By now, I’m sure that the interwebs have become acquainted with Julianne Hough’s homage to Crazy Eyes from “Orange Is The New Black.” She bronzed her skin and made a horrid attempt at crowning some Nubian Knots onto her head to celebrate the character played by the talented Uzo Aduba.
Hough apologized for the costume, saying that she had no intention of being disrespectful or demeaning in any way; quite frankly, I can believe that. Even through a stock and trite apology, I can truly believe that she probably had no idea that her costume would cause such a response. Which is, in itself, a huge problem. How Hough can actively live, breathe, and function in 2013 (a year where there have been a more than a few headlines about white people in blackface) without understanding or even acknowledging how serious an issue race, both historically and in the present day, is a reflection of the unquestionable privilege she has as a white woman.
In addition to thinking that this was an insanely stupid idea of a costume (it’s almost parallel to my feelings to Zoe Saldana being cast as Nina Simone, and she looks less like Crazy Eyes and more like that mom that tanned herself into a leather couch tried to tan her 6-year old daughter as well), I am of the school of thought that dictates that celebrity status, to some degree, requires a platform of awareness and responsibility. Of all the costumes in the world, I can’t understand how she became so intent on being Crazy Eyes. And I can’t understand how she or anyone around her could be so blithely unaware of the world around them to not even contemplate the consequences of her actions as (a) a human being and U.S. citizen and (b) as a celebrity, but here we are.
There is nothing that a second or third thought can’t fix. While everything is an imminent learning experience, if you are unsure of the impact your actions will have, there’s a pretty good chance that you shouldn’t be doing it, especially when you’re in a position with high visibility like Hough. If you have no intention to disrespect or demean, as Hough said, then do yourself a favor and not do that thing that you don’t mean to offend anyone by, because you probably will offend someone despite your greatest attempts to not do so. I just cannot wrap my mind around how stupid one person can be. Her actions were tasteless and stupid, and I hope she knows it.
Just listen to Sherry yall.