A lot of comedians found their footing and fanbase in 2020, thanks to all of us spending more time on social media. Stars like Luke Millington Drake and Mary-Alice Farina took advantage of fans seeking comfort in short-form comedic clips (Luke's signature bit is his Kiera Knightly impersonation, whereas Mary-Alice went viral for her 2020 version of Miranda Priestly looking down on people who refuse to wear masks) and have grown their following. Others like Tabitha Brown not only grew their fan base, but now have TV shows.
This group of so-called "quarantine stars" include comedian Jordan Firstman, who you've probably seen on your feed at some point (remember his "Fly's Publicist" clip after the VP debates?). Jordan's rise to stardom was so impressive, The Cut even ran a profile, calling him the "Cocky Prince of Quarantine." But then on December 23, Diet Prada dug up several disturbing tweets of his from 2012, which really made people question his character.
What are Jordan Firstman's tweets?
Although they've since been scrubbed, Jordan Firstman tweeted, "speaking of homeless, people..has anyone tried killing one?" as well as "RT if you are a strong black woman. I'm looking to hire someone to fight in my place when needed." He also wrote, "I hate Indian people because at my last Dublin donuts they knew my name and order and at this one they don't." Although some people have come to his defense (including actress Jameela Jamil), calling his tweets "satire," many have pointed out how harmful, tone-deaf, and offensive they are, and that these topics should never be the subject of a joke.
Jordan immediately apologized, posting to his Instagram a lengthy letter which reads,
"I wrote some offensive jokes on Twitter in 2012 when I was 19 that are now being circulated online. I am deeply regretful and sorry for these tweets; I was young and dumb and trying to find my comedic voice. I have grown a million lifetimes since and I do not stand by them in any way. I say this with 100 percent confidence and purity, all I want is for everyone on earth to live happy, equal, and fruitful life filled with love and laughter. I will continue to work on myself and continue to grow as I have always sought to do. I love you all. Truly all."
Many people aren't quick to accept his apology, and are also upset that Jameela rushed to his defense. "Jameela Jamil defending a racist comedian (Jordan Firstman) is surprising but it's unsurprising she didn't do her research," one person tweeted.
Others wonder why Jordan thought racism or joking about killing homeless people would be acceptable at any age, or how easily some people who have not been marginalized have already let the tweets go, with one person tweeting, "I guess the whitest thing I could do is act surprised by how many people think it was ever normal to write tweets like this Jordan Firstman drop, at any age. So."
Yet, some folks are questioning whether cancel culture has gone too far, and if we should really be punishing a person for the things they tweeted when they were 19.
Hopefully Jordan has truly internalized his past actions and has taken the public criticism he's received into serious account. While his previous tweets were vile, it's also true that people change, learn, and grow. As long as we're taking real ownership of our mistakes, that is. As for Jordan's stardom and whether it'll weather this? That's for his fans to decide.