Later in the week a black actress, Zoe Saldana, apologized for playing a black singer, Nina Simone, in a movie nobody saw four years ago. “I thought back then that I had the permission because I was a black woman,” Saldana said. “And I am. But it was Nina Simone, and Nina had a life and she had a journey that should be honored to the most specific detail, because she was a specifically detailed individual.” Translation: Saldana’s skin tone is lighter than Simone’s was, so Saldana wore the dread “skin-darkening makeup” that detractors refer to as blackface. Also Saldana wore a prosthetic nose to make her nose broader, to look more like Simone’s. Wearing makeup to look more like someone of the same race is offensive? That must be news to Nicole Kidman, who won an Oscar wearing a fake nose to look like Virginia Woolf in “The Hours.” Charlize Theron wore nasal prosthetics to transform into Megyn Kelly for the movie “Bombshell” — which won an Oscar for its makeup.
Celebrities are even apologizing for harmless actions they took as teens: “Midsommar” star Florence Pugh issued a thousand-word Instagram apology for having once worn cornrows at a party when she was 17, an act she later discovered was “cultural appropriation” — a manufactured angst that afflicts affluent white women susceptible to bullying by PC mean girls. “We HAVE to look at ourselves and see how we are adding to this problem,” she wrote. (I suspect it’s the first half of the sentence, not the second, that really interests her.)