Elizabeth Banks, a B+ movie actress whose career zenith was either playing Jeff Bridges’ wife in “Sea Biscuit” or a supporting role in “The Hunger Games” movies, decided to rant about “Stand your ground” laws last week. The impetus was the Ohio legislature passing a version of the law, thus joining about half the states. Banks responded by tweeting, to her
“Stand Your Ground is BS. We used to play hide and seek all over the neighborhood on summer nights. Intent was to play. We were kids but some of my cousins were big guys. There were a few easily-jumped fences in the neighborhood but also houses with no fences at all. A new neighbor moved onto our street. Apparently he mistook us hiding behind trees in his unfenced yard at 9pm for … burglars? Predators?” All of a sudden, an arrow was shot into the tree behind which we hid. From a professional bow and arrow. This guy didn’t yell out ‘who’s there’ or ‘get off my property or I’m calling the cops’ or any other question or warning. He just shot at children. He hit the tree so it was seemingly a warning shot. Message received, WE yelled out that we were just playing and could he let us please run away without shooting. Then we ran.”
“Also sometimes our dog got loose. We would go into yards looking for her. All I can think about when people pretend Stand Your Ground is about anything other than permission to kill people are those moments when I myself stepped onto a neighbor’s property. Where is the evidence that Stand Your Ground does anything but endanger your neighbors, their dogs, their kids? It helps nobody but people who want justified reasons to use a deadly weapon. If I’d been shot and killed playing hide and seek, would that new neighbor have been able to just shrug his shoulders while living across the street from my grieving parents? With laws like this, probably yes.I don’t want to live in a world where we fear our neighbors so much that we can’t freely lose a ball/dog/frisbee or cut through somebody’s yard to avoid harassment — all things I have done. What yards did you wander into and why?”
1. She’s an idiot. Neither of her examples have any relevance to so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws. Even if she was getting that concept mixed up with the Castle Doctrine, her anecdotes were based on a utter ignorance. What kind of person writes a long, public critique of a law without reading it or better yet, understanding it?
Answer: In addition to an idiot, a celebrity who has become convinced that she is special because sycophants around her have been telling her so most of her life, because she has always been unusually attractive and had performing talent as well as the luck that all successful actors must have that allowed her to push past equally talented and attractive competitors.
2. This is, of course, one of the curses of social media. It allows people to have a large audience for their opinions, thoughts and pronouncements without the merit and credentials that once were a necessary condition precedent of having such influence.
3. I am considering creating a code of conduct for celebrities. One core tenet would be, “Don’t make people stupid.” Impassioned arguments based on nothing but passion without the enhancement of actual knowledge that the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance deceives admirers into regarding as more valuable than the blather of the average drunk in a bar can do real, wide ranging and serious damage.
4. One commenter on Banks’ rant called her a hypocrite because she is a pro-abortion advocate who has stated that a woman’s access to abortion is a human right. She’s not a hypocrite. People like Banks, famous or not, do not generally acknowledge that abortion involves the taking of a human life. (Joe Biden does, however: this is one more aspect of his questionable character that the news media made sure wasn’t examined during the 2020 campaign.)
5. In the olden days, actors had publicists to protect them from the career dangers of their own intellectual and character deficiencies. (Danny Kaye’s publicist–who did the same job for many stars—told me that Kaye never made a public statement that Bob hadn’t approved or scripted.) Cognitive dissonance works both ways. Robert De Niro has revealed himself to be such a vile, vulgar jerk in his various anti-Trump rants that I can’t watch him any more. Alec Baldwin is a versatile actor, and I would rather watch a slow loris do Shakespeare than risk putting an extra cent in that asshole’s checking account. Woody Allen, of course. Bette Midler, Jim Carey and just about every actress who grandstanded about #MeToo and #TimesUp and still supported Biden.
If mid-level stars like Banks begin losing jobs and income from revealing their inner shallowness and lacl of critical thinking skills, they might start exercising some restraint.