This is two or three days old so excuse the slowness, but until last night I hadn’t heard about Robert Downey, Jr.‘s to-the-manor-born putdown of Alejandro G. Inarritu and particularly AGI’s remark, offered in a 10.15.14 Deadline interview as well as in Birdman, about superhero movies exuding a form of cultural genocide. “The way they apply violence to it, it’s absolutely right-wing,” Alejandro said. “If you observe the mentality of most of those films, it’s really about people who are rich, who have power, who will do the good [and] who will kill the bad. Philosophically, I just don’t like them. They have been poison…because the audience is so overexposed to plot and explosions and shit that doesn’t mean nothing about the experience of being human.” Asked about this by the Guardian during the Avengers junket, Downey said “Look, I respect the heck out of him [and] for a man whose native tongue is Spanish to be able to put together a phrase like ‘cultural genocide’ just speaks to how bright he is.”
This wasn’t a “quasi”-racist remark, as a director friend has suggested, but flat-out racist — an expression of an obviously patronizing, dismissive attitude on Downey’s part toward Mexican Americans and Alejandro in particular. What’s the difference between this remark and Sean Penn‘s “who gave this sonavubitch his green card?” quip at the Oscars? Context. Penn is an AGI friend using a dismissive remark “in quotes” to deliver a form of guy humor while Downey was clearly miffed about AGI and Birdman having “talked smack” about him, and was looking to score a putdown. Downey defenders will no doubt say he was talking “in quotes” also but it doesn’t seem that way to me in the above clip.