Universal Orlando actor fired after flashing hate symbol

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Nicole

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I just want to point out some context that is being overlooked here: the child is biracial. Regardless of the intent, which we simply can’t know with the data we have, the judgement of the actor is appalling. There is simply no excuse for using an ambiguous symbol, which has a well-known association with racism, when posing with a child of color at a theme park. Honestly, I can’t imagine the character actors are allowed to use any symbol that could be interpreted as racist, given the inevitable blowback to the company.

Edit: symbols for “butthole” are equally inappropriate for a character dine.
 

Jonesta6

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I guess I'm in the dark with the intent on the symbol before reading any of this - I would think he's just playing a dumb game (kind of like punch-buggy). Had no idea it could mean butthole or racist whatever.
 

Mushroom

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Regardless of the intent, which we simply can’t know with the data we have, the judgement of the actor is appalling. There is simply no excuse for using an ambiguous symbol, which has a well-known association with racism, when posing with a child of color at a theme park.
I think you may jumping to conclusions in assuming the actor used poor judgement in using the symbol. Considering the ambiguity of the gesture, it’s entirely possible he simply didn’t know it has been associated with racists. I reviewed the ADL’s entry regarding the gesture and, contrary to what’s been purported in this thread, the entry explains that the symbol is NOT a black-and-white hate symbol, but rather that care should be taken to evaluate its meaning.

ADL said:
Because of the traditional meaning of the “okay” hand gesture, as well as other usages unrelated to white supremacy, particular care must be taken not to jump to conclusions about the intent behind someone who has used the gesture.
Link

Are we seriously to expect a low-level lineworker to be aware of the recent political connotations of what the ADL still considers to be, in many contexts, a benign hand gesture? As @Zachary and @Lolers said, maybe he violated a more general rule against making hand gestures, in which case the firing is justified from a technical and PR standpoint. But to attribute the gesture to “appalling” judgement, when it can just as easily be attributed to an innocent unawareness of the connotation, is unfair in my opinion.
 

Thomas

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Maybe the character he was playing is racist and he’s really devoted to the role? Sounds like a reason for promotion not termination.
 
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Nicole

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I think you may jumping to conclusions in assuming the actor used poor judgement in using the symbol. Considering the ambiguity of the gesture, it’s entirely possible he simply didn’t know it has been associated with racists. I reviewed the ADL’s entry regarding the gesture and, contrary to what’s been purported in this thread, the entry explains that the symbol is NOT a black-and-white hate symbol, but rather that care should be taken to evaluate its meaning.


Link

Are we seriously to expect a low-level lineworker to be aware of the recent political connotations of what the ADL still considers to be, in many contexts, a benign hand gesture? As @Zachary and @Lolers said, maybe he violated a more general rule against making hand gestures, in which case the firing is justified from a technical and PR standpoint. But to attribute the gesture to “appalling” judgement, when it can just as easily be attributed to an innocent unawareness of the connotation, is unfair in my opinion.
I think you misunderstood my point.

I specifically said we cannot know intent.

My point is that using a symbol, in an official capacity at a theme park event, that could be reasonably interpreted either as racist or to mean “butthole,” especially when posing with a biracial child, shows a complete lack of judgement.
 
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phurst

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After watching the video, I think it's safe to conclude he's not displaying the traditional "ok" symbol. Additionally, the way he is displaying it, is VERY similar to the way it is used in cases where the meaning is undeniably "white power". Whatever his intent, I guarantee he violated company policy by doing it.
 

Mushroom

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@Nicole Likewise, I believe you misunderstood my point. My point is that the actor could not possibly have exercised judgement against the symbol if he or she was unaware of its negative meanings. As ADL points out, not everyone is aware the gesture can be associated with racism. So, I think your assertion that the symbol can be “reasonably” interpreted as racist is a false assumption.
 
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Nicole

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I’ll concede that point.

Let me modify my position.

It is bad judgement to use any symbol in that circumstance. There is no need and it has the potential to send messages that you don’t mean. And it is unprofessional.

Edit: I deleted before I saw that you had responded. I undeleted it.
 
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Mushroom

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Fair enough. I guess we could both agree the best solution is for Universal to prohibit hand gestures altogether, with acceptable ones like peace signs whitelisted. Happily, if the employee was just fired for violating an existing protocol against using hand gestures in general, maybe we can both agree that was the best possible outcome from the situation.
 

SukaUniFl

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I just want to point out some context that is being overlooked here: the child is biracial. Regardless of the intent, which we simply can’t know with the data we have, the judgement of the actor is appalling. There is simply no excuse for using an ambiguous symbol, which has a well-known association with racism, when posing with a child of color at a theme park. Honestly, I can’t imagine the character actors are allowed to use any symbol that could be interpreted as racist, given the inevitable blowback to the company.

Edit: symbols for “butthole” are equally inappropriate for a character dine.
Yes both you and @Zachary are correct in this mater and he needs to kick rocks, and be like Lee and press on. And Yes @Zachary after watching the video the little girl was not doing that motion that or throwing up gang signs, and since it was an actor thru Uni they should know and get stuff that is not allowed and even those gang signs or anything related to any thing gang, hate, discrimination et etc etc. IF you do anything that is the handbooks, weekly stuff thru UOTM pass outs that violates the company policy than yes. I know thru experience since I worked at the park but now transferred to a new job with Uni still, that they don't play with what is in the book. I have seen people get fired on their break in back stage area for giving gang related signs for saying at same time he is an OG Crip in Orlando. So yeah they don't play, and glad they gor rid of him and terminate him. We don't need team members offending or being disrespectful, they should be on stage up in the parks making the guest a pleasant time and immerse them into either the movies in the studios, or over at IOA and
 
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I guess I'm in the dark with the intent on the symbol before reading any of this - I would think he's just playing a dumb game (kind of like punch-buggy). Had no idea it could mean butthole or racist whatever.
I too was unaware that this symbol was considered offensive until the controversy around this photo. I also never knew it meant butthole but was aware of the game around tricking your friends to look at it.
 
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horsesboy

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Without knowing the actual policy of Universal it's impossible to know if his action actually violated policy in a form that would typically warrant firing. I have a hard time believing that every actor that made a unapproved signal has been fired but we also don't know any history on his part that might have caused this to rise to a more harsh level.

But that said I think it's important to read the full statement from the ADL on this sign. "The overwhelming usage of the “okay” hand gesture today is still its traditional purpose as a gesture signifying assent or approval. As a result, someone who uses the symbol cannot be assumed to be using the symbol in either a trolling or, especially, white supremacist context unless other contextual evidence exists to support the contention. Since 2017, many people have been falsely accused of being racist or white supremacist for using the “okay” gesture in its traditional and innocuous sense."

I would say that based on that that there is not enough here to KNOW the context for example was this the only kid he did to? This could quite possibly be a completely innocent case. Which again doesn't mean that Universal doesn't know something that we don't.
 

Zimmy

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Up front, I agree with Lolers and Nicole. We do not know intent or have enough back ground to serve as judge and jury. I am picking up a vibe here that I don't like, passive approval of racism. I feel like there are some who are very quick to wave off racist behavior. (if that is what it is) If the past few years have demonstrated anything, it is that bigots are everywhere and are far more bold then they used to be.

Now all that having been said.
Consider Occam's Razor, "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem." Latin for "More things should not be used than are necessary."
What our dear William was suggesting (within context) was that given two equal conclusions, the most simple is usually right.

So when looking at this image, is it simpler that this person is holding up an upside down Okay sign or that, in our current political climate he was try to get away with throwing up a quiet racist symbol while touching a bi-racial child?

I am not trying to be prescriptive here, but on the surface there seems no good reason for an okay sign, but a young person trying to troll or just being an asshole does seem likely...

Again without context we just don't know. But I think dancing around and all but saying, "everyone is too sensitve and needs to grow a spine" is, frankly bull shit.

People need to stop being bullies and acting as if it is their god given right to make other uncomfortable.
 
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I've debated saying something in this thread all day.

First, I'd like to echo most of what's already been covered so far: we don't know the whole story and specifically Universal's character rules. We don't know the worker's motive. We don't know shit. And I agree with all that. That being said, little is being said about what we do know.

What do we know? A biracial child had a picture taken with what is, or what is now, a symbol of hate on her shoulder. And I can't help but draw the conclusion most people commenting in this thread are, at best, being dismissive and inadvertently victim shaming. Or, at worst, excusing racist behavior. If I was in these parents shoes, I'd be stark raving mad and with good cause. I'm mad just thinking about it now.

Imagine for one second you pay money for a character experience only to come home and find your memory has been wrecked. Your child unwittingly part of some subversive, racial joke. Or maybe you can't imagine such a thing because you have no clue what it's like to deal with racism. Either way, it's a sad state of affairs.

Do I think the kid should be fired? I have no idea. But I feel for these parents. Man, that's got to suck - wondering when the next moment shit's going to go down. How many more memories will be destroyed? When's the next time? How many more next times are there? More than there should be.

Regardless of what you think the outcome should be of this specific story, if everyone treated each other better the world would be a better place and that seems lost. At least it does to me.
 

warfelg

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I want to believe in this case that Universal did their homework in talking to this cast member as well as co-workers. So I guess I'm with most other people I that there's a lot more than we know behind the scenes for us as the public see.

That being said on the gesture itself:
I know that the ASL group and backing isn't huge, but I'm surprised they didn't do more to push back against the white supremest usage of a symbol for "okay". Like, and I say this as a white middle aged (well, 35 in 10 days...is that middle aged??) male, I hate with some of this how careful I have to be with every little thing I do. Now I will say I have adjusted because I was someone that used the 'okay' symbol A LOT (golf professional, usually meaning it's good), and Have forced myself to adjust and give a thumbs up symbol.

Back to this situation:
Yes a family with a bi-racial child is going to be more sensitive to issues like this. And they should be. It's a serious matter. I kinda do lament certain aspect of the "cancel culture' and 'offended culture'; but this is not one of those cases.

But honest question her for someone who know more than I do - Why don't more costumed cast members wear gloves? It's something I noticed at Universal and Disney of some costumed characters that have a costume like this cast member did doesn't have gloves. Wouldn't it cut down on something like this?
 
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Applesauce

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Gru, is the only character I know of that doesn't have gloves, and just uses his bare hands, out side of the real people characters (Rapunzel & Doc Brown for example). I don't know why Gru doesn't wear gloves. But I don't think gloves would have prevented anything as Gru is a five fingered character, unlike Mickey who has four fingers. Gloves would just allow more people to play Gru in the long run, but even then an event like this could have still happened.
 

Lolers

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Up front, I agree with Lolers and Nicole. We do not know intent or have enough back ground to serve as judge and jury. I am picking up a vibe here that I don't like, passive approval of racism. I feel like there are some who are very quick to wave off racist behavior. (if that is what it is)
Not trying to be argumentative, but this sounds like rhetoric. I think this entire thread has been a wonderful example of how an objective discussion around what may or may not have been a racist gesture can take place without anyone attacking each other and labeling one another "racist" based on their desire to take a deeper, objective look into the situation. I'm a little confused by the term "passive approval of racism." What does that mean? I haven't seen anyone on this thread approving racism at all, either passively or directly.

If the past few years have demonstrated anything, it is that bigots are everywhere and are far more bold then they used to be.
The world has always been filled with plenty of racists and bigots, and unfortunately those words used to have far more power than they do today. Today, people are far more quick to label someone as a "racist" or "bigot" to the point where those words have begun to lose their meaning. How can society overcome racism and bigotry if the terms themselves have lost their power? An example of this is accusing those involved in an objective discussion of passive approval of racism. I'm a little confused how you came to that conclusion.

Now all that having been said.
Consider Occam's Razor, "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem." Latin for "More things should not be used than are necessary."
What our dear William was suggesting (within context) was that given two equal conclusions, the most simple is usually right.

So when looking at this image, is it simpler that this person is holding up an upside down Okay sign or that, in our current political climate he was try to get away with throwing up a quiet racist symbol while touching a bi-racial child?
I believe that, like statistics, Occam's Razor can be abused. Drawing conclusions based on simplicity of assumption is a dangerous thing, as is immediately inserting an individual human being into whatever the current political climate happens to exist, and then judging and/or labeling them based on an ever-changing societal construct formed substantially around a combination of flawed groupthink and a hunger for power. Regardless of the political climate, absolutely no one can know anyone else's thoughts or intentions, and drawing conclusions based on simplicity tends to lead to the pervasive mob mentality that exists today.

In this particular case, why would one possibility be more simple than the other? Why is the possibility of this actor not knowing this gesture is considered racist less simple than the possibility that he did it purposefully? I would imagine Universal would provide proper training about this sort of thing for this very reason - to remove the question of intent - because the question of intent is a very complex one that Occam's Razor can't solve.

Again without context we just don't know. But I think dancing around and all but saying, "everyone is too sensitive and needs to grow a spine" is, frankly bull shit.

People need to stop being bullies and acting as if it is their god given right to make other uncomfortable.
I don't think anyone in this thread has accused anyone else of being sensitive or needing to grow a spine. This thread has been extremely objective in my opinion. Unfortunately, it seems the ability of people to objectively consider that not everything people do or say is meant to make them uncomfortable has greatly declined as society's ability to objectively communicate has declined. If people learned how to understand each other, and accept that others are different from themselves (and that this is perfectly okay - ideal, even), maybe they wouldn't be so quick to jump to a conclusion that others are actively trying, or feel entitled, to make them uncomfortable. No one can know what another person is thinking or feeling, and empathy and compassion need to flow in all directions in order to be effective. Today's society seems to demand empathy and compassion for themselves while patently refusing to give the same to others.
 
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Lolers

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IWhat do we know? A biracial child had a picture taken with what is, or what is now, a symbol of hate on her shoulder. And I can't help but draw the conclusion most people commenting in this thread are, at best, being dismissive and inadvertently victim shaming. Or, at worst, excusing racist behavior. If I was in these parents shoes, I'd be stark raving mad and with good cause. I'm mad just thinking about it now.
As I wrote in my last post, I believe this thread has been an extremely objective discussion. Can you point to the portions of this thread from which you're drawing your conclusions? Because I've seen no one dismissing, victim shaming, or excusing racist behavior, and I'd like to know what I've been missing.
 
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