Patterico's Pontifications

11/20/2006

Michael Richards Screams Racial Epithet on Video

Filed under: General,Race — Patterico @ 6:54 pm



Everybody seems to be talking about the video where Michael Richards (“Kramer” of Seinfeld fame) repeatedly screams a racial epithet at a guy during a stand-up comedy act. So I may as well link it. Give the people what they want, I always say.

He will apparently be on “Letterman” tonight to claim: “I’m not a racist, that’s what’s so insane about this.”

Yup, that’s pretty “insane,” all right.

21 Responses to “Michael Richards Screams Racial Epithet on Video”

  1. Another day another meltdown. And all of this thanks to the constant surveillance pocket video provides.

    The simple fact is that most people in show business are crazy. Back in the day publicists could put a lid on things, but not now. Yesterday it was Mel Gibson, today it’s Michael Richards. Who knows who it’s going to be tomorrow.

    David Ehrenstein (dea91c)

  2. It was insane to be standing there shouting, “Nigger! Nigger! Nigger! He’s a nigger!” And he managed to say much worse than that, surprisingly.

    So how could anyone ever get the impression that he’s a racist?

    Christoph (9824e6)

  3. And this is different from Borat how???

    paul from fl (967602)

  4. Uh, because Mr Cohen doesn’t mean it; and it’s clear that some part of Mr Richards does.

    Paul from FL, if I may say something which contains absolutely no aspersions upon your race, state, regional identity or nationality: you’re a moron.

    David Ross (7a96fa)

  5. Borat or Michael Richards… or Mel Gibson, all with words and intentions that cut deep. To reason that one guy’s a comedian is like saying the other guy’s an alcoholic.

    Vermont Neighbor (cd4d85)

  6. His apology on Letterman tonight was originally met with laughter by the late night crowd. I wanted to reach into the TV and slap their hands for laughing. Michael sincerely regrets his words, but regardless, what was said was said, and apparently he harbors anger deep down that even he refuses to recognize.

    Douglas V. Gibbs (90213a)

  7. David Ross,
    Name calling, verrrry productive.
    Borat says anything he wants as long as he suffixes it with “I was in character, I was only kidding.” I as a Jew have to sit quietly and take it?
    No thanks.

    paul from fl (967602)

  8. David Ross,
    Name calling, verrrry productive.
    Borat says anything he wants as long as he suffixes it with “I was in character, I was only kidding.” I as a Jew have to sit quietly and take it?
    No thanks.

    paul from fl (967602)

  9. You mean as a fellow Jew. Cohen is mocking anti-Semitism, of course.

    Jim Treacher (c4006e)

  10. I find it interesting that no one even questions the rudeness and inappropriateness of the people heckling Michael Richards. I’m sure the people that paid to get into the show weren’t planning on listening to a couple of mouthy audience members shouting out insults. I have always disliked people of any race that are devoid of manners and class. There are distinctions between different types of white folks. Wasps, rednecks, white trash etc. Many black comedians make reference to these types regularly, without so much as a raised eyebrow. Similarly Chris Rock makes distinctions between African Americans in one of his bits, citing the differences between black people and niggers. Perhaps the hecklers fell into the latter category. Like Chris Rock says in his bit about OJ killing two people, “‘I’m not saying it’s right, but I understand” While it is unfortunate that Micheal Richards allowed a couple of jerks to get under his skin and reacted in this way, I understand. I feel bad for the paying customers, whose evening was ruined. I feel bad for Michael Richards who will forever be known for this incident. I personally don’t care if the hecklers were offended, after all if you’re going to interrupt a performance, and put yourself out there, you need to be man enough to handle it.The reason people heckle is to get a reaction. I’m sure that the hecklers are now gloating. I read something that quoted someone as saying ” they should have kicked his a**” Well, what should have happened is the lame management should have done their job and thrown those clowns out.

    Glenn (3a9d5c)

  11. Heckling is a long-established part of the comedy scene, Glenn. Most of it is good-natured. Some of it’s really cutting. But no one stepping out on the stage of a comedy club should be unprepared for it. Moreover if you’re going to be a stand-up comic you’d better have a thick skin.

    The most fascinating thing about this incident is the fact that it’s a real-life rendition of the climax of Lenny Bruce’s “Palladium” routine — where comic “Frank Dell,” bombing with every joke he lobs, starts insulting teh audience in the most upsetting terms he can imagine.

    David Ehrenstein (dea91c)

  12. Let me add a few thoughts here particularly in response to Glenn. Hecklers are a fact of life for a stand-up comic. The good ones use humor to neutralize the hecklers by getting the audience on their side and turning them against the hecklers.

    What if Richards had said “who wants these jerks to shut the hell up?” He probably would have gotten a loud round of applause, effectively shutting them up. Or, in response to their comments he could have launched into a self-deprecating bit about “life after Seinfeld.” Again, that probably would have put the audience on his side. But why in the world would he go to the N-word? I mean where does that come from? Is Richard a racist? Who knows? Is man who refers to a woman by using the C-word a sexist? What I think is very clear is that his behavior and use of the N-word was reprensible, indefensible and inexcusable. Period.

    As to the N-word, why is that non-African Americans are always asking why they can’t use it…”this comedian used it, that rapper used it, why oh why can’t I use it? Pretty please, can I say it just once? I just need to feel it roll off my tongue.” Well, let’s turn that around…why do you “need” to use it? Obviously you don’t “need” to use it. It’s not a common word with many different definitions and usages. Right? So, okay, why do you “want” to use it? Most well-educated middle-class blacks don’t use it, even in private. So why this burning desire to use a word that conjures up a very vile, violent, immoral and utterly un-American part of our history?

    jack (9e8605)

  13. Without expending too much more energy on this deceased equine flogging, I would like to respond to David and Jack. Yes I’m aware that since the begining of stand up, there have been hecklers. Usually they’re boorish, drunk, or filled with an inflated sense of their own cleverness. That doesn’t mean that their imput is appreciated or that everyone that steps on the stage of a comedy club is equipped to respond with a quick witted retort.
    Obviously Mr Richards acted inappropriately, but as far as I can see the only injured party is Mr Richards himself. He hasn’t deprived anyone of their civil rights, denied them employment or impacted their lives in any measurable way. I don’t know if he’s a racist or not and don’t particularly care. He acted out of anger and lacked the finesse to deal with it. An emotional outburst doesn’t necessarily reflect someone’s true feelings. Who among us hasn’t said something in anger that we didn’t really mean and later regretted. As far as his routine goes, I haven’t seen it and don’t know if it includes racial topics. I realize one cannot compare an angry outburst to a comedy routine, but I have watched black comics denigrate white people as a standard part of their act and the white folks just laugh along. Maybe because of white guilt or maybe because sometimes it’s funny. Regarding the N word or any other words, none of us need permission to use it. We have free speech. Do we need to use it? No more than any other derogatory terms. Just like Jesse Jackson and the “hymietown” remark and certain Nation Of Islam leaders using ” white devils” and all of the other things that crop up with all sorts of people, black, white, celebrity or not. Some people seem to think this is the most horrible thing that has ever happened and Michael Richards deserves to be banned from comedy and shunned from society. Maybe we should send him to prison for 5 years so he has time to think about what a terrible person he is.

    Glenn (3a9d5c)

  14. I agree with the above arguments that its just a downright disgusting outburst & completely abhorent behavior. He should be able to deal with hecklers, its how stand-up comedy works. However, I don’t agree that usage of the word proves someone is a racist. It’s a vile and disgusting word & I think beyond debate.

    I think incidents like this could easily be anger issues, something I dealt with at a young age. The things I would say to friends, family, & even strangers in a heated argument were disgusting. The reason I said those things was I was angry & I wanted to hurt people. It was a verbal violence. I called my mother, sister, father & friends vile things. I didn’t mean them & I was able to apologise & make amends but eventually I was forced to realize that I had a problem & needed to deal with my anger in a more healthy way.

    It seems pretty obvious to me MR was having close to a mental breakdown, he was completely out of control with rage. By no means is that an excuse for what he said, I think for him explaining to everyone, “Hey I’m not a racist”, isn’t the end of it. He needs to deal with issues that made him become so violently angry. I think branding him a racist may be a bit premature.

    Tim (3515d0)

  15. So Richards may have been wrong but after all their anger came out and they called him a white cracker. It’s even. Forget about it……

    vinnie (a40844)

  16. A few final strokes of the post-mortem equine and then I’ll get to the good news…

    What’s significant here is not that Richards USED the word nigger, but that he CALLED the hecklers niggers. Big huge difference. Had he been doing a bit about going to a black neighborhood, seeing a friend across the street and calling out “Hey Nigger” and what ensued from that greeting, well that could have been very funny.

    Speaking of Chris Rock…he does a bit about how no white person would trade places with a black person. The punchline being something like, “Hell the average white guy wouldn’t even trade places with me and I’m RICH!!!” The grain truth with a heaping helping of exaggeration.

    So where does Richards go to seek refuge…”I may not be funny, I may never top my Seinfeld performance (not even Jerry himself will do that), I may not know how to handle hecklers, but, you know what…I’m a white man and you’re NOT!”(to paraphrase Chevy Chase from the early Saturday Night Lives days.

    So here’s the good news…I have no idea whether Richards is a “racist” or not, but got he talking (writing), sharing our perspectives, getting under the surface. Agreeing? Not always, but whatever sane, civil dialogue (and I must say that this site is remarkably civil) ensued from his personal tragedy, well, that’s at least a little bit of progress.

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

    jack (9e8605)

  17. Come on,how may people in their right mind go snap, crackle, and pop over something as trivial as someone yelling “you are not even funny.” The guy is a racist. And most of the people who do not find anything wrong with his offensive behavior is probably also racist. Cracker compared to someone being lynched with a fork shoved up their behind is not exactly what I call a parallel statement. But, I guess it is if your mind and thoughts are on the same level. Too bad, it’s has get pretty muddy when it rains since it’s, rock bottom!

    Gwen (f20aea)

  18. Dont the NAACP beleive if FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

    krazy kagu (171210)

  19. I though Richards and Gibson hit the nail right on the head and expressed the opinion of many that aren’t as politically correct as those demonizing Richards. Jessie Jackson proves Richards is correct every time he opens his mouth.

    sgtmajorbrad (666d47)

  20. That Mike Richards called out the low behavior of the hecklers who were black by calling attention to their race came from somewhere.
    What he is apologizing for is that he used the “N” word, the great and forbidden “N” word, therefore committing the greatest sin in modern America. But,…..where did the outburst come from? Why did two black hecklers evoke this racial connection to this behavior? It is almost like he has stored up a file of experiences that connect this rude behavior with blacks. I do know that black comedians have made jokes about how often blacks yell and talk to the movie screen during films. And I can’t believe that I am the only one who has had many movies and performances ruined by blacks in the audience who don’t give a hoot about whitey watching the movie if they want to talk or play their boom box. And have witnessed many violent responses to any white who has the nerve to ask them to please quite down.
    Where indeed did Mike Richards draw this anger from?

    vic schiro (c83bc8)

  21. That is brutal,what’s happened in this situation, but I think that both sides of this issue is really getting out of control. I wrote a piece about it on my blog here:
    http://noiseputty.com/archives/the-michael-richards-fiasco-a-commentary/
    I hope everyone takes time to read it, because some on the ridculous stuff I wrote about a week ago is starting to happen now.

    Noiseputty (a3b45e)


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