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"Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f***ing fork up your ass."
He was drafted during the Vietnam war and stationed in Germany as one of the co-directors of the V Corps Training Road Show. He produced and directed shows dealing with race relations and drug abuse; "This was a successful, educational operation, boosting the morale of our men and incorporating the arts into the service."
Kramer, what the hell are you doing?
Well, I’m sorry, Jer. But did you see who was moving in next door to me?
Oh yeah, Frank. I just met him in the elevator. Nice guy, I think he’s an accountant or something. What does an accountant do all day, anyway? And what’s with those green and white striped sheets? Who got to decide that green would be the color?
Never mind that! What about his skin, Jerry? His skin!
What? Is he a leper? Crap – where did I put my Lysol?
No, he’s not a leper. At least I don’t think so – can’t be too sure with those people. But Jerry, he’s … he’s … (makes strange face and wiggly motion with his fingers near his head) colored!
Have you been watching too many old movies again? Hate to break it to you, bud, but the whole world is in color now – kind of like in Wizard of Oz when she opens that door.
He’s a nigger, Jerry. A nigger. (voice cracks). A filthy nigger.
I think I’m going to go find Newman. Maybe he and I will have ourselves a little race riot of our own. I think it’s time we strung ourselves up a black man and stuck a fork up his … well, Jer, gotta go. (crashes into closed door, opens then leaves).
Audience members in the Ed Sullivan Theater, who were watching Richards on a screen, began laughing at Richards at first, thinking that the interview was a comedy skit, until Seinfeld admonished them, saying, "Stop laughing. It's not funny."
There is much discussion about Richards' essential nature—is he or isn't he a racist? This is supposed to be a binary attribute, like being Armenian, homosexual, or club-footed: you either are, or you aren't, a racist. That seems to me all wrong. Every normal person harbors some identification with his race, as he does with his family, his nation, his mother-language group, his bowling league, etc. Group identification is a perfectly ordinary facet of human nature—though, like others, more intensely felt in some, less so in others, and possibly absent in a very few.
Of course, as with other innate qualities—the urge to help oneself to other people's property, or to be intimate with attractive members of the opposite sex—this one is, among civilized people, circumscribed with rules and restraints. Under the system of manners prevailing in current American society, white people may express feelings about their whiteness, or about other folks' non-whiteness, only under a few extremely restricted circumstances, and are in fact taught from an early age to feel that white group identity is an unsavory and antisocial matter. ...
Michael Richards committed a gross breach of those customary rules and restraints—a severe etiquette malfunction, just as much as it he'd started fondling a female audience member. The inner Kramer—the one kept in rein by all those internalized restraints that make civilized life tolerable—just broke out for a moment. To assert that this proves him to be different from you and me in some fundamental, essential way—he is a "racist" and I am not—is just an absurd kind of moral preening.
I guess ?! is just far beyond everyone else.
posted by papakwanz at 2:10 PM EST on November 21
or maybe just me.
posted by papakwanz at 2:12 PM EST on November 21
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