Local Pottery Artist Gives Talk

On April 17 in Glendenning Annex the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Art Department presented the final Artist Talk of the semester. The lecture, given at 4:45 P.M. by local artist Parran Collery, was on the subject of failure in the life of an artist and how those failures can lead to unforeseen results.

Collery started out on her path to an artistic career in her undergraduate studies. While she first studied Psychology, art became a secondary addition after she formed a friendship with one of her school’s art professors. From there, she set her sights on Yale Graduate School for its prestigious art program and prime location near New York City. Unfortunately, Collery was not accepted into that program but was accepted into a program at Rutgers. She soon realized that she was in good company, however, as most of her classmates had also been rejected by Yale. “Rutgers was our official second choice school,” she said of her cohort.

Upon completing her studies at Rutgers, Collery tried and failed at getting a working artist teaching position at her school. Instead, she remained in New Jersey and tried to carve out a place for herself there despite being an hour away from New York City. While Collery did succeed at finding an adjunct position at a community college near her, she was unable to keep that position after a fellow professor she did not have a good relationship with took over the department. So she moved on.

It was not until Collery found herself working in the tile capitol of America in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, that she discovered an unlikely path. In Bucks County, Collery realized that it was possible to be a working artist in places far from New York City or other urban landscapes as many tile artists thrived in the area. Over the course of four years, Collery learned the tile-making craft and and even added her own personality to the work. It was here, Collery realized, that she moved away from political themes in her work to nature and beauty. While the fine art landscape had taught her to always have an intense political message behind her abstract sculpture installations, craft art focused on more tangible messages and could just relish in aesthetic appeal. This, Collery said, was another failure in her career as she had always been taught that “beautiful” art was not a good thing, that it was too empty. So, she had to find something interesting about the natural things she depicted in her tile work.

Collery would end up in Southern Maryland, where she had grown up, where she joined a gallery and set up her own studio. Here, Collery leaned into her craft and started doing what she felt was right, creating work with utility. However, this also felt like a failure. According to Collery, craft art is seen in the fine art world as a lesser medium, especially since the resulting work is meant to be used, not hung up in a museum. But Collery has been able to find a modest life around her craft and it fulfills her. Despite all her perceived failures, Collery was able to find a life that, while different from her expectations, was nonetheless good. In her work with tiles, Collery can interact with people in their own lives and add something beautiful to their day.

Parran Collery’s work can be found at North End Gallery in Leonardtown, Maryland, and her personal studio is located in Prince Frederick. Her tile work is a lovely way to add a little natural beauty into your day.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Series Ending: Bittersweet or Just Right?

As a long-time fan of the CW tv-series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” I was pretty sad to find out that the fourth season would be its last. After four years, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has gone from a simple musical comedy to a stunning representation of mental illness and female sexuality, touching on topics such as the importance of therapy and medication, surrogate parenting, abortion and relationship boundaries. So how did this final season hold up?

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” premiered on October 15, 2015 and released its final episode on April 5, 2019. After 62 episodes and 9 awards (including a Golden Globe for Rachel Bloom’s portrayal of Rebecca Bunch), the final season had to be good. Although the fourth season had an abbreviated 18 episode run, each episode toward the end was full of humor, heartbreak, and of course amazing musical numbers. While my eternal favorite will always be “Gettin’ Bi” from season 1, “I Hate Everything But You” was a particular treat for my cynical heart.

While season 4 contained quite a few exciting plotlines, I enjoyed the love quadrangle between Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), Greg Serrano (Skylar Astin) and Nathaniel Plimpton III (Scott Michael Foster) for its subversion of the trope of a woman who cannot choose between several men. Unfortunately, some of that drama came at the cost of the development of other beloved characters, such as Darryl Whitefeather (Pete Gardner) and Paula Proctor (Donna Lynne Champlin), among others. While I am not complaining that more attention was given to the resolution of Rebecca’s relationship addiction, that did contribute to several episodes feeling unbalanced.

However, I cannot complain about the ultimate ending of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” While I will not spoil the end, I will say that it is very satisfying, no matter where you stand on the love quadrangle debate. For the most part, everything felt perfectly tied up in the end, which is all you can really ask from a series finale. After airing the final episode, the CW then aired a taping of the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” live show, “Yes, It’s Really Us Singing!” Bloom, who co-created the show alongside Aline Brosh McKenna, made good use of the extensive show songbook to create a fun musical revue. With little comedic skits and shots to some of the more ridiculous audience costumes, it was a nice cap on the show, reminding fans that, even though the show has ended, they can always return to musical moments.

If you have not watched any of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” I would highly recommend it. Luckily, most CW shows have their episodes uploaded to Netflix a few weeks following season’s end, and that includes “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” It is sure to be a great time, whether you binge it all in a week or allow yourself to enjoy episodes at a steadier pace. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is the perfect show for those who love musical theater and subversive humor.

Who is Erin Ryan, Class of 2019 Commencement Speaker

On March 21, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) announced the speaker for the 2019 Commencement. Erin Ryan, a writer-comedian, is notable for her work on popular FX show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” where she worked on the 2018-2019 season and was credited with one episode, “The Gang Solves the Bathroom Problem.”

When not writing for television, Ryan hosts the “Hysteria” podcast on Crooked Media, where she is “joined by a bicoastal squad of opinionated, mouthy women to discuss news, politics, and cultural stories that affect women’s lives, from serious to absurd. Women: 51% of the population and 100% of this podcast.”

Ryan is a contributor to The Daily Beast, which has earned her the 2018 New York Press Club Award. Recent articles have included “Anthony Kennedy Doesn’t Care Enough to Stop the Coming War on Women” and “Hillary Clinton Could Never Have Gotten Away With the Sick Confidence Games of a Mediocre White Man.” In addition to her contributions to The Daily Beast, Ryan has also appeared in the New York Times, Playboy, Runner’s World and Jezebel.

The SMCM 2019 Commencement Ceremony will be held on May 11. With a speaker like Erin Ryan, attendees are certain to be crying by the end, hopefully from laughter.

Chick-Fil-A and Our Cultural Short-Term Memory

On March 21, Vox confirmed what most LGBT individuals already knew to be true: Yep, Chick-Fil-A is still super homophobic. What a surprise! According to Vox, “The Chick-fil-A Foundation donated more than $1.8 million to three groups with a history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in 2017,” despite claiming in 2012 that they would stop making such donations. Clearly, this is just another case of a company making a claim and then waiting for the public to forget all about it. Lucky for Chick-Fil-A, they just happen to make a chicken sandwich that makes lesser LGBT “allies” more willing to forget their contributions to hate groups. Chick-Fil-A has never actually tried to hide their fundamentalist agenda. While at first their peanut-oiled chicken patties and fresh lemonade may seem innocent enough, look closer. Specifically, the kid’s meals and origin story.

While the kid’s meals usually include edutainment toys sponsored by Brain Games and Between the Lions, they have also included the Berenstain Bears and Veggie Tales. Veggie Tales is more clear about its Christian messaging, and usually keeps to Bible stories, rather than veering to a fundamentalist agenda, but that is still an odd angle to add in toys included with meals at a chicken restaurant. Personally, I think Veggie Tales is harmless, but I also do not think it has any crossover appeal for secular children.

Berenstain Bears is more damning. Classic titles usually refrain from any explicit religious messaging, with books like “The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners” and “The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor.” But, recent works, following the passing of the torch from the original authors (Stan and Jan Berenstain) to their more religious child (Mike Berenstain) include titles like “The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers.” I have nothing against books aimed at children who are raised Christian, but a title like that hardly has a place in a chicken restaurant where the target customer is average chicken eaters, a group that doesn’t tend to have a religious affiliation.

Finally, there’s the obvious clue that Chick-Fil-A is never going to become less oddly fundamentalist. The founder, S. Truett Cathy, was a devout Southern Baptist, and the reason why the company has Christian clues tucked in every aspect of the business. For one, Chick-Fil-A is always closed on Sunday, showing a commitment to the commandment “Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy,” and proving that the company is serious about the Bible. This also implies that Chick-Fil-A wants to encourage church attendance among its employees, which is overstepping the employer-employee relationship for a simple chicken restaurant. The Cathy family is still involved with the company, despite S. Truett’s passing in 2014, and it was COO Dan Cathy that made the original statements against same-sex marriage back in 2012. As the family is still running the company, and old people are not well known for changing their bigoted opinions just because some youngsters tell them that they are bigoted, it comes as no surprise that, yes, Chick-Fil-A is still homophobic.

I do honestly think that this company could work to change that troubling reputation, and as a queer Christian woman, I feel particularly qualified to make some suggestions. First and foremost, Chick-Fil-A needs to severely reduce the role of the Cathy family in their business. Old dogs cannot learn new tricks. With that, they need to focus any charitable donations on something completely apolitical, as they are a chicken restaurant, and should not have political opinions in the first place. I suggest the ASPCA or local women’s shelters. Finally, stop being so overtly religious. I get it, religion is important to many, but it is also deeply personal. I do not want to know if the CEO of Target is a Wiccan or not, so it stands to reason that I really do not care if the CEO of Chick-Fil-A wears a crucifix. Piety was something Jesus Christ, whose name ought to be familiar to the Cathy family, was pretty against, and it got Him killed, so take note. Finally, have a vegan-vegetarian food option that is not a sad salad. Gestures like that can only help, and I do not eat chicken.

Until then, do not eat at Chick-Fil-A, at least if you actually support the LGBT community. Go to a local fried chicken joint, or learn to make your own. If you do not care for the LGBT community, continue on with your fast food choices. If the LGBT revolution does not move you, at least the heart disease eventually will.

SGA Votes to Become Monarchy Under King Andrew Messick

On March 22, 2019, the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Student Government Association (SGA) held an emergency meeting regarding the future of the SGA Executive Board.

“I realized we were in trouble about halfway through 50 days,” Andrew Messick (Blessings Be) told The Point News (TPN). “My complimentary champagne bottle was almost empty and the fancy cheese coma was setting in, when it came to me: I had only 50 days left as SGA President. What’s worse is that, despite all the emails we sent out to our constituents to vote on the 2019-2020 executive board, we’ve only gotten a 15% response rate.”

While a low rate of voter turnout may be acceptable in other governments, like the United States, it is unheard of for the SMCM SGA. This worried Messick (Blessings Be). “With only a 15% voter turnout, there was no way any ‘winner’ would actually be representative of the wants and needs of the student body.” Messick (Blessings Be) immediately sent an email out to members of the SGA to meet by the light of the moon at Church Point by the time the bell tower struck midnight. Director of Campus Programming Rose Glenn made sure to bring s’mores, as a meeting of such gravity would require snacks.

Davita Fennell, Messick’s (Blessings Be) vice president, told TPN, “We started out by discussing the issue at hand, that there was no clear heir to the Messick presidency. With the semesters of peace and prosperity we experienced under Messick, the possibility of stepping into unknown waters terrified everyone. Without a strong leader, we would surely be ransacked by the Townies or have members of the student body conscripted into service by the University of Maryland.”

And so the solution was clear: A future without President Messick (Blessings Be) must never come to pass. While a democracy is standard in fair governing, it does not account for the presence of a strong leadership that outshines the competition. “We took an oath to protect and serve the student body at all costs,” Messick (Blessings Be) said. “Whatever was in the best interest of the student body, we would do. Monarchy just so happened to be in their best interest.”

The Messick Clause was unanimously passed, allowing for, in the case of a particularly exemplary SGA President, a monarchy in order to maintain the heightened quality of life under such leadership. All executive roles will switch over to stately ranking, with a small parliament of representatives kept on to run the day-to-day minutia of the Student Government.

Most executive members found themselves pleasantly surprised over this turn of events. “I never thought I’d become a Lord,” Lord Tim Baer told TPN. “Will Lord of Clubs look good on my resume?” Lord Jake Miller said, “So I’m Lord Treasurer now. Do you think that means clubs will finally get their fund allocation forms in on time?”

While there will no doubt be growing pains as the student body adjusts to this change, King Messick (Blessings Be) is already settled in his role. On March 24, his royal highness was seen moving his things into the former Alumni Lodge, now Messick Castle. As for his 2019 graduation? He told us, “What’s a degree to a king? I already know everything.”

Jeffery Hammond Delivers Annual Reeves Lecture: “I’m With Her: A Feminist Parable from Ancient Egypt”

On Monday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. in the Daugherty-Palmer Commons, Jeffrey Hammond, Ph.D. gave a talk on women in ancient Egypt, titled “I’m With Her: A Feminist Parable from Ancient Egypt.” The lecture series, established in 1997, is held in the memory of George Bradford Reeves, Sr., and is given annually by the current holder of the Reeves Chair, which recognizes “a distinguished, eminent scholar with broad expertise in classical civilization and a gifted teacher who provides academic leadership at St. Mary’s” (InsideSMCM). Hammond, a professor of English, has held this chair since 2001.

The program itself focused on a particular point of fascination for Hammond: ancient Egypt. While his fascination first started with Ramses II in the 1956 film, “The Ten Commandments,” he has since grown to see Ramses II as a pompous leader. Ramses, he reflects, focused more on building tall statues than he did being a decent leader.

Hatshepsut, Hammond decides, is the more worthy idol. While female pharaohs like Hatshepsut were not unheard of in ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut’s strategic skill and wisdom made her near legendary. As stepmother of future pharaoh, Thutmose III, Hatshepsut already held considerable power. In fact, many women of the time came to power by either marrying the pharaoh or mothering one.

Another female pharaoh, Nefertiti, was likely a co-regent alongside her husband, Akhenaten, and many other female pharaohs found themselves as ruler if their husband died before the next pharaoh in line was of age. Other than that, many Egyptian women could expect a place in society superior to women in other classical civilizations, and could do almost anything that their male counterparts could, except vote. Though, as Hammond jokes, “Basically no one could vote then anyway.”

Hammond reflects on why it is that, as a child, he found himself drawn to Ramses II over any of the worthy female pharaohs. He decides that it was probably due to a childish immaturity and ignorance, which blinded him to women like Hatshepsut. In our own patriarchal society, we often tend to overlook women in power, viewing them more as anomalies.

The title of the talk, “I’m with Her,” is a reference to the 2016 Clinton campaign slogan of the same name, making a clear connection between women like the former secretary of state and Hatshepsut. Women, he says, are surprisingly underrepresented in American politics, making up only a quarter of the representatives in the U.S. House, a record high as of 2018. This does not sit well with Hammond, especially given the proof that women can be fantastic leaders in Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut’s successor, Thutmose III, is nothing more than a footnote in history, notable mostly for mistakes in battle and trying his best to erase anything alluding to Hatshepsut, from records to monuments. Ramses II and Thutmose III remind Hammond of other bigoted and disappointing male rulers of the modern age.

In 1997, a terrorist attack on the tomb of Hatshepsut took the lives of 62, many of whom were women. This attack, which has come to be known as the Luxor Massacre, specifically targeted women, torturing and butchering them in the sacred temple of one of the strongest female rulers in Egyptian history. The significance, Hammond notes, is not small. Women targeted in the tomb of one of history’s most powerful women is just another sign of the issues of modern society that we refuse to acknowledge.

Visiting Artist Lori Rubeling Talks to Students about Impact Design

On Feb. 27 at 4:45 p.m., artist Lori Rubeling gave a talk in Glendening Annex on impact design education, a topic which plays a large role in her work.

The event, co-sponsored by the Art and Environmental Studies departments, covered humanistic research practices
and their applications in the real world. Impact design, according to Rubeling, takes into account every aspect of design, and seeks to find a better design based on that research. As an example, Rubeling brought up a project with past student of hers at Stevenson University, who were tasked with redesigning the logo for their department. They had to take into account not only the practicalities of a design (getting across what it is advertising, budget), but also the real feelings behind simple design choices (a hexagonal outline versus leaves). How can they make a logo that captures the essence of
their department without being too busy?

The most common use of impact design is architecture, says Rubeling. In that instance, it emphasizes the cross-disciplinary aspects of architecture, taking into account the personal, communal and global of a space or structure. She mentions how she is taken by the beauty of the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) campus, but is surprised by our use of wide open spaces, and wonders how the campus could be better designed using impact design practices. This requires her to look at human-based activity with open questions in mind in order to find the best design.

Impact design can also be used to solve social issues, such as the Flint water crisis. By using a thought map, Rubeling can work through the issue by identifying how people behave towards the issue, determining barriers to behavior change, promoting an action that breaks that barrier, implementing or sustaining the action that shifts behavior and normalizing that change. In short, for every issue, from building a structure in a park to solving a human rights crisis, impact design helps us consider tasks in a way that is complex, taking every possible part into consideration.

The Lori Rubeling artist talk is part of the artist residency program at SMCM, co-sponsored by the Lecture and Fine Arts Committee, and the Environmental Studies Program and the Department of Art and Art History.

Local Starbucks Finds New Home

On Feb. 7 a new Starbucks was unveiled in the developing St. Mary’s Market Place, replacing the former location just a few blocks south. This new location, in addition to being more easily accessible from both directions of travel, features a drive-thru, a first for the only free-standing St. Mary’s County Starbucks.

This Starbucks sits at the end of its lot, providing considerable natural light from wall-to-wall windows on the western and southern ends. With the expanded floor space comes a variety of seating options for guests. There are several armchairs and tall stools available for customers settling in for a few hours of study, long-table style seating for groups and, notably, a bar-style seating area where the drinks and food sit when ready, for the customer that would rather not be bothered.

A new feature of this Starbucks is the nitro cold brew available on draft, giving the chain cafe a stylish, upscale aesthetic. Other than that, the drinks and snacks available are largely the same as one would find at any other Starbucks location, including the ever-popular seasonal frappuccinos and cake pops, though the supply has been increased with the larger space. The line to order is long and slow-moving, giving the customer plenty of time to consider every option. To offset this, once an order is made it moves along fast, and the baristas are courteous. They seem frazzled as they learn the new drive-thru system, which places baristas with headsets alongside other baristas, forcing them into double-duty. Hopefully, issues will be ironed out in time.

The California Starbucks location is currently the only open building in its strip, with some still under construction or up for lease. In the next strip over, a Panda Express has recently opened, also featuring a drive-thru system. The new Starbucks location, it is at 45000 St Andrews Church Suite F, California, MD 20619. On Weekdays it is open from 4:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., with slightly expanded hours for the weekend.

How to Succeed in Plagues Without Really Trying

Last year the rate of measles cases increased 50%, according to the Guardian. Now in New York, a measles outbreak has occurred after individuals returned from Israel after the holidays, with more than just fond memories packed in their carry-on. This is not normal. The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine has been available and safely implemented for at least 50 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). While the vaccine requires a series of dosages given to children between birth and school age, the pain and annoyance of holding a toddler down for a shot is well worth it in the long run. Children who successfully finish their MMR series, something which is required in most school districts for enrollment, are far less likely than unvaccinated peers to contract the deadly illness, saving families thousands of dollars in medical expenses, as well as the pain of losing a child. With all the great reasons to keep children up to date on their vaccinations, one might think that a parent would have to be pretty ignorant not to get the shots over and done with. Enter the anti-vaccine movement.

My first exposure to the anti-vaccine movement came during the 2009 swine flu pandemic. I distinctly remember the fear garnered around what some thought could become another Spanish Flu, so bad at points that pork sales dropped, despite no actual link between pork consumption and swine flu contraction (ABC). I also remember being told by classmates at my small Christian private school that they were not getting the vaccine that had just come out because it had the swine flu in it, and thus, would give them the flu. Even as I got my vaccine in my county’s health department, this thought echoed in my head. Still, I got my shot, in addition to most of the other vaccines that my doctor deemed necessary. I hate needles, but I hate being sick even more, and time and again vaccines proved effective in my own life, and in the lives of others.

Still, despite so much evidence in favor of getting shots, the anti-vaccine movement remains strong, especially in young mother communities and mommy blogs. One top culprit that comes to mind is Jenny McCarthy, film and television star, model and unlikely lifestyle guide. McCarthy, despite her lack of medical expertise, found herself supporting the misconception that there is a link between vaccines and autism when her own child was diagnosed with autism following inoculation. She claims that the proof is in the gut, where she claims inflammation from imbalances caused by vaccines can brew, leading to problems in the brain. McCarthy said in a 2010 interview, “A lot of people didn’t understand there was a gut and brain connection, and I would tell them: ‘Let’s go try that theory out in a bar. Go have a drink, and see how it affects your brain’” (PBS), going on to say that “If you talk to parents who have children with autism, they have little Buddha bellies. Their guts are inflamed.”

McCarthy has gone on to publish several books on the topic of autism and its alleged vaccine connection, such as “Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism,” “Healing and Preventing Autism: A Complete Guide” and “Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds.”It should be noted  for clarity’s sake that there is no known link between autism and vaccination. This supposed link first came about in a 1998 paper published by Dr. Andrew Wakefield in “The Lancet.” Wakefield’s medical license has since been revoked. According to HealthLine, “Later investigations have shown that Wakefield was set to benefit from lawsuits based on his research. The study was retracted after numerous other scientists could not replicate his findings” (HealthLine). Despite the fact that no credible papers have been published since in support of an autism and vaccine link, the damage was already done, and a seed was planted. McCarthy is partially to blame for spreading the misinformation, though it probably would have gotten around even without her help. The actress, who clearly has some toxic feelings about her own son’s autism, now judges on the show “The Masked Singer,” where she is referred to as a cultural influencer. For the record, autism is not a disease to be cured, it is a developmental disorder, like epilepsy.

Measles is an awful disease, which can kill if not treated quickly. According to the World Health Organization, measles can result in complications like “blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhea and related dehydration, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia” (WHO). One of the first symptoms is a high fever, which can last up to a week, with a signature rash following. Even in mild cases, measles can last weeks on end. What parent would want to deal with that, even if (strong if) it could give their child a strong natural immunity? Worse yet, the people at highest risk are the immunocompromised, young children and pregnant women. These people, who cannot be vaccinated even if they would like to be, are vulnerable without the herd immunity that comes when others get their vaccines. At that point, not being vaccinated when it is totally safe to do so is not only irresponsible for personal health, but irresponsible towards the most vulnerable among us. If cost is a worry, most insurance plans cover vaccines, and resources are available for the uninsured. Don’t just do it for yourself, do it for society.

“Taken” to the Extreme: Liam Neeson Shares Thoughts of Race-Based Violence

On Feb. 4 during an interview with The Independent, actor Liam Neeson admitted that he went looking to kill a black man after learning that someone of the same race had raped his friend. Neeson’s comments have sparked a debate about racism and forgiveness that is sweeping Hollywood and social media.

Neeson gave the interview to promote his most recent film, “Cold Pursuit.” His controversial claims came on the heels of a conversation about the futility of revenge. Neeson told the interviewer that, after hearing the news of the rape of one of his female friends, he asked about the race of the perpetrator. Upon hearing that the man was black, he went out and began walking the streets with a “cosh,” waiting for a “black bastard” to start an altercation with him so that he could, in Neeson’s own words, “kill him.” A cosh is another word for a club.

The quote seems to have come unprompted, as Neeson’s co-star Tom Bateman expressed horrified surprise in response to the admittance in the form of a succinct, “Holy shit.”

The following day, in response to a wave of backlash, Neeson went on Good Morning America and claimed that he is “not racist” and that he would have reacted the same had the attacker been “an Irish or a Scot or a Brit or a Lithuanian.”

This leads to the question that so many have been asking: Is Liam Neeson racist? His confession is shocking, but he claims that he became disgusted with himself afterward, even going to see a priest to talk out his violent feelings. Despite the controversy the aforementioned question is generating, I have trouble seeing what has people confused. Is Liam Neeson racist? Well, yes, clearly.

The fact of the matter is: Liam Neeson went out looking to murder a random black man for a crime committed by someone specific. Neeson claims that he would have reacted the same had the person been of another race, but that doesn’t change the fact that he would have been using the actions of one person to generalize an entire demographic.

TPN spoke with the coordinator of the African and African Diaspora studies department, Jeffrey Coleman, Ph.D., about his thoughts concerning the comments. “He wasn’t interested in that particular black man [who had committed the crime],” Coleman said. “He was interested in attacking any black man he felt he had a justifiable reason to assault…and that’s patently racist.”

Neeson’s comments show that he has fallen prey to the stereotype of, as Coleman puts it, “helpless white female who’s attacked by a stereotypical black beast.” This is still an ugly reality for many black men in the modern world, who get unfairly judged by society for no other reason than the color of their skin. One has to consider how long Neeson held these racist thoughts before he was finally given an excuse to act on them.

Defenders of Neeson point out that the actor said he felt remorseful for his dark thoughts, and went to a priest to repent. But he still spent a week walking the streets with a weapon before coming to his senses. Others claim that, since the incident occurred so long ago, we should consider the fact that Neeson may have changed since then. Still, others have called him brave for admitting such a horrifying story. While his honesty is admirable, I would hesitate to call Neeson brave. The only thing he proved with that interview is a past capability for racial violence, and it is impossible to really know if he has changed. The stereotype of a dangerous black man has been ingrained in the brains of white people for hundreds of years and is difficult to overcome. “[Those thoughts] don’t just go away if you’ve bought into the stereotype,” Coleman said.

Despite an outpouring of support, however, there’s still been a significant amount of backlash. Why, then, did Neeson choose to share this? He must have known how it would have been received. Coleman theorized that it could have been a publicity stunt to generate attention for his new movie, and underestimated the amount of negative attention there would be in response. Given that Neeson is a successful white man who works in the entertainment industry, it’s unlikely he’ll face any lasting consequences for these comments unless people decide to stop supporting him.

This leaves the responsibility up to the viewer, then. How long will it take people to forget or forgive? The box office numbers for “Cold Pursuit” may be telling enough, making only $10.8 million against a budget of $60 million. It seems that perhaps Neeson may face his comeuppance after all. “One thing is certain,” Coleman told me, “if his films do not bring in revenue, then he will become a less desirable leading man.” Apparently, it doesn’t pay to be racist.