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Talking Heads frontman David Byrne apologises for wearing blackface in 1984

David Byrne has apologised for using black and brownface after a video from the 1980s resurfaced.

The promo video for the 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense sees a skit in which the star, now 68, interviews himself while playing several different reporters – some of whom are reporters of colour.

After the clip resurfaced on social media, the Talking Heads frontman took to Twitter to say it was “a major mistake in judgement” in a lengthy statement.

“I’d just about forgotten about this skit and I’m grateful that it has been brought to my attention,” he wrote.

David Byrne has spoken out about wrongdoing (Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com)

“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. It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else- you’re not, or were not, the person you thought you were.”

Byrne continued: “We have huge blind spots about ourselves- well, I certainly do. I’d like to think I am beyond making mistakes like this, but clearly at the time I was not.

“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.

“One hopes that folks have the grace and understanding to allow that someone like me, anyone really, can grow and change, and that the past can be examined with honesty and accountability.”

Byrne is just one of many performers who have found themselves having to apologise for the use of blackface or racial stereotypes in past work, following the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement which gained traction after the death of George Floyd earlier this year.

Little Britain was removed from BBC iPlayer after the series, which stars David Walliams and Matt Lucas, faced renewed criticism for the use of blackface in some sketches.

Comedian Leigh Francis issued an apology for portraying black celebrities on sketch show Bo’ Selecta.

The comic played stars including king of pop Michael Jackson, singer Craig David and talkshow host Trisha Goddard on the show, which first aired in 2002.


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