“That’s because Danson’s still sex on wheels.” That’s the rather innocuous (and very clearly true) comment from TK during an Overlord discussion that sent me down a dark and wandering rabbit hole into the internet and my own psyche. See, in light of the #MeToo movement, people have finally, finally started reckoning with our collective past. And that means that we’re going to have to acknowledge some uncomfortable truths about a lot of people we really like. People like Gary Oldman. People like Josh Brolin. People like goddamn Bill Murray. In light of these uncomfortable truths, we’ve had to start deciding how high to hold our heroes, and what acts are heinous enough to bring them down.
Which brings us to Ted Danson. I don’t think it’s necessarily fair, but every time I start to want to idolize Danson, in all his comedic and sexy glory, a little voice pops into my head to whisper “blackface.” Because, yeah, Sam did that shit. And it’s bad. It was bad at the time. When it happened, nearly twenty-five years ago, everyone in the room knew it was bad. This is a very clear case of Danson straight fucking up. And I’m willing to forgive him for that.
Not that he necessarily needs or wants my forgiveness, and not that my forgiveness overwhelms anyone who thinks he shouldn’t get a pass. But in my personal estimation of Danson’s character, I’ve decided I’m comfortable liking Danson despite his very serious fuck up. I’m willing to forgive him, because outside of that huge blunder a quarter century ago, he’s seemed to be a decent human being (I goddamn hope. Jesus, I’ve got to start googling with my eyes covered). He hasn’t been accused of sexual or domestic abuse, he gives to charity, he’s been married to the same (super hot) woman for over twenty years and they are seemingly happy. And, of course, the people he works with seem to love him. So I’m willing to allow that Danson maybe had an incredibly bad lapse in judgment when he tried to be funny and, as Ice Cube put it, got overly familiar.
What’s most surprising is the response we SJWs get when we decide to let some shit slide. Because after spending a few minutes confirming that Danson isn’t an apparent asshole, the same voice that whispered “blackface” started in on the Devil’s Advocate spiel (or as I think we need to rename it “Basic White Guy”). “Why forgive Ted Danson and not Johnny Depp? Why not believe Woody Allen might have been a bad father and terrible husband but not an assaulter? Is what Aziz Ansari did enough to ruin his career? If Ted Danson is ok, how can you say other people aren’t ok? If one is bad, aren’t they all bad?!”
And that’s all bullshit.
It’s particularly irksome because this behavior (not being able to distinguish between one pretty sucky act and one appallingly horrific one) is the very thing the #MeToo movement is being accused of. How can we tell the difference between Ted Danson’s painfully misguided attempt at humor with blackface and Woody Allen’s molestation of his daughter? Because we have brains for brains instead of shit. In exactly the same way we can tell the difference between Aziz Ansari’s gross disregard for his date’s comfort level, and Weinstein’s rape, assault, and abuse of power. We know the difference between various acts, and can weigh circumstantial evidence to come to conclusions. Or, to put it bluntly, I can think about shit, and make fucking decisions for myself.
And again, not that everyone needs to feel the way I feel about Ted Danson. Our personal values and principles inform our decision s and judgments. Which in turn inform others about our values and principles. So you might dislike me for still thinking Sean Penn is an abusive, humorless dickhole, because I’m unforgiving. In the same way I might dislike you if you think Amber Heard set up Johnny Depp, because you’re an idiot. We can acknowledge other people have gone through a process of coming to a conclusion even when we do not agree with the conclusion reached.
Except that Ted Danson is still sex on wheels. That’s just fact.