D. Andre thank you for your thorough reading and thoughtful response.

I do hope he wasn’t being exploitative, accidentally or otherwise. But I should’ve added that trotting out someone else’s rape with ZERO discussion or even mention of what the person who was actually raped wanted afterward is a bad look. Society is still learning how to best support rape survivors. So when a celebrity with a platform makes it 100% about him it’s insulting and doesn’t help focus public discourse around survivors. Which is not his responsibility. But if he’s going to bring up someone else’s rape it is an opportunity.

In other interviews he spoke about personal struggles during The Troubles when he still lived in Northern Ireland. I think those are much more topical and he can speak with much more first-person authority on the same issues as they relate to his characters.

I used to disagree with this idea that celebrities are role models and owe us a template for how to behave on every issue. Like when everyone got pissed off at Rhianna for not immediately becoming the public face of the fight against domestic violence after Chris Brown attacked her. She’s still a woman who got attacked by her boyfriend. That’s a private trauma in her intimate relationship. She didn’t owe it to anyone to become a spokesperson or craft her public persona around an image that strangers wanted her to in order to fight the good fight. Same with Freddie Mercury and AIDS awareness. He wanted to be a musician. Not a gay rights activist. They might be celebrities but they don’t owe us their personal lives.

However. With respect to 5, there are a couple of problematic issues. 1.) I didn’t say he was advocating, I said discussing. 2.) I can’t imagine anyone but a wealthy white male celebrity casually discussing wanting to literally *murder* an innocent man in an interview. And what he was horrified by in retrospect was his internal conflict with justice v. revenge. After the backlash he just kept saying “I’m not a racist.” Not, “I’m horrified that I was ready to punish or even kill a stranger just because I lumped him into one monolith for some very racist reasons.”

If a Black man casually chatted with a journalist about that one crazy time he was trying to kill a white man, any white man, and detailed the ways he staked out “white” places, *with a weapon*, I don’t think the media or society would shrug it off as a “bumble”. Nor would anyone be praising him for his self-reflection and personal growth after emerging from his racist chrysalis. Knowing it’s wrong to want to kill somebody and prowling the streets for a week intending to do so anyway is straight-up sociopathic. He knew the difference between right and wrong and did. not. care. No one gets a “bumble” pass on sociopathy.

With the global rise of white nationalism and the subsequent violence that seems to follow every public persona’s racist soapboxing I have been rethinking my whole celebrities-don’t-owe-us-model-behavior stance. I still don’t think they owe it to us. But I don’t think we can deny that racists with violent impulses feel empowered by public airings of similar sentiments. And for the safety of the most maybe we have to be mindful of the few.

We all live in this Petri dish together and no one’s safety or life should be jeopardized because one man didn’t know how to process grief or anger without racist violence.

twitter @h_m_edwards unsplash @heathermedwards

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