Allison Williams may play a racist girlfriend in the film Get Out, and now she’s gone and acted like one at the MTV Movie & TV Awards, too. While presenting the Best Kiss award on Sunday night, Williams took the stage with her Get Out co-star Lil Rey Howery and made some v. offensive “jokes” about what she can do to win back the trust of black men. Yes that’s correct, the 29-year-old Girls alum tried to prove she’s not anything like her racist character by making racist remarks.
“What do I have to do to get back the trust?” Williams asked Howery, who played along with the bit by inching away from her as if he was scared. If that question wasn’t enough of a face-palm moment, Williams then suggested some ideas: lobbying to make it illegal for white people to ask black people if they can touch their hair; changing George Washington’s face to Denzel Washington’s on Mount Rushmore (so original); and trying to get Beyoncé’s Lemonade off Tidal and onto Spotify. Really Williams? You think decades of racism and white supremacy can be fixed by streaming some Queen B?
While Howery eventually agreed to her final suggestion—which finally got her to stop talking—the internet was not impressed by her poor taste.
Update: am now sitting on the floor watching Allison Williams make race jokes https://t.co/holn7Fm5In
— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) May 8, 2017
Allison Williams saying yes to the “lets make playful racist jokes” bit for the MTV awards BLOWS ME AWAY
— Kelly Keegs (@kellykeegs) May 8, 2017
Apart from causing everyone to feel hella uncomfortable, Williams’s comments were the worst way to introduce Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome—two male actors of colour—who won Best Kiss for their smooch in Moonlight. It was a monumental moment that celebrated a same-sex relationship in a powerful black coming-of-age film, and it didn’t need to be clouded by a white actor’s bad judgement. Given the fact that it was the first year MTV got rid of gendered categories, the progressive theme of the show was really overshadowed by Williams’s discrimination and racial tropes.
While it’s safe to assume there was a team of writers prepping Williams’s script, she should have known better than to just go along with the shtick—especially since Get Out tackles the subject of racial tension in the United States. Williams has even said that she hopes the acclaimed film will help people understand what discrimination feels like and spark an important conversation about racism. But if her behaviour last night was any indication of what she thinks is socially acceptable, she might need to find another way to prove she wasn’t just playing a character.