Before this weekend, I never really paid very much attention to Rebel Wilson.
I knew she existed and had caught glimpses of her in a few things. I knew enough to know that her usual schtick is playing the funny, goofy or dorky fat girl in white comedies, but in my mind, she wasn’t as funny as Melissa McCarthy, so I didn’t pay much attention to her.
Last week, she popped up on my radar again when I saw a tweet that quoted her proclaiming herself to be the first plus-sized woman to play the lead in a romantic comedy.
Wilson will star in Isn’t It Romantic, a film slated for release on Valentine’s Day 2019 that has been billed in some places as a rom-com parody.
“I’m proud to be the first-ever plus-sized girl to be the star of a romantic comedy,” Wilson told Ellen during a visit to her show last week.
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You can imagine my surprise. We’ve all seen Last Holiday, Just Wright, Beauty Shop and all the episodes of Living Single episodes in which Queen Latifah—as Khadijah James—was the object of affection for men like Morris Chestnut, Cress Williams and Bumper Robinson. She been there and done that.
Mo’Nique has also already been there. One of her funnier and sweeter movies was called Phat Girlz, and the entire premise was a larger woman looking for love.
None of these movies were straight to video. Even if Rebel Wilson hasn’t watched them, she should know about them, so why she would make the statement she did is anyone’s guess—but she did.
When the tweet quoting her surfaced, a number of black women offered corrections and pointed out that Latifah and Mo’Nique had been there first. Rebel Wilson ignored every single one of them.
When she did finally respond to the nudge, it was to a white woman. A white woman, I might add, who is one of my followers and basically said the exact same thing I said minus the part where I said it was an example of the erasure of the work done by black women. Same message. Same tone.
“I love @RebelWilson as much as the next girl, but she isn’t the first plus sized woman to play the lead in a romantic comedy. Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique have both played romcom leads,” user @Halfapintdoll wrote.
Wilson responded to her tweet and she doubled down saying, “Hey girl! Yeah I of course know of these movies but it was questionable as to whether: 1. Technically those actresses were plus size when filming those movies or 2. Technically those films are catorgorized/billed as a studio rom-com with a sole lead. So there’s a slight grey area.”
When was there ever a question as to whether or not Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique were considered plus-sized? They both identify as plus-sized women. Mo’Nique’s entire comedy career, in the beginning, was based on her size. How was there any question, and more importantly, who was questioning it?
As for whether or not their films were billed as studio rom-coms is an issue about race and the way films with predominantly black casts are categorized in Hollywood in general—and that’s a topic for a different rant.
Suffice it to say that the only “grey area” is the one in Rebel’s mind and the minds of any other white person who basically believes that the work of black women doesn’t count in Hollywood—because that is exactly what it boils down to.
After Rebel doubled down on her bullshit, black women continued to try and educate her on where she was going wrong. It would have been so easy to just say “You know what, my bad. I misspoke.” That would have been too much like right though.
Instead, Rebel chose to continue to erase the voices of black women—at least from her mentions and her timeline—by blocking them if they dared speak to her about her comments.
It was her way of putting them in their place. This continued throughout the weekend. Black women reached out to her and she promptly blocked them. When white women reached out saying basically the same thing, she responded politely, if at all, but she didn’t block them.
Playwright Claire Willett wrote an impassioned thread on Twitter lovingly explaining to Rebel where she went wrong.
“So. You are frustrated that it feels like women of color are trying to diminish your achievement and how big a deal this role is for you, and you’re shutting down their attempts to explain why, which is Not a Good Look for someone trying to build solidarity among plus-size women,” Willett wrote.
“I think it’s splitting hairs a bit to talk about the way the films are billed/categorized, because that’s a very industry-insider standard that doesn’t necessarily have any connection to the way AUDIENCES view or mentally categorize different types of movies, so let’s skip it,” Willett continued.
Wilson responded to Willett and said “Great points honey, thank you x will address when promoting the film in proper forums. I’m all about supporting plus size women and I work so hard to do so. I never want to disrespect anyone.”
It’s weird because Wilson says she doesn’t want to disrespect anyone, but she continued to block black women who said the same things to her in the same tone.
She blocked black women except for Mo’Nique, who reached out to her on Twitter as well.
“Hey my sweet sister. Let’s please not allow this business to erase our talent with giving grey areas and technicalities. Take a moment and know the history. DON’T BE A PART OF ERASING IT. I wish you the best,” Mo’Nique wrote.
“Hi Monique, it was never my intention to erase anyone else’s achievements and I adore you and Queen Latifah so so much x I support all plus size ladies and everything positive we are doing together,” Wilson responded.
Her words and her actions don’t match up. By early Monday morning, she had blocked so many black and brown people, it became a huge game to see who she would block next.
If Rebel Wilson were truly about the uplifting of all plus-sized women, she wouldn’t be doing her best to shut down the voices of those who don’t have the same skin color as she does.
Blocking all the black and brown voices that tried to reason with her on Twitter shows the true intention behind her first comment on Ellen and her subsequent comments on Twitter.
Rebel Wilson doesn’t think black and brown plus-sized women count. They are not in the same category as her. They are different, and in her eyes, they should be treated as such.
And that is exactly what she is doing.
It’s hard to understand how she can think this will bode well for her new film. She is destroying all goodwill towards it with her disgusting actions right now. It has turned into an incredibly dramatic 72 hours for her, and it is only getting worse because she is continuing to make it worse.
She’s doing all of this and building up a bad name and reputation for herself in the process.
All because apologizing to black women was too damn much.
Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, 11:30 a.m. EST: It appears that Rebel Wilson’s team has finally wrestled her phone away from her and taken over her Twitter account.
In a series of tweets sent out early Monday evening, the Australian actress apologized for her faux pas using words that were a lot more eloquent and understanding than all of her previous tweets, leading one to believe that the “apology” was crafted by someone else attempting to mitigate the damage caused by her insolent and puerile Twitter rampage in the days prior.
In a tweet containing a lot more awareness than we have seen her evidence, Wilson allegedly wrote, “In a couple of well-intentioned moments, hoping to lift my fellow plus sized women up, I neglected to show the proper respect to those who climbed this mountain before me like Mo’Nique, Queen Latifah, Melissa McCarthy, Ricki Lake and likely many others.”
“She” continued: “With the help of some very compassionate and well-thought out responses from others on social media, I now realize what I said was not only wrong but also incredibly hurtful. To be part of a problem I was hoping I was helping makes it that much more embarrassing & hard to-
“acknowledge. I blocked people on Twitter because I was hurting from the criticism, but those are the people I actually need to hear from more, not less. Again, I am deeply sorry.”
I don’t believe Rebel Wilson wrote these tweets, and I don’t think she is at all apologetic. I truly believe this is a public relations move to save her film—and her career—from tanking.
This is not the first time Wilson has shown that she has racist thoughts and tendencies when it comes to people of color. Check out this clip of her on Ellen in 2013 when she started to make some awful jokes about Aboriginals.
Wilson also seemingly unblocked everyone she had blocked in her fit of angst over the last few days. I discovered this morning that my account had been unblocked by her.
It doesn’t matter. It’s too little, too late.
If you had done this from the beginning, it would be a lot more believable, and we would be more likely to accept it.
Now we can tell you are just pandering to make sure your bag is secure.
In the words of Ira Madison III, “Keep it.”