November 21st, 2006

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Michael Richard's bizarre apology

I watched Letterman last night for the first time in a long time. I wanted to see what Michael Richards would say when given an opportunity to apologize for...the incident. I felt, and still feel, like this is the kind of thing that is fixable if someone is sincere enough and works hard enough. What Richards said was incredibly ugly, offensive, and hurtful, but it's not like he killed anybody. Words can wound but that wounding can be undone, or at least made up for. There's an enormous difference between telling someone they should be lynched and actually lynching somebody, and in that chasm lies the potential for forgiveness.

Anyway, the Richards apology was riveting. It was perhaps the least scripted rawest television I've ever seen (assuming this isn't all a send-up.) At the end of it Letterman seemed genuinely shaken and unsure if he should have had Richards on at all. The beginning started with laughter from the Letterman audience, totally inappropriate to what was being said. Richards stumbled over his words, an actor without a script. He went from making statements akin to what he actually should have said (I have to examine the ugliness within myself and do the work to try and deal with it.) to rambling on about Hurricane Katrina and other totally immaterial stuff. I believe he's both apologetic and bewildered about how exactly it happened, but Letterman WAS the wrong forum to make the apology, and he came totally unprepared. He needs to do more. Donating some large sum of money to The King Center would probably be a start. The rest is just time and sincerity. Of course my community wasn't the one being insulted this time (We'll always have Mel) so maybe I shouldn't be making prescriptions, but I do feel that when celebrities fuck up in these ways it becomes an opportunity to move society forward. We all know that these rants go on in local comedy clubs all the time, let alone living rooms and frat houses. Acknowledging the ugliness that exists and attempting to make it right is a good thing. I hope Richards does that and I hope there is a positive outcome.
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(no subject)

Robert Altman is dead.

He was an inspiration to me. Someone who kept on making art and working hard even as he grew old and his body declined. I had hoped he would keep making movies for many more years. It was not to be.

He had a great run though.
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(no subject)

Maybe his "Look it's a Shiite, fuck him he's a Shiite, 6 years ago you'd be in a rape room with Saddam's dick in your ass" routine didn't go so well.

At this point there is nobody in Iraq whose death would shock me. Part of this is the fault of the coalition for going in undermanned, but really we also have to point the finger at the barbarians who are actually committing these murders. They're stuck in a 7th century mentality of tribal warfare and a complete lack of respect for human life. Their murderous culture based on superstition and violence IS inferior to ours and deserves absolutely no respect (not Muslim culture in general, rather that of the 'militias') They are fanatics and gangsters and the world doesn't miss them when they die.

I don't believe that America could just hand "freedom" to Iraqis and expect a good result, but neither can we pretend that these gangs of thugs and killers are entirely our fault. We didn't kidnap researchers or gun down comedians. We aren't blowing up mosques and schools. We didn't create the horrible ties of blood vengeance that will lead to civil war.

The truth is that Iraq was and is a fucked up country. A lot of people properly criticize the Bush regime for the way it went in and what it did. I am one of them. But if you think about it carefully, what were the choices really? Leave Saddam in power? Go in with a huge multi-million man force and impose martial law? There were choices that would have led to less bloodshed and suffering, but can anyone think of one that would have lead to none? America had no right to attack Iraq, and no right to act so irresponsibly after we defeated Saddam, but we aren't responsible for all the bad things going on there either. Black and white do not exist. Only shades of gray.