Jonah Hill has come under fire this week for yelling homophobic remarks at the paparazzo who was stalking him. While it appears relatively unprovoked, I do believe that he was being followed and harassed for a long time. As such, I support Jonah in his right to tell this guy to “Fuck off.” (Although, if I was in that situation, I’d be asking myself What Would George Clooney Do? And the answer, obviously, would be smile, laugh, wave, and walk away.)
I believe Jonah when he says he’s not a homophobe. I believe that he has gay friends and family members whom he loves very much. But I believe that with his insult he wanted to, from a position of superiority, convey the most vitriol he could muster. And so he told this paparazzo, “Suck my dick, you faggot.”
In Jonah’s mind (a writer, actor, and improvisor’s brain), the most demoralizing thing he could think of was demanding another man to suck his dick. So while he may not be outwardly homophobic, the societal belief* that gay men are of less worth is clearly deeply ingrained in him.
* I wish I didn’t have to call it a “societal belief” but look around, we’re not past this yet.
I was dating this guy a couple months ago. (Not Jonah Hill… We’ll get back to him.) We had been seeing each other for a couple of weeks; things were going well. He ‘we’-ed us. There was potential. But he had causally dropped “retarded” and “faggot” into two different conversations. I didn’t say anything in the moment (for various reasons) but I flagged it to bring up later. So one night, we’re out drinking with a couple of my friends and he drops the r-word again. Finally! My chance to set him straight. I quickly pipped up and told him that not only do those words make me uncomfortable, but I find using them in conversation morally irresponsible.
Naturally I assumed he’d say something along the lines of, “Oh. You’re right. I’m sorry. I’ll never say them again.”
Nope. Instead he told me that he used to avoid these words, but recently decided that as he’s not a bigot, he is allowed to use these terms in jest as long as those people aren’t around. FUCK THE WHAT?! Then he started arguing some sort of backwards rhetoric about my believing the term “retarded” to be demeaning to a group of people was in itself demeaning. Let’s not forget to mention that he was also throwing the n-word around too.
Later, as I was endlessly conversing the matter with several girlfriends, I received mixed feedback. A few people told me “that’s just the way guys are” and that I should give him another chance. What?
Listen, I get it. You don’t mean any harm. It’s always been a part of your vocabulary. You’re just so used to saying it — you don’t mean it; it just comes out. That guy I dated, Jonah Hill, your boyfriend, your girlfriends, that loud dude at the beach, none of them are bad people. Some of them might be mildly bigoted, but most of them simply aren’t conscious enough to understand what they’re saying and what it means.