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Paul Brownfield Article About the Racial Outburst by Former Seinfeld Star Michael Richards

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Paul Brownfield Article About the Racial Outburst by Former Seinfeld Star Michael Richards

Paul Brownfield in his article about the racial outburst by former Seinfeld star Michael Richards discusses the views of comedy versus reality. Richards compares the two using countless examples from other incidents from the media as well as some from a comedy club. Throughout the article you get a sense that the author feels Richards’s apology was not effective for a variety of reasons. The negative tone throughout the article in addition to more than one sarcastic remark leads the reader to believe this. The article focuses on Richards’ apology and more importantly how the audience accepted this plea, but in reality the article attacks the lack of reasoning behind the incident and this apology.

Brownfield attacked two main points concerning the effectiveness of Michael Richard’s apology. First, Brownfield points out the lack of sincerity from the audience. During the interview, Seinfeld, Richard’s co-star and guest on the Late Show, was heard saying to the audience, “Stop laughing; it’s not funny” (Brownfield). Brownfield said the audience seemed “tittered and guffawed as Richards apologized” (Brownfield). The second reason Richard’s apology was not well accepted was the setting in which the apology was given. Richards even had doubts about the situation he put himself in. After the unintentional laughs, Richards said, “I’m not even sure this is where I should be addressing the situation” (Brownfield). Brownfield described the situation as an “uncomfortable spectacle” and a “bizarre ‘Primetime Live’” event. These two points of emphasis by Brownfield may have contributed to the reason Richard’s apology was not accepted, however, this was not the primary reason.

In addition to the effects of the above, Brownfield’s implied argument focused on the reason behind Richard’s outburst. Brownfield uses comparisons between other stars that have had public outburst caught on camera. The first comparison is between Richards and Borat star, Sacha Baron Cohen. Brownfield seemingly gives the approval of Cohen’s racial remarks in his movie by saying, “Cohen is more intense character actor than stand-up.” He also says, Cohen is much more “character specific, a projection outward to get everyone’s guard down and expose a bigoted culture” (Brownfield). In the comparison, Brownfield describes Richards during his comedy act as a “projectile vomiting, revealing only his lack of judgment” (Brownfield). By saying Richards was a “projectile vomiting,” shows his absence of control of his actions and words. The second comparison highlights the reason behind Richards’ remarks. Richards is being compared to Mel Gibson, who recently lashed out about Jewish people during a drunken tirade. Brownfield subtly places the remark, “Naked without an alcohol problem to fall back on.” This statement may have gone unnoticed by most but shows the realization that Richard’s had no rationale to back up his request for forgiveness. The third comparison is when Brownfield references Carlos Mencia. Talking about the Laugh Factory, he says it is a “’Mind of Mencia’ hotbed, where you can make fun of, say, the mentally retarded with impunity.” Brownfield seems to be backing up Richards with reason, however, revokes these remarks when blaming Richards for his own “stupidity and temper” (Brownfield). In all three of these comparisons Brownfield gives explanations for why the comments or actions were forgivable by society and in return showed why Richards had no reasons for his racial outburst.

After the comparisons and setting of the apology is described, Brownfield moves on to describe the actual apology. Brownfield points out in his comparison that unlike the others, Richards does not have an explanation for his outburst. So Brownfield concludes it is some sort of “combination of bad improv and an anger management issue” (Brownfield). Richards, however, takes a different approach. Richards blames this on a “societal condition” (Brownfield). Richards is quoted saying, “whether or not it’s between me and a couple of hecklers in the audience or between this country and another nation” (quoted in Brownfield). This statement is somewhat ironic. Richards is blaming his actions on society. He is blaming the same society which he puts the blame on and now apologizing to via the Late Show. Either way, Richards’ lack of reasoning behind his argument does not make it acceptable to shift the blame to society and away from his own outrageous actions.

Benjamin DeMott’s article, “Put on a Happy Face: Masking the Differences between Blacks and Whites” deals with the untrue portrayal of black and white friendship that are “cosseted by Hollywood’s magic lantern” (DeMott 173). DeMott uses examples from primarily movies but also from politics and everyday stories to display “a common

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