Monday, November 20, 2006

Murdoch; Richards


This day would be notable if only for the fact that Rupert Murdoch actually admitted that he did something wrong and canceled the OJ book. He was insane to let it get this far. No matter how much the book might have earned (and I think it would have bombed) it couldn't equal the amount of loathing ir brought brought his various media outlets. Not to mention the immorality of it. Go away OJ you spotlight-hugging creep.

And now...

(BTW I won't look at the video. Couldn't handle it for the two young guys he took his feelings out on.)

Michael Richards went insane Friday night. I say this with sadness because on Seinfeld the man gave me hours of pure unalloyed joy (though it took him two seasons--ala Ted Baxter on Mary Tyler Moore--to find his true character.)

There's an old Hwood saying Never meet your heroes. I've been lucky in that the heroes I've met have been pretty decent people with the exception of the anti-semite who was SO anti-semetic I literally thought he was putting me on. Unfortunately he wasn't.

I'm taking this excerpt from Ray Richmond's fine column Past Deadline. Unlike most people I think you DO say ugly things you don't mean when you're drinking and/or drugging. I've said them and I've had them said to me and I base this on being stoned for nearly twenty years running. I'm not excusing bad behavior. I'm just saying that it isn't as cut-and-dried as many tv "experts" make it.

Hell, I've seen people get in knife fights over a quarter. Being stoned past a certain point is insanity. Literally. You grab what's handy skin color, religion and, if all else fails, a frigging quarter (fortunately two of us were only beginning our nightly brain damage, so when we heard the yelling we went in and grabbed them and took their knives away).

Mel Gibson doesn't count. His "apology" in which he casts himself as the victim tells me that he said exactly what he wanted to say. He's got some real problem there.

Anyway, from the fine Ray Richmond column Past Deadline:

" very much another Mel Gibson-like moment (albeit one in which Richards apparently didn't even have Gibson's excuse of being drunk, though don't be surprised if in the coming days that's exactly what this humiliating meltdown is blamed on). Yeah, how long before it's announced that Richards has checked into an "unnamed rehab facility" to battle a "longtime drinking problem" that's grown out of his "fizzled career since 'Seinfeld'"? In Hollywood, far better and trendier to be a closet alcoholic than a closet bigot.

"The outburst evidently stemmed from Richards being heckled by a couple of African-American patrons while performing a standup routine at The Laugh Factory in West Hollywood over the weekend. His resulting rant is so ugly and vile it can scarcely even be paraphrased here, but suffice it to say it involves repeated usage of the word "nigger" -- screamed at the top of his lungs during one particularly disturbing burst.

"One of the patrons at the club evidently shot the video. And while the audience at first is laughing, thinking it's part of the act, as Richards continues his onslaught there are gasps and murmurs and a stream of people starting to file out. Finally, Richards -- seemingly spent and perhaps grasping the impact of his words -- walks offstage sheepishly as the emcee tries to restore order.

"We don't see what inspired Richards to go postal, but it hardly matters short of someone having threatened his family. (And not even then, actually.) Heckling is simply an occupational hazard for a comic, and Richards is hardly a novice. It's difficult to imagine what could have spurred this sort of racist, rageful invective short of chemical inducement. I hope against hope this isn't ascribed to booze (how about personal accountability, just as a refreshing change of pace?) but fear that it's inevitable.

"Regardless, it figures to be especially tough for Richards to put something this jarring and revolting behind him. He's going to have a lot of 'splainin' to do, and we can expect that process of diversity training and the mea culpa interview circuit to begin any minute now. ("This is Dr. Phil McGraw, and my guest tonight is Michael Richards. Michael...WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?"

"UPDATE: My journalist friend Joe Rhodes sent along the following thoughts, and I believe them to be particularly salient -- enough so to add them to the post in addition to the comments section:

"I have seen Richards lose his shit before. I went to his house once for an interview and he was on the phone when I arrived, in the middle of a heated rant with what sounded like an ex-girlfriend. Instead of ending the call, or sending me somewhere out of earshot, he motioned me into the living room and continued going postal for a full 10 minutes or so, with me sitting right there on the couch. I had no idea what triggered the conversation or whether his anger was merited, but it was not pretty. I wasn't asked to leave the tirade off the record, but I don't remember if I specifically alluded to it in the piece.

"I did make it clear in the story that he was a much more complicated and darker character than he showed on 'Seinfeld.' And I remember thinking that, unlike Jason Alexander --who seems grateful for the chance and takes all the typecasting in stride -- Richards seemed really pissed off about being pigeonholed as Kramer for the rest of his life.

"The on-stage rant seems like a misguided attempt at doing a take on 'political correctness' by using the most shocking words he can think of and daring the audience to be offended. Sort of an Andy Dick approach. But, hoo boy, does he misfire. His undercurrent of bitterness just comes blowing out on stage and instead of funny and/or thought-provoking, it's just scary and sad.

"Comedy is hard."


Piraeus said...

For those who accept Mr. Gorman's characterization of Mel Gibson's apology as one "in which he casts himself as the victim" I provide the actual text Gibson's apology. How anyone could read it and describe it as Mr. Gorman has is beyond me.

"There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologise specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.

"I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologise directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.

"The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God’s child, and if I wish to honour my God I have to honour his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.

"I’m not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one-on-one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.

"I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realising is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery.

"Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.

"This is not about a film. Nor is it about artistic license. This is about real life and recognising the consequences hurtful words can have. It’s about existing in harmony in a world that seems to have gone mad."

Anonymous said...

On O.J.: Somehow I think this won't affect O.J. very much. Judith Regan claims the book deal was made with a third party who "owns" the rights to the book; supposedly the money will be going to the children. Some people in the industry are wondering if anybody is going to get paid for the book. I strongly suspect the money was paid up front and O.J. [excuse me, the unnamed third party] is laughing all the way to the offshore bank account.

The whole situation makes me want to vomit; moreso when I realize that -- with the pulping of returned copies -- this atrocity will become an instant and highly valuable collector's item.

-- Jerry House