Over the weekend, a pair of
TMZ photographers harassed Jonah Hill for blocks as he was leaving a restaurant in LA, making fun of his shorts, swarming around Hill and a friend with still and video cameras (update: TMZ claims the guy making fun of Hill’s board shorts wasn’t from TMZ, for what it’s worth). After at least three straight blocks of harassment (that’s just the part you can see in the video) Hill finally snapped, telling the photographer “Suck my dick, you f*ggot.”
To which the photographer can be heard to respond “Oh, a real bully!”
First of all, THAT’S NOT HOW BULLYING WORKS.
It’d be nice if someone publicly shamed these teams of organized parasites, or maybe called them out for cheapening the idea of bullying the way that green beret did with Gwyneth Paltrow cheapening the idea of war, but instead, Jonah Hill went on Howard Stern to apologize. For using one of the magic controversy words that they were trying to get him to say all along.
“I’m upset because from the day I was born and publicly I’ve been a gay rights activist,” Hill told the radio host.
“I grew up with gay family members. I’m leaving here to go spend the day with one of my closest co-workers and best friend who is gay, who’s getting married, who I’m going to stand at his wedding. You know? I’m not at all defending my choice of words but I am happy to be the poster boy for thinking about what you say and how those words, even if you don’t intend them and how they mean, they are rooted in hate, and that’s bulls–t. I shouldn’t have said that,” Hill said. “Look, I think I’m pretty good at being in movies. I am not good at being a famous person. I’m just not!” [TheWrap]
I’m not going to defend Jonah Hill saying the word “f*ggot” because it’s a word we’re rightfully trying to shame away. At the same time, you’d be hard pressed to find an example of an altercation between two 20 or 30-something dudes where someone doesn’t use that word (yes, it’s a problem, but I don’t think Jonah Hill started it). More importantly, why is Jonah Hill the focus of the story for saying a naughty word in the heat of the moment, and not the two idiots chasing him down the street antagonizing him? What’s the root issue here, a word, or a culture where we respect each other so little that we think it’s perfectly acceptable to just follow people down the street being shitty to them and then act shocked when they get mad?
It’s a shame he used a word that brought an oppressed minority group into the mix, and an equal shame that he didn’t just punch the guy.
UPDATE: Here’s the actual apology, below. To me it actually comes off very genuine and heartfelt. I don’t know if he came up with the line or a publicist, but “I’m happy to be the poster boy for trying to get better at thinking about what you say” is a totally legitimate and realistic goal for those of us males around my age who said and heard the term “f*ggot” thousands of times as adolescents. I’m pretty sure “f*ggot” was my nickname in junior high.