Last Friday, The New York Times published an online piece by longtime television critic Alessandra Stanley, and the reaction was explosive.
While Stanley is in a position to know better, it felt as though she was taking jabs at Shonda Rhimes, the mastermind behind such shows as Scandal, Grey's Anatomy and the hotly anticipated How to Get Away with Murder.
Rhimes's brilliant character development and ability to write intricate stories is what has endeared her to fans and Hollywood. If there was anyone not to go in on, Rhimes would be that person, so when Stanley reduced her to an "angry, black woman" ... well, it got messy fast.
Margaret Sullivan is the Times's public editor, and after a firestorm of controversy she ran a column that addressed the situation:
"The article on the television producer Shonda Rhimes hadn't yet appeared in Sunday's paper, but the virtual world was ablaze in protest over it on Friday after it was published online.
"Written by the longtime TV critic Alessandra Stanley, its first paragraph — with a reference to Ms. Rhimes as an 'Angry Black Woman' — struck many readers as completely off-base. Many called it offensive. Some went further, saying it was racist.
"Another reference to the actress Viola Davis as 'less classically beautiful' than lighter-skinned African American actresses immediately inspired a mocking hashtag ...
"... There are some big questions here — about diversity, about editing procedures and about how The Times deals with stories about women and race. They are worth exploring in depth."
Ironically, Stanley has responded to critics but nowhere is there an actual apology for being offensive, leading fans of Rhimes to believe she still does not get it.
Perhaps something decent has come from this, and that is the fact that people are now discussing labels and how detrimental it can be to reduce the value of a person within the span of a sentence or two.
Do you think critics like Stanley will choose their words a bit more wisely in the future? Respond in the coments section below.