- In an interview with Joe Rogan, Robert Downey Jr. defended his decision to act wearing blackface in the film Tropic Thunder, arguing that it was satire.
- Former talk show host Megyn Kelly responded in a tweet, suggesting that NBC Universal gave him a free pass while she was “canceled” by the company for comments previously made defending blackface.
- Some Twitter users criticized Kelly, pointing out that the movie was a parody while her comments were serious, while, others agreed that she was treated unfairly.
Robert Downey Jr. Interview
Former news anchor Megyn Kelly accused NBC Universal of practicing a double standard regarding discussions of blackface after Robert Downey Jr. defended his decision to play a character who wears blackface in the movie Tropic Thunder.
The 2008 satirical action-comedy centered around four actors who were filming a Vietnam war movie. In the film, Downey plays Kirk Lazarus, a method actor who got “pigmentation alteration” surgery to darken his skin so he could play a black character for the movie.
While the character drew some criticisms, the film was still quite well-received by critics, many of whom felt the movie was a satire of Hollywood and that Downey’s character fit that narrative. Downey was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, as well as other awards for the role.
The topic was recently rehashed again when podcast host Joe Rogan asked Downey Jr. if he believed Tropic Thunder could be made today. Downey said that he initially thought the role was “a terrible idea.”
“And then I thought, ‘Well hold on dude, get real here, where is your heart?’” he continued. “And my heart is, a) I get to, I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there’s something in it for me. The other thing is I get to hold up to nature the insane, self-involved hypocrisy of artists and what they think they’re allowed to do on occasion. Just my opinion.”
Downey Jr. went on to praise Ben Stiller, who co-wrote, directed, and acted in the movie.
“He knew exactly what the vision for this was,” he said. “He executed it. It was impossible to not have it be an offensive nightmare of a movie. And 90% of my black friends were like, ‘Dude, that was great.’”
When asked about the other 10% Downey Jr. admitted that he couldn’t disagree with them.
“But I know where my heart was,” he explained. “And I think that it’s never an excuse to do something that is out of place and not of its time, but to me, it was just putting a, it was a blasting cap on.”
Rogan then circled back to the question of whether or not the movie could be made today.
“There’s a morality clause here on this planet, and it’s a big price to pay,” Downey Jr. said. “And I think having a moral psychology is job one, so sometimes you just got to go, ‘Yeah I effed up.’ Again, not in my defense, but ‘Tropic Thunder’ was about how wrong that is, so I take exception.”
Megyn Kelly Responds
After the clip went viral, many people took to Twitter to respond. Some criticized Downey, saying that blackface is never acceptable, while others agreed with the actor that the film was meant to satirize those who actually do blackface.
Kelly, however, had a different take altogether. In October 2018, Kelly drummed up controversy after comments she made on her NBC talk show about wearing blackface on Halloween.
“But what is racist?” she asked in the segment. “Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
Kelly publicly apologized for the comments on her show the next day. But three days after making those remarks, NBC canceled her show, and her contract with them was terminated in January 2019.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Kelly went after NBC Universal, which produced Tropic Thunder, accusing them of a double standard.
Response to Kelly
Twitter users responded to Kelly’s post with the expected mixed reactions.
Some argued that the movie was a satire and that Downey was just an actor playing a role, while Kelly was a journalist speaking as herself on her own talk show.
Robert Downey Jr. parodied racists who choose blackface in “Tropic Thunder”. Your personal and career failings are of your own making and can’t be attributed to a racist character you were playing (that’s Alex Jones’ weak defense).https://t.co/yK5Sae0G96— the inverted pilcrow. ¶ (@dlnodots) January 23, 2020
Robert Downey Jr – satire. Megyn Kelly – racism. Big difference, which you obviously still cannot get over. You must be missing that paycheck. Oh and we haven’t forgotten about your white Santa BS too.— Suzie O’Shea (@oshea_suzie) January 23, 2020
Did you see Tropic Thunder? His character was a parody of an idiotic, egomaniacal actor who thought he was making some kind of deep point. In other words, his character was a parody of people like you.— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) January 23, 2020
On the other side, some people agreed with Kelly, arguing that she was right and it was and that she was treated unfairly.
Complete double standard. They didn’t treat you right.— Eric Coleman (@EricSColeman) January 23, 2020
NBCUniversal did you dirty. The way you were treated was absolutely disgraceful. Excited to see what you do next.— Tyler Cardon (@TyCardon) January 23, 2020
You got a raw deal there. It has nothing to do with “blackface”. They used it as an excuse.— gypsy_sol77 (@GypsySol77) January 23, 2020
See what others are saying: (IndieWire) (Fox News) (Vanity Fair)
Fire at Home Reportedly Owned by Beyoncé and Jay-Z Under Arson Investigation
Officials said there were no injuries or evacuations during the fire, which was put out in around two hours.
Fire Breaks Out at Famed Couple’s Reported Residence
A Wednesday fire at a historic home in New Orleans, Louisiana believed to be owned by music titans Beyoncé and Jay-Z is being investigated as a possible arson.
On Thursday, a New Orleans Police Department spokesperson confirmed to multiple outlets that it had received a tip about a suspicious person in the area. Further details about the suspicious person and the cause of the fire have not been revealed.
Neighbors told local media that there is an unlocked gate on the property that outsiders sometimes use to gain entry.
Officials told The New York Post that it took 22 firefighters over two hours to extinguish the blaze, with no reported injuries or evacuations. The extent of the damage currently remains unclear, but a spokesperson told The Post that given the age of the residence, the situation could have been far more severe.
“If [the firefighters] didn’t get there when they did, it could have been much worse,” the spokesperson said. “It’s a historic home.”
About the Home
The building was first built in the Garden District neighborhood of the city in the 1920s as a church. It was later used as a ballet school and then became a high-end residence in 2000. Realtor.com says it is currently valued at $3 million.
The home was purchased in 2015 by Sugarcane Parkin LLC. According to The Washington Post, this company has the same registered address as other entities owned by Beyoncé. Sugarcane Parkin is also allegedly managed by Beyoncé’s mother, Celestine Lawson, better known as Tina Knowles.
Representatives for the “Lemonade” singer and her husband have not issued any public statements about the incident, nor have they confirmed that the home is owned by the couple.
In March of this year, storage units in Los Angeles belonging to Beyonce were burglarized. According to TMZ, over a million dollars of goods were stolen, including expensive dresses and handbags.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post) (NOLA)
Cleveland’s Baseball Team Changes Name From Indians to Guardians
The move marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans.
Name Change Announced
Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team said Friday that it will change its name after the 2021 season from the Indians to the Guardians.
The team announced the name change with a just over two-minute video narrated by actor Tom Hanks.
“You see, there’s always been a Cleveland — that’s the best part of our name,” Hanks says in the clip. “And now it’s time to unite as one family, one community, to build the next era for this team and this city.”
This marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans.
Despite long-running calls to change racist and offensive team names — including the Washington Redskins — such campaigns did not gain significant momentum until the nationwide racial reckoning that followed the murder of George Floyd.
Officials behind the Cleveland team first pledged to change the name last year and previously removed the “Chief Wahoo” logo, a caricature of a Native American character, from its uniforms following the 2018 season.
It toyed with several options before ultimately landing on Guardians, which draws from Cleveland’s architectural history.
“We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said in a news release.
“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.”
“‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family. While ‘Indians’ will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and city as we are all Cleveland Guardians.”
Guardians will be the fifth name in franchise history, joining Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-14), and Indians (1915-2021).
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editor Slams Megyn Kelly for “Bullying” Naomi Osaka
Editor M.J. Day said Kelly’s attacks against Osaka are “part of the problem” when it comes to mental health discussions.
Megyn Kelly and Naomi Osaka’s Heated Twitter Exchange
The editor of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue slammed former TV news anchor Megyn Kelly Tuesday for mocking cover model and tennis star Naomi Osaka.
“It’s such bullying and it’s so unnecessary,” editor M.J. Day told People Magazine’s “Every Day” podcast. “And [Osaka] did nothing wrong.”
Osaka made history Monday by becoming the first Haitian and Japanese woman on the cover of the iconic issue. The athlete has been making headlines over the last few months for speaking openly and vulnerably about her mental health. In the spring, she said she was not going to participate in French Open press events because of the toll it takes on her as an introvert who has struggled with depression. She later withdrew from the tournament after that choice sparked backlash and likewise opted out of Wimbledon to take some “personal” time.
Some — conservative pundits, in particular — slammed Osaka for stepping back from these roles because of her mental health, but still opting to work on other projects, including the release of a Barbie doll, a Netflix docuseries, and a handful of magazine covers. Kelly joined that bandwagon, noting that Osaka has been featured in the likes of Vogue and TIME.
“Seeing as you’re a journalist I would’ve assumed you would take the time to research what the lead times are for magazines, if you did that you would’ve found out I shot all of my covers last year,” Osaka tweeted in response, though she later deleted the post.
“Instead your first reaction is to hop on here and spew negativity, do better Megan.”
M.J. Day Says Kelly is “Part of the Problem” With Mental Health Conversations
Kelly later tweeted that Osaka blocked her on Twitter, lashing out at the tennis champion for that decision as well.
People online have been largely defending Osaka and criticizing Kelly. Many argue that it is unfair for Kelly to attack a young woman who has been vocal about dealing with mental health issues; though it’s a practice the former Fox and NBC host has made a recent habit of, likewise attacking Meghan Markle and her husband Prince Harry.
Day said that remarks like Kelly’s are the reason it is so hard for people to have open and honest conversations about mental health.
“I’m like, ‘You know what, you’re journalists,’” Day added. “How about you do your job and you fact check instead of jumping all over this woman for attention, for ratings, for whatever it is that they’re doing? Which is, by the way, part of the problem. It’s part of the reason why mental health is such an issue.”
“How about we do our due diligence and make sure we know what the reality of a situation is before we come for people,” Day continued. “It broke my heart to see someone who is really living her life for the betterment of others while also trying to pursue her own passion.”
“Let her live. Let her make decisions for herself that protect her own wellbeing. It’s at no cost to anyone.”