LZ Granderson has a piece on CNN.com criticizing Jerry Seinfeld for the comments he recently made that “[p]eople think (comedy) is the census or something, it’s gotta represent the actual pie chart of America. Who cares?” Mr. Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, faults Seinfeld because Granderson believes Seinfeld’s comments “while not malicious in intent, do highlight some of the nuances of privilege those in power enjoy but are unable or unwilling to see. And unless measures are taken to point out some of those privileges, those who have been inadvertently excluded will continue to be so.”
As is so often the case with the minority & gender studies community, when the only tool you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail. Granderson is incapable of seeing beyond race, creed and gender. Even a non-issue where a comedian says that all he cares about is the quality of the work product becomes the basis for complaints about discrimination because every issue is about discrimination. To Granderson, Seinfeld is a white male, and that is all you need to know about his opinion. Because he is a white male, his opinion is reduced to being representative of a particular pallor and gender.
It’s too bad that Granderson (I assume, based on his commentary) doesn’t watch Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. If he did, he might have seen the episode with Don Rickles, entitled “You’ll Never Play the Copa.” Had he seen the episode, he might have encountered, around the one minute forty second mark, Seinfeld’s introduction to Rickles, where Seinfeld says that Rickles would be one of the four faces on the Mount Rushmore of Comedy. That is followed by this comment: “the other three are Pryor, Carlin and Cosby, by the way.”
Now, given the comments by Seinfeld of which Granderson is critical, I think we can be pretty confident that when Seinfeld mentions Pryor, Carlin and Cosby it is a genuine reflection of his view that they represent the pinnacle of comedy genius. He doesn’t toss out a couple of black names in the interests of diversity, which so transfixes Granderson. He simply states his opinion, which is devoid of calculations about the optimal mix of race, gender, religion, national origin or any other category which is completely irrelevant to whether a comedian is funny.
Granderson and other race and gender writers and activists take every opportunity to turn race-neutral statements into issues of controversy. If they are truly interested in promoting equality, then they should celebrate people like Jerry Seinfeld – a man for whom quality is all that matters.