Should Tracy Morgan Be Fired from “30 Rock?”
Tracy Morgan has been in the news recently for some rather tasteless remarks about the LGBT community’s nationwide fight against bullying. I won’t repeat what he said but essentially he states that the gay community should stop whining about being bullied and that he would inflict harm on his son should he come out of the closet.
These statements were made during one of Morgan’s stand-up comedy gigs in Nashville, Tenn. Both Tina Fey, creator of the Emmy-winning series 30 Rock on which Morgan appears, and NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt have responded to this scandal, saying that they do not support or condone Morgan’s words. Broadway veteran Cheyenne Jackson, the openly gay actor who co-stars on 30 Rock, also went on record to say that he found Morgan’s words hurtful. But these are just words. Will NBC fire one of its stars? Should they?
In my opinion, yes. While Morgan’s character Tracy Jordan is quite a riot, I don’t think Morgan should be allowed back on. His words have displayed an inherent prejudice, ignorance and homophobia as well as insensitivity to one of the biggest problems in America today: homophobic bullying. Morgan may not have “meant” what he said (he has issued an official apology) but he still said it, he still wrote it and he still thought that these “jokes” were a funny and essential part of his routine. Jackson is openly gay and I’m sure at least some of the 30 Rock staff is as well. Fey is a huge supporter of gay rights. Being so close to members of the gay community, you would think that he would be sensitive or at least knowledgeable about the struggles for social acceptance. It makes me sad that he would still find jokes about gay bashing and violence funny.
Supporters of Morgan have claimed that Morgan’s brand of comedy has always been on the offensive side and that the gay community should be willing to take a joke (especially considering that Morgan and other comedians generally poke fun at every group/race/religion). But to me, that just sounds like a cop-out excuse. If Morgan’s comments were at least funny, then it would be fine. But his “jokes” were dangerously close to advocating violence directed at the gay community. This isn’t a matter of comedians being forced to be “politically correct” but it’s an issue of someone blatantly spewing hate, hoping to hide under the security blanket of stand-up comedy. Many comedians like Fey, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, Kristen Wiig and Wanda Sykes (among many others) have found ways to poke fun at certain people (or themselves) without resorting to ugliness.
While Morgan is on damage control—meeting with GLAAD and issuing public apologies—I still don’t think it’s right for him to be on the show. 30 Rock is the kind of show that can make fun of anything on the planet. But it’s never hateful or outright offensive. Morgan has shown that he doesn’t really know the difference between insult comedy and just plain insults. Comedy can be found in everything and everyone—but that doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want about whomever you want.
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