Monday, November 20, 2006

Kramer- Say It Ain't So!

Damn. Damn! DAMN! James!
Kramer said the N-word... and it turns out, alot more.
Say it ain't so Cosmo! But it is. My initial reaction and brief
thoughts on Michael "Kramer" Richards' tirade.

So by now everyone's heard of Micheal Richards rant at the comedy club the Laugh Factory in LA this past weekend. Richards, who played Kramer on the hit show Seinfeld, launched into a series of racial slurs and epitethets after being heckled by two black men while doing stand up.

According to news stories:

[The tirade apparently began after two black audience members started shouting at him that he wasn't funny.

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

He paced across the stage taunting the men for interrupting his show.

"You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now mother-f--ker. Throw his ass out. He's a n*gger!" Richards shouted before repeating the racial insult over and over again.

An audience member heckled back: "That was uncalled for, you f--king cracker-ass motherf--ker."

Richards retorted: "Cracker-ass? You calling me cracker-ass, n*gger?"

While there was some audible chuckling in the audience, someone could be heard gasping, "Oh my God."

Another audience member is heard to call out: "It's not funny. That's why you're a reject, never had no shows, never had no movies. 'Seinfeld,' that's it."]

As the news made its away around the world--appearing in headlines from New York to Sydney, Australia--Michael Richards at first refused to speak to news reporters. He later apologized on CBS Late Show Monday via satellite:

["For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I'm deeply, deeply sorry," the former "Seinfeld" co-star said during a satellite appearance for David Letterman's "Late Show."

"I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this," Richards said, his tone becoming angry and frustrated as he defended himself.]

The public apology was urged by former co-star and show creator Jerry Seinfeld, who came forward to issue his own strongly worded statement on the incident:

I am sick over this. I'm sure Michael is also sick over this horrible, horrible mistake. It is so extremely offensive. I feel terrible for all the people who have been hurt.


I don't know what to be angrier over, that Michael Richards made such remarks in a hate-filled rage, or that he has managed to ruin what has years been a source of humor for me. From Soup Nazis to Low Talkers, I know that show back and forth. I even accepted the lack of diversity on the show as par the course. Besides, didn't want any tokens inserted for no reason. Now I can never look at it the same way. Of course I expect that racism can come from any white person--that's how white supremacy works after all, as a system, as an institution, as a cultural force; makes each and every white person a possible accessory. Yet there is something very different from participating in a system larger than yourself, and spewing rage. Pay attention to Richards words. There's not only the venom of hatred there in racial slurs, but distinct references to past acts of violence carried out against blacks, invoking America's long history of lynchings, murder, etc.

Of course, read the online comments, and while most on blog boards say they are equally sickened by Richards words, a few find a way to excuse it. They point out the use of the N-word among blacks, etc. And whatever qualms one has with that, you'd have to pretty blind to not see that this was not simply a mistake in semantics (sorry Jerry, I appreciate the statements, but I think this goes beyond a mere slip-up), but an intentional bit of racist-mongering. It touches part of a deep seated hatred--an actual sickness--that found its way to the surface.

Richards says he was angry. Reminds me of when Mel Gibson blamed his anti-Semitic rants on being drunk. I'd like to believe such was the case in those instances, except for one thing--I've been drunk before; I've been angry before. It doesn't turn me into a fire-breathing bigot.

"I've never seen anything like this is my life," publicist Michael Levine said Monday. "I think it's a career ruiner for him. ... It's going to be a long road back for him, if at all."

End of a career is what many are calling Richard's racist tirade. But its actually more than that. It's a stain on what was once seen as a light-hearted comedy show, one of the best, that defined an era. Talks of a Seinfeld movie are now in jeapordy, and this ugliness will stay for a while.

Oh well. It could have been worse. Could have found out Homer Simpson owned slaves... DOH!

You can view the video of "Kramer Gone Wild:"

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