PBS - Finding Your Roots - Ben Affleck embarrasment

They could have drawn some interesting contrasts between the slave owning ancestor and Affleck’s mom who marched for civil rights. One generation trying to change a wrong embraced by another.

But he was a coward. Too afraid to face the truth.

Genealogy often uncovers family secrets. Unwed moms, criminals, slave owners. Things long forgotten. I never worried about it. What my ancestors did (good or bad) does not define who I am.

But just look at them! Why would they need to rape anyone?!

I guess I don’t watch enough Entertainment news. Had no idea Affleck was such a hated lefty elitist smug bastard.

Well that’s a little strong. I don’t think many people hate him.

Meh, its nobody’s god damn business. I wouldn’t volunteer the fact I had an ancestor who owned slaves, even if it came up directly and was asked point blank. I would do that because I would be ashamed of and for them. Everyone alive has total bastard ancestors, when they’re talked about at all it’s almost always in reverence or as a portion of ones identity. Culturally that is how we think of our personal heritage and when it can’t be forgotten I think it leads groups of people to pretty dark places where history gets rewritten and equivocation happens to cold historical facts.

Ben Affleck is a famous actor, he’s does interviews all the time to promote his projects. Being in the public eye is his job, and it’s an interviewers job to repetitively ask questions with moronically obvious answers.

Would you want to address this crap for the next couple of years?

At a cocktail party or Junior League Key Party or whatever not bringing up slave owning ancestors would be a perfectly reasonable request, but if you agreed to go on a show that was specifically to talk about your ancestors, it would seem a fair point to bring up.

I choose not to bring it up quite frequently even when it is relevant, such as when (and this is fairly frequently) I meet a black person with the same unusual surname and from the same small geographic area as my mother or one of my grandparents. “Oh really? My grandparents were Rawlinsons from Dutch Bend, Alabama, maybe your family and mine were… um… worked together and lived very near each other!”


And this.

And this.

This is one of the problems with political correctness and liberal-think. Affleck would think what, his lefty friends in Hollywood would look down on him? I guess if he was related to John Brown, he’d put that info on a poster and slap it up all over Hollywood and Boston?

This reminds me of the crap that occurred in Spielberg’s Lincoln. Spielberg changed the names of democratic politicians that voted against the 13th amendment to save their present-day families from the embarrassment.

Seriously? You re-wrote the historical record on a vote because that vote would indicate a Democrat voted against the slavery amendment?

There is no good word for revisionist history. I don’t care about Affleck (or anyone else) having slave-owners in their past… It isn’t like you can actually DO anything about it. It is what it is. Just like if you have a criminal or any other unsavory character.

I have no problem with Affleck wanting to keep this info private, but I think it’s the chicken-shit way to go. And in my opinion, if you are a celebrity and you are signing up for a geneology search TV show, then live with the results. Because having a slave owner for a great great great grandfather is the only reason to watch it. Why would anyone care if Affleck’s relatives did nothing in the history of this country?

Another reason to conclude Affleck is the douche-bag most people think he is. If you don’t just watch his video with Jennifer Lopez.

I doubt that it has anything to do with preserving a Liberal image. More likely, it’s purely a matter that it’s a subject which, if the person’s response is in any way comes across wrong, could have severe repercussions on their marketability as an actor. I could easily see Affleck’s agent telling him to pass up doing the episode just because the risk (however remote) simply isn’t worth losing a 20 million dollar movie deal, or whatever.

Just be glad we’ll all be dead by the time our descendants are on this show, raiding the Cloud for our amature porn.

It didn’t negatively affect the careers of any other celebrities who were told they had slaveowning ancestors, including Anderson Cooper and Ken Burns. This wouldn’t even be a story if it hadn’t been censored. We have emails proving Affleck asked the show to censor it, and by his own admission he was embarrassed by it.

I can’t understand why anyone would be embarrassed about the actions of an ancestor, why would you it isn’t like you had any control over it!

People should be ashamed of their actions, not those of a gene donor long dead.

Meh. It’s just the Usual Suspects dropping in to leave a turd of an opinion.

This is why I don’t have much interest in my ancestors, good or bad.

I got on Ancestry.com for a while, but didn’t get too far back. Partly because you have to pay a monthly access fee to get all the info and it’s a bit pricey. But admittedly also partly because I wasn’t finding anything too exciting. I envisioned a commercial with a sad-sack looking individual glumly saying: “I got on Ancestry.com and found…nothing. Nobody in my family tree ever did anything interesting. I come from a long line of boring losers…”
As for Ben Affleck, I really don’t see anything elitist or smug about not wanting to make public a dirty family secret like that. I wouldn’t want that being made public if I were in his place, and I doubt very much that any of you out there would want it known that you are a descendent of a person who got rich treating other human beings like cattle. That doesn’t make him a “smug liberal Hollyweird”, it shows that he has a conscience.

As for the show itself, the purpose of it is to get people interested in looking into their own family trees, and perhaps get interested in learning a little more about history in general. So sure they are going to lean heavily towards a positive spin; they want to encourage people to dig into their own backgrounds, not scare them away. Seeing a story of a person who finds out their ancestors were anti-nazi freedom fighters is definitely going to appeal to a mass audience and inspire people more than a story where someone finds out their great-great-grandfather herded Jews into a gas oven.

I can see why it is embarrassing but why is Ben Affleck personally responsible for the fact that his ancestor who is long dead, for having been a slave owner?

If my great paternal grandfather was a rapist and a murderer or total scumbag, I would certainly not be proud of it. But I doubt anyone would judge or hold me responsible for said dead relatives’ actions and lifestyles.

I don’t blame Affleck for being embarrassed. If he was a conservative, he could take pride in his slave-owning ancestors.

How is this a story?

As a scandal, it’s a nothingburger. As a reflection of US race relations, it is somewhat diverting.

Most people feel that way. I’ve spoken to some who don’t though: they think family heritage says something about them. Celebrities have to keep the numbskulls in mind, as they are part of their market.

Ken Burns is a director. Anderson Cooper is a newscaster. Ben Affleck is an actor who has to promote his films. He didn’t want to be asked about this slaveowning ancestors a bazzilion times: his publicist probably advised him that it would take him off message.

The 3 celebrities are really in different fields.

Frankly if Affleck didn’t want to reveal a portion of his ancestry, I can’t see that it’s anybody’s business. But I don’t read the tabloids anyway.

Stupid? Sure. But human. A relative of mine was proud of her ancestors and thought I should be too. OTOH and frankly, the idea of owning another person is so mortifying, that I’m afraid I have to place myself as a member of the appalled, irrational though it may be. (On the plus side, another distant ancestor might have been a pirate. Easier to contemplate.)

I have ancestors that were slaveowners. I assume that everyone in the South that could afford at least one slave did so. People who have actually studied history please correct me if I’m wrong. I also have ancestors that were sharecroppers. I don’t see how either affects me more than a century later. It’s like the bit of highway named after a judge ancestor of mine. A little bit interesting, but of no real importance.