I find this whole Michael Richards situation quite ridiculous. What he did was ridiculous enough, of course, and his punishment is that his already flagging career is pretty much toast at this point (though I’m sure he’s already set financially from Seinfeld). But his public image is destroyed and he will, in all likelihood, slide into ever greater obscurity at this point. But predictably, his case has been descended upon by the usual pack of media whores, eager to get their faces in front of the cameras any way they can.
First up is Gloria Allred, who is representing the two men who were the targets of Richards’ racist tirade. And while I fully agree that what Richards said was terrible, I simply don’t believe this is a legal issue at all. Okay, you were offended; deal with it. I’m offended every day in this country. Your life isn’t going to crumble around you because this idiot said horrible things to you. This is nothing but a money grab on the part of the two men and on the part of Allred (which should surprise no one).
And now we also get to watch Richards try and forestall the inevitable by inviting Jesse Jackson to get a little more face time on the news shows; that’s just what we need. Jackson is already all over the cable news shows talking about this long process of atonement that Richards has to go through, all of which will certainly involve as much exposure for Jackson as possible as well as sizable donations to the various organizations that help pay the child support he has to pay for the children he fathered in a long-standing affair.
All of this is reminiscent of the Ted Haggard affair, I think. You have a public figure exposed and outed by his own behavior who now has to go through this long-term ritual of public contrition under the tutelage of morally-challenged ministers (or fake ministers, in Jackson’s case; he dropped out of divinity school but was later given an honorary degree). And all of this is little more than an exercise in public relations, orchestrated by the “crisis management” expert that Richards hired and involving religious leaders who are happy to be involved if it sends a little money and a lot of attention their way. The whole thing is quite absurd.