As the saying goes, the celebs are at it again. On Thursday a PSA starring A-listers including Kristen Bell, Kesha, Aaron Paul, Stanley Tucci, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Debra Messing launched a new campaign called #ITakeResponsibility. Launched by entertainment production company Confluential Content, in partnership with the NAACP, the campaign aims to call on white people to call out racism and support black lives through various causes. But its somber black-and-white production, combined with some very Actorly Performances from certain celebs, might hurt the initiative more than it helps.
The video’s script is clear and laudable. Stars take turns reading, in part, “I take responsibility for every unchecked moment, for every time it was easier to ignore than to call it out for what it was. Every not-so-funny joke. Every unfair stereotype. Every blatant injustice no matter how big or small. Every time I remained silent. Every time I explained away police brutality or turned a blind eye. I take responsibility. Black people are being slaughtered in the streets. Killed in their own homes. These are our brothers and sisters. Our friends. Our family. We are done watching them die. We are no longer bystanders; we will not be idle. Enough is enough.”
But the celebrities’ performed earnestness during their line reads has drawn widespread mockery online, as Twitter users note some Emmy-baiting performances and, in some cases, ask why white celebrities are talking instead of simply donating some of their millions to the cause.
In some ways, this feels like a sequel to the “Imagine” video Gal Gadot and other celebrities made early on during the spread of the novel coronavirus—another would-be act of inspiration that largely felt empty. (Although in this case, at least the stars are championing a clear and actionable message.) Comparisons have also been made to the #BlackoutTuesday initiative, which also quickly devolved into a largely meaningless gesture as celebrities big and small flooded Instagram with black tiles in support of Black Lives Matter. The video’s mission is commendable, but it seems likely the mockery has just begun.