“Guns Akimbo" Was A Movie Of Interest…Until
Director Jason Lei Howden & White Film Critics Minimize Racist Slurs
Bullying is wrong. Yes. But not every call out is bullying, nor should it be construed as such. People are routinely misusing words and attributing them to the wrong people.
Enter director Jason Howden, who is faulting everyone because a person, who it was learned used the n word a few years ago, attempted suicide after being called out — bullied by some — online.
Racist. Slurs. Are. Abusive.
If you are caught using one either through social media DMs or on video the likelihood is that you’ve used it plenty of times prior to that instance, you were just caught that time. Could it be just once? Yes but it’s unlikely.
They also kept going on about the years that have passed and “people change”. The time that has passed is neither here nor there because a person could still be using the racist slur after that moment and, again, racist slurs are a form of abuse.
It matters less about when it happened and more about when people learned about it. Similar to a person discovering their partner cheated a few years ago. Is it in the past for the person who cheated? Maybe, unless they’re still cheating. But it doesn’t alter the fact that it is fresh for the person who was cheated on, does it? Do they get a pass because it was in the past?
Why is the victim expected to quickly process their pain and move on? Because it’s more comfortable for the person who caused the pain, that’s why.
The other issue is the impact. Here’s where there is the biggest divergence. Director Jason Howden along with white film critics are saying it wasn’t a big deal because, for them, it’s not.
The reason it’s not is they have likely used the word in their past. As such, when faced with someone who has done the same they have two options (well, three but they rarely choose the third option to stay quiet and mind their business). They can either be the hypocrite calling out someone for what they’ve also done or they can minimize it’s importance. They chose the latter.
For them our reaction to the slur is the problem, not the slur. It was “harmless”. A “dumb” joke. That’s the way it is, they gaslight us, stating our reactions are over the top in comparison to what was done.
Personally speaking, I would not want to work with someone who, I recently discovered, used a racial slur in the past. I would be wondering how many times they use the word in their head when they see me? When we have a disagreement? When I’m not there? If I could afford to quit, yes I would quit.
Truthfully, if a slur pops out of your mouth it is part of your vocabulary and thoughts. This is grade school knowledge. When learning a new word, you have to hear it and say it a certain amount of times before it becomes part of your vocabulary wheelhouse. So no, I would not be okay with that.
So how does Jason Howden, director of “Guns Akimbo” slated for release on next Friday, February 28th, react? Of course with the above mentioned tweet as an appetizer calling people POS and bear in mind this is not only the actual bullies who wished death on her that he’s cursing at, but anyone who called her out for her actions and some who weren’t even a part of it just because they told him that his take is incorrect.
He even went a step further in since deleted tweets saying he would not only boycott film sites that hire the staff that quit working with her — as is their choice — but tweeted out a list of the staff; thereby opening them up to…you guessed it, bullying. Must be nice looking up from that higher ground.
He only deleted it after receiving replies from people, including some of the writers he targeted, that called him out. Of course he thinks it’s all bullying now toward him and claims he’s getting hate when there were a few comments in support of him and a few that were like this:
We are constantly expected to let mistreatment slide while they casually ignore the mental toll it takes on us to feel our emotions have no value.
A white female poet plagiarized her poems from writers of color and when it was discovered people called her out, but many others talked about her mental health and to please not be upset with her for making a mistake. Seriously? Having a mental illness does not make one exempt from accountability. Period.
Black people are consistently the target of racism, slurs, people capitalizing on our creations and innovation and we are expected to accept it. When we get upset our anger and hurt is belittled to the point of triviality. The root of the issue and our pain is mentioned — if it even is mentioned — in passing. We are always asked to relate and sympathize with the people who hurt us and to choke on our suffering.
We are asked to see their humanity whilst being dehumanized and continue on as though nothing happened.
Look at the situation when Jalaiah Harmon tried to point out she created the Renegade dance that was taken by white girls on TikTok, who then gained monetarily from it, and only finally credited her once the anger and pain from Black people online grew enough to make ignoring it impossible, alongside an NYT piece talking about the situation.
Initially however, Jalaiah was blamed her for her dance being stolen; being told it was her own fault for not using TikTok. Thankfully, she is finally receiving recognition, but for every instance where we are given our due there are many more that are stolen from us as we are left screaming into the white void. We are supposed to accept and deal, no matter what because we are Black and we are considered both strong and inconsequential.
They also directed their anger at the writers who quit because, when she attempted suicide the writers were of course worried about her. These are not exclusive emotions. We are complex creatures and being in a workplace, especially one you have been at for a while is no different from forging any other personal relationship.
If you leave someone who mistreated you, it doesn’t mean you wish them harm. It just means that, for your own mental and physical health, you need to put a distance between yourself and the toxic environment. If something happened to the individual you would still sympathize and worry about them. Leaving, being upset or angry does not erase bonds forged over time.
There were bullies, people saying horrific things to her but what people like Jason and the other white critics did was attack the people who called her out, not the bullies/trolls.
Whiteness always selects someone else to be the villain and, when it has to be the villain, as in slavery and Jim Crow, that’s “in the past”. Anything occurring in the present that is based on racism, anti-Blackness, misogynoir is “debatable”. They don’t see it because they haven’t lived it. If it doesn’t affect them then it doesn’t matter and/or doesn’t exist.
Despite the above tweet, he was still going on blaming and calling out people as bullies who were not involved in the actual bullying. For him, anyone upset by what she did is a bully. Seems we are the only ones that need to “look at our own behavior”. Classic.
Bullying is not synonymous with criticism and calling out. The goal of bullying is to destroy. The goal of calling out and criticizing is to improve.
There is room to hurt for a person in pain, and to discuss why a slur is abusive and hurtful, especially if it comes from someone you thought was better than that. Perpetuating the same behavior you are sneering at does nothing except show your hypocrisy and render your words ridiculous.
Yes, he could just be mad and spewing anger. So could others who were upset by what she did. Why is his behavior acceptable but other people’s aren’t? How is it any different? We don’t get to decide how people respond to our behavior...or when they forgive us.
The only thing we can hope for is a second chance when we make a mistake. But, regardless whether we are given one or not, we can show everyday through our actions and care, that we are taking steps to be better.