Spider-Man actor defends Julie Taymor, blames sexism

Stage actor Harry Lennix has taken to Huffington Post to write a lengthy screed/defense of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark director Julie Taymor, who was fired from the production a week before the scheduled opening. He decries her “unmerited and unprecedented persecution,” as if she was Jesus, or Hitler, and not a chick who directs musicals.

In my opinion, the producers of Spider-Man have found a convenient whipping girl to bear the brunt of any woes related to the production. They seem to have absolved themselves from accountability for the show’s production while reaping the benefit of the publicity surrounding the absurd decision to jettison the creative visionary behind it. In their minds, the fault couldn’t possibly lie with an untested Broadway producer, or the two all but absent rock star composers whose notoriety is derived from a completely different medium.

The “convenient whipping girl” part might be true, but I might also argue that the root of the problem was the original idea for a $60 million musical about Spider-Man with music by U2. And calling her “the creative visionary behind it” isn’t a great way to absolve her from that. Also, are you really going to criticize someone “whose notoriety is derived from a completely different medium” in a piece about A SPIDER-MAN MUSICAL?

Would a male director receive the lashing Julie has received? If it were a male director with the reputation and accomplishments of Julie Taymor I cannot believe in good conscience that this would happen in this way. Julie’s career is an unqualified success. She is a singular pioneer who deserves to be given as much freedom and support to create as any man with her accomplishments would be given. I marvel at this double standard. We are witnessing a situation where a woman is unceremoniously and illogically dismissed, treated with senseless hostility from her male employers, and nobody speaks in advocacy of her — not even women’s groups. It boggles the mind. [HuffPo]

If there’s one rhetorical strategy that needs to be put to bed, it’s this type of asinine hypothetical.  Here’s how it works: you take someone who’s receiving unquestionably-justified criticism, be it Julie Taymor, Chris Brown, Charlie Sheen, etc., and instead of defending their actions, which you know would be preposterous, you simply turn it around and ask “BUT WOULD WE HOLD A WHITE/BLACK/FEMALE/GAY/STRAIGHT/MAN/WOMAN TO THIS SAME STANDARD?!” and fold your arms as if you’ve just made some profound statement.  The answer, by the way, is almost always “yes.”  There’s no conspiracy.  Yes, Bono deserves to be ripped on for this just as hard (if he hasn’t, it’s only because people get bored with ripping on Bono), and when he does, you won’t see me defending him just because we’re both handsome rock stars.