Responses to Simone Biles‘ decision to step away from Olympic competition to prioritize her mental health have seemingly been largely suppoprtive, with most of the people gaslighting the greatest gymnast of all time revealing themselves to be of the MAGA variety.
But that line of thinking was all but upended on Thursday when it was reported that SNL star and comedian Michael Che posted comments on social media mocking Biles that evoked anger from her fans and supporters. Che is accused of first posting to his Instagram Stories about the apparent urge he was feeling to “make fun of simone biles.” Che also allegedly posted that he had “like 3 minutes of simone biles jokes” and planned to perform them by himself in an apparent test run before engaging with and co-signing some of his followers who took his lead to make their own distasteful one-liners about the Olympic gold medalist.
There was even a so-called Simone Biles joke about Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who was since been convicted of sexually abusing gymnasts, including Biles.
But as of Friday morning, Che’s Instagram had no posts and his Instagram Stories had one photo from just hours earlier wishing himself a happy birthday. Che’s birthday is May 19.
However, screenshots of jokes being attributed to Che’s Instagram Stories were preserved on social media, where they made the rounds, resulting in growing anger at the comedian.
If Che really did post those comments, they are out of character for the comedian known for his sharp social commentary on SNL and who just last year covered the rent for public housing residents affected by the pandemic in New York City.
Che later said his Instagram account had been hacked, an assertion promptly met with doubt.
To be sure, Biles’ situation is no laughing matter.
The most decorated gymnast of all time on Tuesday announced that she was withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics to cope with what a USA women’s gymnastics team coach referred to as a “mental issue.”
Biles withdrew from the team final and Thursday’s all-around final because she had a case of “the twisties,” a popular term in gymnastics that refers to a mental block while performing mid-air maneuvers. Biles responded to her fans’ questions about the twisties on her own Instagram Stories overnight and said it typically takes her about two weeks to overcome.
The decision by Biles — who left the door open for her possible return — was widely greeted by support and understanding, especially within the gymnastics community.
“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement released on Wednesday. “Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”
But that sentiment did not extend to right-wing conservatives like Charlie Kirk, a suspected white supremacist whose Turning Points America conservative advocacy group cloaks its racism with so-called patriotism. Kirk reacted to Biles’ decision by calling her a “selfish sociopath” and a “shame to the country” before lamenting that “We are raising a generation of weak people like Simone Biles.”
While Che’s alleged comments didn’t go as low as Kirk’s, the SNL star was still being dragged deep into the sunken place.