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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Festivus and the "N" word...

If you have been reading me for a few years, you know I am a "Seinfeld" fan and religiously celebrate the Festivus holiday. So this year I was perplexed at what to do - what with Michael Richards getting a lot of press lately for his meltdown and racial slurs at a comedy club.

But, the only thing to do is separate the man from the character - I can still watch "Seinfeld" and love Kramer the character while not agreeing with the rants (feelings and views?) of Michael Richards the actor.

So, HAPPY FESTIVUS!

On that subject, I read a great opinion piece in Time by John Ridley. John Ridley is a great writer, and created the original story for a movie that is one of my favorites - "Three Kings". If you have not seen it, check it out.

Anyway, John's piece is titled "Why I'm Good with the "N" Word", and it is an excellent read.

(there is another great piece by Ridley under my links on the bottom right sidebar)





Read the script for "The Strike", which is the episode that introduced us to Festivus.

Read more about John Ridley.

Read last year's Festivus post.




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11 comments:

NO DooDahs said...

I must have missed something, did Richards express "feelings and views?" I thought he was just insulting some hecklers. Funny how they got him on tape, but didn't record their provocations. Regardless, I must say that I am shocked, SHOCKED, to know that somewhere, sometime, a stand-up comedian used INSULTS, especially RACIAL ones, to put down a heckler. I am sure that has never happened before ... and never will again! Right ...

Let's face it, when you heckle a stand-up comic, you should be prepared to be insulted, in the most offensive manner possible. Any visual clues you have, fat, bald, old, big nose, skin color, whatever, is fair game when you heckle a comedian. It's not like he was yelling that at them in the f***ing Wal-Mart parking lot, for crissakes. They were heckling him onstage! I'm actually more shocked at his lack of imagination in insulting them, than I am in his choice of racial epithets. He should be quicker on his feet than that …

Trader-X said...

You would like John Ridley's other opinion piece that I posted on the right under my links - check it out.

I agree that he should have been quicker on his feet - if you are a stand-up, you gotta have a stronger comeback. But I say "feelings and views" because I think they are underlying his retort to the hecklers...things like that come out when you are under pressure or drunk (Mel Gibson).

Charles (in San Fran) said...

I agree that when someone says something like RIchards did, it is probably because he thinks it deep down. Mel Gibson is another good example.

If I was a standup and I got heckled, my first impulse would not be to yell (depending on race) nigger, wetback, honkey, or chink. Hopefully I would have a more witty retort to shut them down. Shouldn't they practice for that kind of thing?

Tango Cabo said...

This is a true story. I was once with a buddy in a comedy club who heckled a comic. There were three of us sitting at the table, and the comic really dressed us down. I won't go into specifics, but by the time he was finished we were painted to be flamboyant homosexuals and everyone was laughing at us. It was embarassing, but looking back and removing myself from the situation it was also funny and he did a good job.

My point is comics can be harsh and use fag, the n-word, or other slurs that might be unacceptable outside the club. But they need to be witty, not just yelling slurs repeatedly. Had Kramer been witty, we probably would have never heard about this. Instead he just went off the deep end.

I still watch Seinfeld reruns though.

NO DooDahs said...

I don't agree that Richards is "probably" a racist, or bigoted, simply because of his choice of insults. Three points:

I look at the context of the incident, where a white comedian is being heckled by black audience members who themselves are shouting racial insults – he responded in kind. It's not like his hecklers were calling him "boring" or "gawky" or "big-nosed," no, they were calling him "cracker" and "white boy."

Another point of context I would use is Richards' style of comedy. Now, I'm unfamiliar with Richards' stand-up style, other than that it sucks, and (full disclosure!) I'm not a Seinfeld fan, but if I assume he's a raunchy comic, his reaction wouldn't be surprising.

How should effective insults be structured? Shouldn't they be about what the insultING party thinks will be the most hurtful to the insultED party? Whether or not a white man is a bigot, he KNOWS how offensive it is for him to racially insult a black man – and if the end goal is to insult and piss off a black man, a white man knows exactly what to say, and it's not necessarily a "window into his soul" for him to use that language, it could be just a calculated choice of emotionally damaging words, designed to punish a heckler.

estocastica said...

At least we know he's not an anti-dentite. :)

Acary said...

I agree with tango. Had it been witty, we would never had heard about it.

But given his behavior, I suspect that he probably has racist tendencies in his heart.

Trader-X said...

lol estocastica...

I think he's a RABID anti-dentite.

Trader-X said...

no doodahs...I made a slight adjustment to my words:

"I can still watch "Seinfeld" and love Kramer the character while not agreeing with the rants (feelings and views?) of Michael Richards the actor."

You make some good points, though I still [slightly] lean towards "he is probably a racist"!!!

Good comments everyone.

Mark said...

Good post. I see all this ridiculous talk about boycotting Seinfeld. But I think you have the right idea.

Anonymous said...

Festivus yes, Kramer no! Boycotting Seinfeld is a joke. Kramer was only one part of it. I do not think he speaks for the whole cast and crew. Festivus will keep on growing. If you do not know what festivus check out whatisfestivus.com. All this will blow over soon. He was insulting the rude people in the crowd and not the whole race. He should have done it in a non racial way. People just like bring down the stars they create. Oh well, Happy Festivus to all.