GMA's Lara Spencer Apologizes - But Is It Too Late?
Reporter Roasted for Mocking Prince George's Love of Ballet
While conducting a segment on Good Morning America on August 23, 2019, #LaraSpencer caused a royal uproar.
She was discussing what #PrinceGeorge, son of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, will be studying at school. As a six-year-old, one might expect that the young prince will see more than his fair share of the traditional math, science, and English studies. Apparently, though, the youngster will be also studying computer coding and ballet, the latter of which inspired Spencer to comment, "We'll see how long that lasts," sparking an ongoing round of laughter from the audience.
Spencer was roasted for her words online, with celebrities ranging from #GeorgeTakei to #RosieODonnell and #DebbieAllen coming to the defence of the young prince, who is probably quite unaware that anyone beyond his doting parents and grandparents would be even remotely interested in what he does in school.
Allen said, according to NJ.com, “Darling, you’re not on Saturday Night Live. You’re a respected media journalist and we expect to get your news, information and ideas from you, so poking fun at the dance world and ballet and young boys, this is just not cool. Look at the great contributors to the world and society, men that have studied dance."
Allen then enumerated a list of significant contributors to the world, all male and all who took dance, including Bob Fosse and Steve Jobs. She also suggested that there would be far more success stories in the world and less bullying if dance was encouraged in boys.
Spencer has apologized for her words, saying via Instagram, "My sincere apologies for an insensitive comment I made in pop news yesterday. From ballet to anything one wants to explore in life, I say GO FOR IT. I fully believe we should all be free to pursue our passions. Go climb your mountain - and love every minute of it."
However, I honestly wonder if it's become too easy for us to just apologize for our own stupid comments and move on. While all of us say things that we didn't mean or did not really think about before speaking, I'm wondering if perhaps Spencer's apology is actually a little too late.
There are a few things wrong with what she said. It's not as though she was having a casual conversation with Prince William about the rapid-fire changes that young kids have in their interests over time, where a comment like "We'll see how long that lasts," would have appropriate context. She was reporting over the minutiae of a six-year-old's school day and for whatever reason thought it would be appropriate to include a parting shot about the boy's interests.
While I'm sure Prince William has long since grown used to the media scrutiny he and his family frequently face, Prince George has not had that same experience with the media. He is six, and I'm pretty sure has more interest in whatever cartoons are popular among kids his age than he does in what an American broadcaster has to say about his studies. However, the very fact that Spencer saw fit to take a shot at a six-year-old just for a laugh is troubling. The fact that others in the audience also thought it was appropriate to laugh is equally so. I do understand the sympathetic laughter shared by parents who are talking about their kids' shifting interests, but I don't understand making comments about a child we don't even know.
Also, there's the matter that's been really made the focus of much of the media articles that have come out since Spencer's comments: Prince George's love of dance. That is something that should be encouraged among children and youth, and a reporter made a comment that would seem to indicate she feels it's a point to be made fun of. Granted, Spencer is a parent herself, so she is no doubt familiar with how quickly a child's interest in just about anything can change. However, she should also be very much aware of how harmful even the most seemingly innocent comment can be for a child that age.
Again, Prince George probably doesn't even know what Good Morning America is, let alone even watch it. There is little doubt, though, that Spencer's comments were ill-conceived and founded in the stereotypical belief that girls should be dancers, not boys. Sure, Spencer apologized, but anyone who heard her comments, even in passing, will remember.