It was a Christmas party, and we all know 'tis the season to be jolly, but this was L.A., there was a "culture writer" holding forth, and when the talk turned to Amy Pascal, she defended her.
"For the racism?" I asked.
"Nah, that was just normal studio stuff."
Was it? "Racism?" Blatant? It was one thing for Ms. Pascal and Scott Rudin [mind you, there were two tango-ing here] to be complaining about being obliged to attend Jeffrey Katzenberg's breakfast with the President of the United States, ladies and gentlemen, but then to pile on with the kind of out-and-out racism that I myself, as a normal, run-of-the-mill white person haven't encountered in decades -- is that what's on in the studios these days?
"That's how it is," said the culture writer. A film critic standing nearby agreed. I didn't know these people -- who knows anyone out here? -- and the last things you want to be in this town is clueless, out-dated and moralizing; but "I don't think it's okay," I said.
"You don't work for the studios," snapped Miss Culture.
"Q.e.d.," I answered. Too good to pass up.
"And I'd like to see your emails," she added.
Ha, I thought. If only. What -- my emails to the New York Times about girls' schools? Or the pleas for money for the Pine Ridge Reservation? How about the ones to producers, wondering if a year was long enough for them to have read my script? My queries to various agents about my Joan of Arc book?
Good for a laugh perhaps, especially to a successful Hollywood type, as time and again, I reveal myself as utterly lost, wandering through that forest, midway upon the journey of our life. She would also find plenty to bore her, should my private emails ever be dragged into the light of day, and some that were mean-spirited, some desperate, but she wouldn't find anything racist there.
Not from me or from any of my numerous and diverse correspondents, all different kinds of people, by the way, from all those walks of life we have in this country -- rich, poor, white, Native, black, Brazilian, English, and even some studio people -- and not one of them has ever written anything racist like the Sony gang did.
Like everyone else I know or read or listen to or watch, I have moved on from that kind of boorishness. I might get it wrong sometimes, and make one of those cross-cultural mistakes. But no one I write to or no one who has written to me over the years has ever come close to slurring someone based on a racist joke. Not that we're saintly -- we slur people all the time, but it's personal. Like the Sony guy calling Angelina Jolie a brat.
Which was mean, but I don't have a problem with that. It was personal, not racist. It will probably cost Sony some money, maybe the relationship, and it should. Nor is calling Kevin Hart "a whore" racist. That too is a personal slur, and if I were he, I would consider moving on. But that is qualitatively different from attacking the President as a black person, and that is where a clear line has been crossed.
It was criminal that personal emails were released, but since that cat was let out of the bag, and we got a look at it, kicking and spitting, it's fair enough, I think, to suggest that Sony open the back door and put it out.
It certainly doesn't belong at breakfast with the President.