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Michael Che Sparks Fury After Mocking Simone Biles' Withdrawal From Olympics With Vile Jokes

Michael Che Sparks Fury After Mocking Simone Biles' Withdrawal From Olympics With Vile Jokes
Bobby Bank/Getty Images; Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Saturday Night Live comedian Michael Che has found himself at the center of a social media firestorm after he mocked Olympic gymnast Simone Biles on Instagram.

Che's jokes included one that compared Biles' dropping out of the Olympics to her sexual assaulter, gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, having to stop raping gymnasts because he got sent to jail.

The jokes have ignited such a fiery backlash that the comedian wiped his Instagram clean over the weekend, but screenshots taken before Che wiped his content, seen below, have since gone viral.

Biles, who won four gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, dropped out of the Tokyo games last week, citing mental health concerns. She has been the subject of a sustained online backlash, mainly from male sports fans, ever since.

To many, Che's desire to make jokes about Biles in the first place was bad enough. Many saw it as piling onto the already enormous online echo chamber of criticism and bullying against a woman with a legitimate health concern.

But the jokes themselves made things even worse. It all began when Che put out a call for jokes on his Instagram story.


Che wrote:

"Man, I wanna make fun of Simone Biles... I got like 3 mins of Simone Biles Jokes in my head. I'm going to the Cellar tonight to say them into a microphone. As the dorky kids say, I'm choosing violence,"

He in turn posted the jokes he liked best to his story, one of which riffed on the legal case of Larry Nassar, a former gymnastics doctor currently serving a prison term for sexually assaulting more than 150 female gymnasts, many of them children. Biles is one of his accusers.

The joke read:

"Larry Nassar understands Simone Biles better than anyone. He too had to quit doing what he loved at the pinnacle of his career because of mounting pressure."

Another riffed on the stereotype that "Black don't crack"--i.e., Black people do not wrinkle as they age--in order to mock Biles' mental health condition.

As the outrage over Che's jokes mounted, Che took to his Instagram story once again, this time to claim (presumably in jest) that he had been hacked.

Before long, a chorus of enraged people began calling for Che's removal from SNL and his HBO show That Damn Michael Che. Many of those calling for Che's ouster were Black women, who pointed out what many see as Che's long-standing habit of misogyny and transphobia in his work.

Others pointed out the inappropriateness of rape jokes in general.

Che has continued talking about the incident on his Instagram page and stories. So far there has been no publicly announced repercussions of the jokes he posted.