Samuel L. Jackson has once again gone postal on someone, but this time it was not a scene from a movie. Mr. Jackson was taken aback on a recent Monday morning, when Entertainment news anchor Sam Rubin fumbled his identity by confusing him with well known actor Laurence Fishburne. Although more than likely this is not the first time that an actor has been the victim of a media fumble when it comes to their identity, it was certainly one of the most entertaining and awkward occurrences in recent memory.
During the entertainment segment of KTLA’s morning show, Mr. Rubin proceeded to ask Mr. Jackson about his recent commercial in this years Superbowl, at which point Mr. Jackson rolls his eyes up as if to recall said commercial. He then became visibly irritated with the reporter and launched into a tirade asking, “What Commercial?” Suffice it to say it all went down hill from there.
Although Jackson appeared on the morning show to discuss his role in the new RoboCop movie, after the reporter’s gaffe, he was clearly not interested in returning to that particular subject and proceeded to give the visibly embarrassed Rubin a thorough thrashing, stating at one point “We do not all look alike!” Jackson pointed out that he had in fact not done a commercial (although he was featured in a clip from the RoboCop movie that was shown) and that he was the “What’s in your wallet” black guy. It was almost painful to watch Rubin attempt to steer the interview back to the original topic, but it was apparent that Jackson was having none of it.
This incident certainly begs the obvious question, was the mistake another instance of racial profiling, but of the media/entertainment variety? Mr. Jackson certainly seemed to think so as he adamantly refused to just let the error go even after Rubin repeatedly attempted to get back on topic. There is no question that Jackson is a well seasoned actor with a myriad of credits under his belt and he is certainly quite well known the world over from his roles in several block buster movies. But apparently it is not enough to be something of a household name in Hollywood when one can be so easily confused with someone else. Albeit Laurence Fishburne is certainly a well known actor as well, but does the fact that they are men of color make a significant difference? Would Rubin make such a fumble with Leonardo DiCaprio confusing him with say, Jude Law? Perhaps. Then again, perhaps not.
With all the hundreds of actors gracing our screens at any given moment, it can be quite easy to mistake one for another. But that is a mistake to be made by the general public and not a news anchor on a popular morning show, especially during a live segment. There is always a margin of error, but with all of the sophisticated tools and resources at the disposal of these news outlets, that margin should be very small indeed. Yes, Samuel L. Jackson was indeed the latest victim of a media fumble, but he certainly made sure that the next reporter to interview him does his homework. It is hopeful that this awkward incident serves as a wake up call to the media and other Hollywood execs. Black actors certainly do not all look alike, but neither do actors of any other race.
By Mai Nowlin