Toban Talkback needs to be held accountable

Having a hand in marginalizing voices demands an apology

LettersToTheEditorGraphic by Evan Tremblay.

The “Toban Talkback” video about the opinions of engineering students on arts students had a very negative reaction, and for good reason.

There is no need to create a further divide between working class people, let alone students who are trying their best every day to get their degrees. Indeed, many Facebook commenters were upset over how belittling the interviewed engineering students were.

The beginning of the video starts off with mentioning the “rivalry between the arts students and the engineering students.” This is a narrow-minded view of the education system which assumes that one type of employment is more valuable than others. Ultimately, there is not any sort of rivalry between engineering students or art students as they work in completely separate fields.

Highlighting this brings up a few other concerns, such as the demographic of the interviewees. There were only masculine-presenting folks who spoke their opinion, and no femme or other gender-oppressed folks were given a chance to speak. If they did, their voices were not used in the video. While it can be dangerous to follow identity politics dogmatically, it is important to take into account the opinions of those who are marginalized even if it is for a “funny video.”

As mentioned in the so-called apology “Toban Talkback” released, the creators were “simply trying to get the funniest responses out of people. It was unfortunately not understood that way.” This shows their sense of humour is lacking, and they are in need of better reporting skills. If they are reporting for the Manitoban, having a sense of humour that relies on degrading and belittling folks is not needed, wouldn’t you say? If not, the reporting becomes incredibly biased and further marginalizes folks who are not represented in the article – or video in this case. If the humour relies on making people feel unimportant and unrepresented, that translates into the inability to create a good quality report.

The published “apology” was not a true apology. It was a classic dismissal of feelings and more of an “I’m sorry you felt that way” statement than a sincere expression of regret. For creating a video that devalued not only different careers but also marginalized voices, a better apology is needed. Deleting the video on all social media, as the Manitoban did, does not correct anything; it merely shows an inability to confront the errors made.

I would like to see an apology with more truth behind it, and more realization of the mistakes made in the video.


Jayelyn Rae is pursuing a bachelor of arts in art history and political science.