"I am very upset that a tweet I sent out last week has been interpreted by some to be insulting to African Americans. By now media coverage of the unfortunate tweet has only added to this perception. To those who were offended, again, I offer a deep, sincere, and humble apology without reservation," Steve Martin wrote on his personal website, after receiving backlash from a tweet he posted earlier in the week.
On Friday, Martin decided to play a fun game with his followers, on Twitter, and told them to “submit your grammar here". He would then make humorous comments about the words they submitted. However, the game turned offensive when someone asked “Is this how you spell lasonia?” Martin's response was, “It depends. Are you in an African-American neighborhood or at an Italian restaurant?” While Martin claims he did not mean anything racial by the remark, he did issue a complete apology to those he offended, and explained exactly what he meant by his comment.
I was going along fine when someone wrote, "Is this how you spell "lasonia?" I wrote: "It depends if you are in an African American neighborhood or an Italian restaurant." I knew of the name Lasonia. I did not make it up, nor do I find it funny. So to me the answer was either Lasonia (with a capital), or Lasagna, depending on what you meant. That they sounded alike in this rare and particular context struck me as funny. That was the joke. When the tweet went out, I saw some negative comments and immediately deleted the tweet and apologized. I gathered the perception was that I was making fun of African American names. Later, thinking it over, I realized the tweet was irresponsible, and made a fuller apology on Twitter.
It's grammar day! Please submit your grammar here, to it's place of proper!
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) December 21, 2013
"Then, Salon.com reported on the story and changed the wording of the tweet," Martin continued. "They wrote: "It depends if you are in an African American restaurant or an Italian restaurant." Clearly, this misquote implies that an African American restaurant can't spell "lasagna" on the menu. And my name was attached to the misquoted tweet. Other websites, including TMZ.com picked up this incorrect version and for the next four days, and more, it continued to spread and I couldn't get out of hell."
Here's a better link. Easier to read against the background. http://t.co/CJWlCPqpve
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) December 23, 2013
Martin ended his apology by saying: "Comedy is treacherous. I used to try out jokes in clubs and the audience's feedback would tell me when I had crossed a line, or how to shape a joke so it is clear. Today, the process is faster. It's your brain, a button, then millions of reactions. But it's my job to know."
Image via Twitter