Well, this is awkward.
A string of recent embarrassments for Sony Studios culminated on Thursday with the release of a number of emails from a variety of powerful Hollywood executives who evidently indulged in some racially-tinged humor at President Barack Obama’s expense.
According to Buzzfeed, [studio co-chairman Amy] Pascal asked [prolific movie producer Scott] Rudin for advice before going to an Obama fundraiser hosted by DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg, particularly what she should ask the President “at this stupid Jeffrey breakfast.”
“Would he like to finance some movies,” responded Rudin.
“I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” said Pascal, with Rudin replying “12 YEARS.”
“Or the butler. Or think like a man?” continued Pascal, who is a major donor for the Democratic party and President Obama.
“Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart,” said Rudin.
This is… inconvenient.
So inconvenient, in fact, that when CNN’s Carol Costello devoted a segment to these emails, her focus was devoted primarily to the revelation that Rudin had some nasty things to say about actress Angelina Jolie.
Only CNN correspondent Nischelle Turner noted the “racial, off-color” nature of the emails when the subject of President Obama arose. Turner kindly suggested that the CNN anchor had “alluded” to the racial character of those emails when she really did not.
What’s more, the panel went on to sympathize with these executives and their studio. That sympathy is not unwarranted; the hacking of these emails is a crime, and Pascal and Rudin are victims. However, it strains credulity to suggest that this level of deference would have been extended to executives in, say, defense contracting or the petroleum exploitation industry if emails exposing them as having made racial jokes at the president’s expense were exposed.
Similarly, when an MSNBC panel tackled this issue in the 11 a.m. hour, they invited only a cyber security expert on the program to discuss how companies protect their sensitive data. The racial element of these emails barely merited a mention and prompted no handwringing recriminations.
Political analysts trained to recognize the racial insensitivity associated with saying Obama enjoys “golf” or once lived in “Chicago” somehow fail to see anything all that untoward in the suggestion that the president only enjoys films starring African-American actors.
So, why the soft touch in this case? Well, according to Open Secrets, Amy Pascal is a fairly prolific Democratic donor. She has contributed to Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, and a host of Democratic groups and state-level party organizations.
Likewise, Rudin is a similarly committed Democratic donor. He has contributed to just about every Democratic presidential prospect in the last quarter century, including Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Bill Bradley, and Michael Dukakis. Rudin has also donated to a Democratic campaign committee and a series of state-level party organizations.
Even if these Hollywood executives are guilty of running afoul of the new, strict social guidelines governing racial sensitivities, their infractions are apparently forgivable because they vote the right way.
It may not be today, or next week, or even next year, but soon the weight of these immoral self-contradictions will someday crush those seeking to maintain these double standards. As a wise man once said, the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. This is unjust.