Stop Making Sense star David Byrne apologises for “blackface” promotional skit

The former frontman for iconic band Talking Heads is full of remorse for the 1984 promo.

David Byrne

Legendary Talking Heads singer David Byrne has apologised for a creating a promotional skit featuring himself in “blackface” make-up for hit 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense.


Byrne tweeted his remorse after a journalist reminded him of the promo video.

Byrne said: “Recently a journalist pointed out something I did in a promo video skit in 1984 for the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense. In the piece I appear as a number of different characters interviewing myself, and some of the characters portrayed are people of color.

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

“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, writing that people “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.”

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, Byrne is the latest of many performers who have apologised for the practice of “blacking up” for TV and film. In the UK, Keith Lemon and David Walliams and Matt Lucas have apologised for doing it.

Spike Lee recently announced he was directing a performance of his “art brother” Byrne’s latest Broadway musical American Utopia for HBO.


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