In this June 4, 2018 photo, American Civil Liberties Union activists demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court in Washington. (Photo: AP)
It might seem odd to think, but there was a time when being sexist, bigoted and racist was not only normal – but something that was accepted by the public. What’s even more shocking is that these behaviors were commonplace within the last 20 years.
Thankfully, society is seeing a sea change in what can be considered an acceptable attitude and the masses are taking the side of decency and tolerance.
Old Tweets: New Problems
The most recent example of society pulling together to voice its distaste in a public figure is the recent firing of Kevin Hart as the host for the 2019 Academy Awards. Hart was initially appointed the prestigious position after a string of high-profile roles, including parts in “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “Night School” and “The Upside.”
There’s no denying that Hart has skyrocketed to stardom and is now seen as a major Hollywood star with major influence since he has a legion of fans. However, all that star power did little to help him after some of his anti-homosexual tweets from 2009-11 surfaced.
According to CNN, Hart wrote: “Yo if my son comes home & try's 2 play with my daughters doll house I'm going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice 'stop that's gay'."
The outlandish rhetoric that Hart spewed on Twitter is abhorrent and thankfully, he was ousted as the host of the Oscars. It should also be noted that the Academy should hold its hosts and members to a high standard because their goal is to push the arts and sciences of motion pictures.
In this Dec. 11, 2017 file photo, Kevin Hart arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" in Los Angeles. (Photo: AP)
So, the Academy was right to fire Hart because his old statements fly in the face of what the Academy represents: progress.
The same can be said about US Supermodel Gigi Hadid, who was once left out of a Victoria’s Secret fashion show in Shanghai after videos surfaced of her being racist against the Chinese. According to the South China Morning Post, Hadid made a video in 2016 where she made “slanteyes” – mimicking Asian features.
This video sparked criticism in China and Hadid was not given any leeway for her racist antics.
While Hart’s departure and Hadid’s lost gig might not seem like big wins – it shows that even 7-year-old homophobic statements will not be ignored and that even the wealthy will lose out on opportunities if they say something awful.
Ousting Problematic Political Figures
While Hollywood’s problems are numerous, the problems of actors and actresses seem trivial when compared to problems surrounding political figures. One such person is Kim Davis, who rose to prominence as a Kentucky county clerk who refused to grant a marriage license to same-sex couples.
The big problem surrounding Davis is that she had a major following by right-wing religious fanatics over an illegal (since she defied the Supreme Court) and bigoted act. Instead of being criticized– she was seen as a hero.
However, it seems as though progress is even hitting some “Red States” like Kentucky since she recently lost her position to Elwood Caudill Jr., a Democrat, in the November election. This is seen as a major hit for LGBTQ rights because this Caudill and Democrats are on the forefront of progress that is not well liked by Republicans – especially when it comes to gay rights.
The major takeaway from Caudill’s win is that changes can be made, even in a place that houses many narrow-minded views on sex, race and gender.
A Major Win for Minorities
There is also a big change for minority actors, who were once limited to certain roles based on their ethnicity. According to Chloe Bennet, who is half Chinese, her real name “Wang” cost her several roles because they did not want to cast an Asian in a leading role.
Bennet eventually got the last laugh since she’s now a lead in Marvel’s “Agents of SHIELD” TV show and has roles in several upcoming shows and films.
On the matter, Bennet wrote on her Instagram “Changing my last name doesn’t change the fact that my blood is half-Chinese, that I lived in China, speak Putonghua, or that I was culturally raised both American and Chinese. It means I had to pay my rent, and Hollywood is racist and wouldn’t cast me with a last name that made them uncomfortable. I’m doing everything I can with the platform I have to make sure no one has to change their name again just so they can get work.”
While Asian actors aren’t exactly taking the biggest roles in Hollywood – they have come a long way in recent years. Another good example is Korean actor Steven Yeun, who is most well-known as Glenn from “The Walking Dead.”
Yeun, over the course of the series, went from a side character to a leading one before his untimely demise. However, Glenn’s death wasn’t the end of Yeun’s film career – he’s had major roles in “Sorry To Bother You” and “Mayhem” and is even involved in Jordan Peele’s reboot of “The Twilight Zone.”
This is yet another instance of society’s growth when it comes to accepting people of different races. Races that were once seen as “foreign” and “odd” are now seen as the norm – and that’s an important point for breaking racial barriers.
A Final Thought
While Hart did eventually apologize and discussed his own path of personal growth – it brings up the point that people should be held accountable for their actions. Hart said terrible, bigoted statements and because of his wealth and fame: he expected to never face the consequences –just like many other people in this story. And while society can sometimes instill harsh consequences on stars and politicians – it’s also important to note that they can reward good behavior – like in regards to Bennet, Yeun and Caudill.
However, the whole point of society is to enforce morals as the status quo. Just because a person said something 20 years ago doesn’t mean they should get off scott-free. If a person, or celebrity, wishes to remain employed or in the good graces of the public – then they shouldn’t be making bigoted, racist or sexist statements to begin with. In fact, they should use their image and influence to help mankind.