Friday, September 1, 2017

Name the Bigot or Shut Up

It was probably too obscure a take to have it be likely that you read it, but some media entity called "Vulture" -- and I have no idea whether it is left or right or not really political, ran a piece by a writer named Hunter Harris.

The piece was about an actress on a TV show called "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", which I don't watch but know it exists.  The actress's current name is Chloe Bennet (yes, one "T"), and the history of her identity is the topic of the article, as it read in Vulture:

"When Chloe Bennet started out in Hollywood, her last name was Wang. The 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' actress, who is Chinese-American, changed it because she thought it would help her book more roles. Unsurprisingly in Hollywood, it worked. Recently, after praising Ed Skrein, the white actor who recently left [a reboot of his own show] after learning he was cast to play a character who is Japanese-American in the comic books, Bennet was taken to task by a commenter on Instagram, who asked her why she changed her name to obscure her racial identity. 

"She explained that her decision was an unfortunate one that had everything to do with her circumstances: 'Changing my last name doesn’t change the fact that my BLOOD is half Chinese, that I lived in China, speak Mandarin or that I was culturally raised both American and Chinese … It means I had to pay my rent, and Hollywood [sic] is racist and wouldn’t cast me with a last name that made them uncomfortable ... I’m doing everything I can, with the platform I have, to make sure no one has to change their name again, just so they can get work.'  Part of Bennet’s effort -- an organization she founded called RUN (Represent Us Now), which advocates for Asian-American and Pacific Islander talent."

So OK, I get all that.  Except for one part.

That's where she said that "Hollywood is racist", and where I put a little "[sic]" in the quote because I don't actually buy it.

Hollywood is a town.  Hollywood is also an industry, i.e., one that makes movies that aren't made in Atlanta or Vancouver or the other places they're making them these days.  What Hollywood is not, most assuredly, is a person.  And only a person can be racist.

Here's the thing.  You don't get much worse than calling someone a racist these days.  It is a sin right up there with murder and rape, and you can't cause any more problems for someone than by calling them a racist.  So you'd better be freaking careful when you toss that word around, and Chloe Bennet needs to be a whole lot more careful with her words.

You know what?  If she wants to "advocate for Asian-American and Pacific Islander talent", the best thing she could do is to get parts written for people who are actually Asian and Polynesian!  I wonder if her organization is even doing any of that.

In essence (and we assume she was indicting the industry and not the town), she was saying that all of the people who cast TV and movies there are racists.  Now, I get that you might not get called for a part if your last name is Wang and the part is for a white, or black -- or Hispanic -- character.  That's laziness (at least look at the picture with the resume, you know), but it ain't racism.

But that doesn't really seem to matter, does it?  Surely I don't have to rehash my opinions on racially-inappropriate casting all over again as I wrote a long time ago.  Now, I have no idea what the character on that show she is on actually is, or whether it would be racially inappropriate -- or even how Asian the actress, in fact, looks.  I don't care.

I do care that an accusation of racism was tossed out there even though she failed to name even one actual human being she was willing to call a racist.  And I detest that.  I don't care what her career arc actually is, but it's sure as heck not going to go too terribly far, too terribly fast, if she gives an interview calling the entire group of people who could give her a job "racists."

What a dummy.  No wonder she's an actress.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
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  1. Just calling Hollywood racist will kill her career,name non withstanding.

    1. Pretty sure it's going to wound it heavily. There are plenty of actresses, including some who will actually keep their mouths zipped and not tar everyone who could possibly hire her, with the worst thing you can call anyone these days. She'd have been a lot better off naming someone -- or shutting up.

  2. Replies
    1. Kind of why Manny Ramirez always had a job, eh?