Since his breakthrough performance in We Need To Talk About Kevin, Ezra Miller has gone on to deliver acclaimed performances in films such as The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, The Stanford Prison Experiment and Justice League. His acting style, equal parts cogent and quirky, earned acclaim. Many were intrigued by an actor who didn’t operate within the traditional parameters of gender identity.
With his latest film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald topping the box office, Miller promoted the film with a cover shoot in Playboy. Rocking heels, Playboy Bunny ears and floral nightgowns, Miller earned praise online for his gender-bending looks.
Then, the following tweet surfaced online and gained traction.
he made a documentary about Mike Brown’s murder from the perspective of the officer who shot him https://t.co/Mmjla9ymtT
— hikikomori povich (@SarahSahim) November 16, 2018
In 2015, Ezra Miller and Sol Guy, a Black filmmaker and Black Lives Matter activist, directed a film called The Truth According To Darren Wilson. The narrative, which was a part of the Tribeca Film Festival’s series, The Scene, is told from the perspective of Darren Wilson, a police officer who murdered unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014.
“Racism is alive and well in America; it’s the foundation upon which the country was born. The horror and injustice of this death are undeniable,” Miller and Guy state on Tribeca’s website. “However, our outrage and surprise, our desire to point at this murder, isolate it and choose a side reveals the comfort that we possess in holding onto the pain that we’ve been prescribed.”
Miller and Guy also stated the film’s intent. “This film is not about picking a side, this is about recognition of the fear that we all possess and the need for us to chart a new course,” they said.
In an age where a sitting President states “very fine people on both sides” and there was “violence on many sides” in response to a white supremacy rally where an anti-racist protestors was killed by a white supremacist, embracing terms like “sides” when a cop kills a Black teenager is problematic for a variety of reasons. It implies empathy for police officers who enact state sanctioned violence against innocent Black people; it humanizes the killers and implies subjectivity in an issue that is entirely objective. In the matter of police brutality, there are no “sides,” there is simply “right” and “wrong.”
Regardless of Miller and Guy’s intent, giving a platform to the man who murdered a Black teenager humanizes him and will ultimately lead to people to emphasize with him. And who does that serve?