The rules for NBC employees just got a little more complicated. Last week, the network fired “Today” show host Megyn Kelly for claiming that when she was a child, dressing in blackface was was acceptable on Halloween provided you were dressing as a well-known personality:
You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween.
Back when I was a kid, that was OK just as long as you were dressing as a character.
As an example, she cited a reality show star who wanted to dress as Diana Ross. “She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day, and I don’t know how that got racist on Halloween.”
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From NBC’s reaction, it was clear that that network’s policy forbids saying it is OK to dress as personality from a different race on Halloween. But yesterday, Al Roker, a former colleague of Kelly, didn’t merely talk about dressing up as a white character. He actually did it, donning a white wig and lab coat and proclaiming himself to be Doc Brown, from “Back to the Future.” Somehow, the executives at NBC had no problem with Roker’s costume.
Roker was taken to task by some on social media, who found his actions — or more specifically those of NBC — to be hypocritical, to which he replied somewhat huffily (and using some of the most fractured syntax ever produced in English):
I’m going to say this one last time, but the folks who get it, understand and the ones who DON’T, won’t. I can be Doc Brown, and I wear the outfit and wig and not change my skin color if you’re white , you can be President Obama if you want. Just don’t color your skin!
— Al Roker (@alroker) October 31, 2018
That’s splitting hairs on steroids. It’s also vapid. How do you portray Barack Obama without mimicking at least his hairstyle and facial features. Is Roker suggesting that a costume like that would make it past the PC police?
Maybe NBC needs to rethink either its decision to can Kelly or its decision not to can Roker.