Jason Alexander's Apology for Calling Cricket 'Gay' Is an Absolute Must-Read

I think it's safe to say that former Seinfeld star Jason Alexander should have known better when he referred to the sport of cricket as "gay" when he was on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson last week. In case you missed it, Alexander's exact quote about cricket was, "It's the pitch. It's the weirdest ... . It's not like a manly baseball pitch. It's a queer, British gay pitch," which seriously pissed off a number of people. Including, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

Alexander has since issued one of the more interesting celebrity apologies I've ever seen, and it's so refreshingly honest and well-written, I have the feeling he may have done more good with his offensive blunder than if he'd avoided the subject in the first place.

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The actor released a statement to GLAAD, explaining that his joke had been part of his stand-up routine in the past, and that it had been well-received in Australia. Now, I know that's not really an excuse—the Australians liked it, so why the hell are we so uptight?—but I can see his line of thinking. Sometimes you honestly don't realize you've crossed a line until someone tells you so, you know?

He also said that after receiving an influx of angry tweets, he still didn't understand what had made his comment so upsetting:

I do know that humor always points to the peccadillos or absurdities or glaring generalities of some kind of group or another -- short, fat, bald, blonde, ethnic, smart, dumb, rich, poor, etc. It is hard to tell any kind of joke that couldn’t be seen as offensive to someone. But I truly did not understand why a gay person would be particularly offended by this routine.

He said that he was troubled enough by the responses to seek counsel from gay friends, and after giving the joke further thought that he started to realize what was wrong with his comments:

At first, even they couldn’t quite find the offense in the bit. But as we explored it, we began to realize what was implied under the humor. I was basing my use of the word “gay” on the silly generalization that real men don’t do gentile, refined things and that my portrayal of the cricket pitch was pointedly effeminate, thereby suggesting that effeminate and gay were synonymous.

(...) It is not that we can’t laugh at and with each other. It is not a question of oversensitivity. The problem is that today, as I write this, young men and women whose behaviors, choices or attitudes are not deemed “man enough” or “normal” are being subjected to all kinds of abuse from verbal to physical to societal. They are being demeaned and threatened because they don’t fit the group’s idea of what a “real man” or a “real woman” are supposed to look like, act like and feel like.

For these people, my building a joke upon the premise I did added to the pejorative stereotype that they are forced to deal with everyday. It is at the very heart of this whole ugly world of bullying that has been getting rightful and overdue attention in the media. And with my well-intentioned comedy bit, I played right into those hurtful assumptions and diminishments.

(...) I would like to say -- I now get it. And to the extent that these jokes made anyone feel even more isolated or misunderstood or just plain hurt -- please know that was not my intention, at all or ever.

The reason I'm so impressed with this statement (which is actually longer than what I've included here, you should go read the whole thing) is that unlike the canned, insincere apologies most celebrities issue through their reps, this one not only seems real, it actually made me stop and think. I confess that I'm one of those people who sometimes gets irritated by what I perceive to be as repressive political correctness, and I can get so caught up in thinking things like UGH THIS OVERLY SENSITIVE CLIMATE I AM SOOOO SURE *GIANT EYEROLL* I don't always take the time to work through the valid reasons why a certain phrase might truly be offensive.

For Jason Alexander—as a comedian, even—to take the unusual step of really communicating his entire reaction and thought process says a lot about him as a person, and I believe he may have influenced far more people in a positive way than if he'd simply issued a brief mea culpa and moved on. Bravo to him for keeping it real.

What do you think of Jason Alexander's apology? Do you think he should be forgiven for the joke?


Image via Flickr/antisocialtory

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