Shalom Life | April 23, 2014

Is Billy Crystal a Racist? [VIDEO]

Was Billy Crystal's reprisal of his classic SNL character at the Academy Awards racist? Of course not.

By: Ashley Baylen

Published: February 28th, 2012 in Culture » Society » News

Is Billy Crystal a Racist? [VIDEO]

As we all know, the Academy Awards were two days ago. The ceremony was so uneventful that instead of discussing winners, wonderful speeches, or fashion, our focus has somehow remained on Angelina Jolie’s awkward thrusting leg, whether or not we caught a glimpse of Jennifer Lopez’s nipple, and best of all… whether or not our beloved host of the evening is a racist?!

I thought this was a joke at first. A really bad one. What possible reasons could be cited for believing Billy Crystal was a bigot? Was it his choice to reprise his role as Sammy Davis Jr.? The role he played regularly on Saturday Night Live almost 30 years ago? The same role that Sammy Davis himself thought was hilarious and championed?

Many media outlets and Tweeters have referenced Crystal’s Oscar portrayal of Sammy Davis Jr. as ‘Crystal in blackface’. What exactly is the difference between ‘black face’ and a white actor wearing black make-up to portray a black person? No one seemed to have an issue with The Wayans Brothers wearing ‘white face’ in White Chicks. Additionally (and more importantly) no one complained about Crystal’s portrayal of Sammy Davis Jr. for the countless years he was on SNL. No one cared when Billy Crystal and Christopher Guest wore black make-up to portray fictional Negro League players in another SNL skit.

So the real question is, why do people care 25 years later? Is it because today’s generation isn’t familiar with Billy Crystal’s previous portrayals of black men? Maybe because the younger demo doesn’t know who Sammy Davis Jr. is? If the same opening skit with Justin Bieber was on SNL, would it be considered offensive? Do we have different standards for the Academy Awards?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. I do know, however, that accusing the Academy Awards and Billy Crystal of being racist is obscene. Would Morgan Freeman have introduced a video that he believed was racist? Would the executive producers of the Academy Awards have filmed and broadcasted something to a billion people that could be perceived as discriminatory? Of course not.

Ultimately, what I have learned from this experience is that since Billy Crystal’s last hosting appearance in 2004, our expectations of an awards show have changed… but we don’t know what they have changed to. We know the previous several years have been a disappointment. We know we were excited to see Billy return because he reminded us of “the good ol’ days”. Well, ladies and gentleman, Crystal delivered an A+ ‘Billy Crystal Oscars hosting performance’ and now you complain that he wasn’t ‘relevant’ or ‘edgy’ enough? Okay… let’s bring back James Franco, Jon Stewart and Chris Rock for a few years… then you’ll all be begging for your beloved racist host to return.

Check out a classic interview between Rob Reiner and Billy as Sammy Davis Jr from 1986:

Drake to Join Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar at iHeart Radio Music Awards Drake to Join Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar at iHeart Radio Music Awards TrendingDrake Being Sued For Toronto Nightclub Beating Drake Being Sued For Toronto Nightclub Beating TrendingThe Nosh Pit - Chocolate Dessert Recipes The Nosh Pit - Chocolate Dessert Recipes Trending
 

Israeli Wi-Fi Powers Russian Subways

April 22, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Israeli Wi-Fi Powers Russian Subways

Passengers aboard subways in in Moscow enjoy Wi-Fi courtesy of Israeli communications provider, Radwin

Read More

Israeli Comedian on 4.20: Let My People Smoke! [VIDEO]

April 22, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Israeli Comedian on 4.20: Let My People Smoke! [VIDEO]

Gadi Wilcherski and a group of Israeli pot advocates campaigned outside Health Minister Yael German's house early Sunday morning

Read More

Shalom, French Polynesia: A Jewish Culture Guide

April 22, 2014 | By Sarah Bauder
Shalom, French Polynesia: A Jewish Culture Guide

Approximately 130 islands comprise French Polynesia, with Tahiti being the most famous, largest, and most populated.

Read More

Katy Perry Impersonates Unfunny Rabbi in ‘Birthday’ Music Video [VIDEO]

April 22, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Katy Perry Impersonates Unfunny Rabbi in ‘Birthday’ Music Video [VIDEO]

The pop star takes on a number of the "World's Worst Birthday Party Entertainers"

Read More

Seth Rogen and James Franco to Perform ‘Bound 2’ Spoof at Kim Kardashian Wedding?

April 22, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Seth Rogen and James Franco to Perform ‘Bound 2’ Spoof at Kim Kardashian Wedding?

Franco shared some interesting intel about the Kardashian/West wedding on 'The View'.

Read More

Drake to Join Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar at iHeart Radio Music Awards

April 22, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Drake to Join Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar at iHeart Radio Music Awards

NBC has announced several big names for iHeart Radio's inaugural event

Read More

David Foster Wallace’s Estate Opposes Upcoming Segel and Eisenberg Biopic

April 22, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
David Foster Wallace’s Estate Opposes Upcoming Segel and Eisenberg Biopic

Wallace's family and literally trust "have no connection with, and neither endorse nor support" the film entitled 'The End of the Tour'.

Read More

Missouri Mayor Resigns After Siding with Kansas Shooter

April 22, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Missouri Mayor Resigns After Siding with Kansas Shooter

After saying that he "kind of agreed" with 73-year-old former white supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller, Dan Clevenger has now renounced his position as Mayor of Marionville

Read More

More Headlines