It’s not enough for Hollywood to kowtow to far-left orthodoxy on race, sexual orientation, and transgenderism. No, it also has to destroy the very idea of acting itself. Witness the tale of Halle Berry, who dared to imagine that she — a biological woman — could play the part of a “transgender man” — that is, a biological woman … who identifies as a man. Facing the woke inquisition, Berry performed the solemn rite of confession, and swore off any
female parts sorry “transgender male” parts that could possibly offend the transgender community.
Oblivious to the stifling orthodoxy on transgender language, Berry let slip that she was considering the role in an Instagram Live interview, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“I’m thinking of [playing] a character where the woman is a trans character, so her hair is going to have to be [short]. She’s a woman that transitioned into a man,” Berry told hairstylist Christin Brown. “She’s a character in a project I love that I might be doing.”
Berry, un-woke to the treacherous politics of transgender language policing, dared to insist that this story was a “female story.”
“It’s really important to me to tell stories. And that’s a woman. That’s a female story,” the actress insisted. “She transitions to a man, but I want to understand the why, the how of that.”
Oh, you sweet summer child. Don’t you understand that “transgender men” ARE MEN?!?!?!?! I mean, it’s so offensive for you to suggest that you, a biological woman, could possibly play the part of a man, right? I mean, what do you think this is, the 1960s? We don’t go for that free-love style acting in 2020.
Facing backlash like this, Berry immediately caved.
“As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories,” she confessed, between rounds of Hail Marys.
“I am grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few days and I will continue to listen, educate and learn from this mistake,” Berry added. “I vow to be an ally in using my voice to promote better representation on-screen, both in front of and behind the camera.”
The LA Times, ever so helpful, noted that “Hollywood has a long history of giving white, straight actors the roles of LGBTQ+ individuals, many of whom have gone on to win Oscars or earn nominations for their portrayals.” Following the George Floyd protests, many actors have bought into the
cancel culture — sorry, I mean the wonderful new world of wokedom (Please, don’t cancel me!) — and pledged to no longer act — sorry, I mean misrepresent people of a different skin color.
White actors Kristen Bell, Jenny Slate, Alison Brie, and Mike Henry swore they would never again dare to play darker-skinned characters in roles in Central Park, Big Mouth, Bojack Horseman, and Family Guy, respectively. The Simpsons announced that it would also recast its black characters with black actors.
Yes, God forbid an actor or actress pretend to be someone he or she is not. How could you possibly understand what it’s like to be Othello?! You’re not black.
This whole charade should be humorous among people who put up a facade for a living. After all, that’s what acting is.
Sure, it may sound all noble to reserve a role for someone with the same skin color or experience as the character, but at the end of the day, acting involves portraying the persona of someone you are not. The very art of acting involves losing your own persona in the character — acting as that character would act, speaking as that character would speak, and giving life to a person who exists only on the page or in the mind of the playwright and the director. I know, I’ve done some acting myself, and my brother is a movie star (check out The Last Mimzy.)
When it comes to race, the issue is more complicated. It makes sense to forbid racist portrayals in theater — white actors wearing blackface in order to mock black people, for example. That kind of thing would not be tolerated in most theaters today, however, and rightly so. It is entirely something else to suggest that no black actor can play a white character because he lacks the experience of being white. (For instance, I think the black actor who played the part of Thomas Jefferson in the musical Hamilton did an excellent job.)
That is precisely the argument in Halle Berry’s case, but far worse. You see, in Berry’s case, the “transgender man” is really a woman, and guess what — so is Halle Berry! She is 100 percent correct that this transgender role is female. Biologically, “transgender men” are female, just like Halle Berry. Halle Berry is even rather sympathetic to this transgender character. So, what’s the problem?
Casting a female as a “transgender male” might suggest that a “transgender male” is not really male. That’s one problem. But casting a male as a “transgender male” would be a problem, too. No, the transgender movement insists that only transgender actors can play transgender characters.
This is a kind of special pleading. If I get turned down for a role as an Irishman, I shouldn’t plead, “But you cast James Gaiser, and he isn’t even Irish!” Acting is a skill, and you must master the skill in order to play the part.
Insisting that only a transgender person can play a transgender character is not just absurd. It destroys the nature of acting itself.
For this reason, many people mocked Halle Berry’s ridiculous statement.
“I have something I need to stay. It is time for me to hold myself accountable,” Matt Walsh began. “When I was 9-year-old I played one of the Magi in my church’s nativity play. I am not a Magi. I wasn’t then, and I’m not now. That was a role that should have gone to a real Magi. For years Magi have struggled to find work on the stage and in Hollywood. They have been denied the opportunity to tell their own stories. I am ashamed that I contributed to that injustice.”
Even better, black actor Leonydus Johnson tweeted, “I also regret to inform you all that I played Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast. However, I am not an candlestick. Nor am I French. My heartfelt apologies to the French candlestick community. I will use this experience to listen, to learn, and to grow. That isn’t even my real hair! I’m so ashamed. Actors must only play roles that are exactly like themselves. I have failed. I’m so sorry.”
These fake confessions are laughable, but they demonstrate the point. A good actor should be able to play a character whose life experiences are different from his own.
I firmly believe that unions have too much power in the public sector and that union leaders often abuse their positions to redirect members’ dues to support politicians those members do not support. But I gladly played a union president in my high school production of The Pajama Game. Should that role have gone to a real union president, or at least to someone who believes that unions are a force for good in modern society? No, that would defeat the entire point of acting.
I submit to you, dear reader, that not only can Halle Berry play a “transgender man,” but that a Republican can play a Democrat, a capitalist can play a socialist, a black man can play Thomas Jefferson, and a “transgender man” can play Halle Berry.
It’s this revolutionary idea called “acting.” Perhaps Halle Berry should check it out.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.