Something is happening.
Several people have spoken to me about the fact that the Oscar nominated movie, 'The Descendants' has a scene in which the 'R word' is used repeatedly for, supposedly, hilarious effect. Everyone who has mentioned it to me was disturbed and upset. Many said that they liked the film up until that point but then were so angered by an unnecessary scene that they left the theatre wishing that they hadn't gone to see it at all. They felt that the movie and the experience of going to the movies had been ruined.
But, more than that, all of them - to a one - felt differently about George Clooney because of what they had seen. They understood that he's just an actor, not the script writer, but they also felt that he has the power to ask for a rewrite or to refuse to use words that denigrate others. One woman, only one mind you, said that she would probably not go to see another Clooney film.
There will soon be a cost to those who use language which hurts, language which hates, people with disabilities. I hadn't heard about this movie, nor it's use of the r-word. I did a quick check on the Internet and found the dialogue and thought it was distinctly unfunny and decidedly nasty. In the dialogue itself, which I will not reproduce as others have, it is acknowledged that the word shouldn't be said and then - it's said over and over. A wink to the audience about how daring they are being.
To risk a reputation for a cheap laugh.
To risk being tarred as a bigot for a paycheck.
To risk damage to one's perceived character.
I do not know Mr. Clooney, obviously. Now, I don't actually wish to. But here's the thing, I've always thought of him, because of how he carried himself and how he spoke in interviews, as one of the good guys. Whenever I saw him I thought that he was someone of integrity. Maybe it had all been an act, that is his job after all. Maybe 'the truth will out' as they say. Maybe Mr. Clooney is someone who is so used to his power that he no longer feels a need to consider those less powerful. Maybe. Maybe not. But he made a decision.
And that decision has tarnished him.
I've seen no big exposes about the film and the scene and the use of the word. Certainly no 'Tropic Thunder' style protest. Yet, until I searched the Internet, I've heard no buzz about this 'controversy' here on the web.
The buzz that I heard, however, is the kind that those like Mr. Clooney should really fear. It didn't come to me from activists, or from bloggers, or from professional letter writers. No, it came from regular folks who go to see movies. It came from people who plopped down in a coffee shop to talk with me and say, 'Hey, did you see the Descendants ... there's this awful scene ...'
Something is happening.
I know it.
You know it.
And one day so will those who's job depends on you and on me.