David Byrne apologizes for blackface in 1984 Talking Heads video
The former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne is expressing remorse for his “huge blind spot” after a 1984 skit of the musician donning blackface surfaced.
In a promotional video for the 1984 concert film “Stop Making Sense,” Byrne portrays different characters as he interviews himself. At one point, he portrays an interviewer of color, where he wears brown body paint.
The British-American singer, 68, tweeted Tuesday that the resurfaced clip was brought to his attention recently by a journalist. Although he admits he had “forgotten about this skit,” Byrne said he’s “grateful” someone took the time to point out his “major mistake in judgement.”
“To watch myself in the various characters, including black and brown face, I acknowledge it was a major mistake in judgement that showed a lack of real understanding,” Byrne said in a series of tweets. “It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else- you’re not, or were not, the person you thought you were.”
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Byrne said he hopes others can examine his past with “honesty and accountability,” while having the “grace and understanding” to acknowledge that “someone like me, anyone really, can grow and change.”
“I’d like to think I am beyond making mistakes like this, but clearly at the time I was not,” he tweeted. “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.”
Byrne’s 2019 Broadway show “American Utopia” has been adapted into an HBO documentary directed by Spike Lee.
“American Utopia” played at New York’s Hudson Theatre from October 2019 through February 2020. A fall return was planned before the pandemic shuttered Broadway through the end of the year. The show features Byrne and 11 musical artists from around the world performing songs from the 2018 album of the same title, as well as Talking Heads hits.
The film will premiere at the 45th Toronto International Film Festival on September 10 and drop on HBO in October.
Spike Lee’s David Byrne documentary will open Toronto International Film Festival