50 Cent seems to collect controversies the way some collect coins.
The rapper-turned-actor, presumably with some time to kill before taking a flight out of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, decided to create a video in which he complained about the youth of today.
In the video, he verbally accosted a recent high school graduate named Andrew Farrell, who works at the airport as a custodian.
It opens with 50, donning a wide-brim cap and what appears to be several days’ stubble, talking directly directly into the camera.
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“The new generation is crazy,” he says, ignoring the irony that he plans to share it on social media sites the “new generation” created. “They crazy.”
The rapper, also known as Curtis Jackson III, then approaches Farrell, who quietly pushes his custodial cart along the airport corridor.
“What’s your name?” 50 asks.
In response, Farrell shakes his head and continues to push the cart. He keeps his eyes trained straight ahead and looks uncomfortable.
Regardless, 50 continues to follow Farrell, keeping the camera trained on him.
“Look at him ... What kinda s– you think he took before he got to work today? He high as a ... (obscenity) ... right here in the airport, pupil dilated everything, lookin’ like.”
The entire time, as 50 moves the camera to capture a portrait of Farrell’s face, the young man shakes his head and tries to look away.
“The new generation is ... (obscenity) ... crazy,” 50 concludes as the video cuts off.
He then posted the video to Instagram on Sunday, apparently considering himself ‑ the man who wrote “Gatman and Robbin’,” “My Gun Go Off” and “P.I.M.P.” ‑ to be a cultural critic.
The video circulated and was seen by an acquaintance of Farrell, an Instagram user, according to Cincinnati.com, who identified Farrell from school.
“I went to school with him,” the user wrote. “He has extreme social difficulties just to let you know. He has a hard enough time getting through life without jackasses like you making fun of him. I hope you feel good about yourself. You just lost a huge fan.”
Ultimately it came to the attention of Farrell’s parents as well, who were appalled and went on TV to say so.
Andrew has a hearing impairment, autism and social anxiety disorder, WKYT reported.
“It hurts to watch that, it’s painful,” Andrew’s stepfather, Ken Kramer, told WKRC.
“You come up and you start talking to a kid you know nothing about. That’s not fair. That’s a slap in the face.”
“Why would you attack my kid like that?” Farrell’s mother, Amanda Kramer, told Cincinatti.com.
“It doesn’t say much about his character when he has to attack a kid he doesn’t even know.”
“It’s nice to know that there’s people that he went to school with that maybe he didn’t talk to, but that know his character,” she said. “All this kind of bullying that people are doing on the Internet, whether you’re a celebrity or not, it’s got to stop. It hurts people, and it takes a long time to recover from those kinds of things.”
Twitter users reacted with reliable anger.
“As a person, he’s trash,” wrote one user. “50 Cent so out of date he gotta be adjusted for inflation,” tweeted another. “Just disgusting,” a third tweeted.
Real world backlash against 50 has proven just as strong, as many businesses in the tri-state area have decided to stop carrying Effen Vodka, a brand for which he worked as a spokesman, according to WDTN.
On Tuesday, 50 Cent released an extremely brief apology in a statement. It reads, “While the incident at the airport resulted from an unfortunate misunderstanding, please accept my sincere apologies for offending you. It was certainly not my intent to insult you and I wish you and your family well.”
The Farrell family accepted the apology, releasing the following statement, WKRC reported.
“We would first like to thank everyone for the amazing amount of support that they have shown over the past few days. It has been an emotional roller coaster that we are ready to put to rest. As requested we have received a letter apologizing for 50 cent’s behavior and we have chosen to accept it, along with a request that a donation be made to Autism Speaks. Though a letter of apology will not undo what 50 cent has put our family through, we are choosing to forgive. A great lesson can be learned from this heartbreaking situation. Regardless of the way that another person appears to you, it is never OK to publicly humiliate them via social media. We hope that this situation brings more awareness to what people with autism and other forms of social anxiety suffer through on a daily basis. Again, we thank the growing number of supporters who have shown both love and acceptance during this difficult time.
“Signed, Andrew and the Farrell/Kramer Family”
This is far from 50’s first tangle with controversy.
In March, the Associated Press reported the rapper had to appear in court for photos posted online. After 50 filed for bankruptcy, photos of the rapper with mounds of cash were posted to the Internet.
Nor is it his first encounter with the subject of autism.
In 2012, according to the Irish Independent, after getting into a “Twitter feud” with a fan, the artist said: “Just saw your picture fool, you look autistic. ... I don’t want no special ed kids on my time line, follow somebody else.”
50 was scheduled to launch his headphones at a store in Dublin, which promptly canceled the appearance.
“I realize my autism comments were insensitive,” he said then, “however it was not my intention to offend anyone and for this I apologize.”