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Monday, June 4, 2012

Seinfeld actor apologises for 'gay' cricket remark

 The joke wasn't well received by gays and lesbians (and possibly cricket fans), resulting in a lengthy, almost philosophical apology from Alexander.
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In a message of amends, which he posted on the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation website, he wrote that he at first didn't grasp why some might object to the comment, but that subsequent Platonic conversations with his gay friends led him to realise his insensitivity:

"I asked a few of my gay friends about it. And at first, even they couldn't quite find the offence in the bit. But as we explored it, we began to realise what was implied under the humour. I was basing my use of the word 'gay' on the silly generalisation that real men don't do refined things and that my portrayal of the cricket pitch was pointedly effeminate, thereby suggesting that effeminate and gay were synonymous.

"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.

"In comedy, timing is everything. And when a group of people are still fighting so hard for understanding, acceptance, dignity and essential rights – the time for some kinds of laughs has not yet come. I hope my realisation brings some comfort."

He also laid some of the blame at Australia's door:

"Years ago, I was hosting comics in a touring show in Australia and one of the bits I did was talking about their sports versus American sports. I joked about how their rugby football made our football pale by comparison because it is a brutal, no holds barred sport played virtually without any pads, helmets or protection. And then I followed that with a bit about how, by comparison, their other big sport of cricket seemed so delicate and I used the phrase, 'a bit gay'. Well, it was all a laugh in Australia where it was seen as a joke about how little I understood cricket, which in fact is a very, very athletic sport. The routine was received well but, seeing as their isn’t much talk of cricket here in America, it hasn’t come up in years.

He wrote that, at first, he did not grasp why some might object to the comment, but that subsequent conversations with his gay friends led him to realise his insensitivity.

Alexander's remarks came when he told CBS host Craig Ferguson that aspects of cricket made it a "gay game" compared with other sports.

The actor's 1000-word-plus "message of amends" said that the joking remark played into "hurtful assumptions and diminishments" about people.

He also wrote that, as an actor with many gay friends, he "should know better".

Alexander said previous routines about sport in Australia, in which he used similar terms, had been well received.

"Years ago, I was hosting comics in a touring show in Australia and one of the bits I did was talking about their sports versus American sports. I joked about how their rugby football made our football pale by comparison because it is a brutal, no-holds-barred sport played virtually without any pads, helmets or protection.

"And then I followed that with a bit about how, by comparison, their other big sport of cricket seemed so delicate and I used the phrase, 'a bit gay'. Well, it was all a laugh in Australia where it was seen as a joke about how little I understood cricket, which in fact is a very, very athletic sport.

"When Craig mentioned cricket I thought, 'Oh, goody – I have a comic bit about cricket I can do. Won't that be entertaining?'

"And so I did a chunk of this old routine and again referred to cricket as kind of 'gay' – talking about the all white uniforms that never seem to get soiled; the break they take for tea time with a formal tea cart rolled on to the field, etc. I also did an exaggerated demonstration of the rather unusual way they pitch the cricket ball, which is very dance-like with a rather unusual and exaggerated arm gesture.

"Again, the routine seemed to play very well and I thought it had been a good appearance."

Alexander then went on to say that some of his Twitter followers made him aware that they were both gay and offended by the jokes.

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