Does anyone remember those halcyon days when we could just criticise celebrities for NOT speaking out on current affairs?
Ah... that was nice, wasn't it.
But 2020 has become the year for making endless statements on the atrocities plaguing our society, and people are getting it really, really wrong.
Yeah so we now have that, but for Black Lives Matter.
A video is now circulating social media of a bunch of white celebrities giving us their take on the matter... in other words, making this all about them.
If you can't bear to watch, the general vibe is that all these ridiculously privileged people had never considered racial inequality before, and now they've learnt about it, they're SHOOK.
They all start off by saying, as earnestly as they can possibly muster, that they "take responsibility". For what, exactly? Glad you asked.
Bethany Joy Lenz (aka Hayley James Scott, aka the most annoying of all One Tree Hill characters) takes responsibility for "every unchecked moment".
Kristen Bell (aka Veronica Mars *hearteyes* and the voice of Gossip Girl) takes responsibility for "every time it was easier to ignore than to call it out for what it was".
Justin Theroux takes responsibility for "every not so funny joke, every unfair stereotype".
Grace without Will takes responsibility for "every blatant injustice, no matter how big or small", which seems like... a lot.
Mark Duplass (Brendan from The Mindy Project) takes responsibility for "every time I remained silent". (Better late than never.)
Bryce Dallas Howard (sorry, no clue... some Jurassic Park sequels, according to Wikipedia) takes responsibility for "every time I explained away police brutality or turned a blind eye". Which kind of begs the question... WHY were you doing this in the first place?!
The hitherto arguably iconic Julianne Moore, Piper Perabo, Stanley Tucci and Sarah Paulson (among others) chime in with their own words of wisdom. Some as deep as "enough is enough" and "I will not turn a blind eye".
They then list things that should not be a death sentence, including playing videogames, going to a job interview, and shopping in a store.
And close out by telling us they "stand against hate", call it out and "take action", although it's pretty unclear what actions they're actually taking.
Across social media, people were very very unimpressed with the effort.
Lots of people were particularly frustrated because these are celebrities that are pretty well regarded...
Others pointed out that this is peak performative allyship, and it would be much more helpful for them to do something than to talk about what they're no longer doing/taking responsibility for having done.
Some found the whole thing more than a little staged.
If you think this is all a bit mean, don't worry. We've scoured the internet (like, really really searched), and found some support for the video too.
According to Deadline, the video was made by production company Confluential Content in partnership with civil rights organisation the NAACP.
Adam Platzner, the (white, we believe) vice chairman of Confluential (which is not actually a word, don't worry) Content, explained the concept, by saying:
It’s critical that we understand and accept that racism is a white people problem…a problem that, collectively, we need to look to ourselves to fix.
I had never seen it quite that way before. Recent events in this country have shown us that we need to take a different approach if we’re to be impactful. That’s what led me to create this effort.
it seems that Platzner has just discovered the institutional and systemic nature of racism, and was attempting to educate everyone else.
It's not hard to see why it may seem like a good idea to have high profile people discuss issues of racial inequality (although it should be noted that they never actually utter the words "black lives matter").
But the issue people are pointing out is that the video really makes it all about white people, and their internal struggles and personal development. That's not what this moment in history is for.
Why not actually use this platform to amplify the voices of black actors, who are notoriously underrepresented in mainstream film and TV?
Why not speak about direct anti-racist action people can take, and share resources for where to donate and how to make a real difference?
It's easy to say this is "better than nothing" and that may be true (it's not really for us to judge), however that does seem like a rather troublingly low bar.