Jake Weinraub

Tracy Morgan Reaction Roundup: Responses from NBC, Tina Fey, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes and More

Filed By Jake Weinraub | June 12, 2011 5:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media
Tags: 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin, bob greenblatt, Cheyenne Jackson, Chris Rock, GLAAD, homophobic rant, HRC, NBC, PFLAG, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Wanda Sykes

From network chairmen to co-stars, big-name comedians to CNN pundits - and of course GLAAD and the HRC - it seems everyone is weighing in on 30 Rock star TracyMorgan.jpgTracy Morgan's homophobic remarks made during a performance in Nashville on June 3.

On Friday, Morgan issued the following apology to The Huffington Post:

I want to apologize to my fans and the gay and lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I'm not a hateful person and don't condone any kind of violence against others. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context.

Bob Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment issued the following statement:

I speak for NBC and myself personally when I say we do not condone hate or violence of any kind and I am pleased to see Tracy Morgan apologizing for recent homophobic remarks in his standup appearance. We will always recognize an artist's freedom to express him or herself, but not when reckless things are said no matter what the context. Unfortunately, Tracy's comments reflect negatively on both "30 Rock" and NBC - two very all-inclusive and diverse organizations - and we have made it clear to him that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.

Tina Fey, Executive Producer of 30 Rock echoed Greenblatt, writing:

I'm glad to hear that Tracy apologized for his comments. Stand-up comics may have the right to "work out" their material in its ugliest and rawest form in front of an audience, but the violent imagery of Tracy's rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the GLBT Community.

It also doesn't line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person.

I hope for his sake that Tracy's apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian coworkers at "30 Rock", without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket.

The other producers and I pride ourselves on "30 Rock" being a diverse, safe, and fair workplace.

Openly gay 30 Rock co-star Cheyenne Jackson responded in a statement to Out Magazine:

I am disgusted and appalled by Tracy Morgan's homophobic rant. The devastating repercussions of hate-filled language manifest in very real ways for today's LGBTQ youth. I've known Tracy for two years, spent many long hours with him on set, and I want to believe that this behavior is not at the core of who he is. I'm incredibly disappointed by his actions, and hope that his apology is sincere.

Alec Baldwin, also a co-star of Morgan's on the show, keep it short and sweet, tweeting: "Oh that Tracy."

Comedian Chris Rock weighed in on Friday night, in defense of Morgan's freedom of speech as a comedic artist. He wrote: "I don't know about you but I don't want to live in world where Tracy Morgan cant say fail inappropriate shit."

Fellow comedian Wanda Sykes wrote to Rock: "I Do! U Keep the world, just break me off an evolved country."

GLAAD also chimed in with a response, tweeting: "Language about stabbing kids for being gay isn't 'foul.' It's dangerous." The organization is offering Morgan an opportunity to meet with "a family whose LGBT son or daughter has been the victim of severe violence because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity," or "LGBT young people who have been hurt by parental rejection."

In a similar elaboration to Tina Fey's, Rock wrote on his site:

Tracy morgan is a tad off we all know that so when tracy says something i usually don't take it anymore serious than i would a statement from gary busey or flavor flav .when i first heard the statement i thought it was offensive but it also reminded me of my father saying ill kill you if you ever bring home a white girl but after reading everything tracy said . wow i get it that shit wasn't called for and i don't support it at all. now can i please go to the tony awards without getting my ass kicked .

Both Fey and Rock agree that many comedians weigh the responses of their jokes in real-time, but were disturbed by the intensity of his statements.

CNN pundit Roland S. Martin offers a similar view, but is more ready to excuse Morgan:

Why is comedian and "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan issuing a mea culpa for saying nasty, vicious and vile things during a stand-up routine? Isn't that par for the course of a comedian? There isn't enough space on the Internet to chronicle the number of times a comedian has said nasty and vile things. Some of it leading the audience to fall out laughing or sometimes, or as in the case of Morgan, walk out in protest.

Both Wanda Sykes and Bilerico's own Joe Mirabella point to the location of the show in Nashville for facilitating such a positive response to Morgan's routine. Sykes writes:

I fault the TN lawmakers. They've created an anti-gay environment. Don't believe Tracy would be so ignorant in LA. I do believe in free speech, but for a youth in TN or any other numerous place, Tracy just yelled, 'Fire,' in a crowded theater.

The Human Rights Campaign echoed this sentiment, and the potential effect of Morgan's words:

As a celebrity, Mr. Morgan needs to understand that his words have power; inciting violence against gay and lesbian kids in the name of comedy - stating that he would stab his own son to death if he was gay - is absolutely unconscionable. A simple apology is not enough - Mr. Morgan must take meaningful action to prove the sincerity of that apology.

With such a wide array of reactions, Morgan needs to make a move soon!

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The only apology that means anything is him getting fired and not being paid his 100K per show next season. Anything less than signifies absolutely nothing in these United States. And Wanda Sykes is right, he shot off his homophobic mouth that way because he was in Tennessee and he thought it would get a big rousing reaction... it's kind of like making Jew jokes in Munich during the late 30s. (there, I've made the first holocaust reference!)

Excellent round-up Jake!

I refuse to believe that someone could be so naive and disconnected from the news that they did not realize that youth are taking their own lives for being LGBT and also who suffer from finding acceptance.

What Tracy did is inexcusable and while I do believe that people can, and do, learn from their mistakes, I feel strongly that Tracy Morgan should be fired from 30 Rock.

As Tina Fey so eloquently puts in her response:

"I hope for his sake that Tracy's apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian coworkers at "30 Rock", without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket."

By NBC keeping him on 30 Rock, I feel they are sending a slap in the face to the LGBT community. If they are truly a diverse, accepting work place, then this type of behavior should not be tolerated. Grant it, he said it outside of NBC Studios, but he is a public figure. He is surrounded by LGBT people who make his career a success and he just completely disrespected that. Not to mention the fact that he also disrespected a huge percentage of the 30 Rock fan base.

If I worked with Morgan on 30 Rock, I would ask to have him fired. There are other funny comedians out there who do not cross the line and who would jump at the chance to work with great LGBT talent on the show.

Its called Comedy folks. Nothing is off limits. If its funny, you laugh. If its not funny, you ignore it.

That attitude works really well for privileged types who don't have their humanity called into question at every turn.

Meanwhile I've had idiots quoting South Park as serious evidence that transsexuals are deluded, mutilated gays, that athiests are shallow morons, and that libertarianism is the perfect philosophy. These are people who have their bigotry confirmed and encouraged by comedy.

Except this sort of thing doesn't exist in a vacuum. It has a very real and noticable effect on the world. If someone hears this sort of thing from someone they respect, don't you think it's likely that they'll take it and incorporate it into their worldview? This isn't ignorable, and it was never comedy. It was bigotry in its purest, most vile form and it needs to be fought before it can become an even bigger problem.
To say "just ignore it" is no different than saying we should ignore any of the state-level laws being written against the rights of LGBTQ individuals.

Also, no, it isn't "comedy". Comedy is humor. Comedy brings joy. This was never anything close to comedy. If you're laughing, then you need to be slapped hard across the face. Yes, things ARE off limits in comedy: tasteless stupidity, hate, and bigotry are absolutely off the table if you want to be worth your salt as a comedian. If your comedy relies on bashing on someone, then you aren't funny; you're an ass.

On a separate note: As much as I loved Wanda Sykes already, my love for her has grown exponentially after the things she's said in reaction to Morgan's bile. ESPECIALLY her telling Chris Rock off for his moronic tweet.