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Comment count is 14
Binro the Heretic - 2018-12-16

He made me laugh ever since I saw him on "Fridays" when I was a kid.

I am so pissed off at him for turning out to be such an asshole.

Old_Zircon - 2018-12-16

Everyone who's funny is an asshole, that's just a fundamental fact of human biology.

That guy - 2018-12-17

Not Tom Waits, OZ. Never Tom.

Binro the Heretic - 2018-12-17

No. While it's true all funny people are a little fucked up, the majority of funny people are not assholes. Most funny people take it out on themselves, not others.

We just tend to notice the assholes more because their private behavior is so often incongruous with their public persona.

It's like how we notice the people who tend to play villainous characters but are really sweet & nice in person more than we notice the people who play villains but are average or assholes in private.

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2018-12-16

I once read a defense of Michael Richards' infamous racist ad-lib by a stand-up comedian, who happened to be black, and it convinced me that almost anything can be forgiven when a comedian has to handle hecklers. Not excused, mind you. It wasn't all right. But maybe he deserves to be forgiven. Rightly or wrongly, I've always felt a certain sympathy for this guy. He always seemed baffled by his own horrible outburst, and lord knows, some celebrities in his would have tried to find an audience by exploiting white resentment, and painting himself as a victim of "political correctness". (I'm going to google him now, I'm not 100 per cent sure what he's been up to.)

About halfway through its nine seasons, the Seinfeld principals were making a million dollars an episode. I'm sure he's doing fine, and his work will live on. I'm sure he's on television somewhere every minute of every day.

Seven Arts/H8 Red - 2018-12-17

I think at least part of the problem stems from the roles he plays as a character actor. Outside of Kramer, he's known for roles like Stanley Spadowski and the Bow-Tie Killer. Once the public thinks "aw, shit, he truly IS as shifty as his acting suggests", it's tough to recover from that.

Even without the N-word outburst, Richards would have likely drifted in and out of Larry David, Seinfeld and Fridays-related circles anyway, and that's a decent position to be in as an actor.

exy - 2018-12-18

I will always appreciate how Michael Richards, amidst the "you said WHAT?!" kerfuffle, owned up to having said something that was maybe offensive to "Afro-Americans." I'll remind everybody that this was 2006, when "Afro-American" was a practically defiantly outdated term of reference.

exy - 2018-12-18

some other fuck's take: https://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/22/arts/television/22heff.html

> The first clue that Mr. Richards was winging it, without a damage-control team, came with his use of the term “Afro-Americans” to describe the hecklers to whom he had said what he called “nasty things” during his comedy act at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. These are the people to whom he shouted: “Shut up! Fifty years ago, we’d have you upside-down” and impaled with a fork. And then, with obscene intensifiers, he had gone on to insult the hecklers, over and over, using a savage racist epithet, and defending his right to do so.

> If “Afro-Americans” was meant to show that Mr. Richards had righted his ship, it didn’t work that way: the term, which after “blacks” and before “African-Americans” had briefly been the one that white people used to sound contrite or serious, now sounds out of step and even comic. One of the first replies on YouTube to the clip of the video, in fact, said, “AFRO American??” And then, “lol.”

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2018-12-18

I think this is bullshit.

>>>it didn’t work that way: the term, which after “blacks” and before “African-Americans” had briefly been the one that white people used to sound contrite or serious,

Afro American was what black activists were demanding to be called in the 60s and 70s. I guess its sort of dated now, but referring to it as "the one that white people used to sound contrite or serious," is either ignorant or disingenuous. I'm 11 years younger than Micahel Richards, and it never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with saying afro-american.

exy - 2018-12-19

I won't pretend to know what's in Michael Richards's heart of hearts. When this happened, I researched him a little bit, but I've forgotten most of what I learned. (I retain some vague sense of there being some weird Masonic family background and something about that story which activated my racistdar, but who knows anymore.)

In the apology vid, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC26RI-Ria8 ("Afro-Americans" at 1:32 & 5:53), he seems visibly nervous, but I couldn't say if it's due to "that sure was an astonishingly bad impulse" contrition or "will I ever work again" anxiety. He does strike me as being somewhat defensive here ("you didn't see the whole thing"), and is fairly abstract & impersonal in his self-defense (segueing from "where did this come from in my person" to "what makes war between nations"), so I can't give him flying colors.

I don't think there's anything offensive about the term "Afro-American" per se, but I certainly wouldn't say it if I were trying to put myself on the right side of a PR disaster like this. "African-American" is such an unwieldy mouthful that I most often resort to the more economical "black" when there's no extrinsic reason to demonstrate my respectfulness. The fact that "African-American" supplanted "Afro-American," for whatever reason, is enough to deprecate it in such a formalized context, IMO. At best it makes the guy come off as clueless (when's the last time you TALKED to a black guy, Richards?), and at worst (and I've obviously entertained this suspicion) it comes across as a bit dog-whistley.

I keep arguing with you recently, JHM, but I hope you don't take it as an attack rather than a friendly argument.

exy - 2018-12-19

That said, I can totally picture myself panicking and trying to be edgy in a similar way. E.g. I dated a Jewish lady for most of a decade, during which time we and her family developed so many in-jokes that, for a goodly while after we broke up, I had to work to make sure I didn't come across as some kind of raging anti-Semite, invoking such a joke. It's logically possible that Richards, secure in his self-image as a non-racist, embarked on a foolish improvisational venture. (Contrarily, plenty of racists see themselves as non-racist, I suppose.) In which case, he is only guilty of being a lousy comic. But my residual impression from back when I actually researched his life history is less favorable than that. *shrug*

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2018-12-20

>>I won't pretend to know what's in Michael Richards's heart of hearts.

Frankly, I don't know what's in my own heart of hearts, and it frightens me. i grew up in a very liberal household, taught about racial equality at a very young age, but it was the 1960s, and there were no actual Africo Americans anywhere, except on TV, and there were only a handful, in supporting roles. Racists talk about white liberal guilt like its about the past, like we feel like slavery is our fault. I don't think that's what it is at all. It's the secret knowledge that we probably have some bad wiring in us. We try not to look at it, so we don't know exactly where it is, and we fear that it might misfire at any time. When it actually happens to someone who is a public figure, we (white people) react out of fear. The transgressor is cast out, punished forever, lest his presence point to our own terrible secret. The more we punish those who slip up, the more afraid we are to look at ourselves.

How much better would it be if we could own our glitches and weaknesses, and honestly work them out, in good faith?

exy - 2018-12-20

Well put.

BHWW - 2018-12-17

From what I've read, Richards wanted to do something a little more straight but still comedic, but the network mandated that he Kramer it up since that's what people liked and by the time the show was cancelled every episode was really mostly him Kramering it up a lot, but not enough to save the show.

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