First they came for the Mormons… »« We must protect the students!

Comments

  1. Louis says

    Sure Samuel L Jackson is funny and all, but I did not like those white guys laughing his anger off as a joke. Fuck THAT particular noise. I saw a black guy being very funny, but very angry and n white guys trying to laugh away the fact that they were a bunch of (accidentally?) racist shites.

    Louis

  2. Jacob Schmidt says

    Jesus fuck, he keeps going. It’s watching someone slowly take wings of a fly, except the fly deserves it.

  3. Rob Grigjanis says

    Louis @4: People laugh when they are embarrassed. That (not the racism) I can excuse.

    For something TV presenters should be embarrassed about but obviously weren’t, check out this BBC interview with Darcus Howe, about the 2011 protests in the UK. Total gormless disrespect.

    Note, at the end, that the presenters think the ‘biggest knock-on effect’ of the protests is the cancellation of an England-Holland friendly soccer match.

  4. says

    Well, they are both well known movie badasses, but beyond that they don’t really look or sound much alike. Of course, I don’t know how much of that is from actual racist predispositions (certainly most if not all white people in America are influenced to some degree no matter their level of liberalism) and how much might be just common cognitive flatulence. I’ve confused my share of white actors before, like, for example, Liam Neeson and Christopher Heyerdahl. Regardless, kind of rude not to know what the person being interviewed has and has not done, and I’d say he’s not going to make that mistake again.

  5. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    He’s made over 500 films. He’s one of the most iconic actors of our age. He was nice enough to come on that shitty show and the racist asshat still doesn’t know the difference between him and another actor just because they are both black.
    > . <

  6. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    ” And I’m the only black guy in Robocop that’s not a criminal, other that Micheal K. White.”

    I wish the reporter would have picked up on that phrase and ran with it. Can you imagine how it would have went if he’d asked Jackson something like: “And why is that?” Not only would it have been immensely entertaining, it would have been a meaningful and significant way to make amends for his mistake. /dreaming of a better world than we live in

  7. kyoseki says

    I am so completely unsurprised that this was an LA “reporter”

    If there’s a group of people who typify the idea that news readers are nothing more than empty suits, the reporting staff of the LA news teams would be it.

    … it is particularly hilarious watching them breaking out the North Face gear when the weather drops below 60 degrees as well.

  8. anteprepro says

    On the news site where I first saw this, the comments were flooded with people chastising Samuel L. Jackson for being Rude, and basically accusing him of “reverse racism” or playing the race card, or other mealy mouthed bullshit arguments that privileged white brats try to pull out whenever they need to dismiss claims of racism. I’m on the verge of giving up on humanity.

  9. woozy says

    @13
    Which site was that? Jackson is being … funny. He is taking a bizarre occurrence and running with it and choosing to let be a joke. He’s responding but doing so in a reasonable non-confrontational non-judgemental way. It’s a way that makes the point known but and not ignored but not in a way that makes him seem shrill or like he has a bug up his ass. And although he goes on for a *long* time, he doesn’t go on past the point of it being funny. And he didn’t decimate the guy. He just let him spin but it’s nothing the reporter won’t be able to recover from assuming he has on ounce of humility and grace. I think Jackson was being graceful and strong and I figure it was well played.

    And after making the gaffe, I think the reporter responded in the best/only possible way he could under the circumstances; “oops, I made a gaffe so I deserve a bit of joking making at my expense and I’ll take it with grace and humility”.

    Even if it wasn’t “black actors are interchangible” (I don’t know the difference between Peter Frampton and Eric Clampton nor the difference between Kevin Spacey and William Macy… but then I’m not a Hollywood reporter, am I?) it’s *still* a gaffe and a “do all black actors look alike” comedy schtick, which is both a serious subject but deftly and humorously executed, is an acceptable (and desirable) response.

    Jackson a funny guy who can think on his feet and I’ve got to admire that.

  10. says

    I’m not surprised white ‘leading men’ get mixed up. There are a tons of them. But there are only about a dozen black ‘leading men’ in Hollywood. Is it so much to ask to keep a dozen different people straight?

  11. says

    The YouTube comments are full of white people complaining about Jackson being “racist” for calling attention to the racism.

    They are fired from humanity.

  12. gerryl says

    Reminded me of the SNL game show skit in which contestants had to guess whether the answer was Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney. (And I had thought I was the only one who could remember which was which.)

    I wonder if SNL is going to riff on this incident.

  13. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    I get actors mixed up all the time too, but what puts this pretty solidly into ‘yeah, that’s some racism there’ is this:

    I’m not surprised white ‘leading men’ get mixed up. There are a tons of them. But there are only about a dozen black ‘leading men’ in Hollywood. Is it so much to ask to keep a dozen different people straight?

  14. unclefrogy says

    looks like he was having fun making that new guy squirm.
    part of his job is promotion and feeding fan interest which calls for sometimes having to talk to unprepared idiots or worse.
    uncle frogy

  15. kyoseki says

    New guy? Not so much.

    Sam Rubin has been the entertainment reporter for KTLA for over 20 years.

    … still just an empty suit.

  16. Moggie says

    I guess SLJ was there to promote the new Robocop? Funny thing: although the interview was completely derailed, it actually made me want to see the movie, though I was meh about it before.

  17. says

    And the top rated comments on youtube are those calling Samuel Jackson a racist.

    I really am losing hope for this timeline. Is there anyway we can do a restore from an old save?
    Say, maybe from somewhere around the Cretaceous?

  18. A Masked Avenger says

    I can’t say whether the reporter’s confusion is caused by racism–but it doesn’t matter. Samuel Jackson had every right to call him on his mistake, and his comments were hilarious but also made a timely point.

    A confession here: I thought Samuel Jackson starred in the Matrix, and only now learned different. I’d never heard of Laurence Fishburne. When he popped up in CSI, I told my wife how much he looked like Samuel Jackson. I convinced myself he wasn’t, after watching a while, but I continued to believe that Samuel Jackson starred in the Matrix. In other words, I convinced myself that I could see that Laurence Fishburne (in CSI) was not Laurence Fishburne (of the Matrix).

    Although I don’t claim to be free of subtle racism, I’m pretty sure that racism doesn’t explain my confusion. I’d never heard of Fishburne, but I don’t know the names of most actors–I don’t pay attention. Jackson and Fishburne do have a resemblance, and seeing the side-by-sides on the Internet makes their differences clear (particularly the skin tone, upper lip, nose, and the fact that Fishburne is heavier), it’s also easy to see the resemblance. Factor in costuming and makeup, and I might get fooled again, though I don’t think so.

    That to say, I can agree 100% with Jackson while sympathizing with the reporter. He handled it pretty well. I wish he’d turned it into a dialogue by talking about how often Jackson gets that, or by picking up on the fact that Jackson is one of two black men in Robocop who isn’t a criminal. That would have been worth watching (and probably made the reporter’s career).

  19. Louis says

    Chigau,

    I’d agree that was part of it, but I didn’t see what I would consider a halfway decent apology from the guy. A moment where he shushed his guffawing colleague (and took control of himself) and with appropriate mortification apologised sincerely to Mr Jackson.* Okay Samuel L Jackson might not have let him, so keen was he to mock the cluelessly racist twerp, but had I made that mistake, even innocently and honestly, I would (given the context) been beyond mortified. I’d be telling my chuckling tits of colleagues to shut the fuck up so I could make very clear I was sincerely apologising to Mr Jackson.

    Sorry if I’m pissing on people’s fireworks, yes Samuel L Jackson was very funny, and rightly and righteously so, but this was a moment when any halfway decent person would have held their hands high and made a very heavily telegraphed apology. Sometimes a bit of “over doing it” is necessary.

    Louis

    * And yes, Rob Grigjanis, that Darcus Howe interview (I saw it live, I remember it all too well) was egregiously disgusting. A better example perhaps. And yes, I understand people laugh when they are embarrassed. Grown ups can also take control of themselves, and make appropriate apologies. That didn’t, in my view, happen and it should have.

    Anyone else want to make apologies or mitigation for this presenter’s racism?

  20. Louis says

    Incidentally, whether he’s been right or wrong, mainstream media have repeatedly treated Darcus Howe like shit in this country. He’s a strong, challenging voice and for that reason, amongst the many other less savoury ones, he gets short shrift from our Lite and Shite loving media.

    The fuckers.

    Louis

  21. Louis says

    Quoting me:

    Anyone else want to make apologies or mitigation for this presenter’s racism?

    Scratch that, I’m in a bad mood. Apologies.

    Louis

  22. throwaway says

    Eh, Louis, I thought you were spot-on with that question. Though I’d say it’s more a representation of racist culture by the interviewer rather than a personal racism. Historical, social, and financially imposed segregation work together with other impositions to facilitate racist culture and further segregate. The dominant groups in a segregated culture may not be presented often enough with facts incongruous to their perception of reality. This time it manifested as a confusion between two people who – to those who are not within that dominant group or those who’ve been familiarized with non-dominant groups – look nothing at all similar. Other times it may manifest as surprise at someone from a non-dominant group performing to the dominant groups standards when presented with a situation where the dominant groups expectations are stereotypical and often an unjustified presumption, an example being the story of “The Good Samaritan”.

    That’s why the “That can’t be racist, I confuse white people, too” is a bullshit excuse and is essentially pandering to the non-dominant groups. Not acknowledging the systemic and structural fault that makes such a comparison a false equivalence is a good reason to unleash your anger.

  23. Louis says

    Throwaway,

    Though I’d say it’s more a representation of racist culture by the interviewer rather than a personal racism.

    Yeah, I’d say that was the lower boundary of what happened. I can’t tell if it goes beyond that, I’ve got no clue about the personal interior life (or exterior life) of this presenter, I don’t know if he is racist in all or any aspects of his actions. What I do know is what he did was at the very least, accidental, lazy racism. He did not care to do his job, or is not capable of doing his job, well enough to avoid the pitfall of the lazy racist, i.e. the “they all look alike” trope.

    It’s the context that makes it. That trope exists, that cultural laziness exists, that dismissal of black people exists. Any reasonable, responsible person is going to be mortified if they, however accidentally, say something that could be conceived as repeating that trope, as playing to that specific racist context. Laughing at it continually without the self control to stop, stop your colleagues laughing (and yes I know about corpsing, it takes time to calm down), and address the fact that you have (however inadvertently) committed and act indistinguishable from a virulently racist one, is not good. And Samuel L Jackson’s funniness does not modify that fact.

    Being as generous as I can possibly be the presenter fucked up and did so in a way that was accidentally racist. Even under those circumstances he should have shat himself with fear and chagrin, and stammered out the most abject of apologies. The fact that he didn’t is not good and speaks to the fact that, even if this was just an accident which appeared to be racist, he, and his colleagues, didn’t give enough of a shit to not appear to be racist fucks after the fact.

    This time it manifested as a confusion between two people who – to those who are not within that dominant group or those who’ve been familiarized with non-dominant groups – look nothing at all similar.

    You know, I just don’t get it. I know what YOU are saying, of course, you’re saying it very clearly. But this “black people look alike” shit. I just don’t get it. Even superficially it’s not true. And Lawrence Fishburn and Samuel L Jackson? They look nothing fucking alike at all. It’s not even a close resemblance. For the entertainment person on a TV show to confuse Fishburne and Jackson is sufficiently incompetent to lose your job, regardless of the race angle. If you’re so fucking clueless that two of the world’s most famous actors are easy to confuse for you, get a new job. Medical exceptions will not be made, face blindness and Alzheimers exclude you from that specific job, i.e. a job where remembering faces is kind of part of it. Call me harsh, this guy needs to polish his curriculum vitae and fuck off.

    I don’t go into the lab and confuse t-BuLi with triethylamine. They’re both bases, hurr hurr, but put them into water and you’ll see the difference. And if I did confuse them in a big, public way, I’d rightly be kicked out of the lab for being an incompetent fuck. They’ve got different names and everything. And if you pour them in your eye the results will be very different. You know it might just be that reading the label and knowing the difference between two pretty commonly used bases might be an important part of my job that I should be able to do.

    GAH! More coffee needed. I am becoming sarcastic. I agree with you, I am just pissed off in general! I think I may go and check how the poor fuckers who work for me are doing. They are typically wonderful and make me feel like all is not lost.

    Louis

    P.S.

    Eh, Louis, I thought you were spot-on with that question.

    Coffee correctly applied, temporarily, makes me a nicer person. Within reason! ;-)

  24. David Marjanović says

    Sure Samuel L Jackson is funny and all, but I did not like those white guys laughing his anger off as a joke.

    The reporter was visibly painfully embarrassed and wanted out of this situation as quickly as possible. Jackson didn’t let him and turned this into a teachable moment instead.

    It’s also not at all clear if they’re laughing at Jackson’s anger or at the reporter’s confusion.

    As for self-control about laughing, not everybody has that. I’d flare up again and again for an hour no matter how much I wanted to stay quiet. (…But then, I have no plans of being on TV.)

  25. A Masked Avenger says

    Any reasonable, responsible person is going to be mortified if they, however accidentally, say something that could be conceived as repeating that trope, as playing to that specific racist context.

    Yes, this. I confuse people plenty often, but I’m mortified when I do it to anyone belonging to a group stereotyped as “all looking alike.” Just as some of my best friends are African American, but I would be mortified to say, “some of my best friends are black.”

    But this “black people look alike” shit. I just don’t get it. Even superficially it’s not true.

    Not only is it objectively, provably not true, but in fact black people represent more than 99% of the diversity on the planet. In fact it’s objectively provable that non African populations are much more uniform in appearance, due to the genetic bottleneck when their ancestors migrated from Africa. (Note that “black people” is a weird categorization anyway, since it includes indigenous Australians and Africans in one grouping.)

    And Lawrence Fishburn and Samuel L Jackson? They look nothing fucking alike at all.

    I’m a very inattentive movie watcher, and I routinely confuse people with other people, but I did indeed confuse them. Apparently those two actors, specifically, are so often confused that Laurence Fishburne has signed autographs as “Samuel Jackson” for confused fans. Now that I’ve looked at side-by-side photos, I can see lots of differences, but I can find plenty of compassion for people who confuse them.

    Observe that Samuel Jackson isn’t going around being mistaken for Wesley Snipes, Arsenio Hall, Denzel Washington, or Will Smith.

    Nevertheless, Jackson’s irritation was more than justified, and if I’d made the same blunder I’d both be mortified and fully expect to be schooled.

  26. Scr... Archivist says

    A Masked Avenger @28,

    I thought Samuel Jackson starred in the Matrix, and only now learned different.

    He had the best line in that movie: “Say ‘woah’ one more goddamn time!”

  27. tbp1 says

    I am one of those guys who confuses people for each other ALL the time, including, often, my own students if I see them outside of class, but also people whom I have met on a dozen or more occasions and really ought to remember (my wife never forgets anyone; we are literally that couple with the wife whispering into her husband’s ear, “That’s so-and-so; we met him at this-and-such event, he works at…”). I also confuse actors for each other with reasonable regularity. I’m not a stupid person, and I’m not at all uninterested in other people. My brain is just wired in a certain way. So I don’t think mistaking one black actor for another is the worst thing ever, but I do think the reporter should have done his homework, at least to the extent of looking up Mr. Jackson’s filmography on IMDB.

    All that said, there’s a great bit in Extras, Ricky Gervais’s series about struggling actors in London. One of the characters is trying to chat with Jackson (playing himself) and talks about how much she liked him in The Matrix. He very politely, but firmly, informs her that that was Laurence Fishburne. She is, of course, embarrassed. Andy, Gervais’s character leaps in and tries to smooth things over by saying, “She doesn’t think you all look alike…”.

    One of those signature Gervais moments that really makes everyone squirm.

    http://comicbook.com/blog/2014/02/10/the-first-time-samuel-l-jackson-was-mistaken-for-laurence-fishburne-on-extras/

  28. Louis says

    Reasonable mistaking one person for another by people not employed to know about specific people in a specific field =/= Mistaking two of the most famous actors in the world for each other by someone employed specifically to know about actors and the entertainment business.

    Thank you for your ignoring of the relevant context. I’m reinstating my original question:

    Anyone else want to make apologies or mitigation for this presenter’s racism?

    Hey, I’ll even help answer it: quite a lot of people apparently.

    Louis

  29. sonofrojblake says

    @Louis, 33:

    what he did was at the very least, accidental, lazy racism

    No, what he did was, at the very least, an unforgivably stupid mistake for someone who’s employed to interview entertainers on live television, followed up by the unforgivable failure to recognise that in making a mistake that for others is forgivable, he’d played into a racist stereotype and should have immediately acknowledged that fact and apologised for it specifically. If he’d phrased it just right, it could have been made into a teaching moment that didn’t make him look like an arse.

    Then again, under pressure in front of a TV camera and having already dug himself a deep hole, he may possibly have selected the “stop digging” option just in case his mouth, with or without permission from his brain, said something even more stupid. Phrases like “some of my best friends” or “you people” are apt to crop up in situations like that, and dumb as his mistake was, he wasn’t dumb enough to compound it by saying anything other than “I’m sorry”.

    Here’s a thing – I once bet my cousin actual folding money that Mark Wahlberg played Jason Bourne. I was SO SURE I put my money where my mouth was, before I could get to IMDb (yes, I was alive before smartphones), and when I had to, I paid up. This is not because I think all white guys look alike. It is because as a fairly regular film-goer, those two guys have put together careers and oeuvres similar enough that they overlap in my mind. As it happens, my knowledge of films is such that SLJ and LF are very, very distinct in my mind. I can see how they could be confused, though, and don’t leap for racism on the part of the confuser as the first interpretation due to my own similar mental slips with white actors.

    But I repeat – it was this guy’s job to know who he was talking to. To not do that is just insulting, and he should be sacked for it.

  30. sonofrojblake says

    Oh, and:

    Anyone else want to make apologies or mitigation for what I’m choosing to interpret as this presenter’s racism?

    FIFY.

  31. A Masked Avenger says

    Thank you for your ignoring of the relevant context. I’m reinstating my original question:

    Anyone else want to make apologies or mitigation for this presenter’s racism?

    I’m one of the people who has said that those two actors, specifically, are easily confused by some people. However, I’ve agreed that the newscaster is failing at his job to make the same mistake as a casual viewer; I’ve agreed that Samuel Jackson’s ire was perfectly legitimate; and I’ve conceded that structural racism affecting myself could be contributing to my having confused the two.

    If you want to construe that as apologizing for racism, fuck you very much.

  32. Louis says

    Sonofrojblake,

    No, it was accidental, lazy racism. Context matters. Ignoring the existing trope of “black people look alike” (and many other racist tropes), and the white privilege the guy simply possess by, well, being white in a generally racist society doesn’t help you.

    Look at the words ACCIDENTAL and LAZY again. They’re kind of important. Also consider the fact that committing an act of racism is a single thing. A single act. It does not automagically render the person committing the act some sort of growling, stampeding, universal, global racist for all time and at all places forever and ever. It means he did something that was, IN CONTEXT, racist. Inescapably so. It doesn’t matter if he did it through malice or incompetence. He’s a white guy, confusing two black guys, in a culture where the trope “they all look alike” is widely used by white guys about black guys. There’s no way that isn’t a racist act.

    Perhaps you, wrongly, believe that every racist act is a conscious act of bigotry. It isn’t. The presenter is probably just a blameless numpty. A muppet ill suited to his job (and as I agree he should get his marching papers on incompetence alone, that point stands), but you can’t cut an act from it’s social context and pretend that the equivalent mistaking of two white actors would be the same thing. It simply isn’t. Whether he did it due to incompetence is irrelevant, it’s still a white guy mistaking two black guys in a culture where that is done due to conscious and unconscious racism. Note I described the ACT as racist, not the MAN as racist. I’m not assuming (because I don’t know) the presenter is racist (i.e. consciously perpetrating acts of racism), I am saying that what he did was, regardless of his Magical White Man’s Intent ™ a racist act because of the extant racism/racial inequality in the culture in which the act was committed.

    My anger is derives from the fact that, from what I see in the video, he and his colleagues aren’t aware of/don’t give a shit about the fact that what the presenter did was in and of itself racist, regardless of his personal racism or lack of it, and their actions were insufficient to address this. They brushed it off. Carried on laughing. Tried to conduct the interview with a very angry black guy who was expressing his anger by mocking the stupidity of his interviewer. That is the incorrect response from the presenter, however understandable. The correct response is to make a sincere apology without the laughter and shrugging it off as a minor thing. You know, haha, actually treat the person in front of you with the humanity they undeniably deserve, hoho, and not, hehe, pretend that Samuel L Jackson, and millions very much like him, have not heard “Oh sorry, you all look alike to me” more than once in their lives.

    Louis

  33. Louis says

    No you didn’t fix it Sonofrojblake, you didn’t understand it.

    If you wanted to fix it, which actually is possible, you’d have written:

    Anyone else want to make apologies or mitigation for this presenter’s act of racism?

    Louis

  34. A Masked Avenger says

    I’ve watched the video again, though, and note that the interviewer said, “Working for Marvel, the Super Bowl commercial–did you get a lot of reaction to that Super Bowl commercial?”

    Laurence Fishburne was in a Kia commercial in the Super Bowl. Kia has nothing to do with Marvel Comics.

    Samuel L Jackson was in a trailer for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” which also aired during the Super Bowl.

    Sam Rubin said afterward that he was talking about the Captain America trailer. The evidence supports this: you can watch him in the video, again, referring to “working for Marvel,” which makes sense in referring to the movie about a Marvel Comics hero, but would make no sense in referring to a Kia commercial.

    It’s equally understandable that Jackson would ask, “What Super Bowl commercial?” Jackson made a movie; he never made a commercial. The spot was not actually a commercial, but rather a trailer, which Jackson would have had little or no knowledge of.

    Once Jackson said that Rubin had confused him with Fishburne, it was all over: Rubin obviously thought he was mistaken after all about the Super Bowl commercial for “Marvel,” but if he had realized that Jackson was talking about a different commercial for “Kia,” the interview had taken a wrong turn already.

    I suspect that Louis and others will damn this as flagrant apology for racism, but in this specific instance there’s empirical evidence supporting the assertion that it was actually a misunderstanding.

  35. Louis says

    A Masked Avenger,

    Did you ignore the relevant context? No. Then clearly the question doesn’t apply to you. Hurrah!

    Did IQs drop precipitously around here whilst I’ve been posting less frequently?

    Louis

  36. says

    Man, SLJ is one of the funniest men in Hollywood. Everything he does is just gold, even when it was a turd to start with.

    And Louis, I don’t think you’ve been the slightest bit inappropriate. Even if the presenter wasn’t “a racist”, he did something clearly informed by a racist culture, and though I did see him squirming pretty good and trying to sneak in an apology, I agree it was insufficient and that SLJ schooled him brilliantly and appropriately. And that yes, an entertainment reporter should sure as fuck be able to tell the difference between two of the longest-working, most highly-respected Black actors in US film and TV.

    “Morgan Freeman – he’s that Other Credit Card Black Guy!”

  37. Louis says

    A Masked Avenger,

    I suspect that Louis and others will damn this as flagrant apology for racism, but in this specific instance there’s empirical evidence supporting the assertion that it was actually a misunderstanding.

    Oh dear. Sometimes, juuuust sometimes, a cigar is not just a cigar. Especially when that is cigar is an act in a specific cultural context with a specific cultural resonance.

    Rather than beat my head against a brick wall, which I frankly don’t have the patience for, how about we try to remember the basics? Intent isn’t magic. Doing an X-ist thing doesn’t mean the person a) is a global, forever X-ist, and b) intended to do an X-ist thing. X-ist acts are defined by the cultural context of where they are committed, not the Magical And Forever Unobtainable Intent of the actor.

    Those cover all your objections.

    Now you can go back to telling me how perfectly reasonable it is to mistake two people. Something I’m pretty sure I’ve never disagreed with and is entirely, 100% irrelevant.

    Louis

  38. Louis says

    And just to add, I’m not holier than any fucker. I do sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist etc etc etc shite all the time. I’m a human being, I fuck up. None of these things make me some hideous, screaming bigot, they just show I am fallible like the next person.

    What I don’t do is demand apologetics be rendered for my fuck ups, or have people explain how reasonable it was that I fucked up. I just say (if convinced of my fuck up…doubling down, another fuck up, does happen) “I fucked up”, apologise and hope that the person I fucked up in front of or to is willing to forgive. I can’t really do much else apart from try not to fuck up.

    I have to say, if I’d made a fuck up like this, and I knew it, I’d be equally mortified by the people rushing to claim it reasonable and not racist as I would the original fuck up.

    Louis

  39. says

    Twelve seconds into the video, after Jackson asks him “What superbowl commercial?” the interviewer clearly acknowledges that he’s made a mistake. If he’d had the Marvel “advert” in mind, why didn’t he just answer, “The Marvel one”?

    But, yeah, let’s just accept his obvious self-serving retro-fix, despite it not fitting the facts.

  40. sonofrojblake says

    Louis: a question, in good faith. Is it, do you think, ever in any circumstance possible for a white person to confuse two sufficiently similar black men, and for that NOT to be a racist act? Is it never just someone mixing up two guys whose work and image have elided in their mind for the same reason Marky Mark and Matt Damon did in mine? Or is that kind of confusion always and only a racist act?

    I totally don’t buy the “I was talking about the Captain America” excuse. If he meant the trailer, he’d have SAID “trailer”. And even if he didn’t say trailer, when SLJ said “What Superbowl commercial?” it wouldn’t have wrongfooted him at all. He’d have just said “y’know – the big flying aircraft carrier thing, the commentary on the war on terror, the badass eyepatch blah blah”. The fact he stopped dead in his tracks and looked confused shows that he damn well did mistake SLJ for LF. I still think his lack of further apology was either his own instinct to shut the fuck up and not make it any worse, or quite possibly his producer shouting in his earpiece to apologise and then shut the fuck up and not make it any worse.

    Of course, he’s now made it worse by trying to pretend he didn’t screw up. Not buying it. Sack him.

  41. A Masked Avenger says

    Now you can go back to telling me how perfectly reasonable it is to mistake two people.

    Louis, learn to read. Rubin didn’t mistake anyone. He brought up the commercial for Captain America, while interviewing Samuel Jackson, and the man in the commercial was, indeed, Samuel Jackson. Jackson was confused, because he didn’t film a commercial–he didn’t make the connection, that a trailer for his movie was in fact aired during the Super Bowl.

    Asking a man about a commercial that he did, indeed, appear in, is not confusing him with anyone. Mistaking a man for himself isn’t racist any way you want to slice it.

    Assuming that is the correct explanation (and the reference to “Marvel” in the video strongly suggests that it is), puts Jackson’s reaction in a different light: NOBODY mistook him for Laurence Fishburne in the interview, but Jackson leaped to the conclusion that this had happened. His confusion is understandable: he wasn’t thinking about the trailer that he appeared in during the Super Bowl; and Fishburne was indeed in a Kia commercial during the same Super Bowl. But why Fishburne, specifically? I hypothesize that it’s because he gets that a lot–he gets confused with Fishburne, specifically, a lot. If you’d like to bet against my hypothesis, I’ll be happy to accept your money.

    Racism sucks. Racists suck. Racism infects not only people, but our culture. People confusing those two actors may, more than likely, be a result of systemic racism. But the evidence indicates that Rubin didn’t confuse anyone with anyone. Sorry to take the wind out of anyone’s sails.

  42. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    CaitieCat @ 47

    And Louis, I don’t think you’ve been the slightest bit inappropriate. Even if the presenter wasn’t “a racist”, he did something clearly informed by a racist culture, and though I did see him squirming pretty good and trying to sneak in an apology, I agree it was insufficient and that SLJ schooled him brilliantly and appropriately. And that yes, an entertainment reporter should sure as fuck be able to tell the difference between two of the longest-working, most highly-respected Black actors in US film and TV.

    Absolutely. You do your research before an interview and you have some idea of whom you are interviewing. Being unsure about who an actor is when you see his face on TV is understandable and happens. Being unsure of who an actor is when you’re interviewing him is absurd. It shows that he didn’t do his research, that he wasn’t prepared, that he didn’t make damn sure he understood that Samuel L. Jackson is an individual and not just “that famous black guy.”

    Considering that SLJ is thirteen years older than Laurence Fishburne, a couple of inches taller than him and has a different body and face shape and coloring…I’m a little disappointed by how many people I’ve been seeing around the internet insisting they look alike. If you have a hard time telling people apart, fine. That’s something you have difficulty with. That doesn’t mean they actually look alike.

    If you can see more than “black guy”, they don’t.

  43. A Masked Avenger says

    Twelve seconds into the video, after Jackson asks him “What superbowl commercial?” the interviewer clearly acknowledges that he’s made a mistake. If he’d had the Marvel “advert” in mind, why didn’t he just answer, “The Marvel one”?

    Dafuq? You heard him say “Marvel,” and now you’re going to theorize what–that he not only confused Jackson with Fishburne, but that he also somehow confused Marvel with Kia? “That racist fucker not only confused Samuel Jackson with Laurence Fishburne–he’s also such a stupid fuck that he confused Kia with Marvel Comics! And then had the unmitigated gall to claim, afterward, that he meant ‘Marvel’ when he said ‘Marvel’! Racist shitstain…”

    A bit like learning of a transitional form and replying, “Hot damn! Now there’s TWO missing links! Stronger proof than ever of creationism!”

  44. A Masked Avenger says

    I totally don’t buy the “I was talking about the Captain America” excuse. If he meant the trailer, he’d have SAID “trailer”.

    He’s obviously incompetent. Producing a movie about a Marvel Comics here is NOT “working for Marvel.” And, as you observe, a trailer is not a commercial (although it can be used in one). That being his opening question, it was obviously not only ill-prepared, but so inarticulate as to be nearly incoherent.

    Nevertheless, it’s not plausible that when he said, “Working for Marvel,” he really meant to say, “Working for marvel…ous auto makers like Kia!”

  45. says

    A Masked Avenger #43

    I heard “…working for Marvel[comma] the superbowl commercial…” This is known as “a list of stuff (he thinks) Jackson has done.” Then, reminded of same, he asks about the superbowl commercial he thinks Jackson did.

    Yeah, I totally called him a “racist fucker.” Except, no I didn’t. To quote Louis @43:

    Perhaps you, wrongly, believe that every racist act is a conscious act of bigotry. It isn’t. The presenter is probably just a blameless numpty.

  46. Captain Kendrick says

    I’m sorry, but this is one of the few times when I have to tell the bunch of you calling the reporter a racist to go blow it out your arse.

    Am I racist for constantly getting the following people confused:

    * Jude Law and Joaquin Phoenix
    * Marky Mark and Matt Damon (I know the difference between the two, but there have been many times when I’m thinking of a movie I saw and incorrectly place the wrong one of these two in it).
    * Jeff Daniels and Scott Bakula or some other white dude I can’t remember.
    * Before Lord of the Rings and Spider Man, Toby Maguire and Elijah Wood
    * Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman (and not because they are both named Bill — I really mix them up in my head).
    * Charles Durning, Emmet Walsh and Brian Dennehy are all interchangable. They don’t look anything alike, but I confuse them all the same. I guess all white people do look alike.

    What do they all have in common? They are all white. And so am I. And I mix these dude up all. the. flipping time. And if I’m not mixing them up, I’m misplacing who was in what movie.

    So cut the guy a break. You don’t know what is in his head, you don’t know what his attitudes are, you don’t know anything about him other than that he got caught in an embarrassing mistake.

    That said, though, Jackson was still friggin’ funny as hell. They only thing that would have made it better is if he said “What? Say WHAT one more time! I DARE you M*THERF*CKER!”

  47. ChasCPeterson says

    ^Calling Out^ Hyperscepticism™ A game for all the family. Hours of easy amusement.

    On account of anybody that questions a proposition that I have chosen, for whatever reason, to believe is Just Too Skeptical!!!!

  48. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Before Lord of the Rings and Spider Man, Toby Maguire and Elijah Wood

    Same here.

  49. says

    Calling Out^ Hyperscepticism™ A game for all the family. Hours of easy amusement.

    On account of anybody that questions a proposition that I have chosen, for whatever reason, to believe is Just Too Skeptical!!!!

    On account of “they all look alike to me” being very bloody common, and of entertainment-industry- reporters not knowing their interviewees’ recent body of work not being very bloody common at all. But hey, let’s just throw Ockham out with the bathwater.

  50. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Captain Kendrick @ 58

    And so am I. And I mix these dude up all. the. flipping time. And if I’m not mixing them up, I’m misplacing who was in what movie. So cut the guy a break.

    If you cannot see the difference between you, random viewer at home watching TV, confusing Toby Maguire and Elijah Wood versus an entertainment reporter confusing Laurence Fishburne with Samuel L. Jackson while interviewing the latter, I really don’t know what to say.

    You might confuse Stephanie Meyer and E. L. James books, but that wouldn’t excuse asking Toni Morrison about that time she wrote the Xenogenesis trilogy.

  51. kyoseki says

    He’s clearly conflated both Samuel L Jackson and Laurence Fishburne, thinking the same guy did both the Kia commercial and stars as Nick Fury in the Marvel franchise.

    I’m willing to chalk it up to ignorance rather than racism, but it’s still inexcusable from an “entertainment” reporter.

  52. carlie says

    Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman (and not because they are both named Bill — I really mix them up in my head).

    Here, this will help.

    But seriously, as Mellow Monkey just said, you’re not about to interview any of them on tv. If you were, I assume you would be sure to know what that person did. Either the interviewer really can’t tell them apart, or didn’t think it was worth any of his time to do even a basic small amount of research on Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson before interviewing him on tv. Either of those don’t speak well for him.

  53. woozy says

    I don’t think there’s really much to analyze. It’s pretty clear from the reporters reactions that he mistakenly thought Jackson had done a superbowl commercial (admittedly we don’t know that it was the Fishbourne commercial but he never denied it or said “No, I thought you were in the Coke commercial singing in Tagalog” so we can assume that that was probably the case), he was then corrected by his technician, and he then immediately acknowledged he was mistaken and apologized. When Jackson did his lengthy chastising, the reporter repeatedly made comments of “you’re right”, “I was stupid”, “I apologize” and “I deserve this”. He never did any weaseling or “but I meant the Captain America” slick excuses. When Jackson implied the reporter was confusing actors because they were black, the reporter nodded abashedly and accepted the judgement. All potential theoretical excuses are on the part of internet speculators.

    The reporter fucked up. He realized it. And he accepted the tongue lashing. He claimed that the tongue-lashing was uncomfortable and painful but he acknowledged it was well-deserved.

  54. sonofrojblake says

    @Masked Avenger, 55: Interesting where you cut the quote off, because yeah, if I’d stopped there, you’d be right. I didn’t though, did I? He’s a professional – if he’d meant the trailer, when asked “What superbowl commercial?”, it would have tripped straight off his tongue to say something like “that amazing thing with sky fortress” or whatever, and everything would have moved on. Instead, he froze. He visibly knew, in that instant, that he was screwed.

    @Captain Kendrick, 58: Not just me with the Marky Mark/Matt Damon? Phew.

    I’ll add another to the list. Think of the following films:
    – The Fifth Element
    – Dogma
    – Rush Hour
    – Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

    I’ve seen all those movies. They’re all OK. And I know all four feature a black standup comedian with a hyperactive style, currently in his forties and named Chris. And I get them confused. And I’m honestly struggling with – but prepared to accept if it’s insisted upon – the idea that expressing this confusion is a racist act, because context. (And I get that doing a racist act doesn’t make me a forever-after-bigotted racist git, but even with that proviso I really, really don’t get that not knowing my Rock from my Tucker is racist, while not knowing Jeff Pullman from Bill Daniels isn’t.

    (And fully expect one of the usual suspects to respond with something along the lines of “very magnanimous of you, you fucking racist cis-gendered misogynistic arsehole”, or something similarly helpful).

  55. A. Noyd says

    kyoseki (#63)

    I’m willing to chalk it up to ignorance rather than racism

    Those aren’t mutually exclusive. Very often it is the ignorance itself that is racist.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    sonofrojblake (#66)

    I really, really don’t get that not knowing my Rock from my Tucker is racist, while not knowing Jeff Pullman from Bill Daniels isn’t.

    Basically, the context of an act matters. For instance, because of context, calling a white person “articulate” and calling a black person “articulate” mean very different things.

    In this case, the context is that we live in a world where white people frequently believe, whether we mean to or not, that people of other races* “all look the same.” It’s a very, very common microaggression for PoC to be confused with other PoC by everyday acquaintances such as teachers and managers, with whom they share a much more immediate and relevant connection than we do with any celebrities. And it gets into more than microaggression territory when police and witnesses try to identify suspects from a category that “all looks the same” to them.

    Stop looking at it from the point of view of a white guy who sometimes gets both white people and black people mixed up. Look at it from the point of view of a PoC who regularly gets confused with others who look nothing like them beyond skin color, perhaps even at risk of being falsely incarcerated, because white people just don’t give enough of a fuck to try to correct how we’ve been enculturated to consistently overlook the individuality of people who aren’t white.

    White people have to do better if we don’t want to be racist. Dr. Beverly Tatum made the analogy to a moving walkway to explain how, because racism is institutional and systematic, we cannot avoid participating in it by doing nothing. We have to actively work against racism. “Well, I do it to white people, too” is not an adequate excuse because white people are not oppressed for being white and we don’t face systematic erasure of our individuality. PoC are and do, so us whites should go out of our way to not mix up PoC.

    ………..
    *Racial categories often imposed by us whites, no less.

  56. woozy says

    I really, really don’t get that not knowing my Rock from my Tucker is racist, while not knowing Jeff Pullman from Bill Daniels isn’t.

    wellllll…. I realize this is an unfair lumping of all offenses together, but I think this is a matter of frequency and degree. Yes, we all confuse people now and then but people confuse blacks out of laziness and apathy a *lot* more than people confuse whites at of apparent similarity. And people frequently confuse blacks who have extremely little similarity to each other other than they are both black so that really makes it obvious that the *only* reason for the confusion is the race.
    As you point out, Chris Rock and Chris Tucker are both standup comedians with hyperactive style so there’s quite a bit of similarity to confuse. Jackson and Fishburne, other than both being black, don’t have so much in common. It’d be a bit like confusing Jack Nicholson with Arnold Schwartzeneger maybe.

    …. maybe …. Okay, maybe we don’t have irrevocable proof the slip was “they’re all interchangeable” lazy racism. But Jackson didn’t give an irrevocable sentence either. Jackson didn’t crucify the reporter. Jackson *ribbed* the reporter. I’d even say Jackson gave the reporter a break by bringing in Morgan Freeman and MacDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken commercials (“That wasn’t me either”) and making it much bigger and about much more than the reporter’s single gaffe.

  57. woozy says

    Well @ A Noyd #67 said it *much* better than I did.

    Good job.

    But what is the proper response when you make an “innocent” Tucker/Rock (hyperactive 40s stand-up) mistake? I can accept the moving walkway/”we have to work harder because it matters more” viewpoint, but such mistakes *will* occur.

  58. A. Noyd says

    woozy (#69)

    I can accept the moving walkway/”we have to work harder because it matters more” viewpoint, but such mistakes *will* occur.

    Well, making mistakes despite trying to do better is not the same as not even trying or not even being aware you should try. Once you’re at least trying, you can use your mistakes to do better the next time. At least, that’s what I’ve seen PoC recommend. (Also, acknowledge and apologize but don’t make your screw-up into another problem the person you’re apologizing to has to deal with.)

  59. Captain Kendrick says

    Maybe he is a racist. Maybe he is a lazy reporter.

    But maybe, just maybe, it could have been something as simple as what we call a “brain fart.” As one who is careening recklessly through middle age, they seem to be getting more and more common. Yes, he is a reporter, yes, he is white, but we all have “brain farts.”

    We’ll probably never know for sure.

    Or at least until he interviews Danny Trejo. He was great in Battlestar Galactica.

  60. Jacob Schmidt says

    Louis

    But this “black people look alike” shit. I just don’t get it. Even superficially it’s not true.

    I always guessed that it had something to do with the way we remember faces. Growing up, we see mostly white people. Many neighbourhoods are effectively segregated, most of the media is filled with white people, etc. So we learn to tell white people apart, but just rely on broad differences to tell black people apart, ’cause that’s all we need. Then, when confronted with some actual diversity, we fall apart.

    (“we” in this case just means anybody)

  61. seranvali says

    I thought Jackson showed a great deal of grace. He laughed at the reporter, called him on his racism and made a joke of it, when he could have been really, and justifiably angry. I don’t buy the “it’s ignorance, not racism” out, either. Ignorance is no excuse and racism is inexcusable. To give him his due, however, the reporter didn’t try to excuse himself and apologized profusely.

  62. says

    LOL, Jacob Schmidt, do you even see what you’re writing?

    “we” in this case just means anybody

    Yes. Anybody except those people who did grow up in neighbourhoods where they were much more likely to see a Black face than a white one, who are not addressed by your “we” or your supposition, are they?

    You’re assuming that everyone you’re talking to here is white like you. Also, that the fact that many white people grow up without seeing many Black faces is anything but MORE RACISM. It’s their parents and neighbours who redlined and blackballed and did all kinds of other colourful ways of keeping their neighbourhoods pure and lily-white. It’s hardly much of a comfort to say “Well, he only did this thing based in racist culture because he grew up in a really racist culture,” now, is it? That’s not making life better for the marginalized people we white people have been shitting on for several hundred years.

    Seriously, folks, stop apologizing for the dude. As noted, he wasn’t making excuses, he was apologizing and accepting the hilarious tongue-lashing. Why are so many of you SO MOTIVATED to ensure that it couldn’t possibly be anything even slightly racist that he did?

    Why won’t you accept the word of an expert, a man who’s experienced racism beyond anything you can imagine, as a top Black actor in Hollywood, that he knows racism when he sees it, and he saw it in this clip? He didn’t say “I’m not that other action-film or Jedi actor,” did he? SLJ saw it immediately for what it was – the product of a racist culture. He called it out as such, though being the canny fellow he is, he was smart enough and quick-thinking enough to call it out as racism without ever using the “let’s put the white man’s back up” dreaded r-word.

  63. sonofrojblake says

    @A.Noyd, 67: “In this case, the context is that we live in a world where white people frequently believe, whether we mean to or not, that people of other races* “all look the same.” ”

    “White people”? What, all of us, we’re just an amorphous mass? Fuck that. Other white people are sometimes racist, so I don’t get a pass for an understandable slip? Fuck that. I will absolutely take responsibility for my actions, but I will not take responsibility for the actions of millions of other people I’ve never met. I’ve never really understood this “black people/Oriental people/Indian people all look the same” nonsense. Who in their right mind can’t tell Sammo Hung from Jackie Chan from Jet Li? Who in their right mind can’t tell Forest Whitaker from Denzel Washington, Will Smith from Jamie Foxx? Do people really get those guys confused? And following on from that…

    @woozy, 68: “Jackson and Fishburne, other than both being black, don’t have so much in common”

    Really? Middle aged, little over six-foot tall, athletic build, generally serious on-screen demeanour, worked with Spike Lee in 1988, known for playing “cool” badass mentor character in a long leather coat in an action film franchise. You KNOW I’m not describing Morgan Freeman, Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, blah blah blah blah. But tell me – which of SLJ and LF am I describing there, if they are, as you suggest, so very different?

    @A.Noyd, 70: “acknowledge and apologize but don’t make your screw-up into another problem”… and that’s exactly what the reporter did, right? (To repeat: I absolutely believe he confused SLJ and LF, and I have no idea whether that was down in any way at all to racism, and neither does anyone else, but to have failed to do the research was simple unforgivable incompetence and professionally insulting to SLJ regardless of any racism angle. It was, to me, exactly as insulting as if the guy had told Colin Firth that he loved him in Four Weddings. And don’t tell me that doesn’t happen…)

  64. Louis says

    A Masked Avenger:

    I can read, it appears you can’t think. The presenter was talking about a commercial, what Jackson did was a film trailer. Not the greatest difference in the world but still different things. Jackson’s confusion was due to the presenter attributing to him something he hadn’t done (commercial not trailer). It’s not even remotely unreasonable for Jackson (or anyone else) to assume that the presenter confused two black people in doing so. Especially given the cultural context. Go back and read the rest of what I said, you didn’t understand it. Better still, if you’re actually interested in discussion, as opposed to fluffing your oh so important white apologist feathers, try to restate what I am saying to my satisfaction (a hallmark of any good debate). I’d wager you can’t actually do it.

    _____

    Sonofrogblake:

    No, such an act cannot be “not racist”. I’ve tried to explain this already: given the cultural context, the act itself is, independent of the intent/views of the actor, an act which plays heavily into extant racist ideas. It can’t be seen outside that context no matter how innocent the person perpetrating it is. This is not some big, global accusation of racism towards the presenter of the show, it’s the simple recognition that things cannot be snipped from their cultural context. This is 101 level stuff (as far as I know, I’m doing 102 now!).

    A white person confusing two black people in a culture where the cohort “black people” are systematically more disadvantaged and oppressed (on average) than the cohort “white people” (and yes I am vastly oversimplifying) is doing, however inadvertently, something racist. It could be completely by accident, no fault, no dishonour or criticism implied. It’s just an act that, to an outside observer, is indistinguishable from an act of deliberate, conscious racism because we can never know the inner machinations of the actor. It’s an act that has resonance within a specific cultural context. It has the identical effects to an act of conscious racism. If you tread on my toe, not matter what your intent, accidental or otherwise, my toe still gets trodden on and hurts. It doesn’t matter if this presenter is a RACIST ™ (ZOMG Not a white man being a racist! However will we cope!? It’s the worst thing EVAR!) or not, the act itself is racist. Note distinction: “racist” describes the act, not the actor. A few of you have missed this. Widely. Repeatedly. It’d be nice if you’d grasp it now.

    Does any of this make this presenter a racist? As in a “super KKK loving forever and ever all time racist nasty person of the worst kind”? Of course not! It’s a pretty small fuck up that could have arisen a million different ways. What I have repeatedly said I am pissed off about, and where the presenter went wrong, was that he didn’t realise or acknowledge that what he did could very, very easily and reasonable be seen as an act of overt, conscious racism, whether or not it was. When you make a minor fuck up that can so easily pass for a major one, you make damn sure the person you fucked up in front of knows which kind it is. This shit actually matters.

    ________

    General:

    I have to be honest, explaining really basic stuff that even I, someone not educated in the social sciences beyond picking up a few books, on Pharyngula of all places is a bit bemusing. Like I said above, isn’t “intent isn’t magic” known and understood by the vast majority of people here? Isn’t the sociological use of the word “racism” sufficiently well distinguished in people’s minds that we are comfortable switching between colloquial and technical uses? There have been sufficient wrangles over the use of terminology recently that I find it hard to believe it’s not bubbled up into a few consciousnesses. I wonder if I am going to have to explain what microaggressions are or what privilege is.

    None of these concepts are rare, super complicated, or out of regular discussion here. Why are they suddenly absent from the discourse when clueless white privilege is being challenged ever so slightly? I wonder….no…..no….it couldn’t be for any of the unsavoury reasons that have popped into my head could it? For a place where the discussion over feminism was the reason I had to educate myself about this stuff because of my own myriad fuck ups and dunderheadedness, it’s pretty piss poor to have to reiterate the very basics of the most easily recognised social gradient, race.

    Louis

  65. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @The Mellow Monkey #53

    Oh, that’s who Lawrence Fishburn is! Morpheus! No, they look absolutely nothing alike. How the fuck could anyone mistake one for the other?

    I didn’t even know LF’s real name (which isn’t unusual for me, I’m terrible at remembering the name of anyone or anything), and I wouldn’t have mixed those two up!

  66. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Captain Kendrick #71

    You don’t appear to understand what is meant byt the word “racism” in this context. There’s a big difference between a racist act and a racist person; and I haven’t seen anyone accusing the reporter of being a racist, merely of doing a racist thing. Big difference. Huge difference!

  67. carlie says

    There is a thing that actually exists in this world, known generally as ‘black people all look alike”. Google “black people alike” and you get 123 million hits of people talking about why black people all look alike. It is an actual thing called cross-race bias. Given that that is a thing that exists, it behooves a smart interviewer to pay attention to who he is actually interviewing and what that person has done.

  68. carlie says

    And it’s not just a cute story, and Jackson was not just mad about himself. Think about the fact that cross-race bias has been experimentally measured and found to be a prominent method of ID.. Think about the fact that the majority of this country is white. Now think about the number of times that eyewitness testimony by a white person about a black person committing a crime got that black person sent to prison. It’s not a little thing – it has real consequences.

  69. sonofrojblake says

    @Thumper, 77:

    How the fuck could anyone mistake one middle aged, little over six-foot tall actor with athletic build, generally serious on-screen demeanour, worked with Spike Lee in 1988, known for playing a shaven-headed “cool” badass mentor character in a long leather coat in an action film franchise for the other middle aged, little over six-foot tall actor with athletic build, generally serious on-screen demeanour, worked with Spike Lee in 1988, known for playing a shaven-headed “cool” badass mentor character in a long leather coat in an action film franchise ?

    Yeah, there’s literally no conceivable way that could happen other than racism, right?

    @Louis, 76: no you’re not going to have to explain everything. I’ve read here longer than I’ve posted, and I do get a lot of what you refer to. But what do you mean by “cultural context”, anyway? Whose culture? Do you mean the culture of Hollywood? California? The USA? The world isn’t one single amorphous culture, despite the efforts of Hollywood. The most you can say is “that act cannot be not racist, according to the values of the culture in which I live”. To which I say – fair enough. If, in your culture, it’s always and only a racist act for me to confuse, say, Chris Tucker and Chris Rock, I hold my hand up and apologise to anyone so offended. I recognise that despite my lack of any intent whatsoever, that entirely understandable and defensible confusion causes additional offense due to something else that’s going on of which I’m unaware. Sorry, and I’ll try not to do it again, although obviously I can offer no guarantees, since, as we’ve established, I’m not doing it deliberately.

  70. sonofrojblake says

    @carlie, 79:

    it behooves a smart interviewer to pay attention to who he is actually interviewing and what that person has done

    Doesn’t it behoove that regardless? Really?

    Also, I see a cultural context thing going on here. In the UK, my experience is that there is a racist “they all look alike” thing going on – but it’s not about black people, but rather east Asians. We seem, in our culture, to be perfectly well able to tell black people apart (I have never in my life heard anyone in real life or on TV etc. say that all black people look alike), but have real trouble with Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, etc. “They all look the same”, in my experience, is a phrase applied frequently but exclusively to east Asians. Cultural context, I guess.

  71. sonofrojblake says

    @Louis, 76, I missed this out:

    “What I have repeatedly said I am pissed off about, and where the presenter went wrong, was that he didn’t realise or acknowledge that what he did could very, very easily and reasonable be seen as an act of overt, conscious racism”

    I disagree there. I think he definitely did realise it, which was why he shut the fuck up, said sorry and moved on. I think he knew, in his freezing, quivering bones, that if he acknowledged the implications of what he’d done in any way, off the cuff live on television, he could very, very easily have made it a lot, lot worse. He did the best thing he could in the circumstances, which was to say “That was my fault, I’m sorry” and NOTHING else, and take the ribbing he was getting.

    Screwed it up with his bogus excuse later, though, and I’m not defending that bit at all.

  72. A. Noyd says

    sonofrojblake (#75)

    “White people”? What, all of us, we’re just an amorphous mass? Fuck that.

    White people getting hung up on generalizations about white people is one form of racism. It’s an attempt to shift the focus from things that actually matter to the feelings of white people. Just shut the fuck up about how you’re a precious, special a snowflake. The minutiae of what you personally do or don’t do is not the damn point. The point is that people of color are being harmed. The point is identifying what causes that harm (note: not “offense,” but harm) and what you can do to mitigate it and unmake it even in cases where you’re not the direct source. (For example, taking extra care not to mix up PoC.)

    I will absolutely take responsibility for my actions, but I will not take responsibility for the actions of millions of other people I’ve never met.

    Frankly, you don’t understand how racism works. It’s not, and has never been, the atomized misbehavior of individuals. Did you not grasp the walkway analogy? There’s a system here. We white people all contribute in some way. That contribution can be inaction (or insufficient action), but it’s usually actions as well—even when we’re well-meaning and even when we’re against racism in principle.

    We’re accountable as a group because even if we don’t do actively a particular racist thing, we benefit as a group from other people doing it. They benefit from things we do. We all enable one another. And PoC pay for it in ways you can’t even imagine. Dismantling racism requires white people taking responsibility for the system of transgressions against PoC and for the system of rewards we reap for it. You’re not special and you don’t get to opt out. Neither do I. That’s just how it works.

    To deny that is to actively contribute to racism.

    “acknowledge and apologize but don’t make your screw-up into another problem”… and that’s exactly what the reporter did, right?

    I think he managed in the the end, but it’s really not for me to say how successful the dude was. He definitely screwed up when he tried to move on several times as if the incident wasn’t as important as Jackson obviously thought it was.

    It was, to me, exactly as insulting as if the guy had told Colin Firth that he loved him in Four Weddings. And don’t tell me that doesn’t happen…

    For fuck’s sake. I already addressed this when I talked about context. Context, you fucking ass. Say it with me: CONTEXT. If you don’t account for the context, you’ll continue acting clueless and making false equivalences. (And, FYI? Making false equivalences about the experiences of white people and PoC is a major type of racist action.)

    And,why are you still looking at it from the point of view of a white guy who sometimes gets both white people and black people mixed up? I told you to knock that shit off. Your perspective is meaningless because you’re ignorant—so ignorant you don’t even realize it. As CaitieCat said, “Why won’t you accept the word of an expert, a man who’s experienced racism beyond anything you can imagine, as a top Black actor in Hollywood, that he knows racism when he sees it, and he saw it in this clip?”

    (#81)

    Yeah, there’s literally no conceivable way that could happen other than racism, right?

    The racism is in the system and what screw-ups like that do to contribute to that system. Stop wasting everyone’s time by bloviating from your muddle of typical white-guy ignorance and go read up on the systemic/institutional nature of racism.

  73. sonofrojblake says

    The racism is in the system and what screw-ups like that do to contribute to that system.

    Totally heard that in my head in the voice of Laurence Fishburne.

    Your perspective is meaningless

    Oh, I get that sure enough.

    As CaitieCat said, “Why won’t you accept the word of an expert, a man who’s experienced racism beyond anything you can imagine, as a top Black actor in Hollywood, that he knows racism when he sees it, and he saw it in this clip?”

    Tell you what – when I see Samuel L. Jackson’s word that he saw racism, I’ll accept his word. He didn’t use the word, though. You’d have to ask him why, he’s the expert.

  74. Anri says

    Samuel L Jackson: “We don’t all look alike, you know.”

    sonofrojblake: “I don’t see any claims of racism here!”

    sonofrojblake is a little bit like Colbert – he doesn’t see racism. People tell him it exists, and he believes it, because entertainment reporters interviewing Michael J Fox often mistake him for Neil Patrick Harris.

  75. John Phillips, FCD says

    sonofrojblake, I’m also from the UK, and perhaps it is because I’m possibly older than you, but ‘they all look the same’ has been common toward POC as long as I can remember, i.e. the 1950s. Admittedly, it also gets used about other ethnicities as well, e.g. Asians for probably as long as POC and more recently non white-skinned Arabs, but is still most commonly used about POC around this part of the UK.

  76. A Masked Avenger says

    The presenter was talking about a commercial, what Jackson did was a film trailer. Not the greatest difference in the world but still different things.

    Yes, I did indeed point that out.

    Jackson’s confusion was due to the presenter attributing to him something he hadn’t done (commercial not trailer).

    Yes, I did indeed point that out.

    It’s not even remotely unreasonable for Jackson (or anyone else) to assume that the presenter confused two black people in doing so. Especially given the cultural context.

    Yes, I did indeed point that out.

    …if you’re actually interested in discussion, as opposed to fluffing your oh so important white apologist feathers

    Fuck off.

  77. A Masked Avenger says

    sonofrojblake:

    Interesting where you cut the quote off, because yeah, if I’d stopped there, you’d be right. I didn’t though, did I? He’s a professional – if he’d meant the trailer, when asked “What superbowl commercial?”, it would have tripped straight off his tongue to say something like “that amazing thing with sky fortress” or whatever, and everything would have moved on. Instead, he froze.

    Yes, he quite clearly froze. Which is something that a professional interviewer shouldn’t do. However, you’re ignoring incompetence as a possible explanation, despite the fact that confusing Jackson and Fishburne would also be the act of an incompetent interviewer. You’re arguing, “The man’s a professional! He wouldn’t freeze up–that would be incompetent! He wouldn’t do something incompetent! Therefore it follows that he incompetently failed to do pre-interview prep, and so incompetently confused Jackson with Fishburne.”

    I consider his reference to “Marvel” to be adequate evidence that he was talking about… the Marvel Comics movie trailer that Jackson appeared in in the Super Bowl. You don’t have to agree. It does appear that you’re engaging in rather tortured reasoning to dismiss such clear evidence, though.

    Note that I’m not a professional interviewer, but I would certainly have frozen, because Jackson said, What Super Bowl commercial?” Jackson was obviously claiming that he was not in any Super Bowl commercial whatsoever. That would certainly make me pause to shit my pants and wonder how, exactly, I fucked up. At which point Jackson would have leaped to his conclusion that I was talking about the Kia commercial, and it would be game over for me.

  78. says

    Keith Knight (aka keefknight)’s K Chronicles has a superb comic about this very issue, the way that context can affect how things are perceived.

    And remember, there is a real, serious, everyday threat to Black men in the US today from this cross-race bias, as noted above (forgive, I don’t have the spoons to Ctrl-F around for it), when “eye witnesses” frequently misidentify Black men for serious, even capital, crimes.

  79. carlie says

    Of course, people have to argue that there’s no way that interviewer could have done something racist! Because it’s such a strike to a person to be called racist, that saying something is racist MUST be saved for the most egregious, most important, most obvious cases ONLY. I mean, after you get called out as doing something racist, you, um, well, … I’m sure it’s terrible! I mean, you might have to feel bad for a minute or so! Who wants that on their conscience?

  80. Rey Fox says

    A trailer is a trailer. I don’t even remember the Captain America one airing in the Super Bowl. If Jackson was in it, it was certainly in a minor role, as he is not the main character in the movie.

    The Kia commercial, I definitely remember because it was so damn nuts. Fishburne was front and center in it.

    Fishburne “did” that commercial. Jackson was in a trailer. I think it’s obvious which one the reporter meant.

  81. A. Noyd says

    sonofrojblake (#85)

    when I see Samuel L. Jackson’s word that he saw racism, I’ll accept his word. He didn’t use the word, though. You’d have to ask him why, he’s the expert.

    Wow, really? That’s a completely fucking dishonest standard. Jackson didn’t have to use the word because it’s obvious what he was getting at. And I don’t need to ask him why he avoided the word. Anyone who’s spent even a minimal effort looking into racism and race-related social justice would know: Calling something a white person did “racist” makes white people shit their pants and shuts down the conversation. White people don’t understand the accusation. If a PoC says “that thing you did was racist,” white people hear “you shop at Pointy White Sheets ‘n’ Nooses ‘r Us.”

    As Trudy of Gradient Lair says, she’s “been in several graduate-level psychology classes where White students stated that being called ‘racist’ is the absolute worse thing that could happen to them.” Note that her essay is about white people turning around and calling PoC racist for talking about racism, which is something Jackson’s detractors are doing elsewhere in droves. Obviously they get what Jackson meant, even if they’re being absolute shits about it.

    Your perspective is meaningless

    Oh, I get that sure enough.

    Suuuuure, you get it. That’s why you start sentences with with “It was, to me” after being told to knock it off and refuse to accept that Jackson saw racism until he uses the word explicitly. I’m done with you.

  82. Louis says

    A Masked Avenger,

    Me fuck off? Oh no, sir, allow me to delicately invite you to do so. After all I am a gentleman and couldn’t possibly go first.

    Isn’t it just YAY-worthy that all those lovely people who oppose anti-harassment clauses in conferences, or who make rape threats to women or what have you, just are in no way sexist at all and it’s meanies like me who point this out that are the problem. It’s important to note that there are just no parallels at all with making excuses for the reasonable nature of an obviously racist act. None. Not a one. No sir. Just us chickens.

    And, with that, I feel four words; “time”, “waste”, “of” and “my”, rearranging themselves in my mind to form a well known phrase or sentence. Some umbrage stricken apologists you just can’t reach.

    Louis

  83. Louis says

    A Noyd,

    Calling something a white person did “racist” makes white people shit their pants and shuts down the conversation. White people don’t understand the accusation. If a PoC says “that thing you did was racist,” white people hear “you shop at Pointy White Sheets ‘n’ Nooses ‘r Us.”

    Oh indeed! It is a Well Known Fact that every act of racism is a cross burning, minimum. Same goes for homophobia; starting point is gay bashing or Being Russian. Same goes for sexism where the entry level is rape. And so on and so forth. There can be no spectrum. No description of acts not people. No possibility of privilege blindness. No possibility of nuance. None. Never.

    It’s also impossible that everyone will do one or more of these sorts of things in some minor way on a daily basis and have to alter their perspective to some minuscule degree to avoid it in the future. That’s right out and I want to make sure everyone knows it.

    Louis

    P.S. I do wonder if I am being sufficiently sarcastic.