Much like his fellow comedian-turned-late night TV host Jimmy Fallon (as we reported here), Jimmy Kimmel is battling reborn backlash from past skits that featured content many deemed racially insensitive.
In addition to using the N-word multiple times in his recently unearthed song from the 1996 comedy Christmas album, ‘A Family Christmas in Your A**,’ the EMMY-winning star has also performed in blackface.
Now, amid the growing resentment for not acknowledging the acts, he has taken to press to wield an apology.
Taking to our friends at Entertainment Tonight recently, Kimmel stated:
“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,” Kimmel said in a statement to ET. “That delay was a mistake. There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke.”
Later detailing the incidents in question, Kimmel continued:
“On KROQ radio in the mid-90s, I did a recurring impression of the NBA player Karl Malone,” he continued. “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.”
Now, he says he regrets the “embarrassing” performances:
“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,” he said. “I believe that I have evolved and matured over the last twenty-plus years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watches my show. 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. My summer vacation has been planned for more than a year and includes the next two summers off as well. I will be back to work in September. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”