Host Jimmy Kimmel apologises for past impressions of Black celebs
KATHMANDU: American TV host Jimmy Kimmel has apologised for the impressions of Black celebrities — former NBA player Karl Malone among others — in the past while admitting that that he has evolved and matured over the last 20-plus years.
“I have long been reluctant to address this, as I 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. That delay was a mistake,” Variety quoted Kimmel as mentioning in a statement. “There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologise to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke," he was further quoted as saying.
Kimmel’s mea culpa comes after his main rival on NBC, Jimmy Fallon, apologised for doing an impression of comedian Chris Rock on Saturday Night Live in 2000 after a clip of it surfaced online, writes Variety.
The ABC late-night star's impersonation of Malone, which he started on radio and then brought to television on Comedy Central, was criticised by Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, among others. The two men feuded on air and online two years ago when Hannity objected to a Kimmel joke about Melania Trump’s accent, according to The Associated Press.
Fox News’ website on June 22 had a story about Kimmel using a common slur against Black people on a 1996 comedy song, and about times Kimmel had imitated the voices of Black personalities.
Kimmel said that he had never considered his Malone skits would be seen as anything other than an imitation of a fellow human being, “one that had no more to do with Karl’s skin colour than it did his bulging muscles and bald head", as per Associated Press.
Kimmel was also quoted as saying that he didn’t consider his impersonations of Black people in racial terms: “Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices."
While revealing his reluctance to address the subject, Kimmel added, “As I 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. That delay was a mistake.”
Kimmel also warned those critics who might use his past against him. “I know that this will not be the last I hear of this and that it will be used again to try to quiet me...I love this country too much to allow that. I won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas.”
Kimmel is on a summer-long vacation for now.