Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Kramer, we hardly knew ye...

First, the video (please note: profanity/racial slurs are present, and this blog is showing the clip for illustrative purposes ONLY...I don't condone racial slurs of any type):

OK. D and I were discussing this incident today.

To recap, here's a quote from this article:

His Laugh Factory tirade began after the two clubgoers shouted at him that he wasn't funny. A videotape of the incident was posted on TMZ.com.

Richards retorted: "Shut up! Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f------ fork up your a--."

He then paced across the stage taunting the men for interrupting his show, peppering his speech with racial slurs and profanities.

"You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now mother------. Throw his a-- out. He's a n-----!" Richards shouts before repeating the racial epithet over and over again.

Moderating his tone at one point, Richards tells the audience: "It shocks you. It
shocks you" and refers to "what lays buried."

While there is some chuckling in the audience throughout the outburst, someone can be heard gasping "Oh my God" and people respond with "ooh" after Richards uses the n-word.

Eventually someone calls out: "It's not funny. That's why you're a reject, never had no shows, never had no movies. `Seinfeld,' that's it."

Well...first of all, I'm a nerd so I have to point out that Michael Richards did play Stanley Spudowski in the "Weird Al" Yankovic film "UHF". However, I think that "successful" was implied along with "shows" and "movies". I'm just sayin'.

But here we go again. First Mel Gibson's antics, now this.

Michael Richards can't even use alcoholism as an excuse. He was heckled, and he couldn't handle it. He was so frustrated that he didn't think before he spoke. It just came out like "word vomit" (to quote Lindsey Lohan's character in "Mean Girls".)

D and I discussed this issue today. I'm not sure why, either.

D asked why it was OK for African-Americans to use "cracker" and whites can't use the "n" word (rhetorically, of course...I would certainly HOPE that D understands why).

Then it made me think of the Lenny Bruce routine, where Bruce is tossing out racial/ethnic slurs a mile a minute - it's effectively re-created in Bob Fosse's film "Lenny", where tiny li'l Dustin Hoffman is throwing around the "n" word, as well as other delightful terms ("lace-curtain Irish micks" is probably the safest one to note, and please understand that stating it is for re-creating the routine ONLY).

But there was a METHOD to Bruce's madness - he wanted to "desensitize" the racial/ethnic slurs and make them the equivalent of dryer lint - something you can brush off.

Sadly, it didn't work.

I'm not a prude by any means - if you've read this blog for very long, I can get way out there.

As I get older, though, I see that there are so many actions and words we toss off like we're throwing away a Kleenex. We don't even think about it. If the slurs are not racial or ethnic, they're sexist or otherwise discriminating (e.g. mentally/physically disabled, personal appearance). I've embarrassed myself by using those terms in front of people that the slur applies to, and I feel like the lowest mudpuddle imaginable. When it's happened, it's totally unconscious..."word vomit".

I believe that Richards is:

(1) NOT a stand-up comedian...he's much better in comic roles.
(2) In dire need of anger management classes
(3) possibly sincere in his apology

Unfortunately, his actions on stage set things back. I'm not sure how far back. Here's another quote from the article:

On Monday, about a half-dozen community activists gathered at the club to denounce Richards' remarks and demand an apology. "These kind of comments hurt all of us," said protester Lita Sister Herron of the Youth Advocacy Coalition. She called Richards' comments hate speech.

I agree...but I would further categorize his comments as UNCONSCIOUS HATE SPEECH. That's probably the worst kind of all...just thrown out there in a moment of anger.

Either way, whether it's thought out or in a fit of rage, an apology might fix it, but probably not. It's like a Band-Aid on a sucking wound.