Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

This is 2019: Universal Orlando fires Gru mascot for flashing white power sign

Illustration for article titled This is 2019: Universal Orlando fires Gru mascot for flashing white power sign
Photo: Valerie Macon (Getty Images)

In what might be the most 2019 story of 2019, Universal Orlando has fired an employee for throwing a white power sign while posing for a photo with a biracial girl. Oh, but that’s not all. You see, according to USA Today, the employee was one of those costumed character people whose entire job is mingling with guests and taking photos with children (and adults with questionable priorities). His role: Gru, the tall, pointy-nosed character who lords over the annoying yellow Minions in Despicable Me. While posing for a photo with a six-year-old biracial girl, the Gru guy put his hand around her shoulder and formed the “OK” symbol that’s been co-opted by the alt-right to signify white power. It wasn’t until the girl’s family returned home and looked through their vacation photos that they noticed what happened. Their daughter, who also has autism, was hoping to use the photo for a class project, but her mother, Tiffany Zinger, was forced to explain to her child that it was not possible.


In an official statement, a representative for Universal Orlando Resort said the company fired the racist Gru guy, who is clearly a grade-A dumb-dumb in addition to being a racist dick. Like, your job is dressing up as a cartoon character beloved by children, and you probably really need the money because that is not a well-paying job, but you go and fuck it up by throwing your obnoxious white power hand-signs around in photographs. And now this child—an innocent little person with a worldview that has yet to be poisoned by all of this bullshit, your bullshit—has a damaged relationship with this thing they love very much. Who’s the real child here? Listen, your life already sucks because you’re a racist and your job is dressing up like Gru, of all things. Now your life extra sucks because you don’t have a job. Sick self-own, brah.

It’s ridiculous that we live in a world where alt-right shit heads take the OK hand-sign and turn it into something hateful. Back in my day, making the OK gesture was a game where you try to trick your friends into looking at it, and if they did you got to punch them in the arm real hard and we all had a good laugh. What is the warped thinking behind repurposing “OK” as “I am a racist d-bag”? Is it a metaphorical thing where the “punch” is “haha I hate people who aren’t white”? Beyond being senselessly cruel, that’s just a shitty joke.

Maybe it’s time to reclaim the OK gesture—maybe when you see an alt-right troll (or whatever fancy name racists are going by next year) throw down the OK gesture, you punch THEM in the arm. That’s not a threat. Just a suggestion. A fun thought experiment. Maybe.