The latter part of the 21st century has had it’s fair share of fads, we’ve seen the steady rise of odd and unsettling obsessions and of course we’ve become increasingly aware as a generation of the unequal playing field that is life. With our increasing social awareness, why then do we find that more and more public figures get away with being problematic?
In case you live under a rock, I’ll give you a little definition of what it means to be problematic. To be problematic is to be constitute a problem; in our case — fuel an already raging fire. For example, rape culture is a massive problem and yet more men are likely to salivate at the sight of leaked nudes than appreciate a woman owning her sexuality.
Okay, back to my question.
Why is it that people are still left unscathed when they’ve been found to be problematic? Some of my theories include white privilege, particularly of the male variety; the overbearing weight of patriarchy and perhaps hypocrisy.
I’ll start off with hypocrisy. As I mentioned earlier on, the 21st century has had its fair share of fads, and at times I feel that activism is just another trend. When you say that you stand for social equity, you must understand that your fight is not for a select feat. Are you really fighting for anything equitable if you blindly support unrepentant rapists or abusers? There are a handful of people in the film industry who perpetuate harmful social ideals e.g. Zionism, abusive tendencies etc. and still attract unwavering love from fans, roles and propaganda like press. While I am a champion of second chances, I will never fail to appreciate the power that lies in appreciating fault. People with access to such vast audiences could do their fans a lot more good by choosing to use their voices to denounce their past transgressions and campaign for change, as opposed to glossing over it all like it never happened. In my opinion, that’s a really insensitive and flawed PR tactic! Success isn’t in forgetting the mistake but by acknowledging it and equipping yourself with the tools to rise above. Ask yourself today if you really know what it means to be an advocate for social justice and weigh your answer with idols that you might stan for, now ask yourself; what is it about an aggressor that is so endearing?
Secondly, we need to have a serious discussion about inconsistent outrage courtesy of white, cishetero privilege. There seems to be this cosmic rewards system, for every bigoted thing you may so or do you get a cookie. It doesn’t matter what you do, you just keep getting cookies. We see a lot of that with a certain pocket of people; Scarlett Johansson, Matt Damon, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Renner, Robert Downey Junior — the list goes on. Contrary to popular belief, this luxury afforded to people of a certain pedigree isn’t something that others seek to enjoy — in all honesty, accepting that you are human is enough for us, it would help perpetrators of social insensitivity and the rest of the world if we become better acquainted with accountability and sincerity. Recently Chris Hemsworth apologised for a culturally insensitive native american costume and used his thoroughly thought out apology as an avenue to express his support for the North Dakota pipeline protectors — in a perfect world, people would take ownership for their mistakes and not get offended or frustrated when they have them pointed out or invalidate genuine concern of the people that they offend!
Before I go, I want to discuss the annoying presumption that pointing out someone’s errors automatically means you have rabid hate for them — where does this come from? Lateral thinking. Your mind wasn’t made to work in such mundane fashion, think, read, explore the endless resources online or talk to someone about their points of view instead of attacking them. For what it’s worth, acknowledging someones wrong does very little for me, depending on how they react of course. But mostly because it’s weird to be overly hung up on people who don’t know I exist. I am just a little more concerned with people who sideline their audience and opportunity to elevate consciousness, help a just cause such as Black Lives Matter, NDAPL to preserve their ego and inflate their ignorance. It’s 2016, think before you talk, get with the program.
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.