Survivor One World‘s Colton Cumbie has responded to the outrage over his comments on last week’s episode, and previous episodes, not by apologizing, but mostly by explaining that he intended to be humorous. In a series of tweets, Colton wrote:
Were my comments ignorant? YES! They were meant to be funny..I see they weren’t. Do I regret them? I’m torn. In a way, yes b/c it hurt ppl
..but seeing myself act that way on television helps me to grow as a person b/c it’s uncomfortable and embarrassing for ME to watch. It’s kind of one of those situations where you you don’t really realize how you sound until it’s played back and you’re literally cringing..
I seriously don’t hate anyone. I make fun of MYSELF..my sense of humor as always been kind sarcastic and somewhat critical. I call myself a “queen” as a joke. Am I a bigot? I don’t think so. I think I was a 20 year old brat who had never been out into the real world, and what I thought was funny and ok wasn’t. I’ve learned I can still be funny and it doesn’t have to be at the expense of some1 else. *pageant wave*
Let’s parse that for a moment. First, I think it’s clear to everyone that Colton thought he was being funny sometimes, even when he was being highly offensive. His comments about Leif’s stature are perhaps an example of that, although they were coupled with condescension toward Leif that may make them more than mere jokes. And that’s what people are outraged over. It’s not his attempt at humor, it’s that anger and dismissiveness toward people were added to his language about race and class and other differences that directly and indirectly communicated prejudices about people who are different than he is.
I respect his honesty when he says he doesn’t think he’s a bigot but isn’t really sure, and that he recognizes his limited experiences may have contributed to his prejudices. I know I said–and wrote!–shit when I was a teenager that makes me cringe and want to puke now because I had no knowledge outside of the tiny, limited sphere in which I grew up. That said, Colton is 21. Responding to someone, Colton later suggested his behavior was because of his age (22) and immaturity: “Yes! I feel like 18-21 is really that time in ur life when ur trying to figure out who u are. I just did it in front of millions.”
But what’s also making Colton’s behavior disturb viewers much more than we’re disturbed by a typical villain like Coach (version 1.0) or Russell Hantz is that his game play is so personal and his language is so strong, and the two are clearly connected. And when they’re combined with the arrogance, ego, and manipulation that Colton has bragged about having since he filled out his bio, it’s retch-inducing.
Most significantly, his visceral hatred of Bill has no connection to any reality we’re aware of except Colton’s prejudices, and that makes his actions and words sound bigoted and racist. And Colton’s Twitter quasi-apology focuses far too much on the “it was a joke!” stuff and not enough on the “oh my, that’s a horrific, unacceptable attitude that I’m demonstrating.”
While there’s also nothing that addresses the way he looks down upon people who have less wealth, status, and privilege than he does, Colton did write that Bill’s comments were accurate: “No, I think Bill was correct, and I agree, very fair. I also have nothing but respect for a man whose served our country!”
After posting the above, Colton later replied to someone who said he hadn’t actually apologized, and Colton wrote, “That was my way of saying ‘I’m sorry.’”
Another apology that proports to be written by Colton has been circulating, and it is considerably more contrite (“I am sorry to any group or individual that I offended”). However, it’s not clear if that was or was not actually written by Colton, and does not seem to be currently publicly available on Facebook, although the screenshot shows it as a public post. The only currently existing public fan page does not include that post, just some horrifically moronic comments like, “Well whoever is running this page tell Colten to hit me up!!!”