So, it’s been quite the week for sexism in the film industry.
Segments of the Internet went into an uproar earlier this week following Seth MacFarlane’s hosting gig at the Oscars on Sunday. We got a song about boob’s some creepy comments about a 9-year old’s ability to date George Clooney, and a joke about Rex Reed thinking Adele was fat (which said more about what MacFarlane thought of Adele than it did about Reed). Sadly, all of these jokes (plus women catching the flu to look good) were not even funny, which can serve as a balm on some of the hurt feelings.
Of course, then The Onion went ahead and made anything MacFarlane said about Hollywood actresses seem absolutely antiseptic by calling pre-teen Quvenzhané Wallis a completely-not-safe-for-work term. It was ridiculous and unfunny and The Onion apologized. Still, one wonders how much uproar there would have been had the remark been directed at Anne Hathaway.
Your opinions of these incidents may vary, but I’m actually more concerned about the small controversy surrounding some pics of Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane Watson in the Amazing Spiderman sequel that were posted to any variety of film news sites. Most of the sites just posted the pics as they would any news item and moved on. I wish that were the end of it.
Commenters piled onto her looks, declaring the young actress “not hot enough” to play MJ. A sampling of posts:
- “Holy crap, she looks like a dog…”
- “…she’s not even hot.”
- “Kirsten Dunst looks like Miss. America compared to this Heifer.”
I could have picked dozens more and there are some more graphic, but you get the idea. Woodley is wrong for MJ because she’s ugly according to some Internet trolls. I wish that were the end of it.
Let’s take a step back. First, some of these sites did not just run the spy pics of Woodley on set. They also ran images of Mary Jane from the comic. For example, /Film ran a drawing of MJ in a pouty, breasts-heaving pose. They literally could have picked any image from over 50 years of the comic and that’s what they went with. They cannot be naive enough to not think they aren’t inviting people to make comparisons between a drawn fantasy that wouldn’t be able to remain balanced and upright in real life and an actual living, breathing human girl.
So then the trolls descended and writers got up in arms and beat their chests. Commenters are wrong and evil (and allowed to comment with impunity on their site). There is no taking of any responsibility by any of the folks who have nurtured exactly the type of film community that will attack a girl’s alleged hotness. These are your page clicks and ad revenue, guys.
Some of the “defending” came off as even worse. Some took the tact of saying once there is makeup and better lighting, she will look hot. One, a reviewer I respect immensely, even offered that if people thought Mary Jane was supposed to be hot, they didn’t know their Spiderman history. See, so Woodley will be hot with a little work done to her. Or maybe she doesn’t have to be hot at all to play MJ. And remember, these are the defenders.
The nail in the coffin of this discussion came when a site ran what they later claimed to be a satire of the situation. I say claim because satire should be funny and this was not. It was a comparison between Woodley and the comic book character as drawn, feature by feature, with recommendations on how Woodley can bring herself up to the comic book standard.
Some did a legitimately great job of discussing the situation (like Katey Rich from CinemaBlend). But there was plenty of outrage out there that felt misdirected. Or wrong. Or coming from a place where they barely seem to recognize their role in the story.
Still, we all know that the outrage will die down. Until the next time. Until we decide that Jennifer Lawrence is a bitch. Because this is the Internet. And it’s our God- and Bill Gates-given right to trash anyone we feel like trashing on-line with a maximum amount of anonymity.
This whole situation may have flown under the radar for a lot of you. I’m sorry to drag you into the bile of what on-line communities can engender if they are not careful. I think it’s an instructive case and hope people can actually learn something from it.
I wish this were the end of it. I really do.