Musical theatre sites are buzzing with conflicting opinions around the “Alice Ripley” controversy. Haven’t heard about it yet? Here’s the 411:
(Alice Ripley) came under fire for using a gay slur in her Facebook status, a response to a critic’s review of her Next to Normal performance:
“QUOTE FROM A NUMB BUTT ON BROADWAY WORLD: “I’VE SEEN N2N 8 TIMES WITH ALICE RIPLEY, WHICH IS 7 TIMES TOO MANY.” HA HA HA HA!!! THIS FRUSTRATED ACTOR (I WON’T SAY F–) IS MY NEW BEST FRIEND! THANKS FOR LOOKING DOWN ON LOSERS LIKE US THAT WORK FOR A LIVING. YOU ARE THE OPPOSITE OF A WONDERFUL AUDIENCE.”
Ripley has since apologized (via Facebook), calling her actions “careless and thoughtless,” but many fans within the theater community were outraged by the remarks (ideas for a Ripley protest have been circulating).
Alice Ripley’s “fag” comment certainly was a mistake and I’m glad that an apology followed it. However, that doesn’t render it unprejudiced, nor does the apology erase the comment. I can’t suddenly pretend that she didn’t say it or that it doesn’t offend me. Now – I don’t think Ripley is really homophobic, but in some ways that makes it worse, because it means that whatever it is that is inside her that makes her feel it was acceptable to use that word in a context such as this is far more deeply and dangerously rooted. It’s spiteful – and part of me is left to wonder, then, to what extent her apology is a move made out of marketing rather than sincerity: after all, one shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you.
The other thing that concerns me about this situation is the number of people who just don’t seem to “get” why Ripley’s comment was inappropriate. Straight people who do not understand that its not all right to use words like “fag” in a derogatory manner and imply that reactions like mine are only an offshoot of the living in a PC world really do not know what they’re talking about and clearly have no idea of the personal effect that discrimination against any group of people can have on the individuals in that group. Either that, or they have no empathy for their fellow human beings.