Beyonce. Shaunie O’Neil. Tyler Perry. Gabrielle Union. Kim Kardashian. Heck, all the Kardashians.
You probably know someone who hates someone on that list. Maybe it’s you. But you don’t know these people. They’re simply folks on the TV or the movie screen. Yet, just the mere utterance of their names sends you into the throws of delicious hate.
People (typically their fans) will say you’re jealous or were touched as a child because HOW ELSE could you hate someone/something/some celebrity for no reason? What did Kim Kardashian ever do to you, really? She’s in Hollywood and you live in Lubbock. But everyone hates something for no reason. It’s human nature. Even that person telling you to be ashamed for your irrational hatred for virtual strangers. They hate someone. Heck, they’re hoping you bring their name up right now, just so they can go into a raunchy, punchy rant that sends their endorphins popping and get their eyes a-blazing. There is something visceral and cathartic about just going in on something you truly despise.
For me, it’s Taye Diggs.
I have no real reason to not like Taye Diggs, and yet, I do not like him. And the hatred is old school. I’ve disliked him since the 1999 film “The Wood” where I found his character cowardly and perhaps conflated that pathetic character with the actor. Or maybe it was “The Best Man,” which also came out in 1999, where Diggs played a similar character but director Malcolm D. Lee for some sick reason wanted me to find him attractive and desirable. I only wanted to see Morris Chestnut punch him the face. Even if it was for a trumped up, made up, rom com reason.
Then came interviews and the feeling that Diggs was being forced on me by every magazine in existence in the early 2000s. That he was handsome, that he was a Broadway actor, that I SHOULD like him because he is so infinitely likeable and handsome. Yet I did not like him. It only made me dig in my heels deeper. But my marginal dislike did not turn into pure, irrational, blindly stupid hate until a rage inducing Tom Ford edited edition of Vanity Fair came out in March 2006. It was the Hollywood issue and it was already sexist and problematic as nearly every woman in it was naked whether she was an actress or just some naked, disembodied model ordered to hold her bare legs near Topher Grace’s face. Only two black people were featured in this clusterf**k and BOTH were naked. One was actress Joy Bryant who had the misfortune of being titled “The Wild Honey” and the other was Taye Diggs, who they had the nerve to call “The Centerfold.”
NO OTHER MALE ACTOR WAS NAKED IN THIS PIECE. (They did tie up Eric Bana, Japanese bondage fetish-style, though. But he was in a full suit.)
But Taye Diggs. The black guy. And they had him on a bearskin rug. And they called him “The Centerfold.” Students of historical racial studies, let your brains go ahead and explode. Dude was treated like a lady and they treated all the ladies like a piece of ass, therefore the black man in the Hollywood issue was also reduced to being mere ass.
Now maybe, just maybe, probably, more than likely, he had no idea Tom Ford was going to treat every white man in that issue like a vagina-destroying captain of industry and nearly every woman (save Dakota Fanning because she was a CHILD) like a pair of wet naked boobs. So when it was suggested that he get naked he was thinking SURELY some other dude will be shirtless or something, right? It’s not just going to be me, pages of white women, poor Joy Bryant and me, the one other black person, reduced to eye candy for the male gaze? Right? He couldn’t have known that.
Yet, it was on, after that. It was so on.
Other things happened that he did that annoyed me. That single dad show that didn’t last two seconds on the former UPN. That other show where he had to live the same day over and over. His character on “Private Practice.” But nothing ever topped that Vanity Fair issue.
But all my nonsensical dislike was strangely validated on day when during an episode of “Ugly Betty” Vanessa Williams’ character moaned “What is it with white women and Taye Diggs?” And I was like, SEE? SEE! Someone who writes for “Ugly Betty” feels the same as I do. Why do people think he’s hot? What’s so special about him? Phfffffiittt. He’s not so great. And of all the hot black men in Hollywood TV executives could have forced on me, they chose him.
I admit, freely, that my hatred has no point. And it is likely immature and petty and Taye probably shouldn’t take it personal because he’s wealthy, has a great and talented wife, a cute kid and a good, long career which most black actors typically can’t depend on in Hollywood.