Trevor Noah's Joke About 'Making A Murderer' Fandom Actually Makes An Important Point About Race
Netflix's Making a Murderer continues to make rounds in headlines, and creators Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos have also found themselves in the spotlight — the subjects of both praise and scrutiny. The filmmakers' recent media tour made a stop at The Daily Show Monday. Host Trevor Noah, a fan of the show himself, was in awe of the true crime series' ability to captivate viewers. But Noah's joke about Making a Murderer's influence carried an important message; one that needed to be heard.
While the series takes a sympathetic tone toward Steven Avery, a man once wrongfully convicted for a sexual assault who is now serving a life sentence for murder, Ricciardi and Demos have insisted that their 10-year project is not truly about whether he is innocent. Instead, the pair argue that the point is to spark a conversation about the problems in the American criminal justice system, which they believe failed Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey.
The series' portrayal of the investigation into the death of Teresa Halbach, and Avery and Dassey's subsequent trials, has outraged viewers — 300,000 of whom signed a White House petition to get Avery pardoned. That fanaticism amazed Noah, who said:
I think that’s what you were so successful in doing, getting people to realize that there are problems in the system, getting white people to realize. Because white people are like, 'This — this can’t be happening! Oh my god, how is an innocent man getting oppressed by the system?!' And black people are like, 'Exactly! That’s the shit I’ve been talking about!'
Ricciardi and Demo laughed at the joke, as did the audience. But that humor came with some stinging truth. The criminal justice system is inept in many ways — ways which most often come at the expense of the black community. According to the NAACP, five times as many white people use drugs as black people, but black people are incarcerated on drug offenses at 10 times the rate of white people. One in three black men will spend a part of his life behind bars.
Noah's observation, while entertaining, is an important reminder that Avery's case is not unique. The system fails men and women across the country every day. Would the series have inspired such a following if Avery was black? One white man's story may have been ratings gold, but let's not forget that his story is an old one, and it's been told many times before.
Image: The Daily Show With Trevor Noah/Comedy Central