Michael Richards' apology: Accepted?

91547__mrich_lThe apologizing has begun: Seinfeld star Michael Richards popped up via satellite during Jerry Seinfeld’s appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman last night, saying he was ”busted up” over his caught-on-tape racist rant at the Laugh Factory in L.A. (Watch his apology here.) Looking exhausted and sounding addled, Richards launched into a bizarre mea culpa that referenced, among other things, ”Afro-Americans” (a term I haven’t encountered since my early-’80s social studies textbooks), Hurricane Katrina, international relations, jujitsu, and ”the rage” inside him. About the fallout from the incident: ”I’m concerned about more hate and more rage and more anger coming through, not just toward me but toward a black/white conflict. There’s a great deal of disturbance in this country, in how blacks feel about what happened in Katrina, and you know, many of the comics, many performers are in Vegas or New Orleans trying to raise money for what happened there. And for this to happen, for me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I’m deeply, deeply sorry.”

But when Letterman asked if being completely inappropriate on stage was his way of attempting to make light of the situation at the Laugh Factory (where he was being heckled), Richards confirmed that was his intent, but ”it didn’t work out…. Talk about a bad night.” The interview ended with Richards saying, ”I just have to do personal work…. I’m still reeling from this.”

So the question for you, PopWatchers, is: Apology accepted? As an ”Afro-American” fan of Seinfeld myself, I was truly disappointed in Richards’ behavior, and in his apology too (though I’m not sure any apology can ever make me forget his atrocious actions). I appreciate that he responded so quickly, but I found his strange rambling extremely uncomfortable to watch. I just wish he had simply said that he was completely wrong, that he was sorry, that there was no excuse for the things he said on the stage that night, and that he was getting help (I’m not sure ”personal work” is gonna do it). Anyway, look for more apologies in the coming days — here’s hoping they’re a bit more succinct and well-thought-out.


Comments (119 total) Add your comment
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  • Honeybee

    Thank you, Dawnie Walton, for a gracious, reasonable response to a rotten incident and a clearly very troubled man. As a Seinfeld fan, I too am deeply disappointed in Richards, and I doubt his career can recover from this.
    However, my hope is that Richards will simply, quietly retire and disappear from public view. He he has sadly shown such an unacceptable side of himself that, no matter what the content of his apology, I don’t think I will be able to get beyond it. And I think many others, no matter what their ethnicity, probably feel the same.

  • Dan

    I don’t know who was giving Richards and Seinfeld PR advice but that was a colossal failure and probably will make things worse.
    I didn’t hear anything in Richard’s apology that even remotely excuses his behaviour. Letterman and Seinfeld come off looking like idiots as well.

  • Chris

    Richards is a grown man and he acted totally insane. And “Afro-Americans”? Seriously?? You’re absolutely right. The only appropriate apology here is: “I’m sorry. It was completely horrible. It will never happen again.” I don’t see how he can recover from this…and he’s kinda ruined old Seinfeld episodes for me…

  • Sally

    Michael Richards seems to be having a hard time getting a job. He’s not a standup comic, so he was out of his element. I don’t know who he is outside of Kramer, maybe he should leave show business altogether.

  • Juju

    His apology is fake. He showed the world what he really is. And he is not alone. There is always truth in humor. Comedians make jokes about their true feelings. People are disappointed in an actor. The definition of actor is stage hypocrite.

  • Dave

    every has-been celebrity in hollywood is one role or one scandal away from a comeback. if ms. tara reid can clean up her act, co-host the view, and appear on a “best dressed” list (thank you us weekly), then michael richards can too recover from this. i think his apology was heartfelt. i think he tried. i think he made a colossal mistake and he should totally be eating it for a while. but ultimately, the man was comedic genius on seinfeld. i don’t think he’ll be dead in hollywood forever. look at charlie sheen.

  • Juju

    Sorry Dave. The past is what it is-gone! Yes, perhaps he will make a return, but only for those who have the same sentiments as he does. His “I am so sorry” does not wash. He is a fake, period!

  • Laura

    Am I the only one seeing parallels between this and Mel Gibson? Why the different treatments?

  • Deana

    I am with you. I guess it depends on who you are insulting.

  • Seinfeld rules

    To me, as an “Afro-American”, Kramer is Kramer is Kramer. Kramer is a character and, regardless of the person behind the greater, I will be buying the Season 7 DVD. I accept his apology and have moved on. Trust me people, another “scandal” is just one news cycle away…we won’t be talking about this is one week from now…..

  • Seinfeld rules

    oops, should read…[…]regardless of the person behind the character […]”

  • kate

    I’ve deleted Seinfeld from my DVR. I can’t watch him now. I hope Richards sees a doctor and it turns out he has some wild chemical imbalance, because a medical apology is the only one I’ll accept.

  • Katie

    I watched his ‘apology’ on Letterman last night and was unmoved.
    you can’t fake hatred and ignorance like he spouted the other night
    I didn’t think the world should ‘forgive’ Mel Gibson, and I don’t think Richards deserves any of our time or forgivness.

  • Henry

    Give the guy a chance – it was obvious last night that he probably hadn’t slept at all since “the incident” and wasn’t ready to go on tv, but somebody (Seinfeld) had convinced him he had to. Also, it’s incorrect that he’s not a standup comedian – Richards did standup long before Seinfeld. In fact, you can see him on a Carson-era Tonight Show on one of the Seinfeld DVDs.
    It is weird to hear someone say “Afro-American” in 2006, but I heard Wynton Marsalias say it last week, so maybe it’s making a comeback.

  • jeff

    Sorry, I disagree. Although clearly uncomfortable to watch, I think that was coming from deep internal pain. He said all the words you’re asking him to say and many more. And I think he meant “personal work” as “I have to do something to keep from blowing my head off.” As for “Afro Americans,” I think that reinforces that he’s not particularly attuned to proper discourse on issues of race. But we already knew that (and more) from his tirade — I’m sure he didn’t spend the last two days trying to figure out what is and isn’t the currently preferred way to refer to a group.
    In short, he offered what appeared to me to be a serious apology. I’m not sure why the particular mix of words or the length of the statement matter. Whether he follows through on his commitment to become a better person and lessen the hate in the world is far more important than making sure he said the magic words in his apology.

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