Jerry Seinfeld is an individualist, and that makes him the natural enemy of racists everywhere. These days, racists often think of themselves as the champions of minorities, calling for quotas or affirmative action or equal representation in business or the arts. Seinfeld and other individualists are colorblind, and his recent remarks exemplify the spirit of individualism.
Seinfeld was in the midst of an interview with Buzzfeed, talking about his show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, when the interviewer observed that most of the show’s guests were white males. “Oh, this really pisses me off,” Seinfeld responded. The interviewer said that people on Twitter had implored him to “Ask [Seinfeld] about the gender [and racial] diversity.”
Jerry Seinfeld was visibly annoyed, and explained why:
People think it’s the census or something? I mean, this has gotta represent the actual pie-chart of America? Who cares? It’s just funny. Funny is the world that I live in. You’re funny: I’m interested. You’re not funny: I’m not interested. And I have no interest in agenda or race, or anything like that, but everybody else is kind of with their little calculating, is this the exact right mix? To me it’s anti-comedy. It’s more about PC nonsense than are you making us laugh or not.
This is a particularly individualist attitude. Seinfeld is rejecting entreaties that he favor groups over individuals, choosing guests for qualities that matter rather than for nonessentials like skin color or gender. There is an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry professes to like Asian women. Elaine, in mock disgust, asks: “Isn’t that a little racist?” Seinfeld replies: “If I like their race, how could I be racist?” What a long way Seinfeld has come!
Seinfeld’s critics accused his individualist manifesto of being a statement of oppression and injustice, and spoke of the “structure of inequality” from which he benefits. Kyle Chayka from Gawker said Seinfeld is someone who “isn’t interested in trying to include non-white anything in his work.” “He seems to suggest that any comedian who is not a white male is also not funny, though he’s also likely fed up with the amount of bad comedy he’s been forced to sit through in his (waning) career,” wrote Chayka. His conclusion: “Yes, comedy should represent the entire pie chart of America, and the glorious, multicolored diversity pie should be thrown directly at Jerry Seinfeld’s face.”
Chayka’s remarks weren’t the most absurd. Blogger Nicole Byer wrote an angry, passive-aggressive screed against Seinfeld, condemning him for his lack of interest in diversity:
What a [. . .] weird thing to say that you don’t care about diversity. Why wouldn’t you want to enrich your comedy by having a different point of view to make your comedy better? I think funny to Jerry is white… I think I would be less offended if he straight up just said I have white people on my web series because I like white people my comedy is for white people and I AM WHITE PEOPLE! Then put on his hood and yelled WHITE POWER and burned a cross on stage.
Her solution? “[T]he race problem in america [sic] will be solved when there are more [Jennifer Lopez] movies.”
Which of these ideals most embody Martin Luther King’s dream “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”? Is it Chayka and Byer, with their worship of diversity, of representation, of quotas? No way. It’s people like Jerry Seinfeld, who don’t have time to waste on anything except what matters: in his case, what’s funny.