TMZ.com, the website that initially broke the Michael Richards story a few weeks ago, reports now on a few separate pieces of fallout directly related to the n-word debacle. Andy Dick, unfunny man of TV and film, apologized Tuesday for over the weekend using the term at an L.A. improv. After making fun of Richards on stage he yelled to the crowd “You’re all a bunch of niggers”. Says Dick: “In an attempt to make light of a serious subject, I have offended a lot of people, and I am sorry for my insensitivity. I wish to apologize to Ian, to the club and its patrons and to anyone who was hurt or offended by my remark.”
Meanwhile at the now infamous Laugh Factory, Damon Wayans was fined $320 dollars for dropping the n-bomb on stage. The club has decided to fine comedians $20 dollars for any use of the term, and during a Sunday event called “Chocolate Sundaes”, Wayans for example said: “Give yourselves a big round of applause for coming down and supporting ‘Nigger Night’ ” .
In my opinion, the Richards incident has opened up important dialogue about race and racism, but with these examples it seems things are already starting to get a little bit kooky. While I suppose it is commendable that people such as Chappelle’s Show cast member Paul Mooney have claimed they will no longer use the term, some George Carlin level sensibility would be nice. It’s all about context people. Should we bring up Quentin Tarantino for past crimes next? Resurrect Bill Hicks and chastise him for his L.A. Riots bit? A sarcastic quip about a dumb comedy night title, and a bad joke that was clearly meant to be ironic, do not warrant more blacklisting. Neither does social commentary, as Hicks or Henry Rollins have used the term. This new fear of the word in any context is already giving it more power.
It seems right now that the only way people can get away with any controversy based on race/homophobia these days if you have something to sell. Whether its Eminem, Axl Rose or Marilyn Manson in their prime – or in a more recent example, Mel Gibson, who I might remind people drove drunk and non-jokingly made his own slurs has a film out this week, apparently undamaged enough by the incident to be able to put his own name in the title.