David Byrne addresses wearing Blackface in ‘Stop Making Sense’ promo video
As promotion for Talking Heads' 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, David Byrne had a video filmed where he interviewed himself, playing a wide variety of characters. In one of his interviewer identities, he's portrayed with Blackface. The video appears on at least one version of the film's release on Blu-Ray, and Byrne has now addressed it in a series of tweets.
"Recently a journalist pointed out something I did in a promo video skit in 1984 for the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense," he writes. "In the piece I appear as a number of different characters interviewing myself, and some of the characters portrayed are people of color."
"I’d just about forgotten about this skit," he continues, "and I’m grateful that it has been brought to my attention. To watch myself in the various characters, including black and brown face, I acknowledge it was a major mistake in judgement that showed a lack of real understanding. It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else- you’re not, or were not, the person you thought you were."
"We have huge blind spots about ourselves- well, I certainly do," Byrne writes. "I’d like to think I am beyond making mistakes like this, but clearly at the time I was not. Like I say at the end of our Broadway show American Utopia 'I need to change too'..and I believe I have changed since then."
"One hopes that folks have the grace and understanding to allow that someone like me, anyone really, can grow and change, and that the past can be examined with honesty and accountability," he concludes.