Friday, November 24, 2006

Kramer Vs. Kramer

I don't have anything helpful to say about Michael Richards' weird outburst last week. It seems odd that a man waits until he's nearly sixty years old to suddenly spew racist epithets. So either he's been pretty circumspect about it for a long time, or he's just a hack comic who didn't have some decent heckler retorts handy, and instead stupidly went for something he thought was "edgy". Comics are infamous for that sort of thing; bad comics even more so.

If anything, Richards' rather peculiar apology on Letterman was at least as disconcerting as the actual offense. It's wrong of me to speculate, but that's never stopped me before -- I believe him when he says he's not really a racist, but his demeanor bespoke deeper-seated issues. What they are, I don't know, nor do I want to, but it all struck me as a guy who is very uncomfortable in his own skin or in his current environment, something. That's just my take, and it's not a personal judgment on what sort of person he is. It's strange just how much play the story has gotten in the first place, but you just never know what the intrepid pit bulls of the serious media will lock their jaws onto in any given week.

Or the various inventive ways they go about fleshing out their non-stories, such as finding the inspiration for Richards' timeless Seinfeld character.

For Kenny Kramer, role model for the "Seinfeld" character who shared his surname, each call was a reminder of the intersection between his real life and his sitcom doppelganger. Actor Michael Richards — the on-air Cosmo Kramer — made headlines this week with a racist rant in a Los Angeles comedy club.

Suddenly, everybody wanted to know what Kramer — despite the degrees of separation — thought about the man who played the character based on his life.

Confused? So was Kramer.


The real Kramer, who initially lobbied to play himself on the program, subsequently met with Richards on several occasions. His insight after the actor's meltdown during a stand-up comedy appearance: Richards had little in common with his off-kilter "Seinfeld" persona.

"I know the guy," the real Kramer said of the faux Kramer. "He's not this outgoing ball of fun that people would expect Kramer to be. They think he'd be exciting, lovable, laughable. But he's quiet, introspective, even paranoid. He's a very wound-up guy. But I don't think he's a racist."

Well, if you can't take Kenny Kramer's word for it....seriously, though, isn't it weird how they'll do the extra legwork for a story like this? Priorities, man.

Kramer (the real one, that is) did have this nifty little gem, though:

"You know what the good news is?" he asked. "Judith Regan is now on a plane to California, trying to sign Michael Richards to a book deal: `If I Were a Racist, Here's What I Would Have Said.'"

He even got it grammatically correct, unlike some murderous ex-football player who apparently has never heard of the past perfect tense. Speaking of whom, you have to wade through some portentious racial issuing to get to this money quote, but it's a real beaut:

Eddie Jones, president of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association, criticized News Corp. and publisher Judith Regan for canceling "If I Did It," a book and filmed-for-TV interview with Simpson in which he describes how he would have killed ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman.

"O.J. should have been able to tell his side of his story for the book," Jones said. "He was exonerated and acquitted of all charges, but in the eyes of white America, he is still guilty. It's a modern-day lynching. ... (Serial killer) Jeffrey Dahmer was able to do an interview. The Menendez brothers killed their parents and did interviews.

"Timothy McVeigh killed all those people in (the) Oklahoma City (bombing) and still did interviews and wrote a book.

"Why is it O.J. can't write his book and tell his side of the story?"

Of course, Jones elides the inconvenient facts that none of those people went free, one was executed, one was killed in prison, the Menendez brothers are probably the common-law brides of their cell block -- and none of them was allowed to make a dime of profit from anything that was printed about them.

This is a free country; Simpson has the right to talk whatever shitbird of a publisher into whatever he can get. If he wants to spend the rest of his life spinning his wink-and-a-nod tell-all yarns, go for it. But a lot of people will do what they can to make sure that not only does Simpson not make any money, but that any scum-sucking entremanure showcasing him loses money and credibility in the process.

We heard Simpson's side of the story. We've seen how he's conducted himself since then. He knows he did it, and we know he did it. Sit down and quit making a goddamned fool out of yourself, Eddie. There must be someone out there more in need of your camera-and-microphone-chasing abilities.


Anonymous said...

Here's another one who makes an even bigger fool of herself. If you think Cosmo Kramer's rant and OJ's murder are rather morally equivalent, you can only be a fool of continental proportions. But that's never stopped the LA Times from publishing such fuck-ups. Jonah Goldberg and Niall Ferguson are living testimony to that.

On a different note, how can you claim you're not a racist, but call someone a nigger in an outburst of anger? If you're not a racist, why is it that that's the first thing that came to your mind? Isn't that like Preznit Shrub saying "I take responsibility," but not doing a damn thing that's entailed by actually taking responsibility -- such as firing some people.


Heywood J. said...

Yeah, I hate that cheap sort of race-baiting -- "white people can't stand it that a black man killed a white woman and got away with it". O.J. was never a racial issue for me, it was a class issue. He got away with it because he could afford to hire the best lawyers who would stoop to anything -- race hustling, DNA manipulation -- to make sure a murderer got off scot-free. I have no patience for these "white people think this, black people think that" types. She doesn't know what all black people think any more than she knows what all white people think, nor do we. It became a racial issue because enough people wanted it to be one.

As for Richards, I see what you're saying, but again, in actually watching both the original heckler tape and the subsequent apology, I didn't get that "hates black people" vibe. I dunno. It's certainly ruined what career he had left. Good thing he's got those DVD royalties.