Michael Richards. Now, seriously. Come on now.
Poor, poor decisionmaking skills (I am, in fact, shaking my head). I thought that by now people would at least know that they’re not supposed to talk like that in public.
I also think, however, that comedians tend to get a little carried away with themselves and what being funny gives them licence to say and do. This is why it’s a problem when people try to write off offensive humor by saying “It’s only a joke.” In this case, it’s “I was just so mad.” Unacceptable.
When I get mad, I don’t randomly pull racial slurs and epithets out of my ass willy nilly. To follow that reasoning, Richards must call everybody a nigger when he gets mad. Something tells me that’s not the case.
What’s unfortunate, in my opinion, is that Richards was not able to do anything but fly the “I’m really not a racist!” flag. Whatever he thinks he is or is not, his behavior was profoundly racist. He needs to own up to that, at least, if he wants to regain any respectability. And, as a friend pointed out, the power dynamic he was trying to wield was totally fucked up. I mean, to invoke the idea of lynching? “This is what happens when you interrupt the white man?“ You CANNOT go there without mutual agreement, in a public arena, with a microphone ON A STAGE, as a celebrity and expect anything but big fucking problems. That history is too painful. Too raw, and too volatile.
I think that we’ve gotten to a point as a media-based culture where we should be prepared for things like this to happen. Where we should be holding performers to standards based on their own personality and ethics, and not those of the characters they portray.
But then, up until now, did we really have any ethical expectations of Michael Richard the actor?
I hope that people can take a lesson on celebrity idolization from this. Celebrities have their own stanky shit. Some of them are bigots and assholes, just like any other random sample of people from the population. Many of them are priviliged and ignorant. Many are poor decisionmakers.
That’s what I have to say about that. For now.