Dear Lee Daniels: Shut The F*ck Up
Lee Daniels, director of Precious, The Butler, a lesser-known movie called Shadowboxer in which Cuba Gooding Jr. and Helen Mirren are contract killers who are sexually involved with one another despite the fact that they are stepmother and stepson (I already like this more than Radio), and co-creator of Empire, has been on a press tour recently to promote and discuss his newest drama for FOX called Star. The show follows a trio of aspiring singers as they struggle to achieve stardom and success in the music industry. And he discussed his motivations behind the creation of Star and his casting of a White actress (Jude Demorest) as the lead character named Star.
“We are in a very dangerous state right now in our country and I wanted White people to feel good about being White because right now, there’s a lot of hatred going on,” Daniels explains before further detailing the story he created. “It started out with this White girl that was just badass and would do anything: kill, rob, have sex, whatever to get to the top. Then, I realized as I was writing, that it was more about a girl group. Their whole world is about what happened to me when I left home and went to Hollywood and the struggles I went through. ”
Uh … huh. And while discussing Star with the New York Times and the topic of #OscarsSoWhite (the hashtag created by April Reign, a.k.a. @ReignOfApril on Twitter, to bring attention to the lack of diversity and representation in many aspects of the film industry) came up, Daniels let his feelings be known about it and they weren’t positive or supportive:
“Go out and do the work,” he fumed over oatmeal at his apartment. “Oscars so white! So what? Do your work. Let your legacy speak and stop complaining, man. Are we really in this for the awards?
“If I had thought that way — that the world was against me — I wouldn’t be here now,” he added. “These whiny people that think we’re owed something are incomprehensible and reprehensible to me. I don’t expect acknowledgment or acceptance from white America. I’m going to be me.”
OK, Lee. It’s late and there’s only so much sleep I’m willing to sacrifice in order to respond to this bullshit you’re spouting to every reporter being assigned to listen to it, so I’ll keep this short.
1) You want White people to feel good about being White? Are you fucking serious right now? You actually formed this thought in your head and allowed it to leave your mouth as a fully-formed sentence to be printed up for the entire world to see? Jesus fucking wept.
The fact that you actually think it’s your duty and responsibility to fill White people with pride about their Whiteness is downright laughable.
2) White people already have way too much fucking pride about their Whiteness as it is. It’s why they jump into the mentions of every Black Lives Matter discussion on social media and say that All Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter. It’s why they write articles at the end of every year to tell us what slang words created by Black people are overused and need to stop being said, despite the fact that they’re the ones responsible for overusing said slang words and using them badly in the first place. It’s why they say dumb shit like America is the greatest country in the world, even though it’s anything but. It’s why people like Jenna Jameson think that slut-shaming someone for being a woman, let alone for being a former sex worker expressing her political opinions on a public forum, is something that only Black people do. It’s why many of them walked into a voting booth and allowed a racist/rapist/liar/con artist/bully/incompetent to become our next President and then went on to place their “I Voted” stickers on to the gravestone of a woman who loved her own Whiteness and that of her fellow White women, and who would also spit at the very thought of any non-White person being able to achieve that same right to vote.
3) Someone who is Black and gay and has been working in the film industry for as long as you have … you’re really going to come at Black people and at #OscarsSoWhite with this “Black people need to work hard and pull themselves up by the bootstraps” bullshit? Especially when you just sat at a roundtable with other television writers and dragged them for not having enough diversity in their own writers’ rooms? For the record, #OscarsSoWhite was created to remind Hollywood, to remind everyone, of something that’s been obvious for far too long and is especially obvious when the list of people nominated for Oscars in every category looks like the cast of a Christmas movie airing on The Hallmark Channel: There isn’t nearly enough diversity when it comes to the people who appear in films, the people who write/direct/produce films, or the people who run the movie studios and production companies that green-light these films, and how that needs to change as soon as possible. There isn’t anything ‘whiny’ about wanting more non-White people like yourself to have opportunities to work and to tell their stories, and for you to imply otherwise really makes me wish that Cookie Lyon were real, so that she could run up on you and do this:
4) White people don’t need Star, which looks about as entertaining to watch as Mac & Me a.k.a. Paul Rudd’s favorite movie, to feel good about being White. They already have CBS, MTV, Fox News, The WB/The CW (and I say that as someone who watches The CW, who grew up loving The WB, and who still gets sad whenever I watch this ad from back in the day), the books of Nicholas Sparks, and…oh yeah, ninety percent of all movies, television shows, books, albums, and podcasts to do that for them every single time they demand to be entertained, and said entertainment usually comes in the form of people who look and sound exactly like them telling stories and saying things about people who look and sound exactly like them.
Rest assured, Lee, you have nothing at all to worry about when it comes to White people feeling good about being White. So shut the fuck up.