Talking Heads' David Byrne apologises for using blackface

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David Byrne arrives at the 73rd annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 9, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
David Byrne has apologised for his use of blackface. (AP)

Talking Heads star David Byrne has apologised for his use of blackface in a 1984 promotional video.

Byrne tweeted: “Recently a journalist pointed out something I did in a promo video skit in 1984 for the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense.

“In the piece I appear as a number of different characters interviewing myself, and some of the characters portrayed are people of color. [sic]

Read more: 30 Rock blackface episodes withdrawn at Tina Fey's request as she apologises

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“We have huge blind spots about ourselves- well, I certainly do. I’d like to think I am beyond making mistakes like this, but clearly at the time I was not. Like I say at the end of our Broadway show American Utopia ‘I need to change too’..and I believe I have changed since then.

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“One hopes that folks have the grace and understanding to allow that someone like me, anyone really, can grow and change, and that the past can be examined with honesty and accountability.”

The video Byrne is referring to appears on at least one of the film’s Blu-ray releases.

The Scottish-American singer joins a wave of celebrities to have spoken out in acknowledgement of their use of blackface in the past following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Little Britain’s Matt Lucas and David Walliams apologised for their portrayal of other races in the BBC sitcom.

Read more: Little Britain removed from BBC iPlayer, BritBox and Netflix

Photo by: John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 2/1/20 Tina Fey at the 72nd Writers Guild Awards in New York City.
Tina Fey spoke out about use of blackface in her comedy 30 Rock. (AP)

Lucas tweeted: “David and I have both spoken publicly in recent years of our regret that we played characters of other races. Once again we want to make it clear that it was wrong and we are very sorry.”

And Tina Fey apologised for the use of blackface in her sitcom 30 Rock and requested the episodes be removed from circulation.

She said: “I apologise for pain they have caused. Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honouring this request.”

Several comedy shows have been removed from streaming platforms due to their use of blackface, including Little Britain, The League of Gentlemen and The Mighty Boosh.

David Walliams (right) and Matt Lucas in a special Comic Relief performance of the Little Britain stage show at the Hammersmith Apollo in west London.   (Photo by Ian West - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
David Walliams and Matt Lucas have apologised for portraying other races. (Getty Images)

Comedian Leigh Francis has also issued an apology for portraying black celebrities – including Craig David, Michael Jackson and Trisha Goddard – on sketch show Bo’ Selecta.

HBO Max has removed the 1939 film Gone With The Wind due to its racist portrayal of black characters, and said it would re-add it with a new introduction putting the film in historical context.

And UKTV has taken down Fawlty Towers episode The Germans – which includes racist language to describe cricket teams from the West Indies and India – with plans to reintroduce it with an "offensive content and language" warning.

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