It is never much fun to be a victim of a stereotype, as I have discovered simply by pointing out the flaws in the theory of Global Warming. I found myself called a “denier” by people who knew about as much about arctic sea-ice as an elephant knows about scuba diving in coral reefs. So-called “liberals” proved themselves little more than nasty parrots, incapable of opening their minds more than an oyster’s shell at low tide. The very people most dead-set against stereotyping turned out to be the best at doing it.
This grotesque hypocrisy is on display once again, in Hollywood, as Harvey Weinstein finds himself under attack by the very yes-men and yes-women who were his bleating sycophants, up until recently. Not that people didn’t recognize his behavior was brash and oppressive and bullying and sleazy, but people put up with it as long as he had great power and influence. Only as his power recently lessened did he learn how deep people’s affection was. Now he learns what it is like to be a victim of a stereotype. He has been stereotyped, and the people attacking him are behaving like stereotypes.
One of the most crazy examples of outraged behavior I’ve heard about was one suggestion that Weinstein’s name be removed from the credits of every film and every TV drama he was ever involved with. The very man people fawned over, to get their names in credits, is apparently to be “disappeared”, or so is the mentality of some.
This mentality fits the Hollywood stereotype of supremely superficial shallowness, wherein fame trumps Truth, and the only moral guidelines are the ropes used to climb into the limelight. Fame is the end all and be all, the false idol worshiped by the crazed. Fame is worth selling your body for; it is outrageous hypocrisy for many in Hollywood to raise palms in pretended horror at Weinstein’s sleazy behavior, when they themselves know the art of sleaze so well.
The problem is that people have become so enamored of Fame that they have lost touch with Truth. They are so occupied with the “image” they want to project (as being perfectly fabulous) that they strive to be “stars”, above being human. They are proof of Saint John’s statement, “If you say you have no sin then the Truth is not in you,” and Saint Paul’s warning that if they ignore the obvious Truth then they will be “given over to the sinful desires of their hearts.”
That word “given” is often used to excuse shortcomings, as in the statement “he is given to outbursts” or “he is given to drinking too much.” It excuses those parts ourselves we are most embarrassed by, as mere “foibles”, but none of us wants to be “given” to lowness. We’d far rather see our better side mysteriously appear, as it does when we are inspired. And because art is all about inspiration, and actors are supposedly artists, Hollywood should know better.
One of the most ambiguous aspects of spirituality involves what is called by Christians “the confession of sin and assurance of pardon.” Basically it involves escaping lowness by admitting it. Hollywood, in a sense, admits sin, but then they go too far, by welcoming it and justifying it. They are forever scorning the church-going public as “prudes”, however I doubt true Christians grow fangs and go after so-called “sinners” in the manner Hollywood is going after Weinstein.
What is attractive about a truly humble person is his or her ability to admit what they did was stupid. They don’t demand equal rights for their mistakes, but rather blush about them. “What a jackass I was,” they admit, “to cut in line in front of you.” Somehow their admission makes the urge we had (to strangle them) abruptly evaporate.
Hollywood, on the other hand, seeks to repress. This is most obvious in their desire to “disappear” certain elements of human nature. They have no qualms about making apparent their distaste towards certain stereotypes, though they themselves are stereotypes.
For example, a strangely beautiful element of America involves the South, and the children and grandchildren of people who went through the experience of having slavery acceptable in 1864 and illegal in 1866. Hollywood has tended to degrade the whites as “racist pigs” and the blacks as “Uncle Toms”, and has tried to “disappear” the entire experience from American History.
An exception to this Hollywood bigotry was Walt Disney, who produced the movie “Song of the South” in 1946. This movie suggested there is much to love about the Old South, but Hollywood bigots now refuse to release it as a video to the American public, afraid “Uncle Remus” is a too much of a stereotype.
If he is a stereotype, I want to be one too. I often say my aim is to be a cantankerous anachronism, and to be the epitome of an old Yankee. Uncle Remus was the southern equivalent, and I had the honor and privilege of meeting such a person, back when I was sixteen.
Back in better times I, at age 16, was allowed by my parents in Boston to hitchhike to my grandparents in Florida. I wanted to “see America”. It was 1969, and, though it was only April, the heady atmosphere of “the summer of love” made my journey an experience of Humanity At Its Best. Not that whites didn’t warn me to watch out for blacks, and not that blacks didn’t warn me to watch out for whites. Not that Northerners didn’t tell me to watch out for Southerners, and not that Southerners didn’t tell me to watch out for Damn Yankees. And not that absolutely everyone didn’t tell me to watch out for Southern Cops, but the Southern Cops very kindly told me to watch out for absolutely everyone. Like I said, it was back in better times.
It occurred to me, even at that tender age, that Hollywood was misinforming me. (My idea of southern policemen was from the movie “Easy Rider.”) (I thought southern officers would automatically assume I should be shot, for being northern and naive.)
In those days I-90 came to a halt in South Carolina. (They were struggling to engineer a passage through the mires of the Great Pee Dee River.) Therefore I had to find my way through the rural south to where I-90 was again complete, towards a very smelly paper mill in Savannah, Georgia.
Southern people, back then, had a very hard time understanding my accent, whether they were white or black. Even so, everyone was kind. I was a stereotype to them, and they were all stereotypes to me, but we had wonderful conversations. I think people liked the simple fact I was wide-eyed about things that were new to me but which they took for granted, such as festoons of Spanish moss hanging from oaks that didn’t shed their leaves in the winter.
At one point I was hichhiking down a road through fields where sharecroppers still used hand-held plows behind mules, and an old black man stopped his ancient Ford pickup. I was a little surprised, because he had a small boy, who I assumed was a grandson, with him. The old man asked me all sorts of questions, such as whether I had ever seen a hand-held plow before (no) and I had the odd sense he was doing it to educate his grandson, who regarded me with wide eyes. I wish I’d had the guts to ask him some questions of my own. Even so it was good talk, and I am very grateful to the fellow for his kindness.
However Hollywood would likely typecast the fellow as an “Uncle Tom.” He wasn’t militant. He didn’t lecture me. Instead he was kind, and caring.
He is one reason I too want to be a stereotype. I want to be as beautiful as that old man was, as I get old.
Hollywood? I fear they are increasingly ugly, even as they think they are of, “The Beautiful People.”
If you want to read a short story, full of love, about the stereotypes of the “old South”, as it existed in 1903, read the O Henry tale called “The Duplicity Of Hargraves“.
Even though the hero is an actor, I doubt the current mindset of Hollywood could ever, ever touch such a plot with a ten foot pole.
Why? Because being human, in a manner called a “stereotype”, is treated with Love, rather than despised.