What Tracy Morgan said was offensive. Let’s get that out of the way right away. It was even appalling. But when was the last time you took personal guidance in your life from someone whose job it is to simply be funny? And if you did, how sad is your life?
It’s understandable that because he has fame, he has a louder megaphone than most people. And with that fame comes a certain level of responsibility. But this was said on-stage, during an act, not during a candid interview or in a private conversation. Tracy Morgan’s act on stage is to say outrageous things… that’s his hook. Is there anyone who believes that what he says on-stage is what he necessarily believes? And if you do, let me introduce you to other comedians who make their living by being outrageous and inappropriate: Daniel Tosh, David Cross, Chris Rock, Dave Attell, Redd Foxx, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin.
Do we condemn actors who portray evil on stage? In my opinion, this is much the same situation.
One of the things comedians do is take life and blow it out of proportion. My best guess is he decided to take the insanity of homophobia to what he hoped would be a funny, if extreme, conclusion. It wasn’t funny and it certainly didn’t work. But, was he encouraging violence to anyone in the LGBT community by telling this failure of a joke? I don’t think so.
However, in this era of bite-size information, we are too lazy to see complexity, too easily swayed by the raw first emotional response, too angry to see things from any other perspective than our own. Again, he said it as part of an act. Heard out of context, it’s a reprehensible statement. Heard within the arc of his comedic act, it’s a tasteless bomb of a joke. And it is SO EASY to aim all of our indignation at one person like this. Much easier, than, say, actually doing something about discrimination and violence.
If you want to vilify Tracy Morgan for not being funny, have at it. Sometimes he makes me laugh, but sometimes, like this time, he REALLY misses the mark. He’s sporadically funny. That’s why I usually don’t watch his act if it’s on TV. And, everyone has that choice as well. Don’t like what he’s saying? Then don’t buy his CDs, don’t go to his shows, don’t listen to him.
Would you like to do something that REALLY matters as a response to this? Volunteer to help the LGBT community where you live. Stand up for them when someone says something disparaging. March with them. Be friends and accept them for who they are. Support gay marriage. DO SOMETHING.
Or just keep grumbling about what a terrible person Tracy Morgan is…