Thursday, November 23, 2006

The meltdown of Michael Richards

It was nasty, brutish and short. By the time it ended, another Hollywood career had crashed and burned, perhaps irredeemably.

Michael Richards, that bundle of uninhibited energy and endearing brusqueness in the classic sitcom 'Seinfeld,' found himself in Mel Gibson territory on Friday night (US time) when he let loose a torrent of racial epithets at a couple of hecklers while performing a stand-up routine at a comedy club.

"Shut up! Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f--kin' fork up your ass!," he said. The men were African-Americans.

Unfortunately for him, the brief but appalling episode was captured on a celfone camera, and thanks to YouTube, it immediately made the rounds of the Web. Here it is: (Warning: contains obscenities, though blipped out; not for children and delicate ears)

Mr. Richards' public meltdown is at once horrifying and fascinating to watch--the perfect train wreck. The raging bile he unleashed is just unbelievable, and you can see it in the shocked reaction of the crowd, many of whom stood up and began walking out of the club, or furiously upbraided Mr. Richards for his tirade. Incredibly, Mr. Richards, perhaps realizing the terrible fix he was in, simply dropped his microphone and stomped off the stage. Priceless. This episode should be required viewing for psychiatrists and mental health practitioners.

Jerry Seinfeld tried to bail out his friend by begging "The Late Show with David Letterman," where he was previously booked for a guesting, to give Mr. Richards a few minutes of on-air time so he could own up to his actions and apologize. Mr. Richards did, and the "awkward, disturbing, and yet completely arresting television," as the New York Times put it, "was one of those things that are a little difficult to watch, but you can’t stop watching." You're welcome to sit through his halting, sort-of apology without wincing.

Moral of the story? The same lesson that Mel Gibson learned too late, and that Justice Isagani Cruz, to the end, resisted learning from the objects of his hate: Words have power. Words can hurt, maim, slash, draw blood. Call a black person a "nigger" and you summon the entire horrific history of human slavery and the excesses of the Western colonialist enterprise. Call gays "pansies" and "fairies" and you chant the mantras of intolerance invariably used to vilify and burn their kind down the centuries. Speak ill of the Jews, and not only do you conjure images of the swastika and the Holocaust, you also end up a Hollywood washout.

I've a suggestion for Mr. Richards: Announce that you're an alcoholic, and check yourself into rehab. And for added pop cache, follow the example of another disgraced public figure, former Florida Rep. Mark Foley. Claim that you were abused by a priest.

Read the complete New York Times report here.



JaN said...

I was not aware of this sad incident. Being a huge Seinfeld fan, I was really disappointed with how the "K" man handled himself in the comedy club. I am very disturbed.

BTW, nice blog.

BW said...

He lost his cool so badly that he blew up his career as a comedian. People will forgive him esp the Afro-Americans who were dissed by his comments but they may find it hard to forget this incident.

Sean said...

I believe that what made Richards' outburst particularly shocking to the rest of his industry is that he's obviously not the first entertainer to encounter hecklers. Greater comics have outlasted such disruptive influences with far fewer obscenities. If he can't stand the heat, then maybe it's best that he stays out of the kitchen for a while.

snglguy said...

Ummm, I never liked the guy anyway. Even when he was still in 'Seinfeld'.

Anonymous said...

this is why i am fan.
So far eto pinakagusto kong article mo sa blog mo.

someone suggested that u write short stories or a novel perhaps?

Sana nga.... hehehe


lewis said...

whooaaa...bad huh!?!


i think that the PLDT call center girl is worse ;-)

walang tatalo dun hehehehe

Mr. Poe said...

i am a huge fan of seinfeld and liked him on it. he doesn't seem to be "acting" while he was on the show. this was just sad.

7thstranger said...

too bad for him... another downfall in the making.

Corsarius said...

that's just's bad enough when you commit a mistake like that as an ordinary person, but as a celebrity...tsk.

btw gibbs, about your message on my tagboard...sure, why not. in fact, i'll be honored. however, there's one prob -- i won't charge a friend. i consider kasi my blogosphere friends as personal real-life friends ;) on my part, i'll ask for some link favors na lang at the most. just drop me an email at pykimpo[AT-nospam]gmail[DOT-killspam]com so we can discuss further.

p.s. don't call me manong, i'm a young brat! hehe.

benj said...

why do african-americans snap at the slightest touch while chris rock et al get to do their thing with hardly a peep?

The minorities have been really spoiled in the spirit of politcal correctness,imho.

what career are we talking about? he was in seinfeld. that was it. :p

Rick M. said...

OMG. that's horrifying. This is the end of his career.

nigger said...

its weird that black people can call each other nigger all the time and most of the rap songs have the nigger word in it and yet its a very big deal when white people say it.

gibbs cadiz said...

hi BENJ, thanks for your comments. there is, of course, a difference between chris rock and white people saying trashy things like that. chris rock can't say to white people, '50 years ago we'd have you upside down with a fork up your ass!' because it has no basis in reality. white people saying that to blacks, on the other, is something straight out of painful history. so while discrimination can cut both ways, there is discrimination and there is discrimination.

hi RICK, thanks for dropping by. :)

hi NIGGER, when a marginalized group appropriates a word used to oppress them, that's a form of subversion and empowerment. it implies their taking control over the meaning and implication of those terms which have heretofore been used only to put them down. so blacks calling each other 'niggers' is the same as gays calling each other 'fags'-- only within their circle, and on their own terms. that's entirely different from someone in the maority group using those words as a form of abuse or calumny.

beektur said...

i am lmao at your suggestions to michael richards. those really have become convenient excuses lately. and since he has not mentioned any of these as cause of his rage (although he is seeking psych consultation now) i guess his only excuse is ignorance (lack of both intelligence and talent).

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