David Byrne Blackface in 1984 Video Forced Him to Apologize

2 min readSep 1, 2020

Talking Heads frontman, David Byrne Blackface in 1984 promotional video forced him to apologize for wearing blackface and brownface.

David Byrne apologized for wearing Blackface in stop making sense promotion video
The New York Times

In the Stop Making Sense concert film, the video appears in Blu-ray announcements and features Byrne portraying many characters interviewing himself.

Byrne joined other celebrities and longtime comedians regarded past blackface performances in the recent months of protests over killing George Floyd by police. Breonna started broader calls for social justice and responsibility.

The Tonight Show host, Jimmy Fallon, apologized for wearing blackface in a 2000 Saturday Night Live sketch, during comedian Chris Rock playing, in June.

“There is no excuse for this,” Fallon tweeted. “I’m very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.”

David Byrne Blackface made him trouble

“Recently a journalist pointed out something I did in a promo video skit in 1984 for the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense,” he wrote on Twitter. “In the piece, I appear as a number of different characters interviewing myself, and some of the characters portrayed are people of color.”

“To watch myself in the various characters, including Black- and brownface, I acknowledge it was a major mistake in judgment that showed a lack of real understanding,” he tweeted. “It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else you are not, or were not, the person you thought you were.”

Jimmy Kimmel, the fellow late-night host, also apologized for portraying many black celebrities in the past. He did apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by his makeup or his words.

Comedian Tina Fey also requested NBC pull four episodes of her show. 30 Rock, which portrayed characters in blackface, added in a letter she apologized for their pain. She mentioned that no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and been hurt by their horror from now on.

The TV adaptation of American Utopia, directed by Spike Lee, premieres at the virtual Toronto Film Festival this month and will launch on HBO in October.

“We have huge blind spots about ourselves; well, I certainly do,” Byrne tweeted. He continued that he’d like to think he is beyond making mistakes like this, but at the time, he was not.

He also referenced the closing line of his 2018 Broadway musical American Utopia and added, “I believe I have changed since then.”

Originally published at https://usdaynews.com on September 1, 2020.




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