Comedy legend Eddie Murphy says he has no regrets over misogynistic and homophobic material that permeated his standup routines decades ago, but concedes he finds some of it cringeworthy.
"Some of it, I cringe when I watch it," the Roosevelt-raised Murphy, 58, said on this week's "CBS Sunday Morning," adding with a laugh, "I'm like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe I said that!" He added, "I've seen stuff that [and] I go like, 'Oh, that's – ooh.' Yeah, you get a joke every now and then that's cringey. But that's not to say that I don't appreciate it. I still appreciate it. And I'm looking at it within the context of the time. Y'know, I'm going, 'Okay, I'm a kid saying that.' "
When asked directly if he had any regrets, Murphy responded, "None whatsoever."
This contrasts with his May 1996 statement in response to activists condemning his routines' frequent use of a common anti-gay slur. Murphy apologized, saying, "I deeply regret any pain all this has caused." In his 1983 HBO special "Eddie Murphy: Delirious," released when he was 22, the comedian professes to being "afraid of gay people. Petrified. I have nightmares about gay people,” after having said, "[Expletive] aren't allowed to look at my [rear] while I'm on stage! That's why I keep moving while I'm up here. You don't know where the ... [expletive] section is…."
His statement at the time also addressed his routines' misinformation about how AIDS is transmitted. "I know how serious an issue AIDS is the world over. I know that AIDS isn't funny. It's 1996 and I'm a lot smarter about AIDS now," Murphy said. He maintained, "I am not homophobic and I am not anti-gay" and that he and his wife had "donated both time and money to AIDS research. I've had people close to me die from the disease as well."
In 1984, he had been unrepentant in a Rolling Stone magazine interview, but had softened his stance by the time of his interview in Playboy's February 1990 issue, saying, "I have nothing against homosexuals. … In fact, the gay people I know are very funny. There was a gay writer on ['Saturday Night Live'] who was funny and nice. I was completely comfortable around him."
Meanwhile, on Monday, the Critics Choice Association, representing more than 400 TV, radio and online critics, announced Murphy will receive its Lifetime Achievement Award at the 25th annual ceremony, set to air live on The CW on Jan. 12.