The Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart movie The Upside won the weekend box office race, grossing about $20 million in ticket sales. Conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby reported Cranston was attacked from the Left for accepting the role of Phillip Lacasse, a billionaire left paralyzed after a paragliding accident. They think only paralyzed actors should play paralyzed people.
An irrational objection? Vice Media doesn't think so. On its website Thursday it blasted the actor in a piece headlined "Bryan Cranston Advocated for Disabled Actors While Taking a Role from One." Though Cranston has been outspoken in urging Hollywood to employ more actors with disabilities, Vice dismissed him as a hypocrite: "His decision to play Lacasse," it intoned, "has also prevented a lesser-known disabled actor from getting the opportunity to play the role and gain celebrity."
This critique has been bubbling up for a while. When The Upside was making the rounds of film festivals, the respected Ruderman Family Foundation, which promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities, censured the casting of an able-bodied actor to play a paralyzed character as "highly problematic" and "discrimination." Dominick Evans, a filmmaker and activist who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, chided Cranston for "tak[ing] economic opportunities away from disabled actors who work on average five days a year." As someone who uses a wheelchair, tweeted Evans last week, "I could never play Bryan Cranston, so why the hell can he play someone like me?!"
The answer, of course, is: because that's what actors do.
Cranston is not a conservative actor. This is like arguing that his work as communist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo should have gone to an actual communist.
The blog Society Reviews listed movie reviews that seemed to punish Kevin Hart for his "homophobic" tweet controversy in reviewing the movie.
"[I]t is released as Hart deals with fallout over his previous homophobic tweets, not helped now by a performance in the film in which he balks at using the word “penis” and initially outright refuses to change his boss’ catheter because it means touching another man’s privates." -- Mark Kennedy, AP.
"You are also expected to laugh and cringe at a scene in which Dell has to change his employer’s catheter. Maybe cringe is an understatement, given the sight and sound of Hart displaying aggressive disgust at having to handle another man’s genitalia. Gay panic, it should be noted, is rarely funny, but it is also rarely this wince-worthy." -- Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times.
“A badly conceived scene where [Hart's character] Dell exhibits an inordinate amount of gay panic over changing Phillip’s catheter–and even saying the word “penis” couldn’t be more poorly timed for the actor as he struggles to prove he’s changed his attitudes toward the LGBTQ community in real life.” -- Don Kaye, Den of Geek!
A lot of liberals are rooting against The Upside. Isn't it tragic that they're losing the battle?