Disney CEO Bob Iger, who’s ben outspoken about institutional racism in Hollywood, was left red-faced today when confronted about two incidents of blackface involving ABC stars Jimmy Kimmel and Joh Behar at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting.
Iger, arguably one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood, was confronted about the issue at Disney’s annual shareholder’s meeting.
Because @megynkelly: minstrelsy is the basis for the coining of the term "Jim Crow" laws which served to humiliate & target Black Americans. Because caricaturing another race perpetuates the dehumanization of POC who are being killed & jailed at a disproportionate rate in the US https://t.co/xk2RAr2Kxq
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) October 23, 2018
Justin Danhof, a lawyer and general counsel for the National Center for Public Policy Research an director of the Free Enterprise Project (FEP) confronted the Disney executive.
“Bob Iger has the most powerful voice in all of Hollywood. Today that voice was as quiet as a mouse,” said Danhof in a statement.
“Since folks on ABC have been– correctly–critical of others who have donned blackface, such as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, it is hypocritical for the company to remain silent on the issue when it happens in the House of Mouse.”
The National Center, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., that has promoted a number of right-wing and conservative causes such as strict voter registration laws and anti-environmentalism initiatives.
The group has also been accused of bombarding senior citizens with “fright mail” as part of a fundraising effort, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a citizen’s watchdog group that investigates government corruption.
At the meeting, held at the Stifel Theater in St. Louis, Danhof reminded Iger that ABC news hosts were extremely critical of NBC star Megyn Kelly for an Oct. 2018 segment discussing blackface.
Kelly caused a social media backlash with comments that suggested wearing blackface was acceptable if it involved dressing as a character or dressing for Halloween.
“What is racist?” she asked a panel that included Jenna Bush Hager, Jacob Soboroff and Melissa Rivers.
“You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay just as long as you were dressing as a character,” she said.
Kelly quickly apologized. But her show, which suffered from low ratings, was cancelled shortly afterward, according to Variety.
“Megyn Kelly lost her job, not for wearing blackface, but for having an insensitive discussion about the topic. ABC hosts were highly critical of Kelly’s comments at the time and were part of the media backlash that led to her firing,” he said.
Danhof said Kimmel donned blackface to mock a former professional athlete using what many would consider a racist minstrel dialect. “The View” host Joy Behar recently had a photo emerge in which she was donning blackface at a party.
“I find it puzzling that the company seems okay with Kimmel’s and Behar’s previous racist actions,” he said.
Race and sex discrimination have become sensitive topics in Hollywood since last November, when movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was the subject of a New York Times expose, detailing years of alleged sexual abuse and discrimination over the course of her career.
The revelations, as well as those contained in a New Yorker article helped spawn the #MeToo movement. Dozens of alleged victims have come forward to detail similar stories about movie producers, media executives and actors.
Iger has claimed that Disney dealt with the matter privately as an internal matter. “But that could easily mean it was simply ignored,” said Danhof.
“If Disney is going to publicly criticize others for donning blackface, it should publicly criticize its own employees for doing so as well,” he added.