Jimmy Kimmel apologizes for blackface impression of Karl Malone & other Black celebrities
Deadline reports Jimmy Kimmel has apologized for his blackface impersonation of NBA star Karl Malone and other Black celebrities and says he has "evolved and matured" since they aired. "I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us," Jimmy wrote in a statement. "That delay was a mistake. There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke."
The Malone blackface impersonations aired on The Man Show, Kimmel and Adam Carolla's lowbrow early-'00s show on Comedy Central. He continues: "On KROQ radio in the mid-90s, I did a recurring impression of the NBA player Karl Malone. In the late 90s, I continued impersonating Malone on TV. We hired makeup artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible. I never considered that this might be seen as anything other than an imitation of a fellow human being, one that had no more to do with Karl’s skin color than it did his bulging muscles and bald head. I’ve done dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie, and many others. In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more. Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices,” he added.
"I believe that I have evolved and matured over the last twenty-plus years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watches my show. I know that this will not be the last I hear of this and that it will be used again to try to quiet me. I love this country too much to allow that. I won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas."
A 2009 Kimmel clip has also been going viral on Twitter that features Megan Fox talking about Michael Bay sexualizing her while filming 2003's Bad Boys II when Fox was just 15. "Teen girls being preyed on by older men has never been taken seriously and still isn’t," the Twitter user who posted the clip wrote. Fox responded to the clip, saying, "While I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support, I do feel I need to clarify some of the details. When it comes to my direct experiences with Michael [Bay], and Steven [Spielberg] for that matter, I was never assaulted or preyed upon in what I felt was a sexual manner.”
Fox also added, "These specific instances were inconsequential in a long and arduous journey along which I have endured some genuinely harrowing experiences in a ruthlessly misogynistic industry. There are many names that deserve to be going viral in cancel culture right now but they are safely stored in the fragmented recesses of my heart."
Meanwhile, four episodes of 30 Rock have been removed from various streaming services that feature blackface. The episodes were taken down at the behest of series creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Two of them involved Jane Krakowski's Jenna Maloney character, and the other two were the East and West Coast live episodes, one of which featured Jon Hamm parodying 1920s and '30s racist radio show Amos & Andy which featured white actors playing Black characters. “As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation," Fey and Carlock wrote in a statement. “I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images. I apologise for pain they have caused. Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honoring this request.”
Netflix also pulled an episode of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross' sketch series With Bob & David for containing blackface. Both Odenkirk and Cross defended the sketch, which has Cross playing a character who pulls up to a police checkpoint manned by an officer played by Keegan-Michael Key, attempting to get police harassment on video and resorts to blackface to get a reaction. "Hey all, Netflix is going to pull this sketch from With Bob & David because the ridiculous, foolish character I play puts on "black face" at one point," Cross tweeted last week, with a YouTube link to the sketch. "The point of this was to underscore the absurdity...well, here's your last chance to figure it out." Odenkirk then quote-tweeted, "we considered every choice we made doing our show, and always aimed to make you laugh and think, and never make an obvious or easy point...that very much includes this sketch. Our comedy is always about the human element, never about making a political point."
In other news, The Mighty Boosh, The League of Gentlemen and other shows have also had episodes pulled from streaming services over blackface.