Lee Daniels’ Ugliest Race Card

Lee Daniels---one more celebrity we can safely ignore forever.

Lee Daniels—one more celebrity whose pronouncements we can safely ignore forever.

African-American “Empire” star Terrence Howard, recently admitted in an interview that he struck his first wife. The big controversy is over whether he hit her with his fist or with an open hand–so what? Quibbling about his mode of physical abuse is inherently offensive. He hit her. Howard also hit second ex-wife Michelle Ghent, who filed a restraining order against him and was photographed with a black eye in 2013. Howard claims this was self-defense.

Okay, let’s accept that.

He hits his wives.

Lee Daniels, who placed his name in front of his film “The Butler”—even Orson Welles wasn’t that much of an egotist—and is “Empire’s” co-creator, came to his star’s defense in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “That poor boy,” Daniels said. “[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some fuckin’ demon That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”

The toxic values and warped perception inherent in that comment are staggering. In Daniels’ value system, Howard is a “poor boy” because he is receiving public criticism for admitted domestic abuse. Daniels appears to think the offense is trivial, and sinks to the use multiple rationalizations, like #1. The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it,” #2. The “They’re Just as Bad” Excuse, #32. The Unethical Role Model: “He/She would have done the same thing,” and #39. The Pioneer’s Lament, or “Why should I be the first?” to excuse the inexcusable. In doing so, he also smears Marlon Brando, who is dead and can’t defend himself, and Sean Penn, who isn’t involved in the Howard controversy at all, and who has never been convincingly shown to have committed domestic abuse beyond the level of rumor. Moreover, choosing these two infamous bad boys and wretched role models as a basis for comparison also invokes the worst rationalization of all, #22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

That’s still not the most repugnant aspect of Daniels’s statement. He plays the race card, implying that Howard is only being criticized because of his color. That Daniels would dare to say this, not to mention think it, pretty much removes any interest I might have had in anything he might write or have to say, ever, about anything. This is signature significance: ethical people don’t say thing like this. He is an ethically addled racialist, who has come to believe that race dictates the removal of accountability for all wrongdoing, and that holding blacks responsible even for crimes they admit doing is necessarily racist and unfair.

His statement “is a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”

Meanwhile, Sean Penn is suing him for slander, to the tune of ten million dollars.

Good.

 

35 thoughts on “Lee Daniels’ Ugliest Race Card

      • I suppose it depends if it was the studio’s idea or his. I don’t think they wanted to change the title since, if I’m not mistaken, marketing material had already been put out at that time. They don’t often change the title after posters and such have been made, though it did actually happen this year, when “Adam Jones” changed to “Burnt.” (I don’t know who let it out with such a boring, generic name in the first place.)

  1. Another case of the fast-developing melanin-fueled untouchability in this nation. Not only is the guy black himself, so whites can’t criticize him or hold him accountable, not only is the perpetrator black, so the same applies, but he (Daniels) produced the granddaddy of all Oscar-bait, race-baiting, historically inaccurate films which no one is allowed to criticize on pain of being labeled a hater or a racist, so sit down and shut up, whitey, your time is OVER.

    • So what exactly do you want, Beth? All wife beaters get a free pass or just the ones Oprah produces?

      Connery’s good looking but despicable and a misogynist and made his fortune portraying a bed-hopping, serial womanizer who looked good in a tuxedo or a wet suit. Maybe they’ll have him on “The View” with this guy. Whoopie Goldberg will gush all over both of them. Will that make you feel better?

      Do you want progress? You’re a “progressive,” right?

      Come on, control your knee and think some time.

      • And Connery’s violent misogyny is well known. He’s essentially a Fick about it. I’d even suggest it dampened his career and earnings (or maybe just the fact he was an unabashed asshole did that). Talk about the last true Scotsman (whatever that means), he is an jerk’s jerk. But I doubt he’d deny anything and say he was only being singled out because he wasn’t English.

        And Sean Penn is a dreary excuse for a guy, chasing after the twenty year old plastic surgery model of every era, until they’re over twenty two. So’s Charlie Sheen. But lefty Hollywood keeps them front and center. Hell, the Clintons even did deals with Penn in Haiti. But if they espouse the correct political clap trap, they’re okay.

        This guy gets called on it and he says it’s because he’s black. Give me a break. Aren’t his accusers also black? Maybe they asked for it. Maybe they were trailer trash. Maybe it only took a twenty dragged through a trailer park for him to find his wives and victims.

        • In all fairness to Connery (who IS kind of a jerk, but was good at his craft, even in junky roles), he said it’s ok to slap a woman if she’s acting up. There aren’t any documented incidents of him actually doing so, unlike some of these other thugs. That said, his attitude is wrong, the only time striking a woman is all right is if she attacks you with intent to harm, then all bets are off and defend yourself.

          You are absolutely right that the lefty establishment gives all these folks a pass. I think it’s ironic that the left claims to be the great advocates for women, yet they continually feed them as sacrificial lambs into the maw of powerful men with insatiable sexual appetites and no concept of honor or fidelity in DC, in Hollywood, in the sports establishment. But hey, as long as the politicians spout all the right rhetoric and vote the right way, as long as the actors keep grinding out movies that appeal to the Hallmark mentality, and as long as the athletes keep winning, it’s ok, and those women unlucky enough to get groped or worse just have to take one for the team.

            • I didn’t say ANY part of that was. All I’m saying is he SAID something wrong, but he didn’t ACT on it, which in this case would be far far worse. Bluster is bad, but actual violence takes it to a whole other level

    • Other Bill — I didn’t think I had to say something so obvious, and I don’t even know how you were able to come up with your analysis below. But, let me clear this up to you.

      This is identical to Sean Connery, except Sean Connery isn’t black. There is no anti-black conspiracy here. It would have equally ridiculous if Sean Connery had said, after the backlash occurred against him — “this is because of all the anti-Scottish sentiment in America.” To blame criticism of spousal abuse on racial, ethnic, religious, or some other identity is beyond stupid.

      The parallel to Connery continues though. He was a mega-superstar at the time he admitted to hitting his wife, and not only did he not express regret, he double-downed on his conduct in a famous Barbara Walters interview. But because Connery was a superstar, he got a pass. Similarly, I think this star in Empire will get a pass because Empire is one of the biggest hits on TV right now, so the producers will put out whatever publicity needed to rationalize this conduct or convince us that it does not matter.

      • Yes, but Connery didn’t blame it on anti-Scottish sentiment. That is kind of the point. Are we supposed give a pass to black men who hit women the same way the US Army is supposed to give a pass to Afghans who rape little boys?

      • Sorry Beth, I incorrectly assumed you were saying Sean Connery got away with what this guy was was getting called out for because he, Connery, is white while this guy won’t get a similar pass because he’s black. I had assumed you were taking the Tanishi Coates/Melissa Harris Perry/Cornel West/Charles Green chair. So you’re okay with him getting slammed and don’t think it’s because he’s black. Good. Agreed.

      • Wait a minute, he admitted he said he thought it was ok to slap, not that he HAD slapped, or am I missing something? If he actually slapped, he belonged in cuffs.

        • Even with ToD’s terrible depiction of Indian culture (bug-eating, monkey brains, when most Indians are vegetarians) and the politically incorrect ending (the British soldiers show up and kick everybody’s ass)? All silliness aside, yeah, this takes away from Sean Connery as being a hero or role model. I wasn’t aware of these interviews until now, and always thought of him as either a flawed hero (James Bond, The Rock, Indiana Jones) or a straight-up hero, even a mentor figure (Name of the Rose, and an excellent King Arthur in First Knight). Unfortunately, part of being a hero is the protection of those not as strong, and protecting one’s own family, not abusing them.

          • Yeah, I like the movie. I don’t think the silly dinner scene was culturally insensitive, it was just the usual Spielberg juvenile amusement with icky stuff, like the giant pile of dino-poop in Jurassic Park, or the pool full of wet corpses in “Poltergeist.” The British showing up was fine (and for the times, legit). My problem is with all the dark rituals, and Mrs. Speilberg’s annoying persona, which are a drag. But the lowering spikes in the room, the crocodile struggle, the mine ride, the fight with the big goon while the evil kid is using Indian voodoo on an Indy doll, and most of all, the greatest opening sequence of them all, Spielberg’s staging at its best, make up for it. TOD has multiple action set pieces better than any in LC.

            Oh—the bail-out from the plane using the life raft was as bad as nuking the fridge for my money.

            • Yeah, the rituals are nothing like real-life Hinduism, and the shrill Willie Scott character was VERY annoying. It does have the best opening of all 4 films. I’ll take it over Crystal Skull any day, but LC still has merit (perhaps a little less), in my opinion.

              • LC lost me for good at the fake giraffes, fake rhino, and the stupid magic trunk bit. I never recovered. That, and making Denholm Elliot’s character into an idiot (which he was not in the first film, and the fact that Indy never appeared to have any results from drinking out of the Grail…that little detail was just ignored. And the absurd boat in the propeller sequence, where the boat stayed stationary as it was being chopped up…the ridiculous old knight…It’s a weak plot. Connery saved the film from being a complete bomb.

                • Maybe I was easier pleased at the time (I was not much older than 18 when it hit). I kinda glossed over the opening sequence, which had some other moments I didn’t like, like being merciless on the fat kid (fat, clumsy, cowardly AND stupid? Come on), the hairbreadth near-loss of the Cross at sea, and the non-explanation of how Indy got out of being the sole survivor of a sunken freighter with no land in sight and no lifeboat nearby. True, Marcus Brody was not portrayed as an idiot in the first film, in fact his line that were he younger he might join the pursuit of the Ark himself implies that he was once a field archaeologist himself once upon a time, hardly someone who would have “gotten lost in his own museum.” But, every team needs its comedy relief, so… Yes, the boat-chopping was a bit obviously staged. The old knight was a bit anticlimactic, most likely there wasn’t time for an extended final fight at that point. Some novelizations have implied that, had Indy remained at the temple he too would have been immortal, but that’s not canon. The idea that the Grail couldn’t be taken beyond the entrance to the temple on pain of dire consequences, I thought, was where the plot got weak. Still, I’ll take it over Crystal Skull, which was a the equivalent of a ten-minute build-up for a lame punch line.

                  • No defense offered for CS, though I liked the ants and some of the sequences. Mainly it was stupid, and seeing Karen Allen look so frumpy and middle aged made me feel old and depressed. She could have and should have gotten in shape for the role; that’s laziness on her part, and unprofessional. Ford was in shape. Kate Capshaw looks fit.

                    • Ford went on a strict diet and exercise regimen to get in shape, just like he did for the upcoming Star Wars movies. I can’t speak to why Karen Allen was not as in shape, but she didn’t look that appealing, for certain. Frankly the underlying plot did not grab me, and space aliens were jarring to the tone of the series, which has always dealt in terrestrial mysteries, not extraterrestrial ones. I put my disappointment at least partially down to being a man in my 30s as opposed to a teenager.

          • For my entire married life I have been a distant, distant, distant (infinity) second to Sean Connery in my wife’s eyes. Which is fine. We both get a huge laugh out of it. Although even she will admit he’s a grade A Scottish asshole, that won’t stop her turning into a puddle of warm jello whenever she runs across any of his old publicity shots. I think it’s genetic, she’s half Scottish. She nearly went into shock just the other day when I mentioned to her her boy Sean is now eighty-five. A good looking eighty-five, but eighty-five nonetheless.

            • Well, there is the actor, and the screen persona. One of my favorites, John Wayne, built his ethical screen persona in part as a reaction to his own insecurities and flaws. He had a terrible childhood, rage, alcohol and addiction issues, could be a terrible bully, and had domestic abuse episodes with all three wives. Screen John Wayne, however, is an important national symbol, and that was the Duke’s creation. That was the man he genuinely wanted to be, and gave the rest of us to consider. It doesn’t excuse what he did in his private life, but unlike Connery, he would have agreed with anyone who condemned the conduct.

  2. What I think is missed is that fortunately domestic violence is FAR less tolerated today vs the Brando or Penn situtiions of yesteryear, whether you are white, black or polka dot! to go right to race belittles the real issue Mr. Daniels Think of how many things that were condoned then are not now, PERIOD That being said your highlighting Kim davis is equally misplaced. Separation of church and state…read the constitution Why are so many that are opposed to setting up a theocracy in the middle east so intent on setting one up in the USA?

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