Josh Thomas Has Apologised For His “Gross” Comments And Casual Racism In A Resurfaced Video
"In [the clip], I am being a really dumb, illogical, insensitive idiot and it's gross."
Comedian and actor Josh Thomas has apologised for racist remarks he made about the struggles in hiring non-white actors during a 2016 panel discussion.
The re-surface clip was shared to Twitter by activist, actor and writer Moreblessing Maturure in response to the backlash that Thomas was getting regarding his tweet calling for the rebranding of Coon cheese.
“Has anyone told Josh Thomas that 44:00 onwards of this SOH ‘The Writer’s Room’ is infamous in many-a rooms/masterclasses?,” Maturure wrote. “The short hand is ‘Don’t be The Josh™️ of the room.’ Anyway, ‘Aus entertainment is Supremacist’ is barely a hot take, so xoxo.”
4 the fans, this is my favourite snippet mainly because of Dan Harmon’s facial reaction to “Its easier in the States” pic.twitter.com/zNDczm645B
— Moreblessing Maturure (@MoreblessingMa) June 14, 2020
In the clip, the Please Like Me creator sits on a panel with three other white writers and actors —Community and Rick & Morty creator Dan Harmon, Celia Pacquola and Luke McGregor — as they discuss diversity in writing rooms and on-screen.
“This is going to sound racist,” Thomas started. “But most immigrants in Australia have come pretty recently and, generally, first or second-generation immigrants don’t want to be actors. They have real jobs.”
Going further, Josh Thomas then spoke about the difficulty in hiring actors to fill stereotypes.
“The other thing about making a television show that I didn’t know about, that I found quite confronting, is that because you have to pick every person in the show, it’s like, ‘Josh, what do you want the 7/11 worker to look like?’” Thomas continued.
“And it’s like, ‘Um. Do you make them Indian? Or is that offensive?’ Or then if you make them white — is that a bit like you’re lying, really,” Josh giggled. “What answer is not offensive?”
Adding an American perspective to the chat, Dan Harmon explained that he has diversity in his writer’s room, to which Thomas replied: “It’s easier in the states.”
“Finding people who have been given the same opportunities where they then get to go and be great at acting is really hard,” Thomas continued. “Finding an experienced actor that’s not white is really hard. We want to be more diverse but this person doesn’t have as much experience as this person… [and] you don’t want to be favouring people when they’re not going to do a good job.”
In response, Harmon simply said: “In the states, the answer is you have to look harder.”
Almost immediately after the clip was shared online, people began voicing their disgust at Thomas’ attitudes and started discussing the problems with diversity on Australian screens.
Mainly, people called out Josh Thomas’ idea that actors and writers of colour with no experience shouldn’t be given a shot. It seemed like a strange point to make when Josh himself had no acting experience for Please Like Me, nor did some of his white friends hired for supporting roles.
Josh Thomas, with no acting experience, wrote himself the lead role in his show and cast his white friends (also not actors) in the same show. But ok sure people (of colour) should only be hired if they come with extensive experience!!!!
— Brodie Lancaster (@brodielancaster) June 15, 2020
Josh Thomas: how can I, an inexperienced white actor who got to make my own show and who cast another inexperienced white actor in said show, possibly cast an inexperienced black/brown/Asian actor ¯_(ツ)_/¯
— Imperator ACAB 💜🤍🖤 (@imperatorelan) June 15, 2020
I’d never written a script until I did @ABCIndigenous Black Comedy, I never acted until @RyanJGriffen’s Cleverman. I’d never written Animation until @Joshstrangehill gave me a shot for @disenchantment. Sometimes all people need is a shot, it’s not hard.
— Senator Briggs (@Briggs) June 15, 2020
Moreover, people found that Josh Thomas only talking about POC actors when it came to typecasting to be concerning. Cleverman actor Hunter Page-Lochard even weighed in on the conversation and explained that non-white actors are very capable of playing lead roles, and not just stereotypical positions on screen.
Writer and actor Michelle Law then took the opportunity to highlight that these mindsets from people who appear to be supportive are more damaging than outright racists. Inadvertently blocking opportunities for POC on screen through a stereotypical lens only helps contribute to the lack of diversity in Australian media, which Josh Thomas complains about in the resurfaced clip.
The problem isn’t whether it’s offensive to cast an Indian as the shop clerk. The problem is that the Indian isn’t cast as the lead going to the shop. Just Because that stereotype is realistic to him doesn’t mean it needs to be the norm. And there’s so many white shops clerks? pic.twitter.com/STTAovmSmL
— Hunter Page-Lochard (@hunterpage) June 15, 2020
The reason that Josh Thomas video is so disturbing is that people we think are on our side are not. White moderates are more dangerous than outright racists.
— Michelle Law (@ms_michellelaw) June 15, 2020
In response to all the backlash, Josh Thomas released a statement on Twitter this morning addressing his behaviour.
Starting his apology, Thomas recognised that “in [the clip], I am being a really dumb, illogical, insensitive idiot and it’s gross.”
“I’m super ashamed of the comments I made, and would like to apologise,” he continued. “Authentic diversity in casting (and behind the scenes) is something that is really important to me, and that has been important to me for a long time.”
“The conversation about why the casting process in Australia is structured to keep out people who aren’t white and straight, with symmetrical faces and no body fat percentage is an important one to have,” he concluded. “But the answers I offered in this clip are in no way constructive or correct. I am committed to doing better.”
— Josh Thomas (@JoshThomas87) June 15, 2020