George Clooney: ‘I shouldn’t be that person’ to tell ‘black experience’ films

42nd Toronto International Film Festival - Suburbicon Premiere

George Clooney premiered Suburbicon at TIFF over the weekend, but the photos didn’t get posted to every blog and website because Amal didn’t go to Toronto with him, I think. He had to promote his movie without his wife! It’s fine. Anyway, that might explain why George seemed to give interviews to every outlet this weekend. There’s a literal mountain of quotes from George about this film, about race and politics, about Steve Bannon and Donald Trump and more. I’m never going to be able to cover all of it! But I thought this USA Today interview was good – George actually uses the words “white privilege” and seems to actually get it… sort of. Some highlights:

He’s not the guy to tell direct a film about the African-American experience: “There are people that should and could do the story of the black experience of suburbia in the 1950s. I shouldn’t be that person. That would not be my expertise. My expertise would be understanding white privilege and the fear of losing it to any minority and blaming them for it. By the way, talk to Kathryn Bigelow when you do tell that story,” he adds, referencing the Oscar-winning director’s racially charged summer release, Detroit. “You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. She told that story and they all (slammed) her for being a white woman telling the story.”

He’ll continue to speak about Trump: “I would be horrified if 10 years from now, (people) didn’t know where I stood on Breitbart or Trump. I would be horrified if they didn’t say I stood up against these people.”

On his $1 billion Casamigos sale, of which Clooney is said to have pocketed $200 million: “On (Suburbicon) I was paid $50,000 for two years of work and no back end. I made $500 a week for two years. The tequila company subsidizes the ability to do other things.”

On the twins: “Twins are tricky. Amal’s breastfeeding so there’s no getting ahead. She’s just constantly feeding. So it’s work. It’s work for her. I’ve got the easiest part of it right now. They’ll get me later when they want a car.”

On the future: “I’m skeptical of things, but always optimistic. I sort of have this look at our country like (Winston) Churchill did, when he used to say, ‘You can count on America to do the right thing after they’ve exhausted every other possibility.’ I believe that.”

On President Trump: “Who knows what will happen? Who knows what the evidence will be? But if past is prologue, then what we do know is this: The most dangerous things to a president are obstruction of justice. It’s what happened to Clinton, it’s what happened to Nixon. We’ve seen a president on NBC say that he fired (FBI director James Comey) because he was investigating him. That’s obstruction of justice. And (the second most dangerous is) lying. And this president (even) lies about the size of his crowds.”

[From USA Today]

“By the way, talk to Kathryn Bigelow when you do tell that story… You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. She told that story and they all (slammed) her for being a white woman telling the story.” Yeah, but… that’s not the entire f–king story and you know it, George. Most people, of all races, were probably prepared to give Bigelow a pass for being a white woman directing a film about a famous crime involving white police officers and black civilians. The criticism was mostly about the erasure of black women from the narrative, and the criticism was about how “real” and “tense” the torture scenes were. Meaning, a white woman made a racial torture p0rn movie. There was more nuance there than just “people slammed a white woman for making a black movie.” (Plus, Detroit literally came out as neo-Nazis were marching in Charlottesville and it was legitimately “too real.”)

It sounds more like George has just come to conclusion that he shouldn’t make movies about any kind of black experience because he’s white, which is NOT the lesson he should take away from any of this. He can still produce and promote diverse writers, actors and directors – look at what Brad Pitt has managed to do with Plan B, for the love of God. And while George is openly acknowledging his white privilege here – as he should – it feels like he doesn’t actually acknowledge that he could be doing a lot more by using his privilege. He’s basically saying, “I can’t make movies with or about black people because I don’t understand their stories and everyone would criticize me anyway so I’m just going to make movie with about about white people.” Which is still really f–king problematic.

42nd Toronto International Film Festival - Suburbicon Premiere

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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92 Responses to “George Clooney: ‘I shouldn’t be that person’ to tell ‘black experience’ films”

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  1. Clare says:

    I’m getting really sick of his gendered chat. Mum does the breast feeding, dad will buy the car? FFS. Mum is a very successful lawyer – mum can do the breastfeeding AND buy the damn cars. Jeez.

    • detritus says:

      Yeah. It’s almost like a tic at this lint.
      It’s a guy thing, all girls like shopping!, that sort of nonsense. Just wait til he talks about them dating. My parents are really bad for this and it was a hell of a habit to break, so I get it, but come on Georgie, you know better.

    • Lulu says:

      I took issue with that too. The idea that buying a car would somehow equal breastfeeding seemed so off. Both he and amal could buy a few cars, its not the same thing. Fathers need to do more than financial parenting.

      • Kate says:

        It’s clearly a joke.

        Have people never seen Clooney do a TV interview? All these things people jump on him for in print are the kind of things he always says sarcastically/self-deprecatingly live.

      • Clare says:

        @Kate well a lot of his ‘self depreciating jokes’ had been gendered nonsense recently. Remember how he intimated that the boy is like a moose and just eats and the girl has big elegant eyes? Come on. even if this is a joke, it’s a bad one with a shitty message. We’re allowed to criticize it – if it comes across badly in print, he is a seasoned enough professional to know better than to put these messages out there REPEATEDLY. Come on.

      • Plewas says:

        Meh, I think he’s owning up to the fact that with babies that age, he is not that important. Sure my hubby was helpful and supportive but he mainly helped me as an assistant and the babies could give two shits about his presence. Lol And he knows his wife kicks his ass In credential, I don’t think that’s in question.

    • Alissa says:

      you know, some people still like the traditional gender roles. I think his real point was simply that he can’t help her breastfeed, and then he tried to make a joke about it. Relax. Obviously Amal can’t be that worried about it since she married him and had two kids with him.

      • ORIGINAL T.C. says:

        I was impressed at the first part of his statement. Breastfeeding twins is exhausting and many times painful. But the second part about buying the car was offensive. As though his wife doesn’t work and wouldn’t be able to pay for her own kids cars. Like she’s a baby-mama he pays money to. That’s what offended me. He dismissed a professional woman’s financial contributions.

        Try using an example of something perhaps only “your gender” can provide. Hmm, let’s see…..I’m thinking…there has got to be something beyond sperm….hmm..yeah nothing unique post delivery.

        He could have said ‘my own personal assets will be able to pay for castles or a multi-million dollar trust fund’ which would be more than his lawyer wife could afford. But then he would have to admit he makes a fortune. Just own it and don’t pretend you are the average Joe.

      • Kate says:

        He did admit he makes a fortune. He’s always been extremely open about the money he makes, not just from films but endorsements. He’s spoken numerous times now about making hundreds of millions from his tequila company, and he’s been happy to talk about the actual figures and not try and play it down in any way.

        He’s never pretended to be a normal guy. Actors trying to play that card don’t publicise the fact they summer in Lake Como and shoot hoops with Obama.

      • Achoo! says:

        …….. except of course his Tequila company pays crap wages to the workers in Mexico which is never mentioned , (one reason they are selling up as Trump might impose high taxes on it’s importation which would kill the company) and then there is Nestle who he makes around $5million a year from , it is literally the worst multi national company in the world for exploiting workers in undeveloped countries . He jumped down the throat of a reporter who asked him about Nestle’s bad rep and UN sanctions a few years ago in Venice ( many here will remember the baby milk scandal) telling her pretty much to ‘shut up he was entitled to make a living’. He does a lot of good when he is in the mood, the satellite surveillance in South Sudan for instance, but he spins the narrative he wants you to hear. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors and misdirection with George.

        That said he has always been up front on the ‘black’ issue having faced it often growing up in Kentucky, his father was a very vocal advocate for black rights in his journalistic career , George has told many stories over the years about his fathers confrontations with racists and learning as a young child that there was a big problem there . He learned to eat fast if they went out to a restaurant as his father would more often than not pack the family up, and leave immediately after give the staff/manager/customers a talking to if there was any discrimination or racism towards black patrons or staff.

    • Shijel says:

      For once I think it’s being read into too much. It’s a joke. And George isn’t going to breastfeed the twins any time soon, so why not crack a joke about a familiar stereotype.

  2. Nicole says:

    It’s like he’s half way there. I need you to go the other 50% sir. Also I will say it again a lot of this 50% is because of Amal

  3. Fa says:

    Why not produce with a black director that can tell the story like Brad Pitt did with his Plan B production and the 2 movies got BP Oscar and recognition for 2 amazing directors and do not forget Selma with Ava. This is the way to help black directors when studios do not hire them it is up to a powerful producer to help them.

  4. Seraphina says:

    Exactly, help someone to tell the story. At least he has realized not all people can tell the story of another race or ethnicity. And he’s beginning to give me the blah vibes. Ain’t doing much and just being blah. He needs to step up his game.

  5. Alissa says:

    I think what he’s talking about is exactly what’s happening in these comments. We’re so focused on everyone being perfectly woke that anyone who’s even halfway there gets railed for not getting it right. People need to chill the fuck out.

    • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

      Pot meet kettle. That is an odd interpretation at what some people in the comments are saying. He isn’t even trying to tell any story at all because he is afraid he is going to be yelled at, which is a cop out and childish. If you believe in diversity, then you will do whatever it takes to show it. If he doesn’t understand, start reading books, find youtube lectures and so on. Doing nothing keeps everything the same.

      People have even used Brad as an example of how it can and should be done, but you are just turning George into a victim which he is not even making himself into. He may be resigned and reluctant because of his ignorance, but he isn’t turning himself intot a victim. You are turning him into a victim for some unknown reason. He can and should do more if he believes in diversity in film making. If Brad Pitt, or more accurately Dede Gardner, Brad Pitt, and Jeremy Kleiner, have put their money where their mouths are and tried and have mostly succeeded in making diverse films, then George can too. He just doesn’t want to because he is too afraid. That sort of mind set is no longer acceptable of white people who consider themselves “allies”.

      • Megan says:

        Once again, the progressive church slams the door in the face of those who haven’t reached the proper level of enlightenment. George is speaking honestly about his limitations and fears. Maybe he will overcome them, maybe he won’t, but to say someone isn’t an ally until they meet your definition of an ally isn’t going to move anything forward.

      • Malificent says:

        But he is being yelled at all over this thread. And he’s right. Nothing he can say or do will ever be enough or correctly nuanced.

      • Goldie says:

        It’s not as if anyone is saying that George is “cancelled”. People are offering constructive criticism and suggestions on what he could do to be more inclusive. Just because someone considers themselves an ally, doesn’t mean that they are above reproach.

      • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

        @Megan and Malifiecent

        You have no idea what you are talking about and need to stop pretending that you do. You are being overly dramatic and victimizing him when he is not even pulling out the victim card. He isn’t you and you aren’t him. No one is yelling at anyone on an online message board.

        I am calling him out on his reluctance to do something when he says he wants to do something. He knows there is a problem but is afraid to do the right things to make things better in the US, specifically Hollywood. He is taking the right steps in Africa, but little to nothing about the country he was born and raised in.

        And I find it funny (not really. I am not even surprised anymore by myopic knee jerk comments like both of yours), that the only thing you are worried about is poor George’s feelings are hurt that some POC are urging him to do more and critizing him for not doing anything-even when he knows there is a problem that won’t get resolved soon. Are we non-whites supposed to just accept what white people give as and move on? Not on my watch that won’t happen. I will not accept excuses from him or either of you for why you don’t do anything to help people who you know are in trouble. If we are correcting you it is because you are not doing it right. Correct your error and we can move forward. Why is it that you two are more worried about his feelings (and more than likely yours too) of being hurt than the huge issue that he openly admits needs to be fixed. He needs to push pass the fear, take responsibility for the new world his kids are going to live in and move forward.

      • Megan says:

        @Aiobhan You prove my point perfectly. If I am not in lock step with your thinking, I am a bad person and part of the problem.

        For the record, I spent my morning quickly pulling together a Congressional call in to protest proposed increased military cooperation with Burma.

        What did you do to make the world a better place today?

      • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

        And you are still proving my point about you being overly dramatic and missing the point. You are part of the problem because you aren’t doing anything but complaining about not being worshipped as a hero. If you say you care about something, know that something is wrong, and know that it needs to change, why would any adult not want to hear feedback from the people that they are supposed to be helping.? Are we supposed to just take what you offer? We aren’t going to do that if it does not help us. You aren’t helping if you are only willing to do x&y when we need xyz and abc, and you have the ability to help with everything we need.

        I am not sure why you think I should care about the second paragraph at all. Burma has nothing to do with race relations in America. If you think that it proves something about you, it doesn’t.

      • Megan says:

        @Aiobhan It’s impossible to have a conversation when one side insists on yelling.

        I think it is regrettable that you don’t care that the Burmese government is committing genocide against the Rohingya minority. That speaks volumes about you.

      • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

        What is impossible is to talk to someone who keeps acting like a victim. How old are you? I am also not yelling. How can one yell through a computer. I am calmly typing a response to your comment while relaxing at home. You feel attacked because I am not buying your excuses and supposed victimhood.

        Also, I did not ask for you to be perfect. I asked you to do better and get off your high horse. I even gave you examples of how you could do better.

        Your last comment is gaslighting and deflection at its finest. What is going in Burma has nothing to do with race relations in America, like at all. You probably thought that it made you look saintly letting me know that you are preparing to make a call. A CALL. What it does do is make it look like you are using a horrific situation that is poorly covered in the US to deflect from my criticism of your original comment. You have nothing more to add, so you use that horrible situation to cover up that you have nothing new or interesting to add to this conversation, so you use the misery of innocent people in another country to try to shame me into submission. You are using a horrible situation in another country to make you look better on the internet. Really? Do you know how wrong that is? Now I’m yelling. Shame.

      • Megan says:

        The only person acting like a victim is you.

        My point in mentioning the Burma call in I organized (which has generated over 10,000 calls to Congress so far) was to let you know you can get off your high horse in telling me to do something. Doing something is literally my job. I am fundraising consultant to progressive and Democratic causes. I literally spend my entire day, everyday doing something. In my free time, I advocate for justice for victims of torture and genocide. Being of Jewish and Druze descent (I am half Lebanese), it’s an issue quite close to my heart.

        But let’s be clear. You and I are on the same side. How is yelling at someone on your side going to change the heart and mind of someone on the other side?
        This is what I mean when I refer to progressive church. Woke is a journey, not a destination and I am tired of people who are further in their journey yelling at people who are doing the best they can. Clooney is a 50+ year old white man from Lexington Kentucky. The fact that he is woke at all is a testament to his character. Rather than smack George down for what he hasn’t done, why not start a dialog about what he can do.

      • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

        “The only person acting like a victim is you.”

        Did you really try to pull the ” I know you are but what am I” gag? Damn that is an old one. Not as effective as it used to be though.

        Let’s be clear: no, we aren’t on the same side. I do not care about changing the hearts and minds of anyone on the “other side” if the people on “my side” cannot even be on the same page as to who is on the other side and how to approach fixing problems. Why would I want to work with someone who is doing what you are doing? Ans. I don’t. You listing your professional credentials does not make you more official to me. We are specifically talking about an issue that is taking place in the US and you are making this about yourself and a worthy cause that no one else has brought up in this conversation. You are focusing on the wrong part of my argument. I said you weren’t doing anything to further dialogue abour race relations in the US and then you brought up a topic not related to what we were originally discussing to try to push back on my calling you out for being tone deaf. You are basically going” there is war in other countries” to me. You are changing the subject because you cannot respond to what I originally wrote. Your laundry list of professional credentials and minority status does not make you immune from criticism.

        Everything in your last paragraph is an excuse. I am tired of people like you who use every excuse in the book to not push yourself further. If being “woke” is a journey, people like you and him are the people stuck on the side of the road wondering why they have four flat tires and not doing enough to fix the issue. You don’t call anyone for help, you don’t try to signal someone to stop and help, you don’t take the advice from someone who stops to help, you don’t listen to the person who yells instructions to you on how to fix the flat tires. You just sit there with your sad face on and say ” I don’t know what to do.” Then, when someone gets frustrated with your lack of action, you lash out at them “I’m doing the best that I can.. I am 50 years old and work in an office. How am I supposed to fix this tire? I guess I will just sit here forever because that is all I can do. I will give up this important journey that I care about because I am too scared to ask for help and don’t want to seriously take in what that person who may help me has to say about moving forward and how to get to the end.” If that is not good enough for the other people on the road. Oh well.

        “why not start a dialog about what he can do.”

        I literally gave an example of how he could move forward. I guess you were too busy typing a slimmed down version of your bio and resume to see that.

      • Megan says:

        @Aiobhan My tires are fully inflated and I am traveling down the road. I was doing volunteer human rights work this morning. I spent most of last week putting together a digital donor acquisition campaign for one of the largest and oldest civil right organizations in America. They have retained me for 17 years so I guess they think I have a clue about race relations in America.

        As for my resume, for 25 years, I have literally put my money where my mouth is when it comes to my personal values. Can you say the same, or is your contribution pointing out how others aren’t doing enough?

        I mentioned I was half Lebanese because almost no one in America has heard of my family’s religion and it gives it some context. But I do not consider myself a minority. Lebanese people are considered white in the US and are afforded all of the privilege that comes with that.

        But I need to wrap up a few things before the work day ends. I will get back to making a difference while you sit in your living room and relax.

      • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

        The whole point of protesting is pointing out what others are doing wrong. If you cared about a cause you point out the problems and offer possible solutions. You don’t take scraps just because someone gave them to you.

        Yes, I actually have been putting my money where my mouth is online and in the real world. Not as long as you, but I am doing it. And part of protesting and advocating for others is pointing out the problem and offering solutions. You did not offer one solution in your deflections on how to help race relations in the US. You are on the road in Burma. You offered excuses as to why he should not be pushed further and try harder. And you still aren’t. You want to accept people as they are and just let them do whatever they want-even when they are not helping at all. He is not offering help and you are raising money so that others can change policy.

        Sitting back and letting people do what they want is not what led to the voting rights act. Sitting back and letting the oppressors dictate how they are going to change and when does not lead to change. Letting white people set the agenda for how black people were going to live is not what they fought for. Those black people who fought for the voting rights act faced constant death threats, physical violence, and much more, which you should know about since you work in DC. They protested, some died, and others fought tooth and nail to get the president to do what he did with the voting rights act. All those black protesters did not just sit back and say “oh well” he is only doing what he can. Maybe next time. Maybe someone else.” They did not sit back and sit quietly while whites did what they wanted.

        “First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

        — Letter From a Birmingham Jail, 1963

      • Megan says:

        I posted my earlier response in the wrong place, but I would like to add that I suspect I am far more educated about structural white supremacy and structural poverty in America than you. I would never be arrogant enough to think that I have the solutions to complex societal problems. What I can do is support this people who are developing solutions. Which I do, everyday.

    • poorlittlerichgirl says:

      I agree with you. Everyone will be wrong to someone. There are no winners here apparently.

    • detritus says:

      It’s pretty easy, don’t say – girls do this, boys do this. When you make a movie about race – involve the communities that are presented.

      No one can be perfect, but that doesn’t make them immune to criticism. It means everyone needs to grow a thicker skin and get used to being corrected without taking it personally. I mean, unless people don’t want to learn and grow and be better to those around them.

      Anyhow, in my very important to the Clooneyverse opinion, Clooney gets good grades for this. His gender essentialism is annoying but not obnoxious, and he’s trying to understand what people of colour go through. He’s trying. He’s not perfect and he still deserves criticism, but all in all, good work.

    • Megan says:

      I am quite familiar with the works of Dr. King. My parents were fortunate enough to hear him speak one summer when they were in Alabama registering voters.

      • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

        Boy, did the point of that quote go over your head.

      • Megan says:

        You are determined to cut me down because I don’t agree with you 100%. Yours must be a lonely crusade.

      • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

        Nope. There are many black people like me who are tired of moderate white people like you drawing a line in the sand and telling blacks and other POC what they will and will not do to help. What is the right way to have a conversation with whites about how to make our lives better? Cause whenever we do, whites like you get upset when we calmly explain that we are upset and want better from our so called allies, which was the point of the MLK quote. You did exactly that in your early response. Great that you got that it was an MLK quote. Bad that you don’t seem to understand that you are a younger version of the moderate white he is speaking of.

        You don’t need to agree 100% with me ( and I even wrote that in an earlier post) but we do need to agree at least 30%.

        Also, again, stop playing the victim, you have been giving as good as you got this entire thread. You are more passive aggressive than I am, I will give you that.

  6. Megan says:

    If Clooney thinks the black experience isn’t his story to tell, then he shouldn’t tell it. If he isn’t confident he can get it right as a producer, then he shouldn’t produce it. I’m fine with him acknowledging his limits.

    • HK9 says:

      True-to some extent. Some people are not strong where storyteling is concerned. Meaning, you have to quiet the voices in your head to hear what people are saying and document it, without censoring it, to get it right. Some storytellers don’t have that skill, and don’t want to develop it either, usually because everything has to be about them in some way.

      On the other hand, it still goes to show how afraid people are of doing their own internal work (meaning developing different skills) to get it right. Why is it that “black” people can tell “white” stories but not the other way around. It’s very interesting.

    • Kitten says:

      I tend to agree with you. Not every actor/producer has to follow the same path as Brad Pitt. Sure, it’s possible that as HK9 says, he just doesn’t want to do the work but to me it seems like he just doesn’t think he’d effectively tell a story from a black perspective.

  7. Skylark says:

    Ugh, more grandstanding. He did exactly the same thing regarding the paucity of decent roles for women past 40 in the industry but has never lifted a finger to do a single thing about it. And as usual, he looks for a way to present himself as an ally while at the same time neatly side-stepping responsibility.

    And his humble-bragging is off the scale.

  8. Kate says:

    That’s not what he’s saying. He was asked about making a film like Suburbicon, but from the point of the view of a black family in that period. He’s right, that’s not his area.

    He’s not saying he won’t tell stories with black characters, he’s saying that stories focused entirely on the black experience aren’t his to tell. He spoke a lot last year about how he was at fault for not making more diverse films, how he could and should have cast a young black actor in Gosling’s Ides of March role for example. At that point he was already deep into pre-production on Suburbicon, and he hasn’t done anything since, but he certainly sounded committed to improving the films he produces and directs.

  9. ArchieGoodwin says:

    That’s right. We’re long past the stage of acknowledging our privilege. Now, it’s time to use it and actively help, support.

    Great post, Kaiser.

  10. Mia4s says:

    Whatever perspective he made the movie from, early reviews and word is flat out BAD. I’ve heard the phrase “waste of time” more than once. Ouch.

  11. Lucy2 says:

    I’m fine with him acknowledging which stories are not his to tell, but I think his casting in general could be a lot more inclusive, and I’d like to see him put his producing power and connections to work helping the people who SHOULD be telling those stories.

  12. Lily says:

    This guy has plenty of leverage & clout in Hollywood to back all kinds of filmmakers. He doesn’t have to direct the films or even write them, just fund them & let others tell their stories. Obviously he doesn’t think that’s a possibility

    His quasi politician rhetoric is annoying me already.

  13. Jenna says:

    He seems incredibly proud of his wife. And realizes she is shouldering the brunt of the caregiving right now. And making self depreciating joke because that is his personality.

    I think he understands white privilege to a certain degree, but it’s hard to take in a persons entire philosophical view through a one paragraph quote taken out of context.

  14. Esmom says:

    I’m clearly int he minority but I’m not offended by this interview. He’s got an ego like most Hollywood power players but I don’t think his humility is a put on. And I’m glad he’s not afraid to speak out against Trump and his goons.

  15. Wow says:

    Hmm, Brad didn’t shy away from putting his money behind black films. No one is saying privileged George should speak FOR black people but he could help by putting his money and connections behind projects from minority directors, writers and actors/actresses etc.

    But I’m not going to give George too much shade because at least he does something to help. Some people won’t even the common homeless person they see on the street or their neighbor who may be going through s bad time.

  16. Jessica says:

    I definitely don’t think a lot of white people can tell a story about the black experience without making black characters stereotypes and sometimes even black folks get it wrong (i.e. Precious which was written and directed by a black man). There’s nothing wrong with what he said, we just need more actors to use their pull to get more diverse projects greenlit. Hollywood is cheap and only wants to make action and cartoon movies because they know it will sell.

  17. Starryfish says:

    If only George knew someone with the clout and funding to produce films by POC….Oh wait.

    • Skylark says:

      If only.

      And if only he put as much effort and energy into trying to make positive change as he does into coming up with excuses as to why he can’t. But this is his long time MO, cynical and wholly transparent grandstanding about the current industry cause célèbre, every time he has a movie to flog. Lip service.

    • Emmet says:

      Here’s the question that no one asks any director/producer with clout. Where are the women screenwriters, producers, or directors?
      I can understand his inability to make a film about POC, but the only women represented in his films are playing WAGs, never leads except for Sandra Bullock and she co-produced.
      GC got his start by riding on the coattails of a woman, his aunt Rosemary.

      Before the GC trolls jump on me, he had a female assistant (Amy) for years, never promoted her within the ranks. Not true for his male friends, ie Grant.

  18. Mim says:

    If he really wants race not to matter he should hire people of colour in his movies without there being some race angle and without white washing (Argo). Movies like About Last Night (2014) which was a movie about people. It would have been the same script no matter who was cast. It wasn’t race focused at all and with 4 African Americans as leads, it was great to see. That’s what I want to see more of, normal movies about normal people which have normal people of colour as leads, not rewritten so they explain why there are people of colour there. Would be even better if they hired more behind the camera too. Not sure this is making sense

  19. izzie the other says:

    This is my problem.. why does he necessarily need to tell so called “black stories”? Minorities are not some strange sub species of human. We eat, breathe, and talk like regular people! Minority stories are important (VERY) but another problem is that minority’s are only in films centered around historical events like slavery or war time films. There are hundreds of films made with white characters living their lives that have nothing to do with history. Why can’t that be applied to actors of another race? Shonda Rhimes has done it every week for more than a decade! My problem is that there is too many black characters instead of characters that happen to be black.

  20. JC says:

    In the second photo, the bottom half of his face is looking a lot like Bill Clinton’s.

  21. perplexed says:

    I think he was asked about directing, not necessarily producing. That’s the impression I get from this: “He’s not the guy to tell direct a film about the African-American experience.”

    I find him kind of smarmy at times (like during his Oscar speech), but with these actors I think it would make more sense to look at what question was actually asked. The question asked has some influence on how the answer is shaped. I don’t think the actors are beyond criticism, but I do think the answers have to be read in context and interpreted accordingly rather than criticizing them about something they may not have been specifically asked. I may have all the great ideas in the world, but if someone asks me a specific question about, say, directing, I will most likely answer to the scope and time limit of the question.

    I can’t believe I’m defending George Clooney.

  22. Dippit says:

    I’ve side-eyed Clooney and his attitude to recognising his white privilege since reading this article a couple of years ago. I’ve also heard from people who have worked with him in the field that he brings a jingoistic and ‘white saviour’ approach to the humanitarian work he has done.

    Perhaps this firmly makes his point that he is definitely not the right person to tell the stories of people of colour. However, I further side-eye that, as a supposed ally, he is now but admitting to absenting himself from doing all in his considerable Hollywood power to promote and finance diversity.

    It’s worth noting that the racial tension subplot in Suburbicon was grafted on to the Coen brothers’ original dark white suburban comedy script by Clooney himself. So he did see fit to write black characters for this latest outing (perhaps in response to past criticism that he has not promoted diversity in his films as a general rule). Going by the vast majority of reviews he failed to write for his race subplot by failing to give the black characters in Suburbicon anything beyond one dimension within which to work. His black family were cardboard cut-out afterthoughts and most critics of the movie have found that jarring.

    Clooney has made much in interviews, prior to its film festival outings, about the racial tension subplot being his addition to the movie and how relevant it is to today’s continuing America. It seems to me that, now the reviews have hit, he’s trying to distance himself from being responsible for that problematically realised aspect of the film. It seems his jingoistic/paternalistic attitude to people of colour has leaked into the movie and he is now in full-on retreat from taking responsibility. Not much of an ally, more a white saviour hoisted on their own petard.

    • Skylark says:

      Re his ‘humanitarianism’, add to that his decades-long and hugely profitable association with the loathsome Nestle, a company with ongoing and grievous human rights breaches against some of the poorest and most vulnerable people (POC!) on the planet…. but, hey, as he said himself, he’s just earning a living. SMH.

      That he continues to be lauded and indulged in the way he is is bewildering.

    • siri says:

      That’s the way I’m taking it, too. I’ve read the reviews, and most seem to miss exactly this second story line about the black family (that HE and Heslov added to the Coen’s script) developed, so he’s trying to excuse himself before the audience has even seen the film. It’s just Clooney being concerned about his image again, nothing new.

  23. DesertReal says:

    I just watched the finale of Insecure on HBO. Loved it.
    Why? Because it’s hilarious, genuine, original, witty, amazing, & it doesn’t show black people as a stereotype. Just as people, not trying to play to a certain type, or as an Acting Ambassador of Black People. People that want to do the best for themselves, their future families, & how you stumble (especially making fun of others) along the way.
    You mean to tell me that only POC had their hand in bringing that perspective to life?

  24. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    And yet, Clooney played a Native Hawaiian man who was descended from Hawaiian royalty, overseeing vast landholdings on Kauai. Because a white guy was the absolute best person to convey the responsibilities that come with native ancestral lands?

  25. my3cents says:

    I’m going to be the superficial one in this conversation and say that he aged quite significantly and suddenly.Sorry to say he’s losing the hotness.

  26. Coconut says:

    George is not a bad guy. I think his problem is he’s just like Hillary and other centrist Democrats. He concentrates on the culture wars, which I think for people who voted for Trump to spite the Democrats has been a way to give the middle finger on economic issues. Fighting the culture wars is important but that’s not going to get Trumps and the likes of Trump out of public service. Name calling the “bad guys” won’t help if you don’t address the underlying causes – and Trump was able to beat Hillary because people didn’t want the old guard in an age of increasingly concentrated wealth, corporate power, and inequality. Never read about George addressing it – or talking about any kind of economic policy – and his texting buddy Obama – who still gets by on incredible personal charisma – continued what Bill Clinton unleashed. Lots of excellent reporting from people like Matt Stoller and Thomas Frank on this.

    Americans can’t seem to imagine themselves in such a system but it seems a good proportion of the voters actually want a Scandinavian-style system that’s not afraid to punish the corporate giants (companies) and the corporate elites (people) and which ensures better equality. George clearly wants some sort of political role and it’s astounding he doesn’t seem have said anything about / have an opinion on economics. He’s arrogant and naive in this respect.