Ok, my inbox just exploded after the whole “Martin Freeman is racist” comment. I won’t reply to them individually, but I’ll add my thoughts on the matter expressed in those comments. (Note: I’m referring to anonymous comments I received; I suppose people are quicker to voice their true opinions when they are anonymous.)
This will be longish, but kind of important, so I’d really like if you read it.
First things first, I didn’t Google the article in question yet. So I don’t know what’s exactly going on (what he said), but judging by people’s answers, it has something to do with Freeman’s dislike for multiculturalism. And while nothing is absolute, when people say something is racist, it, sadly, usually is. So while I don’t like to criticize/judge anything before I read it, I will make an exception here, because this post is more about the comments I received than Martin Freeman’s words.
0. Anon can express her* feelings any way she wants. I am not concerned about being judged; I am more concerned about unlearning my own prejudice, if you know what I mean. It’s the old thing about people being more upset because somebody called them a racist than being upset for being racist.
* - I assume it’s a “she”, because I have only 1-2 male followers and I never receive messages from those who don’t follow me. Anon, if you are a male, I apologize.
In short, effort should be made towards truly unlearning your own prejudices, not towards appearing non-prejudiced (because God forbid somebody calls you on for it).
1. Celebs whose work we like will often share opinions we dislike. It doesn’t mean we should make excuses for them!
2. Context IS important, yes. From my POV, Americans (and other Westerners) are sometimes overly concerned with the semantics at the expense of context. This is something I don’t fully understand. But I doubt it has anything to do with what we’re talking about here.
3. Whether Freeman is a “right-wing nut” is irrelevant. Because it would mean that those who are left-wing are somehow “better” or less racist or whatever, while we all know it’s not true (it is true on individual basis, but not simply because of political preferences). Their semantics is different, but it’s often all (see #2).
4. WTF about the “It was 4 years ago” excuse? What does this even mean? The world is only getting worse every day, so whatever his opinions might be 4 years ago I doubt they are better today.
This is the case all over the world, and it’s strikingly clear in the UK. They do try to stop immigrants at all costs, even the most educated ones, even PhD students. Their government just tries to stop people from “certain countries” to come to UK. I know, because my country is one of those, and I am white (whiter than Benedict Cumberbatch on a bad day), and my country is white.
5. Nobody is preventing me or you from liking “Sherlock” series. That is besides the point. We live in such a world where basically anything is racist, sexist and homophobic, so it’s kind of assumed TV shows will also be like this. We can choose to either refuse to watch them or enjoy them for their positive qualities without forgetting the questionable stuff.
And yes, I know “Sherlock” was full of it even before this; in fact, I was planning a series of posts on problematic -isms in this series - the first installment is in my draft for days and I hope I’ll publish it soon.
It’s not about somebody preventing you from liking a show or a man’s work even if he shares some opinions you disagree with. It’s about calling those people/work out on it when this happens - NOT trying to make excuses for them, because at that point it stops being about these shows and these celebs, it becomes about you.
It’s one thing to say: “I know X is homophobic, but I like the show for other reasons and it doesn’t stop me from enjoying certain aspects of it even if I’ll criticize some others”. (Just like it’s one thing to say: “I simply refuse to watch it because X is problematic”). But trying to make excuses just because you like the show/celebrity, or worse - because you secretly share their opinions - that’s bad, to put it mildly.
6. Calling people out on their racism (or sexism, homophobia, etc.) should go without saying. This doesn’t mean you suddenly hate this person or that you don’t want anything to do with them. Let’s face it: most (all?) people fail in at least one of these areas (or similar areas), so pretending it isn’t so it’s not doing any good. Calling people out on their shit does not equal hate towards a person. But these things shouldn’t be ignored.
Even if it’s your co-worker. Even if it’s your best friend. Even if it’s your parent. Not to mention just an actor whose work you like.