Muse Reporting on the arts and culture

King James angers his subjects

Media | The NBA’s biggest star infuriates some by coddling China
by Loren Skinker
Posted 10/18/19, 04:40 pm

Basketball star LeBron James waded into the international controversy over the NBA’s relationship with China this week. At a news conference Monday, the player known as “King James” to his fans, said Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s now-deleted tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters earlier this month was “misinformed” and “uneducated.”

“Yes, we do have freedom of speech,” James said in response to a question about Morey. “But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself.” He said Morey’s tweet could have harmed others “not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually.”

James did not specify which “others” could have gotten hurt by Morey’s tweet. The protesters whom Morey was supporting have endured police brutality as they try to stave off China’s increasing limits on their freedom in the semi-autonomous territory.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., called James’ concern about the welfare of individuals “garbage.” He tweeted that “people ARE being harmed—shot, beaten, gassed—right now in Hong Kong.”

Hawley, who recently returned from Hong Kong, challenged “King James” to come down from his throne: “LeBron, are YOU educated on ‘the situation’? Why don’t you go to Hong Kong? Why don’t you meet the people there risking their lives for their most basic liberties.”

Hong Kong protesters expressed their outrage by burning and stomping on the Los Angeles Lakers player’s jersey and chanting profanity directed at him. James has since tried to “clear up the confusion” with a pair of tweets. He said he wasn’t “discussing the substance” of the Hong Kong protests but explaining how people should count the costs before vocalizing a thought or acting upon a decision.

Protesters in Hong Kong pointed out the hypocrisy of James’ statements given the fact he frequently uses his public platform as a stage for social advocacy. “Our Lives Begin To End The Day We Become Silent About Things That Matter,” he tweeted in 2018.

William Mok, a 36-year-old office worker and protester in Hong Kong, reminded the NBA of its supportive history for human rights activism.

“Please remember, all NBA players, what you said before: ‘Black lives matter,’” Mok said to a cheering crowd. “Hong Kong lives also matter!”

Another protester, 26-year-old marketing director Aaron Lee, had a more pragmatic response. “He was being honest, financially,” Lee said. “LeBron James stands for money. Period.”

But James and the NBA might eventually find their pandering to China was not worth the trouble. Forbes contributor Dan Reed pointed out that China has a history of partnering with U.S. companies for as long as it takes to learn the secrets of their success and then casting them aside: “James and the rest of the NBA may learn, soon enough, that the mine in China that they think will yield them endless riches really contains only fool’s gold.”

Associated Press/Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision Associated Press/Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision Robert Forster at the ArcLight Theatre in Los Angeles

Forster remembered as cool, lovely, and kind

Actor Robert Forster died of brain cancer on Oct. 11, the same day his latest movie was released on Netflix. He was 78.

Forster possessed the talent to don the hat of virtually any character, and he left remarkable impressions on people with whom he had little interaction. He played a key supporting role in the newly released Netflix movie El Camino, a standalone continuation of the hit A&E drama Breaking Bad.

Forster appeared in just one of the 66 episodes of the original Breaking Bad, but his performance left the show’s creator and director, Vince Gilligan, starstruck. “He was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met,” Gilligan told Entertainment Weekly. “He reminded me of my dad. He always did.”

Others in Hollywood made similar remarks about their time with Forster. Breaking Bad stars Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston described him as a “beautiful” and “lovely” man, respectively.

His performance as Max Cherry, a bail bondsman in pursuit of love in the 1997 movie Jackie Brown, earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. He also played the disappointed and frustrated father of Lee Strobel in the 2017 movie The Case for Christ. Strobel was an atheist journalist for The Chicago Tribune who became a believer while on a mission to disprove Christianity. The real-life Strobel tweeted this remembrance of Forster after his death: “After filming [the] scene for The Case for Christ in which my dad told me he didn’t love me, actor Robert Forster stayed in character as my dad, put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ It was such a kind and healing moment.” —L.S.

Associated Press/Photo by Mark Humphrey Associated Press/Photo by Mark Humphrey Lauren Daigle at the Dove Awards in Nashville on Tuesday

Entertainment notes

  • Violence at the home of actor Ron Ely, who starred in the 1960s TV show Tarzan, ended with the death of his wife and son on Tuesday. Cameron Ely, 30, allegedly stabbed his mother to death before police shot and killed him in a confrontation outside the family’s house in Hope Ranch, Calif.
  • Contemporary Christian music singer Lauren Daigle, who has found crossover success on pop radio, dominated the Dove Awards on Tuesday. She won artist of the year, album of the year for Look Up, Child, and song of the year for “You Say.”
  • In Muse last month, I noted that DreamWorks’ Abominable “sounds like little more than visually dazzling tourism ad for China.” Sure enough, controversy arose this week over how the film pandered to the communist government. A map in one scene shows China controlling a disputed area of the South China Sea. Vietnam pulled the movie from theaters because of the map, and Malaysia has censored the scene. —Lynde Langdon
Loren Skinker

Loren is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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