Michael Keaton apologizes for his ‘Hidden Fences’ flub, says it wasn’t racial


Here are some photos of Michael Keaton at Wednesday night’s premiere of The Founder. I feel slightly sorry for Michael Keaton because some people actually thought he would be doing the awards-season blitz this year, and his buzz sort of fizzled out. Keaton is the star of The Founder, about the founding and franchising of McDonald’s. Keaton plays Ray Croc, the salesman who basically stole the concept and the actual name to franchise McDonald’s restaurants around the country. Here’s the trailer:

In a different year and with a different release schedule, I could totally see Keaton’s performance being a contender. But I think it was released too late (it got a limited release at the end of 2016 and now they’re going for a full release in another month) and there wasn’t enough advanced buzz. So Keaton probably won’t get nominated for another Oscar this year, sorry.

Still, Keaton was invited to present at this year’s Golden Globes. He got to present the Best Supporting Actress award, and when he was reading off the nominations, he made the exact same mistake as Jenna Bush-Hager. He called Hidden Figures “Hidden Fences.” The actual night of the Globes, Keaton was stopped by TMZ and asked about the flub, and he basically shrugged it off. But now he’s sort of apologizing.

Michael Keaton says anyone who reads something discriminatory into his Golden Globes garble of “Hidden Fences” is “extraordinarily incorrect.”

“I mean, almost like calling Al Gore a climate change denier,” Keaton told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Keaton said he “made a mistake reading the teleprompter and the cue cards” when he conflated the titles of “Hidden Figures” and “Fences” at the awards ceremony Sunday. Both films have predominantly black casts.

Keaton said Wednesday that he is sorry for the error and feels especially bad for the makers of “Hidden Figures” for the flub that diminished the title’s recognition at the show, where he introduced supporting actress nominee Octavia Spencer.

“The Founder” star said he’s a longtime civil rights supporter who taught his son the importance of being socially conscious.

[From Page Six]

Eh. While I tended to believe Jenna’s emotional, teary apology and explanation, I’m not so sure about this one. And he “said he’s a longtime civil rights supporter who taught his son the importance of being socially conscious” is the new “I have a black friend.” I’m sorry, I made myself laugh! Ha! I can’t have made a dismissive, racist microaggression towards films starring African-American actors because I’m a longtime civil rights supporter who taught another white person about being socially conscious. Do you see how bizarre that is? You can believe yourself to be a civil rights supporter and still be guilty of a stupid racial microaggression.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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33 Responses to “Michael Keaton apologizes for his ‘Hidden Fences’ flub, says it wasn’t racial”

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  1. Marianne says:

    Well I believe it probably was just an honest mistake flub (hey we’ve all done it), Fences and Figures are 2 words that start with F and have 2 syllables. And considering he had just said Fences the word was probably still in his brain. I think its easy to understand where the flub came from. But, I think in a way he makes the situation worse by bringing up how he cant be racist because he supports the civil rights movement. Its like he’s too defensive over it.

    • mia girl says:

      We all watched Michael Keaton make the mistake as he was going through the list of nominees and movies. It really felt like an honest mental flub based on the similarity of the words, not the similarity of the films because they both have all Black casts.

      I think the Jenna Bush and Michael Keaton mistakes where the same, but caused by different things. In Jenna Bush’s case, where she was speaking to a cast member and about that specific film, her mistake would seem more driven by the similarity of all Black cast. She was right to apologize and I hope she thinks on it and recognizes why many felt there was implicit bias in her mistake.

      • SM says:

        This. Also to add to this I think that his somewhat awkward response is because the media and twitter community made this honest mistake into a race thing. People need to cool down a bit.

  2. Guesto says:

    I find it seriously depressing that he felt the need to apologise.

    This specious and utterly exhausting fault-finding needs to stop.

    • Jamie says:


      • Jellybean says:

        me too

      • Radley says:

        It’s not a coincidence that those two particular movies got mixed up, I think. But I don’t think there was any malicious intent. It does speak to white people having some kinda “black people” folder in their brains and everyone gets dumped in it, apparently. I think it’s ok to point that out and discuss it. But I’m not harboring any lingering ill will towards him or Jenna Bush. It was a teachable moment and hopefully we learned something.

    • Sam says:

      absolutely. Has no one else ever misread the name of a movie at the GG’s? Its out of hand. The words are similar, that’s it. People are so quick to jump on every tiny flaw there days.

    • Adele Dazeem says:

      Yup. It’s this kind of stuff that is making us all look bad and giving certain political groups more material for the “political correctness” criticism.

  3. Dorothy#1 says:

    I honestly don’t see why this is a big deal. I’m sure it was just a mistake. The words are similar.

  4. Ramona says:

    Like Hiddlestone, TMZ cameras caught him coming out of a Golden Globe after party and he was instantly very apologetic and self effacing. It felt sincere. I would want to see the footage of this AP interview. The whole “I teach my son” thing may be alot less problematic depending on context.

  5. TQB says:

    It’s a shame that instead of reading off the usual apology he didn’t have the guts to say, “yeah, I misspoke. I conflated two important films feature black leads. Even I, a long-time supporter of civil rights, subconsciously struggled to separate these two films. I assure you that while I had no racist intent, I’m going to focus on why this happened and not act like it was just a slip of the tongue so that maybe I can be a better human.”

    • Sixer says:

      I like this. If he’d said something like that, I’d be thinking, blimey, this is the kind of person I aspire to be. Instead, he went all say it ain’t so.

  6. Shijel says:

    Oh man I’m glad then that I’m never in the spotlight. Even on my good day I tend to confuse words when I speak.

  7. Pansy says:

    Y’all. I don’t get why people have to apologize because they combined (and messed up) the name of two movies. This is getting ridiculous. I mispronounce things, mix up words, even call my own children my the wrong names (granted, it’s another child’s. Or the dog’s). But jeeeeeeeez. I truly don’t think this was racist. Fences and figures sound similar. Nothing is helped by continuing to divide people.

    • Adele Dazeem says:

      Lol agreed. I accidentally call my husband my cat’s name sometimes….do you think that means I have a deep seated preference for my cat and a secret hate of men?

      Oh wait. Maybe there is something to this. I wouldn’t scoop my husband’s poop out of the litter box like I do for Otis. Ruh Roh.

  8. Eva says:

    I think he just should have said, “oops, made a mistake,” and leave it at that. He didn’t have to mention that he’s a long time civil rights supporter, that made him sound desperate.

  9. pantalones en fuego says:

    Well, I read “flub” as “club” on the headline so there ya go.

  10. Louise says:

    He’s looking good. I would.

  11. Lucy says:

    Unecessary, in my opinion. He didn’t shrug it off when TMZ asked him about it, he just made an ironic comment about the flub making him a terrible person.

  12. Almondjoy says:

    You guys. Here’s the thing… no one said the mistake was made with malicious intent. No accused Michael or Jenna Bush for being racist because of their mistake. It was simply pointed out that the flub shows a lack of research or care for black cinema. As I said before, these were two completely different movies with different subject matters and people couldn’t be bothered to notice.

    I didn’t hear anyone mix up The Night Of and The Night Manager… 🤔 They sound pretty similar to me.

    • Marianne says:

      Except its not the only flub that has ever happened. Remember when John Travolta called Idina Menzel “Adele Dazeem”? Even at the very same awards show Al Roker called Jessica Biel “Jessica Alba”.

      I don’t think its fair to just simply wave it off as being a lack of research or care for black cinema. Sometimes a flub is just simply a flub.

      • Goldie says:

        Agreed Almondjoy. I think some people are getting a bit too defensive about this. Nobody’s saying that Keaton and Bush are racists or terrible people. They’re just saying that it might not be a complete coincidence that these 2 films were mixed up by multiple people. Sure, it’s possible that it was just a regular flub. It’s also equally possible that they associated those 2 films together because they are 2 of the few “black” films to be nominated for major awards. If that’s the case, I don’t really even place the blame on them. It’s a symptom of the lack of diversity in Hollywood films in general.

        @Marianne, Well John Travolta was raked over the coals for his mistake. In fact he received more criticism than Michael and Jenna combined.
        So I don’t see anything wrong with people discussing the ‘Hidden Fences’ error.

      • Almondjoy says:

        Marianne… Nah. I’m gonna respectfully disagree. And actor not knowing the name of a Broadway singer is a different situation. And if you notice, that mistake was made just once. This is completely different from 2 separate movies being combined as one twice in a night. It’s no different from a situation where there’s only 2 black women who work for a certain company and people get them confused with each other all the time, even though they look and act nothing alike. (This happens all the time.) If a person cares they’ll notice the difference. Those who have a history of their accomplishments being overlooked being overlooked will get this.

        Goldie, thank you. You understood just what I was trying to say.

    • Erica_V says:

      AM – i’m frankly appalled by the tone deafness of some of the CB comments. If they had mixed up any other two movies…. but nope – they had to mix up the two movies featuring black actors. It absolutely speaks to the notion that white people think all black people look alike or that black actors are interchangeable.

      Mistake or not – this was a big deal, they should have apologized for it, and people need to stop being so dismissive of this. Was it an innocent mistake – yes I’m sure it was. But should we still be pointing it out and talking about it? Absolutely.

  13. Mean Hannah says:

    Haha. It was just a flub. A mistake. No big deal. Same letter. I don’t want to be famous. Social media blows everything out of proportion. Get over it!! Right.

    If you’ve ever been lumped together with something or someone, and the only thing linking you to it or the person was your “otherness,” then you’d know that these two mistakes were not malicious but insidious at the same time.

    I’m an Asian-American woman who was/is often one of two Asian women or one of 10 women in most academic, and later professional settings. If I could tell you about the number of times I’ve been mistaken for “the other” Asian woman, who usually looks nothing like me, you would not believe me.

  14. Kate says:

    Tone-deaf does not even begin to describe this thread. Thanks to all the patient commenters who triy, again and again, to explain.

  15. ash says:

    damn…. Hidden Fences. Mr. Keaton is ridiculous because I really want to call his movie Bird Man (new title: Black Swan for White Men)

    I wonder does will smith get called denzel a lot….or better yet eminem and vanilla ice.. you know just a simple gaffe… FOH, you can memorize lines but get flubbed on cue cards, and the fact that Jenna Bush did it…. wow

    racial microaggression, is the new thing…. Like when I go to my boss office, and old crotchety white man and I greet him and he always says YO…..(it’s too good to make up LOL) those are microagressions, and it’s things like this and that are like stings to you as a POC…. it’s not overt lynching or racial hate crime….it’s more of a dismissal and rudeness….that youre not really valid.