Jimmy Kimmel Apologizes For ‘Man Show’ Blackface Sketches
Just days after Jimmy Kimmel was announced as the host of the year’s Emmy Awards, the Jimmy Kimmel Live! comedian has now had to release a statement apologizing for his use of blackface on numerous occasions on The Man Show, which Kimmel co-hosted with Adam Carolla on Comedy Central in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
With renewed focus on examples of blackface and racial stereotyping in popular culture recent weeks, Kimmel’s old sketches have gained attention on social media, with some calling for Kimmel’s firing from his late-night series. In response, Kimmel released a statement in which he apologizes “ to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke” while also condemning those who are using these old clips to “diminish” his modern “criticisms of social and other injustices.”
Kimmel also explained the origins of the Man Show sketches in question, which grew out of his old radio appearances (which, notably, did not include visuals):
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.
Kimmel said he waited to apologize because he “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,” and added that he’s “evolved and matured over the last twenty-plus years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watches my show.” And he insisted he “won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas.”
Here is one of the Man Show sketches in question:
Kimmel also announced last week that he would be taking the summer off from his show, a move some of his critics have alleged was a preemptive decision to head off the criticism for these old sketches that he must have known was coming. Instead, Kimmel insisted in his statement that the vacation “has been planned for more than a year and includes the next two summers off as well.” He closed with this: “To those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”
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