I’m not quite sure where to land on this one.
Song parodist Randy Rainbow has apologized for more than 60 racist and transphobic tweets dating back to 2010 that he claims were a part of his “maiden quest to be funny.”
To recap the firestorm he’s engulfed in: (TRIGGER WARNING)
In a tweet from 2010 he said: “Just told a huge African American man busting my chops at the post office to ‘shut the hell up’. By the time you read this, I’ll be dead.”
“The smell of fried chicken. [Fade to black],”
In 2011, he tweeted: “This snow is like all the guys I sleep with: Looks all white & pretty now but by morning it’ll seem more Hispanic & my wallet will be gone.”
Another tweet from February 2010, reads, “Why is it OK to call it a ‘white noise’ machine, yet offensive to say that I bought it to drown out all the ‘black noise’ in my building?”
That same month, Rainbow also wrote, “Black & White cookies R a delicious metaphor for racial harmony :) But they taste better if U keep both halves segregated. I mean separated!”
of the randy rainbow "let's say a slur!" tweets, this one stands out because I genuinely have no fucking idea what it means pic.twitter.com/ZGQl5HXDN1— lily osler (@fake_minnesotan) August 18, 2020
Here is a spreadsheet containing the problematic tweets.
In a long-winded and often rambling interview with The Advocate, Randy insists that he is neither racist nor transphobic, saying:
“I tweeted some jokes that were completely offensive and insensitive to look back on them now, especially with no context or nuance and through the prism of where we are in 2020 with racial inequality and the fight for social justice, which I’m proudly a part of.
“In light of issues that are now at the forefront, which I’m passionate about and have spoken up about over the years, these tweets just sound racist and awful. I’m embarrassed by them.
Rainbow explains that the times were different, and that he was in the early stages of crafting the “character” he’s now known for.
“The comedy landscape was completely different back then,” he argues. “This kind of edgy shock comedy was not only acceptable but a prevalent style. I was an aspiring comedian in my 20s working the stages in gay nightclubs where we said the most outlandish, raunchy things we could think of. I was searching for my comedy voice, my persona, and I was emulating styles and jokes of people that I was seeing in the mainstream.”
Personalities like Howard Stern, Joan Rivers, and Sarah Silverman “had become iconic for being artfully inappropriate,” says Rainbow, whose first viral video satirized a romantic phone conversation with Mel Gibson.
Of the tweets that are recirculating, he now says:
“They make me sick to my stomach, in fact, and I deeply apologise to anyone I offended.”
He added: “I’m a gay Jew who was brought up in a very open, accepting family.
“There is not a racist or intolerant bone in my body. When I say that I have evolved with the times, I mean that my comedy has.
“I did not need to be taught not to be racist or transphobic because I never was.”
As we discussed in today’s WOW Report radio show: Do we hold people accountable for things they said and did 10 years ago? Do we let them slide because they were young and dumb? And how far back do you let it go? More importantly: Can people really change? And what do we do with people, like Randy, who bring us such joy, and are actually doing important work… but may be problematic in real life?
I’m not sure. Do you accept his apology? Or should cancel culture do its thing?