Monday, November 27, 2017

Susan Sarandon Is Still Speaking, I See

I mean, it's her right to speak, of course. It doesn't mean she deserves a platform or freedom from criticism.

And yet, here we are.

In The Guardian this weekend (via the Tweet below), we have a lot going on.

First, Sarandon shows us why she's a good example of how "leftwing intentions can have rightwing consequences" and of how someone can be "liberal/leftist but not feminist."

  • She says she's a "humanist" rather than a "feminist" because she doesn't want to alienate people who think feminists are "a load of strident bitches."
  • She's "flattered" that a prominent feminist, Katha Pollitt, has called her an "idiot." Like it's hugely brave or progressive to not give a shit what the hysterical, stupid feminists say.
  • She conflates sexual harassment with 1960s-1970s sexual liberation.
  • She echoes the talking point that Trump was elected primarily because of working class angst rather than a more nuanced understanding that many factors led to the outcome.
Secondly, during the interview, she plays an odd card regarding her political speech:
“I mean it’s very flattering to think that I, on my own, cost the election. That my little voice was the deciding factor.”
Well. Of course Sarandon "on her own" didn't cost the election. But, she has a larger platform than most people to influence political and current events. She currently has 569,000 Twitter followers, a number that is likely close to what she had during the 2016 election.

Before the election, Sarandon (who supported Bernie Sanders during the Democratic Primary) announced that she was supporting Green Party candidate Jill Stein in the general and said that Hillary Clinton would be a more dangerous president than Donald Trump.

It's difficult to assess the impact of any one event or statement on the election, but to call her voice "little" is incredibly disingenuous.

Third, the article references the current manner that "moderate" has, to some people, come to be conflated with "Hillary supporter" rather than a person's policy positions. While the journalist notes that Sarandon is attacked by "the left" these days, rather than the right, she later says that "the moderates" hate her. "Moderates" was used in the context of Sarandon calling her harassers "the Hillary people."

Too often, mainstream media journalists uncritically accept these creative new definitions of leftist, centrist, and moderate. Yet, to what extent can someone who echoes rape culture talking points actually be considered more progressive or "leftist" than someone who does not?

Four, on the harassment front, women across the political spectrum are attacked for their political beliefs. It's unfortunate that Sarandon is, as well, although I'm not surprised.

It's also unfortunate that Sarandon seems to believe that gender issues ought to be subordinate to so many More Important Causes, because we could use her support and her voice on this issue -for all women, not just those she deems sufficiently "leftist." Yet, like many liberal/left non-feminist ("humanist"?) women, they leave the heavy lifting on gender issues to be done by feminists, even if they have more resources and larger platform than we do.

On a final note, the Guardian journalist profiling Sarandon added a bit of admiration for the star:
"And yet I like Sarandon. It takes real courage to go against the mob. Her inconsistencies are a little wild, but in the age of social-media enforced conformity, I have never met anyone so uninterested in toeing the line."
Here I'm primarily curious as to how a person in the media can be on social media and believe there's such a thing as "social-media enforced conformity." Although, it's also curious that one can be informed about current events and still think it's a good idea to lionize people for being, what they deem as, politically-incorrect truth-tellers.

Have journalists learned nothing?

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