Michael Richards. Unless I said he played Kramer on Seinfeld you wouldn't know who he was. Until yesterday.
First, I am sure if this
questionably talented actor -- whose character on Seinfeld was probably
not an act, but an alter personality -- had any idea that someone in
the comedy club audience would use a cellphone to record what he was
saying, he wouldn't have said it. I guarantee it.
Also, watching his racist
meltdown versus hearing about it made all the difference. What he said was
so outrageous that if we only heard about it we could almost dismiss
the report as an exaggeration. Watching it eliminates all doubt.
Second, while he insists he's not a
racist, he's probably like most white people who say they aren't racist
-- they don't realize how much racism permeates their lives. Not on
purpose, but as a natural result of being raised white. Oh, sure we'll
borrow clothes, slang, and music from the black culture, but we'll lock
our car doors and hold on to our purses when we're out.
Most of us who want to claim we're not racist couldn't prove it if our
lives depended on it. And right now Michael Richards' career
depends on it.
He never would have used the "n" word that way, or any way, if he
actually had a
single black friend or acquaintance. The lynching reference was an
especially nice touch. Referring to blacks as Afro-Americans during the
apology is a
sure sign that he's not hanging with any brothers.
Technically, the rules are that anyone can make fun of their own ethnic
religion and sexual persuasion. Anyone else better be damn funny.
Several people in the audience said they kept waiting for the punchline
to his rant but it never came.
Richards' mea culpa, for me, is more on the lines of, "Holy shit, I got
caught doing something that the whole world can view over and over on
the internet. If I'd known, I wouldn't have said anything. Who knew this could happen?"
As Paul Rodriguez said, "He committed suicide on stage." Like OJ, his future plans have been cancelled.