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Longtime Today anchor Al Roker has denounced whiteface amid the recent conversations stemming from Megyn Kelly’s blackface comments, and singled out Marlon and Shawn Wayans’ 2004 film White Chicks in which the two actors appear in whiteface as two undercover FBI agents posing as Caucasian women.
“Dude, didn’t see that movie. But let me jump in the DeLorean with Doc Brown and travel to 2004 to denounce it,” Roker said in a tweet responding to a user who posted a picture of the Wayans brothers in the film and asked if NBC News, fellow Today anchor Craig Melvin and Roker thought whiteface was okay.
Roker’s response comes in the wake of Kelly’s much-publicized exit from Today after making comments about blackface on the show last week.
Critics on both sides have taken issue with Kelly’s remarks, in which she said, “What is racist? Because truly you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as like a character.” She later apologized for her statements.
Many have called her comments racist, while others have noted hypocrisy in her show’s cancellation while other stars — such as Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and Ted Danson — have worn blackface in the past and were not fired.
Fallon wore blackface when he portrayed fellow comedian Chris Rock in a Saturday Night Live sketch in 2000. Kimmel, on multiple instances, donned blackface to portray NBA player Karl Malone while hosting The Man Show in the early 2000s. Danson famously wore blackface during an appearance at a 1993 Friar’s Club roast in honor of then-partner Whoopi Goldberg. At the event, Danson also made many racially charged jokes and comments and used the N-word multiple times.
Roker himself responded Monday to such comparisons on Twitter, writing, “Ted Danson. 1993. Wrote a letter to the Friars Club. Jimmy Kimmel 2000. Never saw it til last week. Ditto, Jimmy Fallon and Sarah Silverman. Of course, it makes me cringe. Horrible. And do I think wish they never did it? You bet. But I don’t have a time machine.”
In 2007, Roker dressed up as Grandpa Munster from the 1960s television show The Munsters, donning facepaint to portray the character on a Halloween episode of Today. In a since-deleted tweet, a user on Twitter asked Roker about the costume, to which Roker responded, “As I’ve explained, if you look closely, that is green face makeup. I’m a vampire. A dead guy. Grandpa from the Munsters had green skin. Have a great day.”
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