Bill Maher should have known, without clear explanations from famous rapper Ice Cube, that his “careless” use of the N-word during a recent HBO talk show would backfire.
Image: Ice Cube and Bill Maher.
The “Real Time with Bill Maher” host says he suffered a slip of the tongue, and has tendered his most sincere apologies to every disgruntled person.
Speaking in a chat with Michael Eric Dyson [an author and academic], Maher said he understood the word caused great pain among African-Americans and expressed remorse for the comment.
“I did a bad thing,” the 61-year-old host said.
Maher has been the host for this popular show since 2003. He also anchors “Politically Incorrect” which first appeared on Comedy Central and later on ABC. His sarcasm, a trait which separates him from other similar hosts, hinges on religion, politics, bureaucracies, political matters and the mass media.
Although Maher is a supporter of animal rights, same-sex-marriage, and legalization of marijuana, his use of the N-word was met with different reactions.
“For black folks, that word, I don’t care who you are, it’s caused pain,” he said in his apology statements.
“It doesn’t matter that it was not said in malice, it caused pain and that’s why I apologized. I’m not that big of an a–hole.”
Image: Bill Maher
The self-defeating statements came as a backdrop to an incident which occurred on 2 June when his guest for the episode Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse asked, “Would you like to come work in the field with us?”
Maher replied with a wave of the hand and saying “Senator, I’m a house n—er.”
Dyson, a Georgetown professor of sociology, said he “loves” it that Maher unconsciously expressed his “white supremacy” attitude.
Ice Cube didn’t hide his pain and anger against the popular host. He said: “I knew you were gonna f— up sooner or later.
“I love your show, you got a great show, but you’ve been bucking up against that line a little bit. You’ve got a lot of black jokes.
“Sometimes you sound like a redneck trucker.”
In 2005, Comedy Central ranked Maher as 38th out of the selected 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time. His achievements in the TV industry were highlighted in September, 2010, when he received a Hollywood Walk of Fame star.
Ice Cube assured that the host’s apologies have been accepted, but advised against a repeat of his racist terms.
“I accept your apology, but I still think we need to get to the root of the psyche,” said the 47-year-old music icon. “Because I think there are a lot of guys out there who are too familiar, or think they’re too familiar, or they had a black girlfriend or two that made them some Kool-Aid and they think they can cross the line. And they can’t.”
Cube said he’d be attending Maher’s show despite the ethnic slurs. However, he stressed that attending future episodes won’t mean a change of heart on his convictions.
“That’s our word now, and you can’t have it back,” he told Maher.
“It’s like a knife, man. When I hear my homies say it, it don’t feel like venom. When I hear a white person say it, it’s like a knife.”
HBO released a statement, calling Maher’s choice of words “completely inexcusable and tasteless,” adding that the episode would be edited for future airings.
“Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show,” the host apologized earlier this month.
“Last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry.”
Coco Johnson, a black model and ex-girlfriend of Maher, said he used the N-word with her a couple of times.
“I’ve heard the word many times,” she told TMZ.
“I just think that anyone who uses the N-word is insensitive… I’m sure that he’s learned his lesson.”