You know something? I’m not easily offended. I’d like to think I have a really good sense of humor. Generally speaking, most jokes-whether they be ethnic jokes, sexual jokes, whatever…don’t get much of a reaction from me (outside of laughter, obviously.)
Well, actor/comedian Tracy Morgan started Gay Pride Month off with a doozy during a stand-up comedy routine in Nashville last week that I (and many others) feel crossed the line.
Among the actor’s comments:
“Gays need to quit being pussies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying.”
“Gay is something that kids learn from the media and programming.”
When considering the possibility of his son being gay, Morgan commented “(he’d) better talk to me like a man and not in a gay voice or I’ll pull out a knife and stab that little nigga to death.”
Finally, Tracy said “I don’t “fucking care if I piss off some gays, because if they can take a fucking dick up their ass … they can take a fucking joke.”
Thing is, Tracy: that shit ain’t funny.
There are certain things in life you don’t make light of. There’s nothing funny about kids getting picked on over things that they can’t control (and it’s not like gay kids are the only kids getting bullied, and it’s also not like all gay kids get bullied.) What I think bothers me more, though, is that once it was obvious that Tracy’s comments made a stink, he issued the now customary “oh shit!” apology. It kinda got me thinking about apologetic behavior in general. It’s not always easy to tell whether someone’s apology is sincere or not (especially when you don’t really know the person), but I get the vibe that Tracy’s not necessarily sorry about the comments he made, but for the potential repercussions that he might face as a result.
Tracy has long been known as a loose cannon, someone who’s not wrapped too tight. There was definitely a point when I was almost ready to forgive the guy for just “being Tracy.” Fuck that; loose cannon or not, this man gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to act. I believe that with great power (and great financial gain) comes greater responsibility, and thus you need to be more cognizant of the shit that you say. It’s not totally about being a role model, but also about realizing that as a public figure, you have a lot more eyes on you than the average person. Act like it. Also might be a good idea to put yourself in the shoes of the people you’re making the remarks about. I’m sure Tracy wouldn’t like it if someone cracked jokes about the fact that his father died of AIDS.
Ultimately, as with all unfortunate comments, this should be used as an example to teach people to NOT be intolerant, but the more immediate concern for me (as relatively frivolous as it is) is whether I can continue to watch and support “30 Rock”, one of my favorite shows on TV. When someone whose work I admire does or says something stupid, for better or for worse it colors my perception of their work. After Michael Richards’ outburst a few years ago, I can’t watch “Seinfeld” the same way I used to. I can’t listen to Chris Brown the same way I used to. I wouldn’t pay money to go see a Mel Gibson movie these days, and (I can’t say for sure since I haven’t done it in a long time) I’m not so positive I could sit somewhere and watch one of his old movies without my enjoyment of them being tainted by what a phenomenal asshole he is. So, there’s a solid chance that “30 Rock” may end up on my own personal boycott list-something that obviously means nothing in the grand scheme of things, but kinda sucks, because I really like that show.
There’s a fine line between funny and hurtful (or ignorant), and it’s a line that comedians (and people in general) have been walking for years (although that line seems to get thinner and thinner with each passing year.) I’m not the world’s biggest flag-waving gay, so the fact that Tracy Morgan’s comments were insensitive enough to bother me says a lot about the insensitivity of what he said. And I feel like we allow people like him to skate on things like that way too often. So while Tracy, NBC and the “30 Rock” cast won’t give a flying fuck about losing one of their viewers, I’m pretty sure at this point that I can’t, in good faith, support the show by watching it.