknown destination rather than a flight to South Africa. There was no #HasAniLandedYet hashtag; instead, there was #AniDifrancoRetreatIdeas (full disclosure — this reporter came up with some doozies) to fill the empty hours of the elusive songstress’s absence. Toshi Reagon weighed in, saying she had signed on to the event before knowing what the venue would be, and expressing disappointment in her friend Ani’s silence.

Finally, a statement emerged, widely criticized for seeming evasive. There was an apology, but it was tempered by a reproachful request for understanding, and a raising of the possibility of reclaiming tragic ground in the name of healing. And the event, rather than being reskedded at, I dunno, a Marriott, was canceled.

Meanwhile, Questlove — born Ahmir Thompson, protonerd and drummer for The Roots (who also act as Jimmy Fallon’s house band)  — was in Japan, where he embarked upon an embarrassingly large and particularly juvenile series of “Engrish” Instagram captions, making fun of various Asian accents with the requested complicity of far-east friends. While the backlash was not nearly so brutal — Questlove has an intense and personable social media presence, and few enemies — Questlove’s response, though it took the same three days, was refreshingly unadorned with excuses:

“THE ISH THAT I SAID WAS DUMB (PERIOD) … Allow me to ask for forgiveness and understanding.”

And so, the rules for coming out of an online blurt smelling like a rose: Show up. Own the mistake. Own your privilege. And apologize without the (implied) word “but.” Yeah, someone’s emailing her agent right now with a book idea called “All I Really Need to Know About Social Media I Learned in Kindergarten.”



11 comments
graffitipr
graffitipr

The Ani De Franco brouhaha is completely ridic. There are many grounds, and plantations, on said grounds, where #ish took place. Get over it. 



thirteenburn
thirteenburn

Jesus, my head swims. EVERYBODY is "offended" by something; happens to me everyday.


The only difference is I'm smart enough to know that not only is my being "offended" my PERSONAL choice, it's also abjectly inconsequential when considering the amount of people and their opinions that are floating around on the 'net.


It's just a songwriting retreat; who gives a s*** about where it's being held?


Just another example of people LOOKING for an excuse to be "offended". Get a clue, get a life & above all, get over yourself.


I'm just sayin'...

seth
seth

Is this article indicative of the level of "reporting" we can expect here on recode? I hope not. It first starts out with "'90s relic." Really? You're going to pretend you're "reporting" news by starting out with an attempt to offend people who might be DeFranco fans? At least the apostrophe's curled in the right direction (Which is pretty much the only good thing I can say about this article.)


As to her "interminable" silence, did you bother to do any actual research before sitting down at the keyboard or are you just barfing up what you read on other internet sites? There are some things we may have needed to know, for instance, such as when DeFranco found out about this. If she was on tour somewhere she may not have been able to have a moment to sit down on Twitter and see what had happened, just as one easy example. Or maybe she's not someone who goes on Twitter eight times a day. Or maybe her management has a social media intern who runs her Twitter account. We don't know, and your "reporting" doesn't tell us. Same thing with booking the venue. Did DeFranco even know where it was? Did her management simply look for an available venue and happen to find this one? You don't address any of these questions.


Also, fraps and hoodies? Learned in kindergarten? "This reporter came up with some doozies"? If you're going to write on a supposedly classy tech news site try not to do it at the TMZ level.


And to tag an article like this with "ethics" is just laughable. The issue raises important ethical questions, and you addressed none of them. But you did manage to cross the line between honest news reporting and really bad writing. 


This article will always have been my introduction to recode. Congratulations.

Brookish
Brookish

Except Questlove actually posted several tweets not apologizing and rather defending his racist tweet BEFORE his 'refreshing' mea culpa. Which essentially makes the premise of this article false.

NN
NN

Except she wasn't wrong. Who the F cares if the building used to be a plantation. Every building in the south was built on the backs of slaves. Hell, every building in the whole country was, because the country itself was. If the hotel name didn't have the actual word "plantation" in it, no one would have even noticed. F'ing sheep just like to hear themselves talk. Not a single one of them offered up a useful dialogue or thoughtful insight. They just brayed like harpies. 

And oh yeah, we Japanese-descent types think the whole engrish this is funny, too. You should hear white Americans try to speak Japanese--it's a hoot. We all just need to calm the heck down.

thirteenburn
thirteenburn

@seth Super. YOU'RE "offended". What, do you expect to be honored at the Kennedy Center?


Seriously, how does ANYTHING that DiFranco does, DIRECTLY AFFECT your life? You know damn good & well that it DOES NOT, in any way, shape or form.


That being said, if you don't like the site, NEVER come back as I don't want to hear you skreetch and shriek about how "offended" you are over every story/post here.


YOU need to get a clue, a life and especially, over yourself.


Cheers & Happy New Year!!

thirteenburn
thirteenburn

@Brookish The ONLY reason he's getting a pass is because he's BLACK, period.


To the left, racism is ONLY a WHITE thing; Blacks just can not be racist.


Whatever.


As I said before, get a clue, a life and get over yourselves. You all have far more CONSTRUCTIVE things to do with your lives than sit at a computer skreetching and shrieking about how "offended" you are at everything said on the 'net.


Excellent site and I'm looking forward to seeing Re/Code grow and become the force on the 'net it's destined to become.


Cheers & Happy New Year!!

thirteenburn
thirteenburn

@NN Hear!  Hear! Well said and absolutely spot on!!!


Cheers!

dnorman
dnorman

Read about the plantation. The problem is not just the history, but the perpetuation of ideas. The current owners have a tour that makes "master" sound like the best thing that happened to his slaves and funnels the money into anti-reproductive rights causes. That is what using that venue would have meant supporting, at least financially. Ani could have known this if she spent 20 minutes online after the promoter told her the venue had the word "Plantation" in its name, which in this day and age certainly should have resulted in a little curiosity on DiFranco's part.

seth
seth

@thirteenburn

Wow. Did you actually read what I wrote? Doesn't look like it because nowhere did I say I was offended. I'm not actually even a DiFranco fan, and was commenting on the "super-hip" writing style and complete lack of research or facts in the article. 


I have high hopes for this site, but if this particular article is indicative of what's going to be here that's not exactly a good sign. 


And really, you don't want to hear me "skreetch and shriek"? First of all, are you just copying and pasting your replies? You used that twice on the page (so far). Also, apparently you don't know how to spell "screech" either. By the way. 

But my question for you is why would you come on a site on its first day and start telling people they shouldn't be here? I have no problem if you disagree with me and want to make comments, but in your so far four comments on just this one page you've attacked two people, made one racist comment, and agreed with another racist comment.


You're free to make any comments you want however, as am I. If this were your site you could totally tell people to get lost if you wanted to, but as far as I know this isn't your site. It's public. So it just seems odd to be doing that here. 


So yeah, one of us is screeching. Don't think it's me though.

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