Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Kramer Thing

Downright disturbing. I was going to embed the video of Michael Richards spouting racist nonsense but I don't even want it on my site. The link to the video is here. Warning: Really horrible things said in video.

I chose to link one of the YouTube versions of this for a reason. A while back I was reading the comments on some poplular YouTube video, and I noticed something that sickened me. Blatant racism. I'd never seen anything like it. It made me realize what a breeding ground for bigots the web is. Because a person online is faceless. They can say whatever they want with almost no chance of being found out. Some of these people are 15 year olds "joking" around while their parents aren't looking. Some are klansmen. But it all looks the same in the written word. And the people who are "joking"? You don't joke about stuff like this--it's their true personality coming out.

Anyway, in the comments for this Michael Richards thing, you'll notice the same trend. (Make sure you click "view all comments." As I write this, there are 1,500 comments. But just scroll through a page at a time. You'll see "LOL" (that means 'laughing out loud,' mom) on each page. Those are the non-creative or lazy racists, I guess. The other ones just come right out and say what they're feeling. It's heartbreaking, in a way. It really makes me want to live in another country as not to be associated with this crap.

Maybe it's just a bunch of teenagers trying to get a rise out of people. (Some absolutely are just proud racists, though. Again, just sift through the comments and you'll see what I mean.) And maybe that's what Richards was trying to do as well. But, again, the truth shines right through. These people are able to say these things because it's what they believe. Screw Michael Richards and all the other racists.

I watched Michael on the Letterman show tonight and it was pathetic. Seinfeld should've disowned him as a friend instead of giving up his time to let him make a sorry attempt at an apology.

Comments:
Jere, the comments HAVE to be from idiot kids who think they're funny.

PLEASE let that be the case.

I only read about this briefly this morning heading into work. My mouth was literally hanging open while watching it. Reading what he did and actually seeing it are two totally different things.

There is no excuse nor any apology that could cover that. I'm sick over it.
 
Right after hearing about the Kramer horror, I was watching CBS news and they did a special on a ten-way kidney donation. A trial wherein if you want to give your dying brother your kidney and you don't match, are you willing to donate your kidney to a stranger who you do match while some other stranger donates his kidney to your brother? In a trial, five donors agreed and all ten--donors and recipient were in a semi-circle in their wheelchairs, the recipients still looking so weak and sick, and the most touching moment was a lovely African-American woman started crying while thanking a lovely blond woman for saving her life, while the blond woman's brother, who got someone else's kidney, kept going over and hugging the black woman, etc. etc. Keep your citizenship, Jere.
 
I think he got heckled, got real pissed off and tried to be "controversial" with the "hang you upside down" line, which was borderline, but could have been funny in context, I guess. Then, feeling more pissed off and imboldened by the laughter he got, he tweaked out completely. I very much doubt he's a racist, which doesn't excuse it, but it's worth noting at least.

Real stupid and totally bizarre.

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But, again, the truth shines right through. These people are able to say these things because it's what they believe. Screw Michael Richards and all the other racists.
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Honestly, I just think people on the internet get a kick out of seeing other people get indignant and pissed off. It's sort of the same reason early punk rockers (and Hell's Angels) wore swastikas. Cos it was funny seeing the older generation get all huffy over it, not because they were Nazis.

I think it's overly simplistic to say that people do or say things like this because they're racist. I don't know that it changes a whole lot but again, I feel like it's worth noting.

I also feel like sticking by your friend when they make a huge mistake is an honorable thing, and "disowning" him or whatever would have been a real shitty thing to do.
 
Why is it a "mistake"? Because he said it in public?

I'm coming from a place where, when I get mad at someone (like he did at the hecklers), I don't think about them in terms of their race and how the entire race is stupid or whatever. So when I hear someone react that way, all I think of is: total racist, end of story. And I don't see why you'd want to be friends with a person like that.
 
I think it's way more honorable to disassociate yourself from people who feel that way about other human beings.
 
It was a mistake because, where I see it, the situation's a lot more complicated than you're allowing it to be.

I think he was so mad he wanted to piss off the people interrupting and heckling him. He got furious to the point of going straight to that button he knew he could push and really "get back" at the guy.

I'm not saying if a friend of mine did that I wouldn't be absolutely furious at him, and think differently of him, but if I felt like he was contrite and it didn't represent a genuine dislike for another race, no, I wouldn't publically disown my friend.

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So when I hear someone react that way, all I think of is: total racist, end of story.
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That's the thing though- it's not always that simple. It's easier to get angry about it all when you look at it that way, but it's not objective and it's just not true.

I hope I don't sound like I'm trying to justify what the guy said or did. There's no good excuse for it. But I don't really agree with your POV here totally.
 
I didn't say to publicly disown him. Seinfeld could've just gone on there, done his thing, and if asked about the incident, say "I don't agree with what he did" and leave it at that. In fact, he kind of did that, by just giving Richards the time and not commenting much about it.

I think there's a line you can cross where you just can't say "Oh I didn't mean that at all, it just came out of my mouth." And where it becomes impossible to defend someone for their actions.

He said somethin gin the apology about "trash talking." Like, maybe he was trying to get at them, make them mad, whatever. But A. why make it a racial thing? You can do it in a totally different way and B. Why say things that go so far beyond the situation to the point of mentioning one of the most horrible chapters in our nation's history and really in the world's history? That goes beyond trash talk to the point of "my race, as proven in the past, is superior to your race."

Why would he even think that? Seriously, okay, I have an example. Yesterday I was walking home. A bunch of dudes in work gear and those breathing mask things were congregated on the sidewalk as I walked toward them. I got a little pissed because they all just stood, blocking the entire sidewalk execpt for one little path, and there was a really slow lady in front of me. So I had to wait, when if just one of those guys had moved over, I could've gotten by. Now, as it happens, these were black dudes. My only thought was the terrible job these particular people were committing for blocking a sidewalk. I hate it when anyone does this. I never thought for a second that the whole black race is responsible for me being held up for two whole seconds. Or that 50 years ago it would be so great because I'd be able to lynch these people--as Richards said-- for causing any disturbance in my life.

The fact that he thinks that way is enough for me. He's a racist. The fact that he said it must be a call for help or something, I have no idea. Because I'm not going to say "...is even worse" because it's just as bad to think those thoughts as it is to say them in public.
 
Well, Richards just blew his career out his arse:

He should go over well with those ADD addled Bleacher Creatures, at "The Toilet", really-well.
 
I think he lost control of himself and was really trying to piss off the guys that pissed him off, so he went as hard as he could. I don't think it means, per the definition of racism, that he thinks less of black people than white. I think it makes him a stupid asshole with an anger problem.

This reminds me of something Elvis Costello did, actually. He was hanging out, drunk with Bonnie and Delaney, and they were hurling all manner of insults at the English and the music/ musicians from England. So Costello, just to piss them off, called Ray Charles and James Brown "niggers." The story got out, and Costello had to apologize.

Apparently, Ray Charles invited him to meet, saying he wasn't upset, but Costello was too embarassed to do it.

I don't think Elvis Costello is a racist.

I guess my point is, I don't think this speaks to some larger race issue (which still obviously exists). I think it was just a guy who tweaked out and said the wrong thing.
 
I suppose that had it happened in Boston or by a Bostonian, it would have been 10 times worse. Heh.

Anyway, I don't even know what to say about it. It's so horrible. And selfishly, I am pissed off that Seinfeld will be kind of spoiled for me now. Damn you, Richards, for tampering with my Seinfeld watching and igniting racial tensions.
 
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I suppose that had it happened in Boston or by a Bostonian, it would have been 10 times worse. Heh.
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DEFINITELY!! :)

I don't think it'll spoil [i]Seinfeld[/i] for me. I still like Roman Polanski's movies, you know? But yea, it sucks the topic will have to come up in that conversation.

Robert Altman died last night. Huge loss- he was one of my favorites.
 
Forget Seinfeld, I can never look at Stanley Spedowski in the same way again.

I get that he was trying to say the most offensive thing possible to humiliate the heckler. What gets me is that he keeps saying it even after he's calmed down from his initial rant. I don't know if he's a racist or not, but the fact that he was throwing it around in a calm voice is kind of weird, given that he wasn't doing a routine on deconstructing words like George Carlin.
 
I know, right? The guy in the club who says he's never done any films, just "Seinfield," has obviously never seen UHF.

But, yeah, for a good long time, possibly always, I'll see the show Seinfeld, which I still pretty much catch at least one episode a day of, differently.
 
I actually do think of Polanski and his statutory raping ways whenever I watch Rosemary's Baby. It's no way to live, I know...
 
Important I get this right through the haze of pain medications because the line I'm dancing on can easily be misconstrued. We are all essentially tribal. We gravitate towards like minded, like cultured clusters. Political, religious - Red Sox vs. Yankees. It takes many forms. Jere's mom 's mention of the transplant recipient was the ideal I think the best of our society strives for and yet try to understand the reaction to the OJ verdict by whites and blacks and there is a divide that the most well intentioned can't fully comprehend because the cultural divide is so great. Utopia transcends the clustering and sees our problems and joys as shared, without distinction. I myself do not have any friends of color and I think I am poorer for it, but to this point it's not uncommon or a great mystery. I share myself with likeminded, likecultured people - nothing more or less. I still see people of color I want to know but with whom I share less - maybe superficially. We're progressing as a society, I'm progressing as a person, but I think we are still a vast collection of tribes.
 
And if your tribe members and another were hanging out as friends and you were jokingly messing with each other's traditions and everyone was kay with it, then there's no problem. But if you're both kinda near each other and one person from another tribe steps on your toes and start immediately talking about how their members used to be owned, whipped, hanged, lynched, etc by your members, and that they're lucky that those practices have stopped because if they hadn't, you'd be doing those things to them and it would be nice and legal and you'd enjoy it, then you are an ass hole.

We can blame the govermant for separating blacks and whites in society. And also past white generations for not wanting to live amongst people of different colors than their own. I'm sure a lot of black people would love to live in nice houses, "nice" neighborhoods, etc, but their family has been held down for generations and they can't leave the poorer areas and even if they try really hard, will get paid less and treated worse and still end up poor. It's not their fault, it's our stupid society's. Whites don't wanna be near blacks and blacks are kept away from the "nice" areas, which are all taken up by whites.
 
It's way more complicated than that. I just got back from the store where a very nice black woman treated me as kindly as anyone in recent memory. I wanted to (and did) step outside whatever boundries I've accoustomed myself to to repay this melting point. It's almost pandering but somewhere very near the surface I want the world to work that way. People going out of their way to bleed over into other distinctions without imposing or dishonoring the histories that seperate us in the first place. My favorite poet is a man named Wole Soyinka, who is Nigerian. His history (his dialectic) with colonialism includes an absolute mastery of the English language. He writes of Hamlet and loss, evil and love in a way that can be understood by anyone who speaks English and can decipher the cryptic tongue of poetry. Yet a great deal of rap is exclusive - intentionally. There is a line and a swagger that comes with the mastery of an inventive language that seems rare among say, whites. Man, where am I going. With trepidation I tread. (I should write this sort of thing in Word and paste, because it is very difficult to address something like this through a tiny little window. Kind of a metaphor for the limitations we all have to some extent or other.) If this thread continues I'll try to do a better job with this sensitive subject. I like that your blog goes in so many directions. Bravo.
 
Jeeze, Bosnian, I have a million comments for you but I'll stick to one that I can keep under 100 words (I could do 1000 on Soyinka): Count your blessings that white people aren't inventive with language. The one invention that has stuck--right wing Republican noodle-heads making the noun Democrat an adjective because they've decreed that Democrats aren't democratic. Our president now says "the Democrat Pary" but then he's an arrogant asshole as we all know. (Is arrogant asshole redundant?)
And now to go and spend Thanksgiving with some of my relatives who belong to the Republic Party. Aargh.
 
Wow, your house will have interesting dinner chatty, eh? I subscribe to the WS Burroughs School of word invention, though rarely do I cut and paste to morph. I was thinking that rap is unique in that it's almost "spoken" with contempt, played with like taffy. If I were given one tome to take with me into solitary confinement it would be the complete works of W. Shakespeare. However I think WS would marvel at the compressions and the flying embers that make-up much front-line rap. It's conceived outside the boundaries of white institutions of order - particularly sexual order. I don't want to engage in something that I'm not willing to follow all the way through but if you're on the outside looking in, the rules that you chose to play by are shaped by your opportunities, or lack thereof. Whites are the order. A less permissive (risky?) order (in general).
I think our President is too stupid to be an asshole. It’s like saying Milly (the dog of the first Bush White House) was an asshole. He’s just so GD destructive as President that it’s hard not to think in those terms. Enjoy your bird and family.
 
>>We can blame the govermant for separating blacks and whites in society. And also past white generations for not wanting to live amongst people of different colors than their own. I'm sure a lot of black people would love to live in nice houses, "nice" neighborhoods, etc, but their family has been held down for generations and they can't leave the poorer areas and even if they try really hard, will get paid less and treated worse and still end up poor. It's not their fault, it's our stupid society's. Whites don't wanna be near blacks and blacks are kept away from the "nice" areas, which are all taken up by whites.<<

Actually, what you are describing is systematic or institutional racism. It's the largest part of the iceberg and it sits below the surface. Racism is a machine that started a long time ago and now, unfortunately, it runs on autopilot. I think of it like a really strong whirlpool that's impossible to walk against. It really will take a full commitment by the government to begin eradicating it. Instead, the country has offered Band-Aid after Band-Aid.

I won't go on.
 
Uh, Jere. Just noticed something. Roman Polansky was guilty of statutory rape--sort of connotes a youngish consenting girlfriend. The backstory: Polansky bought a thirteen-year-old child from her mother.
He should be in prison.
 
Right. The point is I think of how he's a rapist whenever I see any of his movies. I used the term "stautory" because I knew someone would, ahem, correct me if I didn't.
 

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