An anti-racism video featuring 14 Hollywood celebrities may have done the impossible and brought together a divided nation.
Of course, the reason people are coming together is to make fun of the video, which, while it makes valuable points, is chock full of actors acting “actorly” in a manner that The Daily Beast called “cringeworthy.”
The public service announcement is titled “I Take Responsibility,” and features appearances from white celebrities like Sarah Paulson, Aaron Paul, Kesha, Kristen Bell, Justin Theroux, Debra Messing, Bryce Dallas Howard, Julianne Moore and Stanley Tucci.
The celebrities, all filmed in black and white, then recite the following:
I take responsibility for every unchecked moment, for every time it was easier to ignore than to call it out for what it was. Every not-so-funny joke. Every unfair stereotype. Every blatant injustice no matter how big or small. Every time I remained silent. Every time I explained away police brutality or turned a blind eye.
I take responsibility. Black people are being slaughtered in the streets. Killed in their own homes. These are our brothers and sisters. Our friends. Our family. We are done watching them die. We are no longer bystanders; we will not be idle. Enough is enough.
The script’s good intentions are muted by its reliance on cliches meant to lend gravitas.
You know they’re serious because the video is in black and white. You know they’re serious because it’s a montage. You know they’re serious because they pointedly repeat phrases like “I take responsibility” and “I stand against hate.”
Oh, and because Paulson is wearing thick glasses, the website added.
Although the video may have been well-intentioned, the “performative” nature reminded many people of the celebrity-filled and much-maligned “Imagine” video actor Gal Gadot created at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year.
Naturally, Twitter users took responsibility for their own reactions to the PSA.
it would be so much easier to just say nothing, make the donations, tell people why you made the donations and just show up when we need them to, but they are compelled to do stuff like this https://t.co/AocmT1Isvl
— Aaron Smarter (@AaronSmarter) June 11, 2020
White celebrities, in the moments before they cancelled their private security service (ADT, etc), moved out of their doorman buildings and Malibu safe houses, put their children in the local public school and joined the revolution. Inspiring! https://t.co/3TIFDoe4vr
— Caitlin Flanagan (@CaitlinPacific) June 11, 2020
The juxtaposition is so striking: celebrities recognizing the devasting material consequences of racism, but their solution is…. denouncing microaggressions and racist comments by “making their presence known,” “calling out hate” and “stepping up.” https://t.co/hD8lP064T1
— Bhaskar Sunkara (@sunraysunray) June 11, 2020
Some people pointed out the celebrities in the video had other options besides making cringeworthy PSAs.