The film Suffragette is now being called out by a really bored media for a not so smart move of quoting the film and putting that on a t-shirt. Here is the offending piece of promotional material:
The t-shirt is offensive if you think it refers to human bondage suffered by millions at the hands of white Americans. That all white women are wearing the t-shirt is what makes it worse. Whenever a white person uses the word slave to refer to themselves they will always be called out for it — all the more reason why someone should have gotten the memo that this was a shitstorm waiting to happen.
But, as happens every year, I find myself wondering at what cost this clicktivist hysteria? What good does it do anyone? Are we to take from this that anyone associated with Suffragette is a racist? That Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan are racists? That they intended to insult the still-suffering ancestors of slavery? Is the damage done to the only film released this year to get anywhere near the Oscar race that was directed, produced and written by women?
Suffragette is already being criticized for being “white feminism” in a movie. That means I cannot support the film without seeming like a racist. Yes, me of all people will get that finger pointed at me too if I try to defend Suffragette. White women who only think white women matter (like Patricia Arquette last year, by the way). Racists — the whole lot — all because of this dumb t-shirt.
I wish the people protesting this would actually get together to enact some kind of real change rather than just tearing down everything within their immediate reach. If one person can tell me what this does — and don’t say “brings awareness” because the people who need that wake-up call aren’t the people who are going to either read anything about Suffragette or go so see Suffragette — the last thing they are going to read are the angry hate pieces about the film. Oh well maybe it helps the radical right continue to write off Hollywood as a bunch of entitled liberal hypocrites.
You know who rarely gets attacked? Films made by white men, about white men. No one attacks them because they aren’t writing their agendas through those movies. The worst they get is the accusation that they are films by white men made for white men. We throw verbal bottles at them, raise our fists in protests but I don’t know — the way things are looking that is the only safe form of entertainment anymore. It’s just too risky to try to tell stories about women or people of color — the complaints grow too large and before long it’s just too much trouble to make those kinds of films.
Somehow at the root of this hysteria is always a woman. It was Ava DuVernay and Selma last year. It was Kathryn Bigelow with Zero Dark Thirty in 2012. It’s Mary Mapes with Truth. I’m starting to wonder if people just don’t like women. Maybe they don’t. Maybe it’s fruitless to fight for change because ultimately we’re left with the continuing march of films about white men.