I’ve followed Justine Bateman on Twitter for a while. I’ve found her tweets to be mostly well-informed, uplifting, and intelligent. Then today happened.
In what one can only assume is in reaction to Scarlett Johansson’s backlash from being cast as a trans person in the movie Rub & Tug, Bateman began firing off tweets with the hashtag New Actor Rules. At first I wasn’t sure if she was trying to make a point or if she’d just lost her mind. Perhaps both?
Only actors who have had kids can play “parents.” #NewActorRules— Justine Bateman (@JustineBateman) July 25, 2018
I wasn’t the only one confused and wondered how she’d gone from this:
What a fucking #ClownShow. To be fair, on a “Reality Show,” they shoot all the footage first and then edit it together, creating a cohesive story. They appear to be attempting that in real time. https://t.co/NzPbmZIbFj— Justine Bateman (@JustineBateman) July 18, 2018
Only actors who are board-certified doctors in the state in which the film/series takes place may play “doctors.” #NewActorRules— Justine Bateman (@JustineBateman) July 25, 2018
I tried to think of a way where this was a satire. I tried to think about possible reasons for making a point to denigrate those who want representation in their entertainment — from the stories to the actors chosen to portray its characters. I wasn’t the only one.
Olympians are not killed for simply being who they are. Olympians are not marginalized. Olympians are not invisible. People are not trying to pass laws dehumanizing Olympians. Representation matters. This is why trans actors need to be cast more.— Deanna Garcia (@TheDeannaGarcia) July 25, 2018
I get your point, but the context where a character's demographic is very underrepresented in the acting profession is also relevant.— Wascaliwabbit (@Sniffy2) July 25, 2018
Asking Hollywood to diversify by casting trans actors and actresses to portray real-life trans people is not the same as insisting only doctors play doctors. To say so assumes that every trans person in existence has had the exact same life experience and can be swapped in and out of a narrative like they are professions and not people. Acting is about portraying someone outside the range of one’s own experience, but it is also about representation and bringing life to a character that lets you use pieces of yourself usually left untapped.
This isn’t a case of streamlining all actors and actresses into rigid structures of what they can and cannot play. This is about — I’ll say it one more time — REPRESENTATION. It’s also about changing the prevailing idea that only films with “moneymakers” attached have a chance at the box office. This is about proving there are bankable actors of every ethnicity, sexual preference, and gender just waiting for a chance to prove themselves and that they will make films successful based on talent instead of a name.
This isn’t about pigeon-holing everyone. This is about allowing everyone to take part in the game that is making films in Hollywood. It’s about opening up the boundaries of the stories we tell and seeing more people onscreen who look like those in our everyday life. In short, get a grip on yourself, Justine, and think about what you’re really engaging in right now.