During this year’s Oscars, The Onion tweeted about Quvenzhané Wallis, the nine-year-old actress in Beasts of the Southern Wild. They jokingly called her a nasty name. A really nasty name. They then apologized and took it back and I have great respect for that. I love it when someone can admit that they made a mistake. (Maybe that’s because I feel like I need to do that so often.)
But a surprising number of people thought that was not necessary. They felt that it was just a joke and that people were too sensitive about it.
I so strongly disagree with them that it makes my hands shake.
I started acting when I was four years old, and I remember feeling that because I was in movies, anything in my life was fair game. Since I got to be part of this revered world, things like compassion and general human decency went out the window.
When I was a few years older than Quvenzhané, I was in a pool at a hotel and got recognized. The man asked me to get out of the pool so that we could take a photo together. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of posing with a stranger in my bathing suit, but when I asked him to wait until I got dressed he got mad. He yelled at me and said, “You’re an actor. You owe it to me.”
It’s sad to me that some people feel that actors are rented humans, here for mere entertainment.
I get that The Onion tweet was a joke and it was supposed to be funny. I love funny. But all I can think about is Quvenzhané’s family sitting around the dinner table, trying to explain to her what the “c-word” means.