Saturday, December 05, 2009

"Heroes" Star Greg Grunberg Tweets Transphobia

Since I started using Twitter several months ago, I've built up quite the list of personal friends and acquaintances as well as media folks and celebs who I find interesting. In addition, I'm always looking for new and cool tweeters to add to my list. In using Twitter, I've found that I can often glean new insight into the kind of person a Tweeter really is through their 140 character posts. In most cases, what I've learned makes me like and respect that Tweeter and their work all the more. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way.

Last night, I noticed a tweet arrive from renowned transgender author Kate Bornstein. It was directed toward the Twitter feed of Greg Grunberg, one of the stars of the hit NBC television series "Heroes" (in the role of telepathically-powered policeman Matt Parkman), and it said:

"I admire the warmth u bring 2 the characters u create, but the wording of ur post on Chaz Bono hurt many of us. Did u know that?"

Of course, I had to know more. I clicked on the link to Grunberg's feed, scrolled down a bit, and found this:

"Saw a pic of Chaz Bono today. Man, did she let himself go!!"


I subscribe to his feed and a little later, another Tweet from Grunberg arrives:

"Big Casting News: Sadly, in the film version of #Heroes, Matt Parkman will be played by... Chaz Bono!! YOWZA!!"


Yeah, sounds great, Greg. Real nice coming from the star of a show that focuses on the trials of living a life where something that makes you special and different from the rest of the world can also make you feared, hated, and an outcast. You'd think Grunberg would at least have learned something from the scripts of his own television show, if from nowhere else.

Let's be fair here, though. Greg Grunberg is an actor, not an activist, a politician, or a political pundit. He has every right to say whatever he wants and he has no social or political obligation to gain our support or approval first. That said, Grunberg is also a star on a top-rated primetime television drama, and as such is a celebrity who's public words and behavior not only reflect on himself, but also on his show and fellow "Heroes" actors (regardless of whether or not they share his views), and on NBC as well.

Greg Grunberg has over 1.3 million subscribers to his feed. When he tweets this kind of transphobic "humor", hundreds of thousands will read it. Furthermore, because Grunberg is a major television star and thus has a certain influence on those who enjoy his work, his words and opinions will likely have a lot more traction than the average Tweeter's.

Thus, I do not call out Greg Grunberg here for being a transphobic jerk. That's a determination each viewer and reader must make for themselves. What I call Grunberg out for here is irresponsibility, for shooting his mouth off publicly, apparently completely unaware of the potential impact of his transphobic "jokes", not only on us, but also on his show (which I enjoy immensely and have followed since the beginning) and on his network.

In my opinion, people like Greg Grunberg, celebrities who have an impact on our modern American culture, also have an obligation to use that notriety judiciously and carefully, knowing and understanding that what they say or do in public can and often does have an impact outside of their own personal sphere.

Or to put it another way in keeping with the theme of the series, Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee said it best a long time ago:

"With great power comes great responsibility."

4 comments:

thatgalkiki said...

Well said. Shame on him.

Soul said...

People don't realize the power of their comments. An actor in that position should be more careful about his comments. You would think an actor would be able to empathize with all types. But alas...

- SoulmatesMovie

Soul said...

People don't realize the power of their comments. An actor in that position should be more careful about his comments. You would think an actor would be able to empathize with all types. But alas...

- SoulmatesMovie

Rebecca Juro said...

I'm hoping he's not a true transphobe (and I really don't believe he is), but just uninformed and didn't realize the implications of his actions.

That's why I wrote my response as an attempt to inform and educate, not as an attack.