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The Student News Site of Prospect High School


The Student News Site of Prospect High School


What’s happening? Actor Samuel L. Jackson confused with actor Laurence Fishburne


“What’s happening?” is a new Prospector blog concerning current events, from viral videos to political issues, and Editor-in-Chief Nabi Dressler’s take on them.

In today’s edition of News Anchor Screws Up (and he’s not even from FOX!), KTLA news anchor Sam Rubin confused actor Samuel L. Jackson with actor Laurence Fishburne despite the fact that they don’t look alike.

And Jackson didn’t let the mistake go.

“I’m not Laurence Fishburne,” Jackson, visibly displeased, says in the video. He goes on to say, “We don’t all look alike! We may be all black and famous, but we all don’t look alike… You’re the entertainment reporter for this station and you don’t know the difference between me and Laurence Fishburne?”

Cue uncomfortable laughter of Rubin and the other reporters in the background.

When Rubin tells Jackson to talk about Robocop, he responds, “Oh, hell no.” Jackson then goes on to explain the differences among the commercials he, Fishburne and actor Morgan Freeman do. He then encourages Rubin to do more research before he interviews any other actors in his movie.
Jackson’s lengthy criticism of Rubin angered some online, but I feel like those people haven’t made great accolades in life, had extensively successful film careers, won countless awards, even been nominated for an Oscar and, all achievements aside, still been confused with someone who doesn’t exactly look like but happens to be the same race as them.

Why wouldn’t Jackson be offended/pissed when he’s done so much great work in his life, yet an entertainment reporter mistakes him for another African American actor? Isn’t knowing how to recognize esteemed actors kind of in Rubin’s job description?

In a country where we constantly hear that all minorities “look the same,” I was pleased to see Jackon call out this reporter on his very embarrassing flub. The reporter clearly wanted Jackson to stop making him uncomfortable, but perhaps if he hadn’t addressed Jackson as another, totally unrelated African American man, he wouldn’t have been in such a position.

Whether it’s looking at the lack of representation of People of Color on-screen in general or hearing classmates refer to any non-white Prospect student as “that [insert race here],” having been isolated as that token Asian kid myself (or biracial, whatever label they’re feeling), I don’t feel too sorry for this anchor. I don’t know if he gets the severity of his mistake, or the weight it inevitably carries in our society.

Bottom line: sometimes being a minority means seeing your character and complexity as a person get watered down to your skin tone, the shape of your facial features and so forth, no matter what you accomplish, and Rubin’s mistake can be interpreted as an example of this. It happens to me in places like school, where I should presumably feel comfortable, and it happens to you if you’re not a white or white-looking American.

Such a mistake of interchanging two prominent African American actors marginalizes African Americans, albeit unintentionally. Racism doesn’t have to be on purpose or even malicious; when it happens, it happens, regardless of intention or lack thereof.

Race aside, Jackson is such a darn famous actor. Using the argument that “We all make mistakes” doesn’t hold up well when you’re an entertainment reporter on television; seriously, he was the best part of “Pulp Fiction” (don’t watch that clip if you don’t like gore. In fact, steer clear of all Tarantino movies).

A moral of the story that can be taken away is do your homework and expect to be called out on your ignorance on something — or someone — you’re expected to know.

Rubin has since apologized and seemed genuinely remorseful. Let me reiterate that I’m not pinning the guy as a racist for messing up once, that’d be absurd. But when you make such a mistake on live television, the reasons behind said mistake are up for interpretation and can harbor some open discussion on important topics.

The root of Rubin’s mistake may go deeper than a simple mix-up, and if this constitutes as being overly sensitive, so be it, because really, whose call is that to make? Telling Jackson or anyone else how to feel about anything isn’t good taste.


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