The Daily Show wanted to let viewers know that Hillary Clinton took Virginia, but their way of announcing it via Twitter left many puzzled, as it took a swipe at a neighboring state that had nothing to do at all with the actual topic. They said that West Virginia, which seceded from Virginia in 1863 as a result of disagreements during the Civil War, “gives them the willies.” The following tweet appeared on Twitter on March 1.
“Hillary claims a victory in Virginia. The good Virginia too, not that creepy ‘West’ Virginia. That place gives us the willies.”
Why that particular shade was thrown at the state of West Virginia is not currently known, but plenty of readers were very disturbed and angered. Twitchy noted that there’s nothing really funny about stereotyping people from West Virginia. West Virginia takes its fair share of “brunt of the joke” hits, from long-standing stereotypes about incest, no teeth, and lack of education. West Virginia is technically a southern state and known for its coal production and Appalachian mountains. Much of the state remains very rural and sparsely populated. Twitchy also noted that calling Virginia “good” and West Virginia “creepy” is of interest because Virginia was a state that was highly supportive of slavery, which caused West Virginia to leave Virginia behind and join the Union during the Civil War.
According to The State Journal, many Twitter users responded immediately to the post, many assuming it was a bad joke, but some taking major offense. Some of the responses from various users included:
“West Virginia is the best Virginia”
“Let’s not forget that WV formed because it separated from the Confederate state of VA during the Civil war.@TheDailyShow”
“That was a lazy & tired attempt at being ‘funny'”
The Daily Show is highly politically charged, taking an active stance against Donald Trump. While many consider it satire, The Daily Show made another joke about Virginia and Trump being the frontrunner due to its capitol being “Rich-mond.” There was so much backlash over that tweet that they took it down, but the West Virginia tweet remains and was shared 500 times, along with 1,200 people that “loved” it. It’s unknown who the particular user was that had access to The Daily Show’s account that made the statement, but many Twitter users directed their questions and ire at Trevor Noah, the lead on The Daily Show.
The Exponent Telegram claims the mean tweet about West Virginia came from Trevor Noah, but that has not been confirmed. It’s certainly reasonable to conclude he is aware of the tweet, and the tweet remains on the page. Trevor Noah is the young South African comedian who replaced Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. It’s possible he does not know the history of West Virginia seceding from Virginia in 1863 and abolishing slavery in 1864, but not many were willing to give him a pass. Some people stated that they unsubscribed from The Daily Show’s Twitter account after the tweet was made and nobody apologized.
Of interest, this is not the only incident of The Daily Show targeting West Virginia. The first time they poked fun at the Mountain State was nearly a decade ago. In 2008, Jon Stewart did a skit about West Virginia’s voting habits. Then, in 2014, a segment called “Coal Miner’s Water” made light of the water crisis, attributing the water pollutants to industrial laziness in West Virginia.
West Virginia is fraught with environmental and medical problems, so it’s no surprise that it pops up in jokes from time to time. Are the jokes appropriate? The state struggles with one of the highest pregnancy, obesity, smoking, and prescription opioid dependency rates in the entire United States. Do you think the joke was taken too seriously, or was it offensive? Sound off in the comments section below.
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