Can we all admit that the Internet Outrage Machine is totally out of control? It seems like every other day now people get upset over the most benign infractions. Case in point: The hashtag #TheDailyShowGoneTooFar is the No. 1 Trending Topic on Twitter in the United States today. Why? Because One Direction fans think The Daily Show called One Direction member Zayn Malik a terrorist. But that totally makes the situation seem much bigger than it actually is.
The Daily Show segment in question (which you can watch above) aired on Tuesday and features "Senior Pentagon Correspondent" Jessica Williams talking about the evolving nature of terrorism and America's many conflicts in the Middle East. The joke is that there's so many new terrorist groups that new ones are forming every few hours and that there's a brand new super terrorist group that has a member from every group including Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Mexican drug cartel the Zetas, and even, yes, One Direction. Clearly, naming the band was a just a pop culture reference to exaggerate the joke. Zayn's name isn't even specifically mentioned in the segment.
What complicates the matter is that Zayn is a practicing Muslim of Pakistani decent who regularly gets called a terrorist by online trolls. Granted, people saying hurtful things and hiding behind keyboards is probably the absolute worst thing about the Internet. But getting upset over an off-hand joke and then mobilizing an online army to rally against makes the whole idea of mobilizing online about anything seem trivial.
What are the chances the Daily Show staff—or really, anyone who isn't a 14-year-old girl—actually knows or cares about One Direction? What are the chances Jessica Williams has no idea about Zayn's online torment and just mentioned the band as, you know, a joke? It's hard to get offended about a joke that would work exactly the same if you replaced "One Direction" with "Wu-Tang Clan." Many battles are worth fighting, and it's great that One Direction fans support their favorite artists, but this is really isn't worth getting upset about. You know what is? Our evolving and never ending conflicts in the Middle East.
UPDATE: The Daily Show responded on Twitter confirming what we already suspected.
Dear 1D fans: We didn't know the band members' names, religions, hobbies, etc. Just knew they were popular. But not THIS popular. #whoa— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) September 26, 2014