Would you rather live in Robert Downey Jr.’s world of ‘do unto others,’ or The New Yorker’s, where any weakness is an excuse to write people off forever?
In a recent piece for The New Yorker, critic Richard Brody purports to offer “Advice for Robert Downey Jr.” I honestly couldn’t make it past the second paragraph without letting my eyes wander off the page in a heady fog of annoyance and bewilderment:
In a recent video interview to promote ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ Robert Downey, Jr., Iron Man, lost his mettle. The interviewer quoted a remark by the director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu that superhero movies are ‘cultural genocide.’ Downey seemed taken aback and responded offensively, with a nativist slur: ‘Look, I respect the heck out of him, and I think for a man whose native tongue is Spanish to be able to put together a phrase like “cultural genocide” just speaks to how bright he is.’
There’s no defending Downey’s remark.
You don’t need to do much beyond read the plain language of Downey’s remarks to understand what he’s saying and realize it’s not offensive at all. Downey is simply saying that he’s impressed by the Mexican filmmaker’s sophisticated use of a second language.
Far from a “nativist slur,” it’s the exact opposite. Downey is contrasting Iñárritu with the more parochial attitudes of Americans, most of whom do not speak a second language, let alone do so with such a high degree of cultural sophistication.
Instead, we’re told, “There’s no defending Downey’s remark,” as if the horror of his remarks is so self-evident it requires no explanation. If Brody had made the most minimal effort to ask if there was any way to positively interpret what Downey said, it seems unlikely that he would have arrived at such an insulting and erroneous spin on a pretty clear and harmless comment.