With social media keeping everyone on their socially conscious toes these days, the privilege of celebrity still seems to insulate what some might kindly call the “backward-thinking” of certain performers, personalities, and even politicians of note.
Beyond just liberal-vs.-conservative voting differences, some stars can’t help but blurt forth alarmingly out-of-step views about hot-button issues regarding race, gender, sexual orientation, and other matters of import in today’s cultural conversation.
With that in mind, here are Hollywood’s ten most egregious offenders of late. Our advice to these pampered and powerful blowhards: get woke or get unfollowed—like, forever—by the public who put you in your elevated positions in the first place.
Cinema’s most recent Man of Steel came off more like the Man of Rocks-in-His-Head when he claimed there was a double standard regarding gender when it comes street harassment.
“I do think there’s a bit of a double standard, you know,” says Henry Cavill, with eyes all a-twinkle and manners like those of a well-brought-up head boy. “I mean, if a girl shouts something like, ‘Oi, love, fancy a shag?’ to me as I walk past, I do sometimes wonder how she’d feel if a builder said that to her. Although, of course, I wouldn’t feel physically threatened, as she might.”
Yeah, Stuporman. That would be the point.
As with seemingly every other celebratory cinema event, when the 2016 Berlin Film Festival announced the council of creatives who would be judging the competing films, not a single person of color was on the roster. So what else is new? Well, Meryl Streep was both a member of the all-white jury (which you’d expect) and, in defense of the situation) she blurted out some real ignorance (which maybe you wouldn’t expect).
Claiming that her career made her privy to the plight of the oppressed, Streep said, “The thing I’ve noticed from my roles is there is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture. And, after all, we’re all from Africa, originally. We’re all Berliners. We’re all Africans, really.”
No, Meryl. No one on that jury—or nominated for an acting Academy Award this year—was African. She clarified her remarks days later in an essay for the Huffington Post.
Sam Smith sings in the style of great black belters from time immemorial, but just this past January, the superstar was shocked—shocked!—to discover that racism exists in the world.
“Just experienced my fried getting verbally abused racially in London,” Smith tweeted. “I am SPEECHLESS. I never thought it would happen here.” In patronizing fashion, Smith continued, “I feel like I have to shine a light on it. The police were so unhelpful in the situation and it deeply shocked me. Humans are HUMAN. I feel like I have to say something. I’m just so upset. So UPSET.”
Dude, whitesplain much?
Just as popular culture was contending with this year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Joseph Fiennes—best known for 1998’s Best Picture Winner Shakespeare in Love—accepted an opportunity to portray African-American superstar Michael Jackson in a British TV comedy.
Rather than say he understood the problem of “whitewashing” when it comes to casting non-white roles, Fiennes dug in his heels and told critics: “I felt this was a wonderful challenge, I read the script and it’s very funny. It’s a satire, it’s just a 20-minute satire. It’s a sketch about a story that could have been a legend or could have been true. So we’ll see what the audience makes of it.”
While promoting his 2015 political flick Our Brand Is Crisis, Hurt Locker and Ant-Man star Anthony Mackie came out in support of Donald Trump, claiming he was impressed at how Trump built a fortune on his own—which is the exact opposite of reality.
“I would 100 percent want to run Trump’s campaign. 100 percent,” Mackie said. “I mean, first that’ll be the best party ever when he won, and second, Trump’s an easy sell… When you look at Trump, he’s an easy sell because you can sell him as the guy who worked his way up from nothing. And I think if you’re a ’pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ candidate, people would identify with that.”
Mackie quickly backpedaled, stating: “I’m a very sarcastic, witty person, and I don’t think it translates. I was being funny and it was at the end of a press junket and someone asked me a question about my character: ’Being a political analyst [in the movie], who would you work with, Clinton or Trump?’ and I said, ’Trump, he’s an easy sell. … He’s the voice of the working man.'”
Still, Mackie couldn’t drop his admiration for The Donald completely, adding: “I did not endorse him even though I do think he’s done a great job of branding himself.”
When confronted with the #OscarsSoWhite issue earlier this year, extremely British and Caucasian Michael Caine proclaimed, “You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black.”
At issue, of course, is that for years the Academy was voting for actors because they weren’t black.
Caine seemed to get it even less when he went on to say, “You’ve got to give a good performance, and I’m sure there were very good [performances].” He then likened his own personal frustration to Hollywood racism by stating: “Be patient. Of course, it will come. Of course, it will come. It took me years to get an Oscar.”
Gwyneth Paltrow so continually resets the bar on clueless white, cisgender, heteronormative hereditary one-percenter privilege that the name of her lifestyle site—Goop—has become a single-word shorthand for all those societal sins combined.
Gwynnie’s ignorant assumptions about the unwashed public occasionally recall Marie “Let Them Eat Cake” Antoinette. One fine example is when Gwyneth “I’d Rather Smoke Crack Than Eat Cheese From a Tin” declared, “I am who I am. I can’t pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year.”
Paltrow’s most somnambulant moment, though, may have occurred when she tweeted a pic of herself onstage with Jay-Z and Kanye West in France and wrote: “Ni**as in paris for real.” The Internet broke out in protests and Paltrow responded, “Hold up. It’s the title of the song.” Ebony journalist Rebecca Carroll shut down any doubters when she directly wrote to Gwyneth: “You do not get to use that word in any context, ever.”
Nobody’s going to criticize Caitlyn Jenner for coming and making herself whole regarding the gender she’s always felt herself to be, so that her outside matches her inside.
More and more commentators, however, are coming down on Jenner’s conservative politics, “traditional stance” when it comes to marriage rights, and her declaration, “The hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear!”
Jenner also said she’d remain right-leaning in her political outlook, despite conservatives’ frequent campaigning against gay and transgender issues. “Sometimes, these girls think that now that I have transitioned that everything has to change,” Jenner said. “You can’t be conservative anymore, you have to be a liberal. No, I don’t believe that.”
African-American Clueless (and seemingly clueless) actress Stacey Dash says she votes Republican, doesn’t believe in human-made climate change, and wishes she could do away with BET and Black History Month.
In January 2016, Dash told Fox News (where else?): “We have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration. And if we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the Image Awards where you’re only awarded if you’re black. If it were the other way around, we would be up in arms. It’s a double standard. There shouldn’t be a Black History Month. You know? We’re Americans. That’s it.”
And let’s not forget her jaw-dropping cameo at the 2016 Oscars…