The newest celebrity accessory isn’t a killer handbag or shiny watch. It’s telling everyone to shut up rather than discuss the toughest issue of the day. Race.
It’s hard to have a national conversation on the subject when folks like Lena Dunham, Kevin Bacon and Simon Pegg keep telling us to zip it, Morton Downey, Jr. style.
White progressive stars claiming they have nothing valuable to say on racism is the new virtue signal, but there’s a practical side to it.
Kevin Bacon brought out the “shut up, he said” mantra on race relations first. The “Tremors” star told the press he’s ready and willing to shut his own yap.
“It’s incredible to experience this and to go through this historically, not just the COVID-19, but clearly seeing the protests and what’s going on,” noted the 61-year-old actor. “For an old guy like me, I was born in 1958, and to witness the passion of the young people across the world for social justice – it leaves me speechless, which is probably a good idea because I think it’s a good time for old white guys like me to just shut up and listen.”
Yes, Bacon is white and can’t speak to the black experience. He’s also a 61-year-old man who has lived through quite a bit. He may have memories to share about racial exchanges on the set. Or, perhaps he fears what giving unchecked power to a neo-Marxist organization like Black Lives Matters could mean to the country he calls home.
You can’t actually say that in Hollywood, but you can still think it. We think.
More seriously, perhaps we need a 60-something star’s ability to empathize with other people. Heck, that’s the biggest tool in an actor’s kit, to get under the skin of a character and see what makes him or her tick.
Saying nothing puts that skill set on a shelf, unused.
Bacon shouldn’t necessarily lead the conversation, of course. But why can’t he have a speaking part?
“Star Trek” alum Simon Pegg took a similar path in a recent interview.
“Anyone that’s complaining about it should just shut the f*** up because it’s time,” he says. “The film industry would be such a healthier, more interesting place if there were more voices, different stories, different experiences. It’s so dominated by one particular voice and colour of face, it just perpetuates a bland mono-voiced cultural landscape.”
The core members of Pegg’s Stolen Picture production company look rather monochromatic, for what it’s worth.
He isn’t done self-flagellating. He’s aware that he could be seen as part of that landscape, but wants Stolen Picture to be a hub for any and all creative people.
“Do you know that Lost Transmissions was the first feature I’ve been in that’s directed by a woman?” he says. “In 20 years of film-making! How alarming is that?”
Pegg has had industry-wide clout for some time. Couldn’t he have addressed this gender issue earlier?
And then there’s Lena Dunham. The mistress of hot takes has a few more, but this time on race and “white privilege.”
First, the obligatory apology for her own success.
“The Hollywood system is rigged in favor of white people,” she said in a recent social media post, adding that “my career took off at a young age with relative ease, ease I wasn’t able to recognize because I also didn’t know what privilege was…”
“The lesson now? Sit down. Shut up, unless it’s to advocate for change for Black people. Listen. Make art in private for awhile- no one needs your book right now lady. Give reparations widely. Defund the police. Rinse & repeat.”
Is Dunham giving some of her own wealth away, reportedly $12 million, to kick things off?
What do these stars all have in common besides an ability to grovel?
Fame. Wealth. Prestige. Connections.
They’ve all navigated the Hollywood ecosystem for years, if not decades, and have the bank accounts to prove it. They can brag about stepping aside to give actors of color a chance. They may have noble intentions, and diversity problems still plague the industry, but these stars have been warriors for change for all of five minutes.
The other reason they’re voluntarily shutting up is for self-preservation. If they say the wrong thing — by “wrong” we mean not 100 percent in lockstep with the authoritarian Left — they could be canceled next.
Remember the heat Matt Damon took for saying something so obvious, so ordinary, during a previous cultural panic? Shortly after Harvey Weinstein’s precipitous fall Damon noted the difference between what the movie mogul allegedly did and what some accused then-Sen. Al Franken of doing.
“I think it’s wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories and it’s totally necessary,” he said. “I do believe there’s a spectrum of behavior. … You know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated.”
It’s a fair and valid point, one made with all the necessary qualifiers. He was shouted down by his peers and press all the same.
Vox shouted, “Why Won’t Matt Damon Stop Talking?”
“I should get in the back seat and close my mouth for a while.”
Pegg, Bacon and Dunham have similarly shut themselves up just in case they say something that would turn the woke mob against them.
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