How Long You Have to Wait to Forgive Racist or Homophobic Celebrities

January 16th 2016

Shawn Binder

Over the weekend “Modern Family” star, Ariel Winter, called out Nash Grier, when he asked his fans to post their favorite videos of him under the hashtag #FavNashVid.

Do you know what a Nash Grier is?

If you’re not familiar with the celebrity world of small white men getting famous for six second videos, allow me to catch you up. Nash Grier is an 18-year-old internet celebrity who pays his bills by filming himself doing things like smashing vinyl records with a baseball bat — captioning it with “record breaker.” If it sounds dumb, consider that he has 12.4 million followers on the social media app Vine. You read that right, 12.4 million.

Clearly, Winter is not a fan of Grier’s work. The modern family star responded to his call with:

The vine Winter is referencing came out almost three years ago in 2013 and featured a then 16-year-old Grier expressing his belief that HIV is a "gay thing" even including the slur "fag,” in the clip.

Related: Ariel Winter Calls out Vine Star Nash Grier's "Homophobic" Past

Since then, Grier has attempted to push past the controversy, even coming forward to apologize for his comments by stating:

As a gay man, I never thought I would be standing up for a young man like Grier, but that is exactly what I am doing. It is time for us to forgive young celebrities for the insensitive comments they made years ago. After all, wouldn’t you want to be forgiven if someone were holding a camera to your face all the time to capture your every mistake?

We exist in an age where our every move is documented with the digital footprints we leave behind. If we’re not tweeting about our day, we’re Snap Chatting our brunch plates or Instagramming our outfits of the day.

As honorable as Winter’s intentions were, we have to allow everyone who grows up online a little room to evolve. Even though Grier has since apologized about his comments and may no longer feel the same way about HIV and gay people as he did in 2013, the memory of his words are embedded literally forever into the fabric of the web.

In 2014, actor Jonah Hill admitted to using a “disgusting” homophobic slur on a paparazzi. After becoming enraged, the “Moneyball” actor screamed "Suck my d---, you f-----” at the photographer who was allegedly egging the star on. The internet reacted quickly and vehemently, branding Hill a homophobe.

Jonah Hill Homophobic Slur

Only instead of letting it define himself, Hill publicly apologized on Howard Stern’s radio show stating:

“I played into exactly what he wanted and lost my cool and in that moment I said a disgusting word that does not at all reflect how I feel about any group of people."

Was Hill completely in the wrong for using that type of language? Absolutely. But should it ensure he is branded as a homophobe for the rest of his career? No.

The point being is that while the internet is forever, people change. Young Vine stars like Grier have grown up in front of the camera. If you can look back at your life at 16, you’ll probably recall that your world-views and PC sentimentality were not as informed and empathetic as they are now. And while we’ve been allowed to morph and change without the keen scrutiny of millions of people watching our every word, celebrities are often not allowed to do the same. The mistakes we make online in the past should not be a litmus test of our moral compasses as people for the rest of our lives.