Yesterday, on his MSNBC show, Lawrence O’Donnell called out the “100% Chinese” actress who appears in that incredibly racist anti-Debbie Stabenow ad of Pete Hoekstra’s that we’ve been discussing. After asking his audience to help identify the actress, O’Donnell offered the following… “I’ve done things in show business… that I’m not proud of,” he said, “but I’ve never done anything that I’m ashamed of.” He then went on to ask his fellow members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) to pledge not to follow in this young woman’s footsteps by contributing toward the creation of such pieces…. And it got me wondering just how much of the blame should be attributed to this woman, who, as O’Donnell noted, likely very much needed the $800 or so that a half-day shoot like this paid. I’d like to think that, if I were a starving actor, desperate for any paid work, that I’d be able to walk away from projects that I found personally distasteful, but, the reality is, people do all kinds of things to put food on the table. Just look at all of the Arab American actors working in Hollywood these days, playing terrorists. (Speaking of which, who remembers this political ad from Florida?) I know that O’Donnell was looking for an interesting angle on the story, and I agree that this woman made a poor choice, that she’ll likely regret later in life, but I’m finding it hard to place too much blame to her when there are so many other individuals more deserving of the criticism. And I think O’Donnell, who, I might add, plays a lawyer that represents polygamists on the HBO series Big Love, comes across as kind of a judgmental prick here.
On a side note, O’Donnell raised an interesting question in his commentary… Why did Hoekstra decide to put this ad out himself, when he could have had a Super PAC do it, and avoid the scrutiny and charges of racism?