| The controversy surrounding the
recent racist rant by Michael Richards on a Los Angeles stage has resulted in
many apologies, and Richards will probably never live it down. What is
troubling to the Boycott Watch editors from a marketing standpoint is the
question about what was intent, if any, by Richards in this rant? Let's examine
the case from a marketing perspective.
www.IMDB.com, Richards has
been an actor since 1980, which is long before he was cast in "Seinfeld" in
1989. While he has not had many acting jobs recently, he is cast as a voice in
"Cat Tale" which is scheduled for release in 2008, and his career has
apparently stalled, and this controversy may result in Richards being dumped
for that project. A voice job is nice for an actor, but after being a TV star,
Richards probably wants and expects more.
Richards has become synonymous with his Kramer character, he may have been
typecast in the minds of the public and therefore may never be able to get
another major acting job for a long time, if ever. Similar typecasting has
occurred with other actors who were great in their roles, such as John Astin
who played Gomez Addams and Bob Denver who played Gilligan.
It is possible that Richards had originally thought
about doing his racist rant as a publicity stunt on stage, but did not
anticipate anyone in the crowd recording him using a cell phone. This is pure
speculation, but Richards may have figured he had nothing to lose by getting
some controversy to get his name I the news in order to change his Hollywood
persona with the idea of claiming the crowd quoted him out of context. The
plan, however, backfired because of the camera phone recording - Richards may
have though no TV cameras mean nobody is recording thus he could deny the
charge or claim people took his words out of context.
One thing is for certain. The boycott calls against
Michael Richards may have backfired, at least according to the "Seinfeld" DVD
promoters. At the time of this posting, the "Seinfeld" Season Seven DVD set is
number 12 on the Amazon.com top DVD list and has been reported to us as a
selling more than previous season DVD's by the promoter and publisher. Boycott
Watch has received other similar claims, which have mostly proven to be false,
so we are waiting for the final numbers to be sure.
Historically, movie sequels generally do not have as
large of an audience as the original movie. With TV shows, the first season on
DVD usually sells well and subsequent seasons sell less. In this case, the
Boycott Watch staff believes most people would probably not want to give the
latest "Seinfeld" DVD set as a gift this year as not to be seen as supporting
racist character in the show, but we also believe die-hard fans will buy it for
themselves despite the controversy. Just as ketchup fans do not like to change
brands despite boycott calls, Richards racist rant may affect sales, but not by
much because die-hard fans will buy all volumes of the show, for the show, and
not because of one individual side character.