I wanted to mull over this for a few days so as to not come across as reactionary or having a knee jerk response. I wanted to see how this would play out, and whether real consequences might come of it that would make my weighing in be either pointless or regrettable. In fact the last time I addressed Randolph on this blog it was in a post that also defended Andy Signore (not a defence of the latter’s prolific instances of sexual harassing his employees which camr to light in 2017, my post was related to opinions expressed in 2016) but of course any defence of that person regardless of context certainly hasn’t aged well…..
But I found myself unable to get over this piece of news. Firstly to drop any pretext or illusion if impartiality, I neither like nor respect Randolph as a presence in the YouTube film community. I dislike her method of critiquing movies, I dislike her condescending tone to those who disagree with her, I dislike the complete lack of effort she puts into her videos and I dislike her overall style of critiquing movies. From what I can tell she places the value of a movie entirely on how much money it garners at the box office or how much awards attention it receives, and anything less is a failure on the filmmaker’s part and a vindication of her own opinions being objectively right. Currently you can find her arguing that she was right to pan ‘Herediatry’ on account of its low CinemaScore ranking.
I bring this up because contrarian opinions are one thing, and Randolph is no stranger to expressing that kind of opinion. Last year she named PT Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’ as the single worst movie of 2017. I admit I do find it baffling given that her criticism of the movie amounts to disliking the third act, and only really discussing that as grounds for her panning the film and subsequently naming it the worst film she saw over the course of 12 months. No mention other factors like the direction, the performances, the editing, the cinematography, the production design, the costume design or even how the narrative functioned up until the point at which she took issue. Seems pretty short sighted for a critic to not address this many aspects of filmmaking and not very persuasive in supporting the argument that you found this eloquent art film to be worse than the likes of ‘Transformers 5’, ‘The Emoji Movie’, Netflix’s ‘Death Note,’ ‘The Snowman’ any other widely derived movie from 2017.
As well as that, for someone who has amassed a following on the guise that she is a trusted opinion on the inner workings of the film industry, Randolph seems highly uneducated on the modern movie landscape. She places an unusual amount of stress on star power in a film industry that values established brands and franchises more than anything else. She criticised Jessica Chastain being added to the cast of the upcoming ‘IT: Chapter 2’ on the grounds that she had little box office draw. But to that I ask, why is star potential a relevant factor for the sequel to ‘IT’? The first movie had no significant star power at all and still found massive box office success. Does she really believe audiences who turned out in droves to support the first film and were once excited for the sequel will now be dissuaded on account of Jessica Chastain, to such a degree that they’ll refuse to see it in masses?
However, as I said before this is merely opinion. Despite how much I take credence with Randolph and her method of reviewing cinema, I can’t criticise someone purely for holding opinions I happen to disagree with. Most of the time Randolph is a benign presence on the internet that I try to avoid. That being said I can’t be the only one who’s angry Randolph has a bigger following than Lindsay Ellis right?
But a bigger issue is what has transpired recently in regards to Randolph voicing her opinions to her mass following. I felt the need to extensively elaborate on how I view Randolph for the sake of context, so you know where I stand before I precede to go into a far more troubling and damaging side of her content beyond just poorly conveyed and ill-informed opinions. (She also didn’t like ‘La La Land’ put praised ‘Fant4stic’, I’m just throwing that out there, and you read into it how you see fit).
One subject dominating the news of film culture over the past few days has been the horrific treatment of Kelly Marie Tran via social media, in which she was bullied and harassed by…well some call them ‘Star Wars’ fans but I like to think a fan doesn’t use a film franchise as veil from which to exude sexist and misogynistic vitriol, to a point where Tran deleted her account on Instagram. It should be obvious to anyone that these trolls are despicable and hateful in a way that casts a shadow over the entire culture of fandom and should be opposed at all costs. Obvious to anyone it seems, except for a notable few, such as Grace Randolph.
Many people within the online film community voiced their support for Tran and disdain for those that harassed her. On Twitter voices of support ranged from the likes of ‘Star Wars’ alumni such as Mark Hamill and Rian Johnson, to various YouTube film commentators like Dan Olson and Joe Starr. However as usual Randolph was the contrarian except this time she was unlucky enough to not be talking about something as trivial as an opinion regarding a movie.
Randolph addressed the news on a Twitch stream in which she argued that Kelly Marie Tran has brought this abuse upon herself. Her exact quote was:
“The thing is with Kelly Marie Tran, it’s her fault and I think it’s also a little bit the people who made the movie, at fault. You bring someone like her into Star Wars who is so against what everyone wants in Star Wars, and you give her a silly hairstyle and you have her act in a very Tumblr sort of way that does not fit with Star wars whatsoever, of course there’s going to be a bad situation.”
So if you’re anything like me and you don’t where to even start with the outrage over this monstrosity of a statement featuring so many generalisations, misinformed opinions and outright disgusting attempt to justify harassment and bullying, let’s do our best. Firstly Randolph completely misses the point of the abuse itself, since it is mainly racially motivated. If this was just a case of fans disliking a character and being civil enough to accept their own personal grievances, bringing them up in a manner that was polite, then there would be no issue. But that’s clearly not what this is. If you dislike a character then that’s fine, but if you obsessively hate her very presence in the franchise to a point where you feel the need to harass the actor who portrayed her with racially motivated hate speech, then I can’t help but think you might be somewhat racist. And by “think” I mean “am sure of” and by “somewhat” I mean “extremely”.
Then there’s the curious fact that Randolph seems to be unaware that an actor doesn’t contribute to the way a character is written or styled. Kelly Marie Tran is reading lines that someone else wrote, in clothes that someone else told her to wear, with a “silly hairstyle” that someone else styled for her. There is no reason why she should be held accountable for any perceived flaws within the character. Tran had nothing to do with the way the character was conceived or how she functions within the plot of ‘The Last Jedi’.
But actually I have to take a slight issue with what I just said. Stating that the actor herself is not responsible for the character and therefore should not be the target of abuse creates a subtext that there is a target at all, or that the abuse of justified to be aimed at a target. There is no excuse for this level of vitriol over a movie. You aren’t owed anything as an audience member, you don’t have ownership over a piece of media made to entertain and you can’t dictate how the world should function. The idea that Randolph thinks there is any justifiable reason to lay fault on the filmmakers or Tran herself for the hatred that has been directed at them is simply disgusting. I don’t care how bad you perceived ‘The Last Jedi’ to be, no one with any semblance of human decency should be compelled to harass the filmmakers over their own personal grievances with something as trivial as a film.
Yet despite this, Randolph just paves the way for that kind hatred. She looks for a way to justify and excuse it, either due to sheer idiocy or maybe she’s vile enough to realise that this kind of despicable behaviour puts her in the spotlight. Frankly I’m not sure which is less egregious. She’s made no effort to distance herself from the droves of racially motivated abuse hurled at Tran, and if anything has merely done the utmost to condone it. It saddens me that Randolph, as a woman, wants to condone the abuse another woman within the film industry has faced merely for having the audacity to exist within a franchise.
This is something I can’t help but notice consistently in Randolph’s content on YouTube. Obviously I can’t claim to have an understanding of her long term history of commenting on these issues because, well watching her videos is a form of torture to me, but I couldn’t help but note how regularly Randolph seeks to diminish and criticise women within the industry. In her movie reviews it’s so regularly the female actors who are singled out as having poor performances. It’s so often the female characters that are criticised for any number of reasons. In her review of Alex Garland’s ‘Annihilation’ Randolph felt the film was inadequate for not giving an “explanation” as to why all of the main characters were women. In her recent review of ‘Ocean’s 8’ among an ensemble cast of almost exclusively women, the only performance she had anything positive to speak of was James Corden’s.
I mentioned Jessica Chastain and Randolph’s criticism of her earlier, which actually takes on an almost worrying obsession that she has with the actor. Randolph seemingly takes every solitary opportunity to criticise Chastain for any singular action the actor undertakes. She did the same thing to Felicity Jones throughout 2016, and a bizarre fixation on Gal Gadot’s physical appearance. Randolph singled out these women to repeatedly criticise them in ways that went beyond any simple lack of preference. Randolph’s demeanour genuinely makes her critique of these actors sound like an obsession, one that she never gives motivation or reason for. Does she dislike Chastain’s performances, her opinions, or her choice of roles? We don’t know.
But the deeper I went into looking up Randolph’s various derogatory statements the more sinister and genuinely disgusting it became. You can still put the above instances of criticising women to mere coincidence, and even then it is just subjective opinions regarding a movie after all. But occasionally Randolph strays into discussing more serious topics and that is when the tone deafness of her personality comes into play. Or at least I hope it is tone deafness because I don’t like to consider the notion that someone can be this vile deliberately.
So here are some of the highlights. Randolph once addressed the domestic violence accusations made by Amber Heard and chose to dismiss said accusations while strongly implying that they were an act of fabricated sabotage against her former husband’s movie, completely dismissing her as a potential victim of abuse. She’s also criticised women representing the #MeToo movement for wearing outfits that were “too revealing”. She chose to dismiss the accusations against James Franco and insisted that the actor being snubbed for a Best Actor nomination at the 90th Academy Awards was “unfair”. I guess she forgot why Casey Affleck had decided to withdraw from presenting that year because as it turns out being a man accused of sexual misconduct who still gets to receive a shiny reward sense a somewhat hostile message to their potential victims.
This is legitimately damaging. It goes beyond any difference of opinion or subjective thought. It displays a repeated pattern of victim blaming and choosing to dismiss any potential abuse as being the fault of the victim. The more you read into Randolph’s various comments about women and victims as a whole, the more you realise her shaming of Kelly Marie Tran is far from unexpected. It’s not even the first tone deaf insult she’s thrown towards a leading lady of ‘Star Wars’. When Carrie Fisher tragically died most of the internet offered condolences and stressed the importance of celebrating the life of this remarkable individual. Randolph decided to Tweet that Fisher’s death should “serve as a warning regarding drugs and alcohol addiction”.
To put this into context, Carrie Fisher is a woman who battled depression and anxiety for most of her life. Now upon her tragic passing, when the most people had the simple decency to acknowledge her amazing achievements and strength, Randolph used the actor’s death as a means to point out her weaknesses and failings. Maybe ask yourself why Fisher so often descended into substance abuse before you make a remark that, however unintentionally or not, to belittle her and frame her death as a cause of her own failings as a person.
But I’m not finished yet because neither was Randolph. She took to Twitter as a means to respond to the many voices who were rightly criticising her enabling of racially charged abuse. As well as condoning various users who responded that Tran’s situation and criticism of Randolph was just “SJW/political correctness gone mad”, Randolph took the time to make some racial generalisations of her own. When accused of enabling racism within the ‘Star Wars’ fanbase, Randolph’s baffling response was that “Black audiences don’t watch Star Wars because of the tokenism of Finn”.
Yeah, that’s it Grace. Try to claim that racism isn’t a problem whilst making gross generalisations on behalf of a race you have no right to represent. Despite being a talented actor with a proven track record on the big screen, John Boyega is nothing but “token” casting, because apparently if they’re not white and male, they’re tokens. Randolph is once more embodying the exact kind of casual racism she keeps insisting doesn’t exist.
Now I’ve rambled on for way too long, and in all honesty I don’t know what the purpose of this lengthy tirade was. Maybe I personally felt like I had to vent some pent up thoughts, or maybe I have some minutia of hope that this might spread awareness of how abuse and victim blaming can be enabled. I felt overwhelmed by the negativity and toxicity of fandom recently and wanted to use whatever platform I had to voice my opinion on it. Regardless, thank you for reading, this hasn’t been very fun.
Bonus Round! Updates
So I’m well aware that I should probably just leave things there and resign to the fact that Randolph will likely go on spouting her nonsensical opinions on her platform. The sad thing is that now she seems to be deliberately tapping into a culture of bigotry and abuse to feed her audience she is likely to only become a bigger figure within that toxic subsection of the film community. In essence I can’t work out which is better, being prejudiced on a genuine level or wanting people to think you are prejudiced.
So while this could be a never ending endeavour I feel like I need to rant about her latest offences for my own psychological catharsis. I was considering adding these to the original article so it flowed more seamlessly but I was then hit with the depressing notion that this might not be the first time I have to update this.
So Randolph has added to her resume of justifying abuse and harassment online as she offered “commentary” on the controversy surrounding Ruby Rose’s casting as Batgirl. Following a slew of hateful comments the actor deleted her Twitter account as a means to shut out the vindictive attacks. A move that is both unfortunate and completely understandable on Rose’s part given that anyone can sympathise with someone simply not wanting to subject themselves to vitriol for merely having the audacity to accept a role as an actor.
Anyone, it seems, except Randolph. She took to her Twitch stream to give this wonderful piece of advice:
“If you want to feel sorry for Ruby Rose then just go watch her performance in The Meg. Then you’ll be like, but how do you explain this Ruby? …. I also feel that for the most part it only seems to be women who quit social media and it’s like, suck it up.”
So if you think that seems eerily similar to Randolph’s approach to addressing the incident involving Kelly Marie Tran, then you would be right. What you are watching is a woman justifying online bullying and harassment on the grounds that if you don’t like the actor then you’re apparently completely vindicated in sending hateful comments at them to the point where they leave whatever platform it was they joined in the hopes of reaching out to their fans. She also takes the time to specify that it’s “mostly women” who quit and then lays the blame at them. Of course one could point to the fact that such an observation might be indicative of the toxic misogyny plaguing online fandom…or just frame it as a means to imply that it’s the women affected by this harassment who are to blame.
On top of that, Randolph recently launched into a tirade about the ethnicity of the voice cast behind Disney’s remake of ‘Lady and the Tramp’ in what she called “Race-bending gone mad”. Now I get the sense that such a statement is so moronic I shouldn’t have to explain it. But for the sake of clarity, she’s complaining about the race of actors who are voicing anthropomorphic dogs. Repeat that to yourself in case you think you misread it. She is upset that fictional talking dogs are being voiced by a more diverse cast. Obviously I would not presume to accuse Randolph is either pandering to or harbouring somewhat, shall we say, racist views here. But then again that could be too quick to judge. After all she’s only saying that she would prefer this cast if they just happened to involve less racial diversity and were instead made up more of white people…..of wait…..