By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (email@example.com)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS-FEB 13, 2016) Australian actress Margot Robbie needs to think before she speaks.
Along with Tina Fey, Robbie was on a recent edition of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert promoting the movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, slated to be released next month.
The movie is set in Afghanistan and filmed last year in New Mexico. Fey asked Colbert whether he’d been to New Mexico. He said no, and Robbie jumped in with what she thought was a funny quip.
“Lots of missing teeth,” said Robbie.
The remark drew a lot of laughter from Fey and the audience, but along with many others, I was not amused.
Robbie’s comment was rude, classless and hurtful. While she wasn’t referring specifically to the homeless, it struck a chord with me because the homeless-for a variety of reasons-often lack teeth. Their gummy situation just serves to further exacerbate the often overwhelming sense of inadequacy and lack of self confidence they already feel.
I asked my staff to find a few of our guests without teeth and see what they felt about Robbie’s thoughtless statement.
One person said, “I feel labeled, judged and categorized without my teeth. Because of my own experience of bad teeth in the past, I feel defined by my teeth or lack thereof. I feel insulted and ashamed.”
The individual continued, “I had all of my teeth pulled at a young age due to genetics and poor choices. (Robbie’s) comment in my opinion, suggests that the state of NM is looked down upon, and is in poverty and is full of addicts.
“I feel if the lack of teeth is that much of a concern, then perhaps the actress can look into contributing a solution instead of criticizing and labeling the state.”
Another person said that lacking teeth results in a feeling of shame, not being able to smile and an avoidance of conversations.
“It’s (also) hard not having teeth to chew my food. Medically, it’s very unhealthy for me.
If I had full set of teeth, my morale would be much better. I would smile more and I would be able to chew my food without swallowing it whole.”
And Robbie? “That actress is ignorant and small. Imagine if she had no teeth and see how it would affect her morale.”
Another person we spoke to doesn’t smile or laugh around people because people stare at her mouth. “I know, because I stare at people’s mouth, too.”
“I would love to have a full set of teeth so I can smile, laugh and talk more often,” that individual added. “I would love to have my picture taken and show people that I love to be around them.
And what about Robbie? “I wish (she) didn’t say what she did. She doesn’t know that pain I feel about not having teeth. It wasn’t very nice of her.”
This person wrote, “I’m personally missing all of my teeth and have to wear dentures. It’s not because of drugs, but from an abusive relationship.”
Happily, she said, “I now have a husband that assures me that I’m beautiful with or without teeth.
It’s disappointing and sad that people can’t seem to see past a set of teeth. This actress is missing out on a great deal of awesome people. It’s also a shame that someone with so much talent could be so ignorant. It’s a good thing that my self esteem doesn’t depend on people like her.”
I asked some of our Joy Junction Facebook fans what they thought about Robbie’s comments. They weren’t very complimentary.
Samantha said that having a pretty face doesn’t necessarily mean pretty on the inside.
She added, “My nana taught me that growing up, ‘Be pretty on the inside, and you’ll be pretty on the outside, but if you’re ugly on the inside it will come out and show itself.’ My nana was from Mississippi; she always had something good like that!”
Samantha said that Robbie may be famous, “But she lacks character and what is most important. I’d rather hang out with someone she’s ridiculing than her. I actually feel sorry for her.”
Richard suggested, “Someone who cares about Margo Robbie might offer her a tour of the States’ better neighborhoods. A complete lack of class.”
Anita didn’t mince words, saying “These two Hollywood snobs are mean and what they said is insensitive and cruel.”
Becky commented, “Too bad her attempt at comedy is at the expense of those not there to defend themselves, or make a ‘funny’ comment back about her lack of comedic talent or good manners.”
William said that while the comment was made in the context of a comedy show, “It reveals how shallow people can be. I’m sure she regrets making the comment.”
Stefanie called her comment a disappointment. “How quick she forgets that this state offers a lot to bring movies here that pay her.”
Susan called Robbie’s comments “cruel.” She added, “Dental work is incredibly expensive, and last on the list if you have other medical issues that cause or worsen it, and … kids to feed and care for.”
Cynthia encouraged an attitude of humility like Jesus.
She concluded by saying that we shouldn’t “Poke fun at the less fortunate. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Let us walk in the Love of Jesus our Savior.”
Amen, Cynthia. Sadly, we seem to live in a culture where it’s seemingly acceptable for almost anything to be said. I’m not advocating for “political correctness,” but I am pushing for a return to civility, kindness and a respectful social dialogue. How about it?
Photo captions. 1) Margot Robbie. 2) Woman with missing teeth (Photo: rossparry.co.uk) 3) Jeremy and Elma Reynalds.
About the writer: Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, www.joyjunction.org. He has a master’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is “From Destitute to Ph.D.” Additional details on “From Destitute to Ph.D.” are available at www.myhomelessjourney.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at firstname.lastname@example.org,
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