On second thought, Def Jam founder Russell Simmons no longer thinks a parody Harriet Tubman “sex-tape” sketch released on his new YouTube channel is the “funniest thing” he’s ever seen. Hours after the video—which depicts the legendary abolitionist recording a sex tape with a white slave owner to use to blackmail him—began trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons, Simmons released a public apology and the clip was taken down from his All Def Digital YouTube channel. In a post titled “I Get It And I Respect It… The Harriet Tubman Video Has Been Removed” that was published on the GlobalGrind this morning, Simmons writes:
“In the whole history of Def Comedy Jam, I’ve never taken down a controversial comedian. When my buddies from the NAACP called and asked me to take down the Harriet Tubman video from the All Def Digital YouTube channel and apologize, I agreed.
“I’m a very liberal person with thick skin. My first impression of the Harriet Tubman piece was that it was about what one of actors said in the video, that 162 years later, there’s still tremendous injustice. And with Harriet Tubman outwitting the slave master? I thought it was politically correct. Silly me. I can now understand why so many people are upset. I have taken down the video. Lastly, I would never condone violence against women in any form, and for all of those I offended, I am sincerely sorry.”
The apology came amid swift criticism from the NAACP and others that called for the video to be yanked. A Change.org petition that began to gain some traction as news of the video began to spread via social media last night read, in part: “Rape is not a joke, nor is the sexual violation of African American women by enslavers a punchline.”
The video is reportedly the first in a series of history-themed sketches planned for the channel. According to the Kansas City Star, set for release later this week is B-ROCK, an animated series that promises an “outrageous, irreverent, and hilarious spin on the Obama White House” that “chronicles the adventures of our 44th President’s eponymously-named super-alter ego.”