I stopped watching reruns of the sitcom Seinfeld about seven years ago when I heard about Michael Richards’ racist tirade in 2006 at Laugh Factory, a Los Angeles comedy club. When heckled by two Black people attending his show, he called them “nigger” at least six times and said “Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a…fork up your ass.” Richards played Cosmo Kramer - a buffoon - in Seinfeld. It turned out that Richards himself is a buffoon – a racist one. (After the incident, a spokesperson for Laugh Factory said that Richards was no longer welcome on their stage.)
Richards apologized for his rant. “I’m not a racist”, he said. “That’s what’s so insane about this…and yet…it fires out of me.” The insanity of this incident, however, is found in the fact that in his apology he denied being a racist. Michael Levine, a publicist, predicted that Richards’ outburst would be “a career ruiner.”
Why am I blogging about this now? The publicist was wrong. It seems that Richards’ career may not have been ruined after all. It was derailed for a while but he will be costarring in a pilot for TV Land with Kirstie Alley and Rhea Perlman this fall. TV Land is owned by MTV Networks Entertainment Group. MTV Networks is part of a division of the global media company Viacom. Consumers who are offended by the revelation of Richards’ blatant racism should do all that we can to make sure that the prediction that Richards’ career would be ruined remains true. It is not enough to avoid or boycott TV Land. Consumers should communicate with decision makers at MTV Networks, and even Viacom, to express concern about a company willing to advance the career of an overt racist.