Archive for November 30th, 2006


The “Kramer” Debate: Separating Art from Fame

    Are These Two Images of the Same Person?


I am a huge Seinfeld fan. I’ve seen every episode and it’s a common point of reference between my sister and I. (“Remember the one when Kramer turns his living room into a talk show with the old Merv Griffin set pieces?” or “Hey, remember when Kramer decides to wash dishes and talk on the phone while he takes a shower to save time?”) Needless to say I was pretty taken aback to hear about and then actually see live footage of actor Michael Richards losing it on stage and calling paid customers ‘Niggers’. As a man of color, it hurt me. I felt a certain sense of betrayal — to an extent.

As I perused various message boards, reactions to the performance yielded very polarizing responses. On the video game and tech-related message boards (where folks generally all have an appreciation for technology, but that’s where the similarities often end) I saw some reactions that were as racist as Richard’s act. “What’s wrong with what he said? Black people say it all the time. And they probably would have had forks in their asses.” “Those niggers shouldn’t have interrupted his act!”). On the other end of the spectrum when I perused Black celebrity news sites, I read equally racist remarks. (“Don’t you know that’s how all white people think? He was just brave enough to say it.” “We should kick his ass. ” And, my personal favorite: “Fuck Seinfeld, Elaine, George, the Soup Nazi, Larry David, Newman and anyone else connected to the show!”) OK, I made that last one up, but I’m sharing the general feeling of the comments. Between the techies and the starstruck celebrity watchers, I’m not sure who’s worse.

In my personal conversations with friends and family, thankfully they were a lot more progressive with their thoughts. None of the “kill whitey” stuff, but still echoing sentiments of disappointment. “When I watch Seinfeld again it’s not going to be the same.” “I’m not going to watch the show anymore.” While I was bothered by the performance as much as anyone else, for some strange reason, it doesn’t make me laugh any less at Kramer’s goofy entrances or his raiding of Jerry’s refrigerator. Am I more forgiving than the average person? Perhaps — but that has a lot less to do with why I’m able to laugh at Seinfeld re-runs. Initially I wondered if I had lost some link to my brothers and sisters of African decent who appeared to be much more adamant about the situation than I was. It bothered me a bit. But then it dawned on me. It’s the same reason why I’m able to watch films and television shows with other accused racists and not have my experience completely tarnished. And the sooner than more people do it, the better off we’ll all be. You see, I’ve made a mental decision that is very difficult to achieve in this age of sensational headlines, viral marketing, instant celebrities and reality TV stars. Although it was difficult, I somehow managed to separate celebrity from performance; notoriety from drama. I’ve separated art from fame. Continue reading ‘The “Kramer” Debate: Separating Art from Fame’


Pujols – Seriously….you’re joking, right??

10201767.jpgI happened to stop by today to see if there were any off-season moves (namely the Mets signing Zito…<fingers crossing>), but then I happened to come across this news story. Apparently Albert is sore about not winning the MVP award this year. He believes that the MVP should come from a playoff team. After reading the article, I had to chuckle a bit. I wish I could talk to Albert. As talented a player as he is, I’d like to stop him on the street and ask him, “Uh Albert….are you serious?!!!”

Since as far back as I’ve been a sports fan, the MVP of the year has always been debated. Does it refer to the player who had the most incredible performance outright for the season? Or are we awarding the player who meant the most to his team’s success. In short, are we awarding the MVP of the team or of the league? The funny thing about Pujols’ comments is that he was neither this year.

I’m still a bit sore about actually having to watch my Mets go down (in person) in seven games to an inspired Cardinals team. However, I must take my hat off to the Cards. They took the Mets to a seventh game without the home field advantage and found a way to pull it out. But one thing that isn’t debatable is the fact that had the Cards left it up to Pujols’ bat, they probably wouldn’t have even made it to the Series. His bat was exceptionally silent during both the NLCS and World Series.

Pujols’ comments today show that he’s the typical “me, me, me” player. The guy who cares about the post-season accolades more than he does winning the championship. Many of the greats have said that they’d give back all of the MVP awards, all of the Golden Gloves, all of the individual accolades….if they could just have one taste of winning it all. The list of players who’ve been great, but never managed to be a part of a championship team is pretty long. And while I can understand the desire attached to wanting to “win it all”, the percentages are against most players. You play for ten seasons (if you’re lucky) and you’re one guy on one team in a league of 30 teams — only one of which can win it all. Basketball is probably the only sport where a guy can single-handedly change the impact of a game. But in baseball and football, one guy can’t do it all.

Pujols is one of the few players who has been blessed enough to win the big one. And like so many guys who have rings, his should probably have a few less diamonds in it to symbolize the at bats where his poor performance didn’t increase his team’s chances. His comments are tacky and disrespectful to his fellow players — namely Ryan Howard. Howard had an inspiring performance this year. While the Phillies didn’t make it to the post season in 2006, they were contenders right up until the last two weeks of the season.

Albert — take my advice: Go home and reflect on the historic season that you had. Be content with the fact that you participated in winning a championship. And make sure that you enjoy it while it lasts. If the Phillies can pick up a few guys to fill in a few holes, perhaps you will switch honors with Ryan Howard next season.