Earlier this week, Billy Crystal did an interview with the NY Post. In the interview, which was to promote his new movie Here Today, Crystal was asked for his thoughts on cancel culture. “It’s becoming a minefield and I get it,” Crystal told The Post. “I don’t like it, I understand it… I just keep doing what I’m doing and that’s all you can do right now.” He added “It’s a totally different world [now] and it doesn’t mean you have to like it.”
As you can imagine, it didn’t take long before Twitter started doing what it does, which is poke fun at his choice of words.
Imagine if all the mines were above ground and were labeled “MINE” and you got upset because someone asked you politely not to step on the mines https://t.co/G73KQbCDz0
— Paul F. Tompkins (@PFTompkins) May 6, 2021
America is too PC and woke to handle movies like this now, movies that really ask probing questions like “what if a guy was tall and Billy Crystal was his friend?” https://t.co/OaKdVctX4L pic.twitter.com/ym8I9UBKPT
— Lance St. Laurent (@LanceStLaurent) May 6, 2021
I like Billy Crystal. He's hilarious. But honestly, fuck this bullshit about "we can't do comedy" anymore. Grow the fuck up. Plenty of comics are brilliant without being bigoted assholes.
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) May 7, 2021
Eventually, users started reminding those who may not be familiar that Crystal has appeared in blackface as Sammy Davis Jr. as early as the 1980’s and as recently as 2012 when he again did his Davis Jr. impression when he returned to host The Oscar’s.
Yeah, it’s real tragedy that Billy Crystal can’t do blackface anymore. https://t.co/hKY0DQQ9Hc
— Nathan Rabin (@nathanrabin) May 7, 2021
Billy Crystal doesn’t want to live in a world where his impression of Muhammad Ali isn’t widely celebrated.
— John Levenstein (@johnlevenstein) May 7, 2021
My thoughts on Billy Crystal.
1. He didn't really say anything offensive beyond comedy being a "minefield", a bit of a mountain over a molehill imho
2. That said, feel free to roast him not just for the blackface, but the somehow even more offensive "Jazz Man" routine
— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) May 7, 2021
— NIKKI™ ☭ 6️⃣6️⃣6️⃣⛧ (@LUCIFERarla) May 7, 2021
No, Billy Crystal, comedy isn't a "minefield." You're just mad you can't do blackface anymore.
— Andrew (@jupin) May 7, 2021
This clip of Tom Scharpling talking over Crystal's racist as hell "Jazz Man" character from 2006 (!!!) is so funny, brutal, and what got me into The Best Show a few years ago, it's so good. https://t.co/7aGevSSBzS
— Casey Malone (@CaseyMalone) May 7, 2021
One person who doesn’t seem to have an issue with this? Sammy Davis Jr.’s daughter, Tracey. She told The Hollywood Reporter back in 2012, “I am 100 percent certain that my father is smiling. Billy previously played my father when he was alive, and my father gave Billy his full blessing.”
As of now, Crystal has not given a further statement on the backlash.