As you’ve surely heard and seen by now, Micheal Richards, the washed-up actor/comic formerly known as Kramer on Seinfeld, went on a racist tirade against two audience members who were talking at one of his comedy gigs. The whole thing was caught on tape and distributed by TMZ. What struck me was not his use of the forbidden “N” word, which is of course taboo and totally lame, but the fact that he made a lynching reference, saying “50 years ago we’d have had a fork up your ass.” Um, ok, so 50 years ago you would have had those guys tortured and killed for daring to talk over your shitty act? 14 year-old Emmett Till got murdered for whistling at a white woman 50 years ago. I’m sure you thought that was justified too.
Maybe if Richards had some decent comebacks he wouldn’t have resorted to the lowest common denominator and used a person’s race as an self-incriminating insult. As countless commentors on YouTube have pointed out, comics should be used to dealing with hecklers and talkers and losing your cool is unacceptable. Losing your cool and spouting epithets is a sure way to cement your status a a punch line for years to come.
Richards apologized on David Letterman last night, where his former co-star Jerry Seinfeld was already scheduled to appear. He said he’s not a racist and claims to have gone back on stage and apologized. A guy who was there says Richards never apologized, and is understandably upset about it in the video below:
You can watch the outburst yourself if you login to YouTube.
And here’s Richards’ apology, which just seems pitiful, but that doesn’t give him a pass for making a lynching reference:
Nothing gives him any excuse. None whatsoever. I do find it interesting nobody mentioned the men of color in the audience started the racial slurring, calling out to him that he’s a “cracker”, etc. Why don’t people include the entire story? Because it makes Micheal look worse that’s why, and that makes a more explosive story.
How can someone who uses racial epithets so freely like that and make comments about lynching blacks in the 1950’s say that they are not a racist? He’s just backpeddling trying to save his sorry ass. I wouldnt recommend he drive anywhere near East LA anytime soon. Payback could be very painful.
It’s pretty wild how quickly we can devolve into name calling. There is still so much tension simmering right under the surface in our culture. We still need to do a lot of talking.
Well I just saw the tape and it seems that the “cracker” comment came several seconds after the tirade began. I am so disgusted by all of this. Mel Gibson included. I cannot imagine, if you don’t consider yourself a racist, why the hell would you ever go there?
For me I always worry about the ones who vehementy deny ever being a racist or ever having any racist thoughts. The human race is a strange group, and it is hard for me to belive that anyone has never felt those feelings whether it be a momentary thought or
an ingrained pattern. I myself have been guilty of thinking things that are really not politcally correct. I question myself when it has come up, and deal with it accordingly. At least I am honest about it.
Green Tiger, your comment reminds me of an implicit association racism test I took online a while ago
It said that I have a slight preference for white people. I was dissapointed, but supposedly even one of the developers of the test can’t beat it and it’s supposed to be accurate.
why is that people in the media spotlight- or at least people with the advantage of having fame and money- are able to use “rage” and “campaign stress” and “alcoholism” as excuses for hateful langugage and behavior, and then still enjoy the spoils of their fame & freedom afterward? yes, michael richards was right to apologize, but as far as “deserving” to- hell no! people everywhere- whatever the skin color- are the ones who deserve the apology. his words were beyond disgraceful. …mel gibson, numerous politicians (& it makes me think of woody allen, too, sexually exploiting his own daughter!)… it’s a sad, sad commentary on culture today that individuals can get away with this debauchery, roam the streets freely and not endure nationwide boycotts. it’s been my experience that when someone says, “i’m not a racist…” they usually are. racism doesn’t always manifest itself in hateful crimes and physical violence; i think the more insidious racism today is that underlying current of ignorance and perpetuation of stereotyping… uh, this was kind of a rant, ‘pologies!
Looks to me like it was bad from both sides. That’s why I’m not siding with anyone. Had these black men been sitting in the front row, quietly enjoying the show and Richards had called them the “N” word, then it would be clear who is at fault. But the hecklers, regardless of their race, were there to make sure no one enjoyed the show. They were there to cause trouble — just so happen that Richards was performing that night. I can’t go by the video tape either. By the time the person programmed the camera to shoot video, it had seem to me that something was going down much earlier.
Richards, who is most likely needs some meds to control his bipolar condition, needs to re-evaluate whether stand up is the right career venue for him. It seems to me only the strong-willed and even keeled can survive that line of work.
ok, but gigohead, it doesn’t matter if these guys were heckling or not, the point is NO ONE should be called the “N” word and NO ONE should reference lynching. hecklers are hecklers, shame on them for being obnoxious, but DO NOT ever reduce a human being to a less-than-human-being, which is what racist name calling and wish-i-could-kill-you statements do…
(incidentally, i’m curious if jerry seinfeld would have come to richards’ defense so quickly had he been slinging mud at jewish people- did he defend mel gibson?)
Oh..I agree about that..No one should be called the N word, nor does a white person should be called a “cracker. I’m not taking any sides since this was provoked from both ends.
It was an ugly scene that’s played out every where. With modern technology, it’s now being taped.
I don’t blame Jerry for defending his friend, it’s clear to me from what I’ve seen something is not right with Richards. He has some mental issues.
I totally agree with gigo. It is obviously not okay to call someone a n*****r, and by the same token, nor is it okay to call anybody a cracker. It’s the same thing. Racism is racism. Plain and simple. You yell cracker at somebody and you’ve started another race fight. and vice versa.
Obviously, his behavior was unnacceptable. And I agree that why would someone ever go there, if he’s not a rascist?
I am curious what happened to provoke the outburst. However, this is a comedy club! Hecklers are to be expected, and comedians have routines to shut them up. Except they’re normally supposed to be funny, not scare the audience…
No matter it was unacceptable behavior. I too took the test when I entered the Marines and was told I was a “slight” racist. Everyone has preferences of what kind of people they want around them. That is just the animal in us wanting to be with our own kind. Do most of us act upon it, no, that makes us tolerant.
I agree with everyone here. And I agree that it raises an eyebrow when someone says over and over, “I’m not a racist.” Thou doth protest too much!
And yeah, if he’s not a racist, why on earth would he first THINK these thoughts and then VOCALIZE them.
No excuse for that kind of behavior.
First, we did not see what happened to Michael before the out bursts. I’m not on either side of this. It seems like there was bad behavior on both sides. It is rude to heckle anyone performing – poor form and it is poor form for the entertainer to heckle back rudely. Now with that said, Mike is a physical comic and he may have been trying to react in a (sadly) comedic manner to this heckling, who can say? I am tired of the race card being played. Blacks call each other nigger and take pride in that. Even if a white man would call a black person nigger in good spirits, it is considerated an insult. So what is up with that? If black people think the word nigger is so disrespectful, then why do the use it all the time themselves? This issue is overblown and overplayed. People need to give it a rest. Really, are there not real problems in the world today? People have to pay attention to this crap?
For Mr. T…
It really irks me when people say that “Blacks call each other nigger and take pride in that…If black people think the word nigger is so disrespectful, then why do they use it all the time themselves?”
I’m black and I NEVER use the “N” word. I think it is rude to imply that all black people say the “N” and use it with pride, because it is simply not true. I have plenty of friends and relatives who do not say it because they feel it is offensive. I really hate that argument from some people from other ethnicites/races. Not every black person says that word and it is rude to suggest that all of us do. If you did not mean it that way, you probably should’ve typed “some blacks” instead of “black people”… you simply cant say or imply that the actions of some speak for the entire ethnic group.
Now onto Mr. Richards, from what I’ve read and heard the guys were saying to him that he was not funny and heckling him. I do think it is rude to bother someone when they are performing and they guys were rude for doing so, but to make references to lynching is horrible. That actually bothered me more than the use of the “N” word. It also bothers me that when Richard’s went on his “rant”, the men responded by calling him a “C”. We can’t combate racism or point out to someone the error of their ways by yelling racial slurs back at them. It serves no purpose, they were doing fine when they said “it wasn’t necessary” but they lost me they yelled the “C” word back. I do think he might be a little “off”, something is not right about him in that video. I hope he gets some help.
“Some blacks” but with that said, I know several who play basketball and call each other the N word. I stand corrected.