Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Useless celebrity of the month: Spike Lee

For many months now, I have been moving away from my previously much more frequent posts labeled "useless celebrity".  I had wondered, in a somewhat recent entry under this label, whether spotlighting celebrities for saying ill-informed things was rewarding them for their behavior; indeed, I didn't even name the celebrity who inspired that particular post, as he probably could have used the attention, and I did not wish to give any to him.

However, when a celebrity crosses the lines of decency and honor, they need to be called out and shamed, and, in my opinion, people who agree with me ought to decide not to patronize any of the celebrity's work until he apologizes for what he has done.

I refer here to Spike Lee, who, as many people know (and many more don't), retweeted what was purported to be the address of George Zimmerman, the killer of Trayvon Martin.

(Aside:  I am not going to address anything further about the killing in this post.)

Notwithstanding that tweeting anyone's address is a violation of Twitter policies, and also notwithstanding that this would have been little other than inciting of confrontations even if it were Mr. Zimmerman's address, Mr. Lee (and many others) retweeted an address belonging to people entirely unrelated.

Per Fox News:

An elderly Florida couple have been forced to move into a hotel after their home address was wrongly tweeted as belonging to the man who shot teen Trayvon Martin.

The tweets were traced back to a man in California and the address was also reportedly retweeted by director Spike Lee to his almost 250,000 followers.

The couple, aged 70 and 72, have been harassed with hate mail, been hassled by media and had scared neighbors questioning them since the tweet, their son Chip Humble told the Orlando Sentinel.

Fearful for their safety, and hoping to escape the spotlight, the couple have temporarily moved to a hotel.

Well, at least there's a good reason for all this:

The confusion seems to stem from the fact the woman's son is named William George Zimmerman and he lived briefly at the address in 1995.

Way to do your research before doing something utterly stupid, unnamed California tweeter.  But I'm certain that once confronted with the error, the originator corrected it, right?

When William Zimmerman pleaded with the man who tweeted the address, the man responded, "Black power all day. No justice, no peace" along with an obscenity.

Oh.  Spike Lee, by the way, has had nothing to say about this in days.  Certainly he has not apologized to the terrorized couple as of this writing.  Now, he may have been distracted by the racial tweets some have directed at him (which, just to be clear, I do not condone in any way), but I think he owes something to this couple.  Perhaps seven figures' worth of something.

And until he makes this right (if he can), he is deserving of little more than scorn.  And maybe a little pity.

Update 3/28:  Spike Lee has apologized (hat tip to Jim Treacher).  But is it too little, too late?  I know the McClain family has already lawyered up, so I'd be surprised if this story ends here.

Update 3/29:   And he's settled with the McClains.  Good.  I'm glad he did.  I'm not so thrilled, however, at the original idea of tweeting out the address of anyone, killer or not.  And Mr. Lee is now paying for such stupidity.