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I hope we will someday live in a society where we are so accepting of each other that we can all laugh at jokes like these and know that there is no malice or diminishment intended.
June 5, 2012 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Jason Alexander appeared on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson recently, and told a joke about cricket being "a little bit gay." Shortly afterwards, some of his Twitter followers told him that they were offended by the joke. This prompted Jason to seriously reflect on his joke and offer a thoughtful apology.
posted by asnider (123 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is how to do it. Well done, Jason. (Not what you said, but the way you apologized for it.)
posted by Danf at 2:48 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unlike, say, Rugby, which is A Lot Gay.
posted by The Whelk at 2:50 PM on June 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


Class act.
posted by dmt at 2:50 PM on June 5, 2012


YES.
posted by epj at 2:51 PM on June 5, 2012


It is so rare to see a public figure make an actual apology that I found this whole business startling. There are certainly things in his statement with which others have expressed quite reasonable disagreements (characterizing bullying of LGBTQ kids as based on their "behaviors, choices or attitudes", frex) but I am impressed with his ability to realize that he was being hurtful to real people and choosing to make a public apology to them. And sad that that's so unusual.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:52 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wow, an actual apology.
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:52 PM on June 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


That's the first time in I don't even know how long that I've seen someone actually and truly apologize for something, rather than making a non-apology apology. And not only that, but he brought real insight into it in a way that shows that he really does get it and helps others to get it.
posted by The World Famous at 2:54 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


So wait - he didn't open with "I'm sorry anyone was offended but" and then launch into a 2000-word screed about political correctness, the nanny state, and freedom of speech? Come on, Jason, haven't you been following how this is supposed to be done?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:54 PM on June 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


+10 to Mr. Alexander. It's hard to unequivocally admit error, especially to the entire world. I honestly don't remember the last time I've seen it done.
posted by Mooski at 2:56 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, man. When my grandfather was dying this spring in the War Veteran's Home, I was in the lobby and saw a bunch of really old vets staring at the television watching (of all things) Tim Burton's "Willy Wonka." And they had this look of distaste on their faces as if they couldn't believe what they were seeing. And I tweeted that they were staring "As if saying to themselves 'What is this faggot crap?'" And I said that I kindof agreed with them (because I thought it was a crap movie). But the way I wrote it, it sounded like I was saying that we all agreed that because it was "gay" that we all hated it. Which is NOT what I meant, but it was the way it sounded.

And immediately, I was (rightly) taken to task by friends here and abroad about my callous use of the word and my blatant insensitivity by using it as a "joke." I still feel awful when I think about it, because I know I hurt some people I love that night.
posted by ColdChef at 2:57 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I ever have kids, when I teach them about how to be a genuine person, I'll have them read this and I'll tell them that they should aspire to this level of frankness & honesty.
posted by entropone at 2:58 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So one might think that all these years later I might be able to intuit that my little cricket routine could make some person who has already been made to feel alien and outcast feel even worse or add to the conditions that create their alienation. But in this instance, I did not make the connection. I didn’t get it.

So, I would like to say – I now get it. And to the extent that these jokes made anyone feel even more isolated or misunderstood or just plain hurt – please know that was not my intention, at all or ever. I hope we will someday live in a society where we are so accepting of each other that we can all laugh at jokes like these and know that there is no malice or diminishment intended.

But we are not there yet.

So, I can only apologize and I do. In comedy, timing is everything. And when a group of people are still fighting so hard for understanding, acceptance, dignity and essential rights – the time for some kinds of laughs has not yet come. I hope my realization brings some comfort.
Wow. I am genuinely impressed.
posted by Phire at 2:59 PM on June 5, 2012


I hear this was ghost written by a Michael Richards whom guilt has kept from having a full night's sleep in years.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:01 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Jason played Buzz in the film of "Love! Valour! Compassion!" and has had an extremely versatile career, playing all kinds of characters.. did anyone actually think he was being "anti-gay"? And anyway, Jason is a SUPER professional actor. He knew what he had to say once his fanbase erupted. And he said it well. Now he can just continue to be himself with his friends like everyone would do, and won't make jokes like that in public. Whatever.
posted by ReeMonster at 3:02 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best bit of this clip is when the man is amazed that "a man with an accent" (a scotsman) can do impressions of other accents.
posted by dng at 3:03 PM on June 5, 2012


The really great thing about the apology is that he shows us how he got from A to B -- he talked to people about why it was offensive, and figured it out, rather than just making statement through his manager. So awesome.
posted by freshwater at 3:03 PM on June 5, 2012 [18 favorites]


oked about how their rugby football made our football pale by comparison because it is a brutal, no holds barred sport played virtually without any pads, helmets or protection

Like how a cricket ball is as hard or even harder than a baseball but cricket players don't have a big girly mitt to catch it with. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:04 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Girley mitt?
posted by SLC Mom at 3:05 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, and also: That apology was wonderful.
posted by SLC Mom at 3:05 PM on June 5, 2012


This is my favorite part:
My daily life is filled with gay men and women, both socially and professionally. I am profoundly aware of the challenges these friends of mine face and I have openly advocated on their behalf. Plus, in my own small way, I have lived some of their experience. Growing up in the ‘70’s in a town that revered it’s school sports and athletes, I was quite the outsider listening to my musical theater albums, studying voice and dance and spending all my free time on the stage. Many of the same taunts and jeers and attitudes leveled at young gay men and women were thrown at me and on occasion I too was met with violence or the threat of violence.
Homophobia doesn't just affect gays. It represents a broader assault on everyone's freedom to do what they feel like and be the kind of person they really are.
posted by John Cohen at 3:05 PM on June 5, 2012 [58 favorites]


Nthing how thoughtful and wonderful that apology was.
posted by maxim0512 at 3:07 PM on June 5, 2012


I love how the guy who arguably played the worst of the all the unmenschen on Seinfeld winds up being such A Total Mensch in real life.
posted by scody at 3:08 PM on June 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Best. Apology. Ever.


Well, that I can think of anyway. So now Mr. thoughtful-wordy Jason, can you talk your way out of this?
posted by mazola at 3:11 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


freshwater: "The really great thing about the apology is that he shows us how he got from A to B -- he talked to people about why it was offensive"

He explains himself without making excuses. That's a damned difficult thing to do, and is all the more impressive. It takes balls to make such an effective apology while also admitting that he genuinely didn't believe at first that he was being offensive (beyond the usual comedy bit):
And truthfully, I could not understand why. I do know that humor always points to the peccadillos or absurdities or glaring generalities of some kind of group or another – short, fat, bald, blonde, ethnic, smart, dumb, rich, poor, etc. It is hard to tell any kind of joke that couldn’t be seen as offensive to someone. But I truly did not understand why a gay person would be particularly offended by this routine.

However, troubled by the reaction of some, I asked a few of my gay friends about it. And at first, even they couldn’t quite find the offense in the bit. But as we explored it, we began to realize what was implied under the humor.
Since his acting career hasn't gone very far after Seinfeld, maybe Jason should consider going into PR....
posted by schmod at 3:12 PM on June 5, 2012


Yes. An explanation without asking for excuse. It is really hard to do. Bravo.

Now all he needs to do is apologize for wearing that rug.
posted by gjc at 3:13 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a pretty class act.
posted by HuronBob at 3:13 PM on June 5, 2012


Guess I am not going to get a better opportunity to post this. Rugby is gay
posted by therubettes at 3:14 PM on June 5, 2012


joked about how their rugby football made our football pale by comparison because it is a brutal, no holds barred sport played virtually without any pads, helmets or protection

He's actually wrong about that, too... rugby has more rules about contact and has fewer major injuries than does american football.

Nice apology, though.
posted by Huck500 at 3:15 PM on June 5, 2012


What a pleasant change from the usual, "I'm sorry you got offended at my joke."
posted by lekvar at 3:17 PM on June 5, 2012


Good job George!
posted by bquarters at 3:18 PM on June 5, 2012


Huck500: "rugby has more rules about contact and has fewer major injuries than does american football."

...and is also noted for levels of sportsmanlike conduct that are essentially unheard of elsewhere in the world of professional sports. I have no idea how true this actually is, but it's the impression that I've always gotten...
posted by schmod at 3:18 PM on June 5, 2012


The next big hype ploy: tell a gay joke, apologize profusely, profit.

This is pure show-biz bullshit.
posted by Ardiril at 3:18 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is it bad of me that I'd hoped he snuck in a "Not that there's anything wrong with that" reference?
posted by Bromius at 3:18 PM on June 5, 2012


Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I came for this and am leaving satisfied.
posted by Kevtaro at 3:20 PM on June 5, 2012


That's a true and real apology!
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on June 5, 2012


This is pure show-biz bullshit.

It took 35 comments for someone to go there - a new MeFi record!

Classy apology, in my book.
posted by facetious at 3:22 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


"real men don’t do gentile, refined things"

Hey, I can have a masculine identity without keeping kosher! How dare he imply otherwise!
posted by ambrosen at 3:23 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


the silly generalization that real men don’t do gentile, refined things

I hope this list of Jewish cricketers can scotch another ugly rumour before it starts.
posted by howfar at 3:24 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is pure show-biz bullshit.

Could he have responded in any way that wouldn't have provoked this reaction in you?

He could have left it at "I'm very sorry that I offended anybody," but he actually took the time and put in the effort to offer a thoughtful apology. It's more than we get from many people in this world.
posted by synecdoche at 3:24 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mistakes were made...
posted by blue_beetle at 3:25 PM on June 5, 2012


Tangentially, as long as we're focusing on Jason Alexander: I've been rewatching Seinfeld lately and have been struck by how much he brought to the role of George. So many other actors would have coasted through that part by simply hitting the audience over the head with the obvious "loser" and "liar" angles. Jason Alexander went so much further; yes, he effectively played the loser/liar, but he also brought an unexpected grace to the part. There was a liveliness and exuberance to his performance that created an ironic tension with the objective bleakness of his life. I'm very glad he had the nerve to follow through on his love of theatre, since that background informs so many of the choices he made as a TV actor. We're so used to the characters that it's easy to take them for granted, but he and so many others on that show were true comic geniuses.

Back to the apology, it's interesting that there were at least two Seinfeld episodes that delved into George's fear that he might have some latent homosexuality (The Note from season 3 and The Cartoon from season 9), in addition to the aforementioned "not that there's anything wrong with that" episode.
posted by John Cohen at 3:26 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, Cricket is the least homoerotic (certainly the least sexy) sport in the world. Apart, maybe, from darts. Not terribly athletic blokes standing around waiting for something, somewhere, to happen.
posted by Grangousier at 3:31 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was one of the best apologies for insensitivity that I've ever seen. I'm still amused, however, by the typo in this sentence:

"I was basing my use of the word “gay” on the silly generalization that real men don’t do gentile (sic), refined things and that my portrayal of the cricket pitch was pointedly effeminate, thereby suggesting that effeminate and gay were synonymous.""
posted by Sculthorpe at 3:31 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


tell a gay joke, apologize profusely, profit.

HOLY CATS IN A SACK OF CATS!

The South Park Underwear Gnome Meme second variable has finally been solved for!

Steal Underwear
Apologize Profusely
Profit

Ladies and Gentlemen, you might think Ardiril was just leaving snark, but he's actually very likely just earned a nomination of the Nobel Prize in Economics.

I thought the apology as great.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:33 PM on June 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


The next big hype ploy: tell a gay joke, apologize profusely, profit.

This is pure show-biz bullshit.
posted by Ardiril at 12:18 PM on June 5 [+] [!]


I'm sorry your life has made you bitter.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:36 PM on June 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


Recently, Mark Cuban also threw out "gay" as a casual joke. And like Jason Alexander, he too wrote a well thought out apology. Let's hope this is the wave of the future.
posted by mhum at 3:36 PM on June 5, 2012


We all agree the apology was great. Can we get on with the business at hand, namely denigrating cricket as the worst lamest sport yet invented.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:37 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cricket, like golf, is gay in that they are both used to avoid women.
posted by The Whelk at 3:38 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I am extremely confused as to how Jason Alexander ever got to the part where the apology was necessary in the first place. How does anyone think it's OK to refer to something that isn't actually a Pride parade as gay? Isn't that one of those words (like retarded) that civilised people long ago agreed is distasteful?

Also, Cricket is the least homoerotic (certainly the least sexy) sport in the world

You, my friend, know not of what you speak.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:39 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, if thoughtful apologies are the next big thing, I am all for it. I have been waiting for irony and sarcasm to fall out of fashion.
posted by Duffington at 3:39 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can we get on with the business at hand, namely denigrating cricket as the worst lamest sport yet invented.

I thought that was Curling, not Cricket.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:40 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So wait - he didn't open with "I'm sorry anyone was offended but" and then launch into a 2000-word screed about political correctness, the nanny state, and freedom of speech? Come on, Jason, haven't you been following how this is supposed to be done?

This is how you know Jason Alexander isn't a standup comic, because that's pretty much how most of them respond to being called out for bigotry.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 3:40 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can we get on with the business at hand, namely denigrating cricket as the worst lamest sport yet invented.

I used to agree with this sentiment, but then I watched Lagaan!
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 3:41 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Waiting for Ardiril's pure bullshit apology.

There is a real comedy bit in the way that the unfair stereotype for the upper-class British overlaps with the unfair stereotype for gay men, but that wasn't it.

How does anyone think it's OK to refer to something that isn't actually a Pride parade as gay?

Has the term gay entered the realm of "Only a Ginger can call another Ginger Ginger"? Because I look forward to Tim Minchin's next song...
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:43 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cricket is the least homoerotic [...] sport in the world.

Well, in the Brideshead Revisited sense, I would argue, it must rank among the most homoerotic. Lots of standing around in the deep wearing immaculate white flannels, playing with one's hair and looking pretty. There's minimal physical contact, admittedly, but meaningful glances are exchanged after each delivery. If I'm not bowling (sweating a lot) or batting (complete bag of nerves) I never feel more objectified by the male gaze than when inside the ropes, down at Third Man perhaps, cap low, sun on my neck, barking encouragement at the off-spinner who's being carted around the place. Fruit punch between innings and sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Leaping out of a freezing communal shower and comparing bats...
posted by tigrefacile at 3:56 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wonder if this is something different in Australia, he mentions how the joke worked there and the two Aussie's I work with both use 'gay' as a pejorative pretty much constantly.
posted by Cosine at 4:03 PM on June 5, 2012


Since his acting career hasn't gone very far after Seinfeld

His television and movie career haven't been what one might have hoped for him, but he's done well with stage roles.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:15 PM on June 5, 2012


Can we get on with the business at hand, namely denigrating cricket as the worst lamest sport yet invented.

I thought that was Curling, not Cricket.


Blasphemy! Good God, do you not remember The Pants?

(Classy apology from Alexander, BTW.)
posted by maudlin at 4:17 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


mazola: "Best. Apology. Ever.


Well, that I can think of anyway. So now Mr. thoughtful-wordy Jason, can you talk your way out of this?
"

I didn't know he was a member of Up With People.
posted by symbioid at 4:20 PM on June 5, 2012


-I wonder if this is something different in Australia-

Maybe. I somehow think, though, that it's more about the venue, location, reason and therefore type of audience. Same as: my eyes roll when people generalise and say "Australia is racist". It's kind of lazy.

I have a gay friend online (who has a similar hobby) and we both use 'gay' with just each other occasionally in messages as a humorous undermining device about certain things we've each been doing in our hobby. But I don't take that usage on the road at all.
posted by peacay at 4:23 PM on June 5, 2012


Also, Cricket is the least homoerotic (certainly the least sexy) sport in the world.
I always thought it had a fairly high ranking on the list of homoerotic sports, of course, as an American, I only know about cricket from Wodehouse school stories and the Raffles stories, with their massive amounts of late-Victorian subtext.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:25 PM on June 5, 2012


I thought that was Curling, not Cricket.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:40 PM on June 5


I will cut you.
posted by joannemerriam at 4:31 PM on June 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


Like how a cricket ball is as hard or even harder than a baseball but cricket players don't have a big girly mitt to catch it with.

One of the other grad students I hung out with when I was doing my master's told me that once he tried to play cricket after years of playing baseball. The ball came towards him and he extended his hand to catch it...

...and the ball zipped right through the space where a baseball glove's web would have been and hit him square in the chest.

I don't think he ever played again.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:35 PM on June 5, 2012


>> I thought that was Curling, not Cricket.
>> posted by blaneyphoto at 5:40 PM on June 5

> I will cut you.
> posted by joannemerriam at 7:31 PM on June 5 [+] [!]


With what, a broom?
posted by benito.strauss at 4:42 PM on June 5, 2012 [22 favorites]


Next up, Ferguson apologizes for the gay jokes he does nightly.
posted by found missing at 4:44 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, that I can think of anyway. So now Mr. thoughtful-wordy Jason, can you talk your way out of this?

Ah! The McDLT. I think, in its pointless consumption of resources to no end whatsoever, it is the fast food icon of the 80s in the same way the hopeless gorging need of the Double Down symbolises our own era.

Strokes beard thoughtfully, wipes grease away surreptitiously.
posted by howfar at 4:49 PM on June 5, 2012


It's a nice apology, and definitely goes further than the usual celebrity mini-scandal apology. But he does make excuses for his comedy. He spends the first four paragraphs setting up the scenario (one which doesn't make his case any more sympathetic, I think). He then transitions to talking about his gay friends, says they didn't find it offensive, before making a transition to "this is a societal problem and not just a problem with what I said" before apologizing. I'm frankly surprised people are loving this apology as much as they are.
posted by Corduroy at 4:52 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I thought the apology was OK, but if you say, "he didn't make any excuses," you didn't read the same apology I did. The whole thing is an excuse.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:52 PM on June 5, 2012


The thing to understand about Curling is that everyone involved in playing, officiating, observing, and broadcasting Curling is typically drunk off their asses. It is by no means the lamest sport.

Jason Alexander is a class act, and was wonderful in the staggeringly good Love! Valour! Compassion!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:56 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cricket is a great *game* imo (like baseball).

Curling is advanced team shuffleboard.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:57 PM on June 5, 2012


What, shuffleboard's not a game now?
posted by The World Famous at 4:59 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tangentially, as long as we're focusing on Jason Alexander: I've been rewatching Seinfeld lately and have been struck by how much he brought to the role of George.

It's a writer's show, but he was by far the best actor of the principals. The typecast has hurt a lot, but I'm surprised he hasn't done more sense.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:01 PM on June 5, 2012


What, shuffleboard's not a game now?

Oh, it's a game, just a shitty one.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:02 PM on June 5, 2012


Oh, it's a game, just a shitty one.

Well, sure. But that's why they spruced it up by putting it on ice, using giant rocks and brooms, and wearing funny pants. Having the Beatles play it in a movie was part of that PR effort, too. Unfortunately, people never remember the curling scene in Help! for some reason.
posted by The World Famous at 5:04 PM on June 5, 2012


There is a difference between an explanation and an excuse.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:17 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


How does anyone think it's OK to refer to something that isn't actually a Pride parade as gay?
Isn't that one of those words (like retarded) that civilised people long ago agreed is distasteful?
Only those living in internet time. Honestly, I personally had not caught onto the novel unacceptability of "retarded" until the last 3 years, and this complaint seems to confined to certain circles.
posted by smidgen at 5:31 PM on June 5, 2012


There is a difference between an explanation and an excuse.

Sure, I agree. What makes it sound more like an explanation to you (unless I read your comment wrong and you think Alexander's apology is more excuse than explanation)?
posted by Corduroy at 5:39 PM on June 5, 2012


Since his acting career hasn't gone very far after Seinfeld, maybe Jason should consider going into PR....

I sincerely doubt he will ever want for money again post-Seinfeld, which puts him in the enviable position of being able to do whatever the hell he wants. And what has he wanted to do?

He's been part of OneVoice, a group that strives to provided a forum for moderate Israelis and Palestinians who want to look for peaceful solutions to the Middle East Crisis.

He's the artistic director of Reprise! Broadway's Best in Los Angeles, which is best-known for producing classic musicals, but, more impressively, has a community outreach program that reaches out to grade- and high-school students and low-income seniors.

He's the national spokesman for the Scleroderma Foundation, bringing national attention to this little-known but often very serious illness.

He's also an avid poker player, and won $500,000 in Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown, which he donated to New Orleans to help them rebuild.

So I suppose how his career has gone depends on one's tastes. I myself envy his work.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:39 PM on June 5, 2012 [29 favorites]


(certainly the least sexy)

Refutation: Peter Davison.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:45 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


oneswellfoop: "Has the term gay entered the realm of "Only a Ginger can call another Ginger Ginger"? "

Does a red beard count? I would love to go around calling everyone ginger, mainly because it would confuse the shit out of most everybody I know since they aren't aware of its usage elsewhere in the world.
posted by wierdo at 5:48 PM on June 5, 2012


He over-explains, which is excusey, probably reflexively. But he gets it, and seems remorseful. It's a lot classier than the majority of what I hear purporting to be apologies from public figures.
posted by notashroom at 5:59 PM on June 5, 2012


I'm frankly surprised people are loving this apology as much as they are.

Maybe it's because all the usual bullshit apologies are not really apologies at all but merely pro forma boilerplate statements that all follow the same template. At least this apology has the virtue of a modicum of originality.

Also, not really sure what would constitute a non-bullshit apology here; that is, what would constitute something that would pass the super-refined mefi bullshit test. Any apology he gave would be dismissed by some (rightly or wrongly) as a cynical ploy.
posted by blucevalo at 6:05 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Excusey or not, he took responsibility for what he said, and admitted he should have known better.
It wasn't another "Teacher says I have to write 500 words about why I did a bad. 500 words is a LOT!"
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:13 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


> It's a nice apology, and definitely goes further than the usual celebrity mini-scandal apology. But he does make excuses for his comedy. [...] I'm frankly surprised people are loving this apology as much as they are.

I do think that people love this apology partly because genuine apologies are so scarce, and not because he's wailing or grinding his teeth. But part of a genuine apology, I think, is to lead you through the thought process that made me think it was OK to say that thing.

If that's an excuse, fine, but I want it in an apology. I want people to say, "I said that thing because I was stupidly trying to be ironic," or "I said that thing because my desire to be funny clobbered my sense of discretion," or "I thought I was on firm ground when I said that, but I didn't think about this other thing that's way more important." Or even "I don't know why I said that thing, but I said it, and that bothers the hell out of me."

Humor, especially, is a complex issue, because for any joke that disparages Group X, you can always find a self-identified member of Group X who laughed at it and thought it was OK. Now, that doesn't fly with me as an excuse — pain cuts deeper than laughter, and "god, can't you take a joke" is a pathetic dodge. But I think it's important as an explanation because it shows how you can offend people without being a horrible bigot.

I'm convinced that the standard muttered non-apology (as part of the "I am offended by what you said" interaction, even as practiced in private) is so reluctantly given because, to the offender, it feels like an admission that they are a bad person, rather than a "pardon me" for a lapse in judgment. It deserves an apology, because it's hurtful and wrong, but we shouldn't regard it as something that only evil people do. We all have the ability to offend, so we all should be prepared to give heartfelt regrets when it happens.

I appreciate that Alexander explained himself so thorougly, because I hope people might read it and think, "Wow, that could easily have happened to me." He's pointing out a faulty thought pattern as thought it were a patch of ice on a winter road.
posted by savetheclocktower at 6:23 PM on June 5, 2012 [22 favorites]


Cricket is the least homoerotic [...] sport in the world.

Well, in the Brideshead Revisited sense, I would argue, it must rank among the most homoerotic. Lots of standing around in the deep wearing immaculate white flannels, playing with one's hair and looking pretty. There's minimal physical contact, admittedly, but meaningful glances are exchanged after each delivery. If I'm not bowling (sweating a lot) or batting (complete bag of nerves) I never feel more objectified by the male gaze than when inside the ropes, down at Third Man perhaps, cap low, sun on my neck, barking encouragement at the off-spinner who's being carted around the place. Fruit punch between innings and sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Leaping out of a freezing communal shower and comparing bats...


This reminded me of the Extras episode when Ricky Gervais was in that two-man stage play wearing all white. Which then led me to just spending about 30 min watching Extras outtakes.

Anyway, I thought Jason Alexander did a great job with his apology.
posted by bquarters at 6:25 PM on June 5, 2012


Excellent apology, indeed.

I have to say, what I appreciated about it was that he took time to unpack the knapsack, to try to learn from gay friends what might be offensive about it. And I get the impression that it wasn't just a "hey, was this offensive" kind of conversation, but that they actually sat down and really looked at why some might be offended (even if others aren't) and came up with a real grain of truth about how and why such a thing might get some people's hackles up.

That he is able to so well articulate this journey he and his friends too into the deeper subtext of this, and what the conclusions of that introspection are, is what makes this work.

I think he did really well.

And I, like others in this thread, wonder exactly what he would have had to have done or said in order for them not to feel like it was somehow bullshit.
posted by hippybear at 6:32 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Refutation: Peter Davison.
Sir Viv Richards, shurely?
posted by Abiezer at 7:10 PM on June 5, 2012


This is fantastic. Great job avoiding the whole "i'm sorry if you were offended" nonxapology.
posted by odinsdream at 7:12 PM on June 5, 2012


I've always taken Jason Alexander (as himself, not as George) as proof that just because you're short and fat and bald doesn't mean you can't be a sexy beast if you know what you're doing.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:30 PM on June 5, 2012


Oops, and that was admirable.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:31 PM on June 5, 2012


I honestly don't remember the last time I've seen it done.

"Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you." -- Richard Clarke, 2004

posted by kirkaracha at 7:38 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Excellent apology.
Homoerotic sport nomination - Freestyle Canoeing.
posted by unliteral at 9:15 PM on June 5, 2012





Sorry folks, but this is the best apology EVER.
posted by taff at 9:56 PM on June 5, 2012


Nice apology by Jason Alexander. But youch I'm sick of my Facebook feed filling up with middle-class white gay male outrage over trivial language controversies like these. Get some perspective, gay people.
posted by dontjumplarry at 10:25 PM on June 5, 2012


First off: Curling is awesome. Absolutely my favorite part of the Olympics now (and fun in an interesting way to me because my friends and I all bonded over it during DC's "Snowpocalypse" when nobody could go anywhere and the government and schools were shut down and it was the only thing on, and we all realized that women's curling is simply better in all respects than men's curling, which we didn't really bother with.)

Anyway, this was a great apology. Explanations are not excuses and whenever anyone insists on conflating the two it always bugs the hell out of me. It also does well to show that not all members of Group X are going to feel the same way about things. Just because one has friends from Group X who don't take offense at something doesn't mean that other Group X members won't. Alexander said something that his gay friends wouldn't bat an eye at, but other GLBT folk did, and he took the time to delve into why and try to amend his ways.

The Mark Cuban one linked above is fascinating to me as well, because not only is it sincere, but it comes from a guy who's kind of an asshole, and who lets that show through in his apology while still meaning it. His gist is basically, "I don't care what you do with your sex life, I have a juvenile sense of humor and that's not going to change, and I don't care what you think of me as far as that's concerned, but I don't think of myself as a homophobe, and so I'm going to stop making homophobic comments to better fit that image of myself." And I believe him.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:33 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Get some perspective, gay people.

Maybe they have a perspective that you are lacking.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:50 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Get some perspective, gay people.

If this is one of those ridiculous performance art things, let's not, OK?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:00 PM on June 5, 2012


I wonder if this is something different in Australia, he mentions how the joke worked there and the two Aussie's I work with both use 'gay' as a pejorative pretty much constantly.

Australian here: It's not common in my circles, social or professional. It's very common amongst high school kids and jerks.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:02 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cosine, I apologise - I did not mean to imply that your coworkers were jerks.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:04 PM on June 5, 2012


I would also like to apologise, to all of you on MetaFilter.

I have examined my own conduct and discussed it with a number of close personal friends - people whose insight I respect immensely, and whose counsel I am privileged to call upon. They told me, with one voice, that I should immediately apologise to all of you salad-fucking pimple-wads for the offence I have caused you. I am very happy to act on that advice.

If I have offended you umbrella-faced scum-slurpers, I deeply regret that. It was not my intention to offend anyone, let alone you knuckle-sucking turd-balancers. I apologise without any reservation whatsoever. I hope now that, with professional help, I can complete a journey to becoming a person of greater sensitivity, and one that does not utter such offensive remarks to you fungus-humping butt-cluckers in the future.

I realise that, all across America, you cream-gargling wart-cocks have to live each day with the constant torment of bullying. I am deeply sorry to have added to that burden, and I hope that this apology can go some way toward easing the pain that I have stupidly caused to you, you pissy-nippled pus-slobs.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:57 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fabulous apology, Duckman.
posted by lordrunningclam at 4:33 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


God, I totally forgot about Duckman! Jason gets a get-out-of-the-doghouse-free card for that one.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:34 AM on June 6, 2012


Also, a non-bullshit would be a lot simpler.

"Using gay as a perjorative while GLBT people everyday, everywhere are still oppressed and abused was stupid and wrong. I was using an old bit that should never be used again. I am very sorry for my mistake and will do everything I can to make sure I don't do it again."

Those public aplogies happen all the time. The only reason this one got press is because it's essay length and well written.

The cynic in me still smells a little bullshit. I couldn't help thinking, " is this some parody? Is he fucking with us?" It almost reads a bit like a satire of "political correctness." Or 2,000 words to say, "I have gay friends."
posted by mrgrimm at 5:41 AM on June 6, 2012


*Gives Mr. Alexander standing ovation.*
posted by kinnakeet at 5:49 AM on June 6, 2012


mrgrimm = tough audience
posted by papercake at 7:58 AM on June 6, 2012


I would just like to say that I found myself on the Tower of Terror in Disney's MGM Studios with Jason Alexander. He screamed the whole time and I have photodocumentation to prove it (for the low cost of $14.99 from the gift shop).
posted by robstercraw at 9:12 AM on June 6, 2012


mrgrimm = tough audience

I cannot imagine a tougher audience than somebody who deliberately reads your words looking for the least charitable interpretation possible.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:54 AM on June 6, 2012


That was a pretty classy apology. (I'd like to see a similar one for his participation in Shallow Hal.)
posted by hot soup girl at 10:24 AM on June 6, 2012


Anyone who thinks cricket is in the least bit "gay" needs to be forced to field at silly mid on when the batsman is great and the bowler is shite. That'd soon change their mind on the issue.
posted by Decani at 11:25 AM on June 6, 2012


I hope we will someday live in a society where we are so accepting of each other that we can all laugh at jokes like these and know that there is no malice or diminishment intended.

This. This would be wonderful.

Sadly I don't see it happening. In part because being offended by a joke is often times extremely empowering. Being offended can get you very special treatment indeed.

Anyone who is offended should look to see if they've ever told or laughed at a joke. Chances are nearly 100% that those jokes they found amusing were offensive to someone somewhere.

No doubt there are a lot of jokes and plot lines at Seinfeld which were as offensive to some as his gay comment was.
posted by 2manyusernames at 11:47 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course to be fair there are differences in jokes. Some will take the jokes a little too seriously and use it as an excuse to harm someone which is f'd up. I do see that.

A joke belittling someone for the sexual orientation may result in more harm than some joke about old Jewish people in Florida or whatever.

I just wish people could see that a joke is usually just that a joke. It isn't meant to be taken literally or as a instruction book which is why I quoted the title line.
posted by 2manyusernames at 11:55 AM on June 6, 2012


A joke belittling someone for the sexual orientation may result in more harm than some joke about old Jewish people in Florida or whatever.

Yeah, a little anti-Semitism never hurt anyone!
posted by John Cohen at 12:04 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope we will someday live in a society where we are so accepting of each other that we can all laugh at jokes like these and know that there is no malice or diminishment intended.


yeah as soon as I hit [enter] and saw I failed to delete "Jewish" I knew I picked a bad analogy.
posted by 2manyusernames at 12:06 PM on June 6, 2012


oops meant to quote John Cohen's comment. Sorry about that. Oh what I wouldn't do for an edit button
posted by 2manyusernames at 12:07 PM on June 6, 2012


Classy apologyy, well done Mr. Alexander.

Homoerotic sport nomination - Freestyle Canoeing

I raise your bid with Punting.
posted by arcticseal at 12:59 PM on June 6, 2012


The next big hype ploy: tell a gay joke, apologize profusely, profit.

Kind of like how Obama can be accused of "pandering" for declaring support for same-sex marriage in an election year, I find it wonderful to contemplate that we live in an era when someone can be accused of telling gay jokes just so they can get the credit for a thorough apology.

Hell, even if it were some sort of stunt, it's valuable in its own right as a performance piece as role-modelling. Jason Alexander is a pretty damn famous comic actor, and this is a kind of statement to his peers and aspiring comedians about how a famous, successful comic reacts to criticism of insensitivity and offensiveness.

Apologizing well is hard, and having someone of his standing demonstrating it so gracefully is awesome.

makes me wish I found Seinfeld tolerable.
posted by endless_forms at 1:02 PM on June 6, 2012


This was nice and I don't think Mr. Alexander is homophobic, but I also find it hard to believe that he needed to go to such lengths to even understand why it would offend anyone.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 1:08 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't understand the disapproval with the apology. The man is just trying to be a human. It's all we can ask for and hope to do in return.
posted by spec80 at 1:51 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sadly I don't see it happening. In part because being offended by a joke is often times extremely empowering. Being offended can get you very special treatment indeed.

All right, here's the thing. The point of jokes is to make people laugh. You don't get to tell people how they should react to your jokes. If people are getting pissed off at your jokes, maybe they're just not very good jokes. It's generally not because people are like "Hey, I could have fun being pissed off at this!"

I have seen many many people stand up at an open mic and try to be 'edgy' by telling a mildly racist or sexist 'joke'. (And I say mildly because the jokes are 'edgy' in a safe way that lets them say naughty things without ever really going near the edge.) They don't usually go over too well. Sometimes they double down by telling the crowd that they don't get it, it's a joke, it's funny, they need to lighten up ... guess how often that works?

Tangentially related: Sometimes people are like "I told this joke about people to my friend and THEY thought it was funny, so it's OK!" Your friends presumably like you. Your friends presumably think you are a good person with good intentions. That crowd of strangers doesn't know you. They just saw you use your position of power to beat up on the powerless. Now they think you're a jerk. Hopefully you're funny enough to offset that -- I know a guy whose act started with "Why I am better than homeless people" and went all the way through to "Why I am better than these minorities, and the gays, and the elderly." People would threaten to beat him up in the parking lot after the show. He never understood why.
posted by Comrade_robot at 2:17 PM on June 6, 2012


Get some perspective, gay people.

If this is one of those ridiculous performance art things, let's not, OK?


I'm gay. Many of my gay friends, I think, have a disproportionate focus on trivial symbolic offenses -- not to mention the purely symbolic issue of same-sex marriage in Australia (where it does not affect property, financial or visitation rights).

Get some perspective, gay people.

Maybe they have a perspective that you are lacking.


Yeah maybe. Or maybe they're being typical rich white people, magnifying issues that affect rich white people. We've got limited energy to get outraged about things; I get annoyed when so much of that energy is spent on issues really only of interest to rich city gays. (The majority of the world's gay and lesbian people live on less than $2.50 a day, and I guarantee you, they do not give a flying fuck what Jason Alexander said on a tonight show).
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:26 PM on June 6, 2012


yeah as soon as I hit [enter] and saw I failed to delete "Jewish" I knew I picked a bad analogy.

But hey, the Holocaust was a long time ago, and nothing like that could happen in America, right?
posted by John Cohen at 10:01 PM on June 6, 2012


Alexander just posted this on twitter (http://www.twitlonger.com/show/hnsh5n)

To the amazing people who continue to write me with thanks or compliments regarding my note of apology, I cannot thank you all enough. I honestly did not create that message to engender this response. I did it to make amends to anyone who had been hurt by my words. But I must tell you, I am filled with joy and true hope for we crazy humans by the outpouring of acceptance and praise you have sent me in response to all this. I cannot possibly thank you all individually. But please know that as individuals, you have all touched my heart with your gestures and words. As Elaine would say, "I am without speech".
posted by Dismantled King at 10:30 PM on June 6, 2012


Or maybe they're being typical rich white people, magnifying issues that affect rich white people.

That's a lot of maybes, and nothing to back it up -- we don't know the income level of the people who were hurt by this. It sounds like your knee is jerking, rather than you're responding to the actual incident. I would suggest this is not the best way to engage a discussion.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:31 PM on June 17, 2012


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