Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho! This! This is just absolute gold:
Seriously--brownface coming from a well known Hollywood A-lister? Come on, it just doesn't get any better! Up until yesterday I thought I had coined the term "tanface" in my script, but apparently, it's a common phenomenon. Which means...well...god help us, frankly. The internet response to this ridiculously racist ad means that many people out there are aware of what just happened--not just me and my compadres at those Spanish-speaking auditions when they've asked us to put on darker foundation (see earlier blogs for full story).
This kind of brings to mind the responsibility an actor has to not participate in this shit. Quick short story: last summer I went out to support a friend's film that was lucky enough to secure distribution at a decent indie theater. I was excited for my friend as I settled into the seat to watch his big debut. About 3/4 of the way through the movie (yes, it took that long for the horrifically clumsy plot to unravel), I realized that the movie I was watching was about rape. But it was more specifically about a rapist and how hard the world has been on him. Friends, I'm not making this up. I realized this was the case when my friend had a monologue about how bad he feels about raping his sister and how he just wishes he could have a second shot. Um...
You know what, you get it, I don't even have to elaborate. Sometimes the imaginary rant of what I might say to something like this speaks louder than the actual rant.
I left that theater so angry, I was howling on the subway. And the whole sordid long trip uptown was filled with my shouting out loud, "Whyyyyy would he dooooo this?!" The situation really wasn't helped with the drunk German tourists that kept trying to sit in my lap--I swear to god this really happened, when I walked into my apartment, my husband was like, "what the hell happened to you?"
I was obviously angry at these filmmakers for making such a morally reprehensible film. But I was possibly even more angry at my friend for making it with them. I think there's a tendency for actors to get away with saying, "well, I'm just an actor," when faced with their participation in something that is offensive to many groups of people. I'm sure Ashton said the same thing. Well I say, no darling, you're an artist and with that comes responsibility.
Viviana Leo is the writer and star of White Alligator.