If you've been closely following the career of Miley Cyrus, like I haven't, you may be aware of the controversy over a photo someone posted online of Miley and some friends making faces at the camera with two appearing to slant their eyes. Some Asian-American groups have objected to the photo, calling it racist. Cyrus has apologized, saying she only meant to make a "goofy face."
Not good enough, says Lucie Kim, who sued Cyrus recently in L.A. County Superior Court, blaming her for discriminatory acts. This is not especially notable, except that Kim is claiming to represent over a million people of Asian/Pacific Islander descent in the Los Angeles Area – and since she is suing under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which provides for a minimum of $4,000 per violation, that would add up to a total of four billion dollars.
I know Miley is rich, but she might need to ask Billy Ray for a loan to cover that. If he has any money of his own.
This sort of multiplication is the same thing that led Roy Pearson to claim $65 million for a lost pair of pants, and it makes about as much sense here. At least Ms. Kim is purporting to act on behalf of a group. The complaint alleges that Cyrus knew her conduct was racist and that, because she is a celebrity, she "knew or should have known that her image would be publicly disseminated via the media, which Cyrus knew focused on her private life." Shouldn't The Media be joined as a party then?
As this post at On Point News points out, the Unruh Act only covers discrimination by "business establishments," and so, accordingly, the complaint argues that Miley Cyrus is in fact a "business establishment." That term has been broadly applied, but so far has not been held to cover an individual person, even a celebrity.
Kim argues that Cyrus "currently holds a permanent settled position in the entertainment industry," apparently trying to analogize her to a building.
Link: msnbc.com (Feb. 12)
Link: Reuters (Feb. 3)