You hear about the Sony executives who got caught talking a little cray about President Obama? Well, they weren’t necessarily talking cray. They just had a few racially charged jokes at the President’s expense. You can check it out here. What happened is that someone hacked Sony and released lots of otherwise private documents, including some email exchanges between Sony co-chair, Amy Pascal, and a producer, Scott Rudin.
Can we just take a quick break and talk about how I don’t know either of these people? Sometimes it becomes especially apparent to me that I live in a smaller bubble than I like to think. Friends of mine will start talking about people and things that I have no idea exist, and I just have to shut up because I have nothing to add to the convo. In the last two weeks I’ve realized that I don’t watch any sort of Disney or Pixar movie that I wouldn’t have seen as a child (Frozen, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, Up, etc.); I have no idea who composes the soundtracks of popular movies (apparently the guy who did Home Alone is a genius or something); furries are a thing (those people who have animal-like features or dress as animals . . . I haven’t quite figured this one out); and it’s possible for me to like podcasts as entertainment (ya’ll should check out “Serial”). Is it me? Am I just completely out of touch? Idk but I don’t see myself going to the movies with my other grown friends to see Toy Story 10. No, I’m just not doing that ish.
Ok so Amy and Scott were emailing and basically joked that president Obama would probably prefer to see movies like Django, 12 Years A Slave, The Butler, or Think Like A Man, and that he probably really likes Kevin Hart. You get where they were going with this?
First off, Kevin Hart got ‘bout 2 more movies to make before he starts getting on my nerves.
Secondly and more importantly, I’m wondering if I should be outraged by their comments/joke? . . . because I’m not. I think it was insensitive, and I definitely think it’s indicative of a much larger and problematic attitude towards race in that industry. I just can’t say for certain that I wouldn’t have made a similar joke with a close friend if I thought it would stay private. So what does that mean about me? What does it mean about Amy and Scott? I, without having met either one of them, think they’re both probably racist while also thinking that I’m not racist. I don’t think they necessarily dislike black people (which lots of people define as racism although I’m not sure that’s the way to think about it). I think that they are beneficiaries and perpetuators of a system that works for them and against black people and for that, I think they’re racist. Probably really nice folks though. I, on the other hand, am perfection and not racist (did we every doubt this about me?).
It’s not fair, I know. I mean I have a little trouble with the fact that I think this way and yet I’m convinced. The onus is greater on the people in the majority to make room for the people in the minority – room for all sorts of things. And while I think jokes about racial stereotypes are funny in moderation, I also realize that they are both harmful and may only tip the iceberg of a person’s attitude toward the group.
Oh and after the emails came out, Amy made a public apology and then called Rev. Jesse Jackson. Girl, for what? This would’ve been my convo with Amy if she had called me:
Amy Hey Mariah, I effed up. I was just playing. You know I love black people.
Me Who is this?
Amy It’s Amy. From Sony.
Me Oh hey girl. You know I don’t keep up with the majority culture like I should. What can I do for you?
Amy Idk, my publicist told me to call you so we can put this whole mess behind me. I’m not racist. One of my best
friends is black.
Me Is your best friend also your nanny? If so, I’m hanging up right now.
Amy No, of course not. *nervous giggle*
Me Well, my advice is to go home and have a seat. Have several of them. Then when you get up, enroll yourself in
a few cultural competency workshops. You should probably provide it to all of the senior level executives as
well. After that, hire a diversity exec to diversify the company as well as the movies you produce.
Amy I’m not sure what you mean when you say “have several seats”.
Me I’m sorry. You wouldn’t understand. It’s kind of a black thing.
Amy And I don’t know if I can require everyone to take cultural competency classes, and I certainly can’t promise
that we’ll be able to diversify the company. You know these things are a bit more complicated than you may
Me I figured that.
Amy Oh but we are 100% committed to thinking about a possible commitment to diversity. It’s definitely on our to
Me I don’t think you just said anything for real.
Me Let me give you Oprah’s number……
Like I said, Amy and Scott are probably nice people. They shouldn’t lose their positions over this because no one would be employed if those were the consequences. We all have work to do.