David Byrne apologises for wearing blackface in 1984

0
35

Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has apologised for a video in which he impersonates people of colour using black and brownface.

The promotional video for 1984’s concert film Stop Making Sense, sees the star interviewing himself, while playing several different reporters.

After the clip resurfaced on social media, Byrne issued a statement expressing his regret and dismay.

“I acknowledge it was a major mistake in judgement,” he wrote.

Admitting that the sketch showed “a real lack of understanding”, he added: “It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else – you’re not, or were not, the person you thought you were.”

Byrne joins a number of performers and comedians who have been forced to acknowledge blackface performances in recent months, as protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and, more recently, the shooting of Jacob Blake, led to broader calls for accountability.

Ant and Dec said they were “sincerely sorry” for impersonating people of colour on past episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway, and US chat show host Jimmy Kimmel apologised for his “thoughtless” portrayals of black stars like Snoop Dogg, Oprah Winfrey and basketball player Karl Malone.

Comedian Tina Fey withdrew four episodes of her show 30 Rock which portrayed characters in blackface, adding in a letter that she was sorry “for the pain they have caused”.

Matt Lucas and David Walliams also issued a statement about the sketch show Little Britain, saying: “we regret that we played characters of other races”.

Byrne said his apology came after a journalist highlighted the existence of the Stop Making Sense sketch.

“We have huge blind spots about ourselves- well, I certainly do,” he said. “I’d like to think I am beyond making mistakes like this, but clearly at the time I was not.

“One hopes that folks have the grace and understanding to allow that someone like me, anyone really, can grow and change, and that the past can be examined with honesty and accountability.”

Referencing the closing line of his Tony Award-winning stage show American Utopia – “I need to change too” – he added, “I believe I have changed since then.”

The TV adaptation of American Utopia, directed by Spike Lee, premieres at the virtual Toronto Film Festival later this month.

Copy

Leave a Reply