Monday, February 22, 2016

Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas drinks so much, he forgets himself

Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas is off on a tour of Australia right now. Although he nearly had to come back straight away after "making a joke":

“I keep drinking until I think I’m a black Australian”.
Considering there's such a serious alcohol problem amongst Indigenous Australains that it's the main cause of a horrifying death rate amongst the group, if Thomas had known quite what he was saying, that would be career-endingly shameful.

As it turns out, Thomas was horrified to discover the truth:
“I said I drank until I thought I was Australian. Then I drank so much that I thought I was a black Australian and then I drank so much I thought I was a little Australian girl.

“These were 3 things I chose at random to represent 3 things I’m not. I’m not Australian. I’m not black and I’m not a little girl.”

Thomas said that had he known there was a “connection between the indigenous peoples of Australia and a stereotype involving drinking” he would have chosen another example.

“I was so ignorant to the situation that when I heard people groan I actually thought THEY were being racist. I didn’t know until TODAY that just the phrase ‘black Australian’ was racist all on it’s own. (sic)

“I sat in my room and I cried when I found out.”

Thomas said he was “truly sorry” for how the joke was delivered, “most of all to the indigenous people here”.
That seems heartfelt, and genuine. It's what contrition looks like.

He had the grace to admit he got things wrong, and to apologise.

Let's move on.

Except... to play the Columbo 'one last thing' card...

Leaving aside the specific Australian angle, we're still left with something difficult.

In trying to conjure up something different to himself, Thomas thought of a black man.

Now, he could have said he'd drunk so much he thought he was a dragon, or Napoleon, or a teapot, or the singer in a half-decent band. There's a lot of things that are completely unlike him.

But instead, the most distant thing he can come up with from himself is a black man.

Yeah, I suspect it's true that Thomas doesn't have much idea how far the experiences of typical black men - American or Australian - differ from his life. That might be the problem, Rob.

And a quick aside: even without the awkward race angle, going on stage and talking about how much you've drunk isn't an act; it's a stag party organised by bores.