Jerry Lewis says it was a bad choice of words.
During his big MDA telethon earlier this week, while walking around the stage, joking with a crew member, he dropped the six-letter f-bomb, an anti-gay slur.
Naturally, gay rights advocates weren’t pleased. The dust had just settled on the Isaiah Washington case, in which the actor finally admitted that he used the same word on the set of Grey’s Anatomy.
But there’s a big difference between Lewis and Washington, and no, I don’t intend to use Lewis’s age (he’s 81) or the possibility that he could have just been punch-drunk after 18 hours of running the telethon as an excuse. I’m not offering any excuses for Lewis, who already said he shouldn’t have said what he said.
Because that’s the point: unlike Washington, who first denied having said the word, then said he found such words unacceptable, then used the word at an awards ceremony photo op while denying having used the word, then apologized for having offended anyone when he used the word previously, Lewis chose a different path:
“I apologize to anyone who was offended. Everyone who knows me understands that I hold no prejudices in this regard. In the family atmosphere of the telethon, I forget that not everyone knows me that well. That something like this would distract from the true purpose of the telethon pains me deeply. … I accept responsibility for what I said. There are no excuses.”
Anyone who works in television knows that when you’re live, there are no do-overs. You can wish for them all day, but once it’s said, it’s said.
At least Lewis apologized upfront. That’s pretty refreshing by today’s standards.