Let’s just preface this by saying that “canceling” comics for poking fun at society is nothing more than politically-correct nihilism. With that said, however, Jimmy Kimmel has a big problem — or would, if it weren’t for media-driven double standards. Kimmel has taken a hiatus in the middle of a controversy over previous blackface bits from earlier in his career, but he can add hypocrisy to his sins, as Fox News reported last night (via Twitchy):
Jimmy Kimmel, who urged actor Tom Arnold to release an alleged “N-word” tape of President Trump in 2018, admitted years ago that he imitated rapper Snoop Dogg’s voice for a track in a 1996 Christmas album — an original song in which Kimmel used the “N-word” several times.
The admission came in a January 2013 podcast obtained this weekend by Fox News. In the podcast, Kimmel also changed his speech pattern in an attempt to adopt the voice of black comedian George Wallace, in what host Adam Carolla called Kimmel’s “crazy black voice.” Kimmel acknowledged imitating black people on other occasions as well.
Kimmel, who is slated to host the Emmy Awards this year, announced last week that he’s taking the summer off amid a brewing blackface controversy; he has not issued an apology.
Fox then provides extensive quotes from the rap satire (not safe for work, natch), complete with every instance of “n_____” in it. This isn’t exactly my genre so I’m not familiar with all of its tropes, but it sounds like an R-rated version of what one would hear in other R-rated rap music. This isn’t Kimmel using the N-word in anger, or to use it condescendingly, which is clearly what he hoped Arnold would find on Trump, but it’s still a pretty bad look in light of his 2018 statements. Glass house, stones, some disassembly required, etc.
That’s not Kimmel’s biggest problem. His blackface routines on Comedy Central (one example here) are still much more problematic, even if they are still within the realm of comedy … of a bygone era, anyway. This is much closer to minstrelsy than the rap satire, and it’s much less explicable today than it would have been even twenty years ago. Fox notes that Kimmel has also mimicked comedian George Wallace and other African-American people, but that’s a fine line; Rich Little made an entire career out of impersonation humor, but he never (to my knowledge) used blackface to do it. It’s tough to imagine what Comedy Central was thinking when they green-lit these sketches.
However, don’t bet on Kimmel getting canceled, even from his ABC late-night roost. There are two sets of rules when it comes to cancelations, and celebrities who reliably mouth the correct platitudes get the benefit of the elite rules. All we need to do to confirm this is to peruse the pages of the Washington Post, which reported one week ago that Kimmel would host the Emmys in September. There is not a single mention of Kimmel and the blackface scandal in that article — nor is there a single mention of it anywhere at any time in the Washington Post. Neither does it appear in the New York Times, although they did cover a similar scandal with NBC’s Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon.
Want to see the double standard? This is the same newspaper that ran a despicable 3,000 word essay on some random woman who appeared in blackface at Tom Toles’ Halloween party. The Washington Post thought this unknown woman’s use of blackface at a private party was of national import, but they have yet to even report on its commercial use by a national celebrity to advance his career.
Sue Schraeder got canceled by the Post; Kimmel gets a pass. Why do you suppose that is? Oh, let’s not always see the same hands … When Kimmel returns, he will atone for this sin by continuing to target Donald Trump and anything conservative while tossing softballs to Joe Biden. That’s all he needs for absolution by the media outlets that like to pick on randos while sucking up to left-leaning celebrities.
Update: Kimmel finally addressed this by saying he’s “evolved and matured”:
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 23, 2020
While I do have some sympathy for this argument, this is also true: Your game, your rules. That explanation didn’t work for Sue Schraeder; why should it work for Jimmy Kimmel?
Furthermore, the tone of this seems pretty hostile for a guy who’s admitting to his alleged sins. Why does Kimmel demand grace for his transgressions while refusing any grace at all to his critics, immediately assuming that the criticism is racist? That’s a strange choice, not to mention grotesquely hypocritical.