Last week, Cancer Research Institute held its annual Through the Kitchen Party at the Four Seasons to benefit—what else?—cancer research. That’s commendable, of course. Guests like Tony Bennett and Regis Philbin attended. That’s great, too. We’re totally behind celebrities using their fame for a good cause.
The theme for this year was “Celebrating the Art of Dance,” and table centerpieces for the event featured tributes to different styles of dance from around the world, like flamenco and salsa.
There were also “hip-hop” and “breakdance” centerpieces, and that’s where it all went horribly, horribly wrong. According to a Page Six report, they featured fake marijuana labeled “Sticky Icky” and “Tabacky,” boomboxes, a “grinning black man with big red lips,” and a topless photo of LL Cool J.
Needless to say, people weren’t too happy:
— JWilliams (@JWilliamsTV) April 30, 2014
the 32nd “Through the Kitchen” Cancer Research Institute gala should have used Drake in a yarmulke for their Hip Hop table. pricks.
— Cyrus Pavel (@cyruspavel) April 30, 2014
The New York Post contacted an event rep, who issued a bizarrely defensive half-apology:
“We deeply apologize for the unintended offense. This a festive party known for its tongue-in-cheek humor aimed at all aspects of culture, history and New York life . . . nothing is intended to be offensive. If anyone took offense, we are deeply, deeply sorry. Each themed table is heavily researched . . . to accurately capture the essence of the subject. The designers found an overwhelming association — propagated by the hip hop artists themselves through their lyrics — between hip hop and marijuana. The doll chosen for the table is marketed as a hip hop performer and can be purchased online. That he is ostensibly African-American is beside the point. I wonder if any offense would have been taken if the doll depicted a Caucasian performer. “
Sounds like someone needs a less culturally tone-deaf PR rep.