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Universal Studios Fires ‘Despicable Me’ Mascot Over ‘White Power’ Hand Signal
By Mikelle Leow, 03 Oct 2019
Image via Sarunyu L / Shutterstock.com
Viewers who have watched a video captured at Universal Orlando are appalled at a despicable-seeming move pulled by a costumed actor.
As first reported by USA Today, the footage comes from Tiffiney Zinger, who attended a breakfast event with her family at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, one of Universal’s accommodation facilities.
The mother was looking through photos snapped at their vacation to use for her daughter’s second grade class project, but stopped in her tracks when she came across some pictures of an actor dressed as Gru from Despicable Me, posing with an upside-down “OK” hand signal on her six-year-old daughter’s shoulder.
The gesture has been recognized by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as a “hate symbol” denoting white power.
The ADL explained in a press release that the OK sign is a “popular trolling tactic” that recently gained traction “in some circles as a sincere expression of white supremacy.”
“Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant flashed the symbol during his March 2019 courtroom appearance soon after his arrest for allegedly murdering 50 people in mosques in Christchurch,” it added.
The subtle move was not apparent to the family at the time, and they only took notice of what it might have meant after looking through the photos.
Zinger, whose daughter is biracial and autistic, said it was difficult having to tell the girl that they had no good pictures from the event to show off for her project.
“We just wanted to take them to see the Minions…” said Zinger, who is black while her husband is white. “This person ruined that special warm feeling.”
Upon scrolling through their smartphone galleries, Zinger and her husband found that the character kept the signal consistent throughout the photo op.
Internet users are convinced that the gesture was deliberate.
“That was so beyond intentional. Wow,” one Facebook user responded. “That’s no accident,” said another.
On the other end of the spectrum, some believe the intention of the actor was blown out of proportion. “Hey baby boomers, it’s a joke we play, it’s not a hate crime,” one person wrote. “You make someone look at [the signal]. If they look, you bunch [them] in the shoulder.”
As a result of the family’s upsetting experience, the resort has let go of the actor. Tom Schroder, a representative of Universal Orlando Resort, confirmed with USA Today that the employee “no longer works here.”
“We never want our guests to experience what this family did,” said the spokesperson. “This is not acceptable and we are sorry.”
Schroder detailed that the resort is taking extra measures to ensure the incident doesn’t repeat itself, and that it is in contact with the family to hopefully “make this right.”
[via USA Today, cover image via Sarunyu L / Shutterstock.com]
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