Concerning Ezra Miller
I’m writing because I wanted to get into the conversation concerning Ezra Miller. There has been an opinion floating around that they’re allowed to behave in the way that they have due to White Privilege. I don’t want to discount this conclusion, but I also think that this situation is more nuanced. Some have posited that nothing like this has ever happened to a Black actor, and that’s sort of true; we’ve never seen a major studio put forth efforts to this degree to try to rehabilitate the reputation of any Black actor to protect a movie that said actor was scheduled to star in, but I would argue that we have never seen this before for any actor. I’d also suggest that we, generally, don’t see this type of consistently bad or criminal behavior from celebrated Black screen actors.
We tend to see this situation from major sports teams and franchises. Star athletes tend to be protected and sheltered from the consequences of their actions no matter their bad behavior with only a few exceptions (like Michael Vick or Colin Kaepernick), but regarding a similar situation in Hollywood the most often used example is Bill Cosby. The situation isn’t exactly the same because Cosby and his enablers have often been able to keep Cosby’s behavior from going viral. They’ve successfully been able to keep Cosby’s behavior to the level of rumors, gossip or conspiracy theories for decades. We tend to think of Cosby shielding himself, but I have to believe that major TV studios had a hand in protecting him the same way as a major movie studio is protecting Miller.
As far as Will Smith is concerned (as he's been brought up in this conversation for obvious reasons): I don’t think that he’s been blacklisted as is often asserted. I think Smith has been afforded a cooling off period. For one thing, the projects that Smith produces are still on the air and there’s no indication that he’ll be removed as producer or that these shows will be cancelled (specifically, Bel Air and Cobra Kai). He also has a bunch of projects in pre-production, like Bad Boys 4, or post-production. For another thing, a cooling off period is what usually happens when an actor needs to rehabilitate their image. They go away for a while. They engage in some good will projects. They return to work in a reduced capacity (Will Smith may suffer a pay cut for his movie appearances for a little while). Then, like Robert Downey, Jr., they’re back.
WB has been trying to give Miller this same curtesy, but Miller just won’t cooperate. WB has been trying to assure the public that Miller has turned over a new leaf and Miller just spits in the face of the WB and starts wildin’ out all over again. In this I believe that WB, protecting their $200 billion dollar product, is more of a factor than White Privilege for two reasons.
1. The Flash movie is going to be based on the Flashpoint comic storyline that WB hopes to use to completely rehabilitate the DCEU. I think that they want to use Flashpoint as a kind of reset or do-over button and bring audiences on board with a new and shiny DC Movie Universe.
2. The Flash might actually be a really good movie. People are upset because they cancelled Batgirl, but, by all accounts, that movie was really bad. Hardcore fans want to see it anyway, but, along with a bunch of other factors, maybe the WB just doesn’t want to put out another bad product. In spite of putting out a number of good to great shows and movies in recent years they still have a reputation of being sub-par, and there is a distinct possibility that The Flash is outstanding and they’re set to protect it at all costs up to and including protecting Miller from the legal consequences of Miller's own actions.
Lastly, it seems that White Privilege is less about WB protecting Miller and more about Miller using their status and privilege to do, apparently, whatever they want. Their behavior is obviously abnormal and their mental health must be a factor in their ongoing shenanigans. It’s not like we’ve never seen White people punished or shadow banned from Hollywood. Johnny Depp had his issues with studios over his alleged behavior and, it seems that the tables have turned on Amber Heard. In both cases White Privilege failed them both. To reiterate a point made earlier: you rarely see similar behavior from Black Hollywood; maybe Black music or Black sports, but not Black Hollywood. People like to point out Will Smith as shocking because he’s Hollywood’s “good boy”, but if you look at the caliber of Black screen thespians, and most actors in general, they are generally all well behaved (at least publicly).
The Flash had better be a banger of a movie because, at this point, I’m less inclined to see it. I don’t know if I’ll be able to suspend my disbelief enough to watch this serial asshole on the screen. If they can manage to stay out of the news, then maybe I can forget them long enough to be able to enjoy the movie should it eventually come out. Time will tell.