• Thu, Dec 5 - 2:17 pm ET

Forget J.Law, Let’s Discuss How Backlash Doesn’t Exist For Famous Men

Justin Timberlake suit and tie

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The internet’s all up in a tizzy about the possibility of a Jennifer Lawrence backlash. Since I wrote my fear mongering piece yesterday two more have popped up. One on Jezebel and one on Salon. I would by lying if I didn’t say that we’re all feeding off each other here. One person says backlash and ten bloggers say WHERE? LET ME AT IT! I HAVE AN OPINION TOO! But alas, that’s what happening. And dare I say it, we may cause the backlash we all fear so much all by ourselves.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Mostly because the conversation about Jennifer Lawrence backlash evolved into another one yesterday in the comments. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love our smart and insightful commenters?!) A few people brought up the fact that men never face this kind of backlash. Sure we fall in and out of love with them — remember Ryan Phillipe anyone? — but it’s not the same. There aren’t think pieces written about their horribleness in places like The New York Times. Nor do we, the internet, turn against them in the way we turned against Anne Hathaway last year.

I suppose part of the reason for that has to do with something sociological. Like the fact that women are the best at tearing other women down. We start doing it almost as soon as start socializing and we never really stop. While our mean girl comments might get more sophisticated and more subtle, they’re still always there. Why we’re so intimated by successful women isn’t quite clear. Perhaps it’s as simple as jealously. Unlike men, we have to work harder to get what we want. So when a woman gets there, we applaud her —  and then shortly after we start finding faults in some misguided attempt to convince ourselves that it could’ve been us. Because hey, if she has faults and can make it, so can we! I don’t know, I’m far from an expert when it comes to this stuff. (But please, ask me anything about Justin Bieber!) Most of what I say is based on observation and a sociology class I took freshman year of college.

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  • Jessieface

    I’ve been ready for JT and NPH backlash for some time. Ive started my own personal boycott and snark crusade against them both, but feel pretty alone in that most of the time. I’m ready for the world to be with me already. Anyone?

    • Jenni

      I was on team NPH until he hosted the Emmys this year. However I’ll always love him for his adorable children. Which I hope doesn’t sound as creepy as it looks.

    • Jessieface

      I get it. They are adorable. Not him though, he is the worst.

    • CMJ

      I feel like I am the only person in the world who thinks JT is an annoying douchehole.

    • Jessieface

      YOU AREN’T!!!! I am here!!!! I used to just want him to go back to singing….but now I cant even stand that!! THE WORST!

    • elle

      No you aren’t!

    • Benita

      No you’re not, His assertion that he had never heard about the Take Back the Night organization prior to releasing his song by the same title pushed me over the edge. These song titles are vetted so his team must have known and he still released the song with that tile because he didn’t care.

    • Jenni

      Don’t even get me started on that ridiculous claim! I can’t believe they did that with Take Back the Night.

    • elle

      Yes that’s what tipped it for me as well. I will never in a million years believe it.

    • Jenni

      Then he had the audacity (my fave word, btw) to not donate all the proceeds. Because money.

    • elle

      Did not know that and that makes it even worse. Audacity is a great word…

    • JLH1986

      I’m down for some JT time away, but NPH…I just love him so I can’t help with snark crusade against him.

  • Lindsey Conklin

    Chris Brown is a great example of this! I guess for the sake of girl power I will try to like Anne Hathaway.

    • Jenni

      Princess Diaries was a great movie!?

    • Cookie

      Les miserables was, as was the Dark Knight Rises.

    • elle

      Yeah I’m normally not a huge Anne Hathaway fun but she was one of my favorite parts in Dark Knight Rises and I’m not ashamed to admit that….

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Perfect as Catwoman.

  • elle

    This was a really great article that raised really good points. I kind of feel like in the name of womanhood I need to definitely start giving more respect to female celebs even when I think they are overexposed. Maybe that means just obeying the whole when you can’t say anything right rule? but I think it’s something I need to work on. It does make me feel better about myself that there are only 2 woman (so far) on my list of celebs I won’t support but there is at least 15 on the male sad. Actually that kinda makes me sad and just goes to show how much people are willing to forgive men over women….

    • Jenni

      Thanks! I feel bad that I didn’t think of this before commenters (including you) pointed it out yesterday. It’s really crazy that this is such a double standard.

    • elle

      Hah I didn’t think of it either until other people pointed out then I was kinda thunderstruck

  • Daniella2

    Justin Timberlake might not get that much backlash nowadays from the mainstream press (except recently when Runner Runner came out) but if you go to any gossip blog on the internet he is one of the most HATED male celebrities. Lainey, ONTD, Celebitchy, and Gawker all can’t stand him.

    • Jenni

      He deserved ALL Runner, Runner criticism, for the record. It was laughably bad.

  • Ash

    Great article, Jenni. Hear, hear.

    • Jenni

      Thanks for reading!

  • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

    Well until women start dumping men after they’ve fugged them a few times, after they have had their pleasure, it may change. Yes we tire of women fast, and men also but maybe we just don’t say so. Hollywood uses up women like candy in wrappers. And they fall for it over and over. Kate Moss kept her mystery and her longevity as a mysterious persona. Her contemporary Liberty Ross gushes all over the place and has no mystery. Kristen Stewart understands this even tho I know you don’t like her. JLaw has no mystery even tho she is a fine actress, she is the girl next door you could be friends with, at least that’s what you think. Maybe.

    The movies that are liked are movie audience friendly requiring no special concentration or thought while watching. Not necessarily popcorn flicks but cotton candy? I have just stopped going to them. No challenge. I’ll read a book or watch a good DVD. Celebrity culture is not interesting,but what is totally fascinating about it has to do with the people who are enchanted by it. How they think, perceive, write about it, communicate to each other about it, now that’s what I find truly amazing. Even when it frustrates me to scream out loud.

    Now The Counselor. 5 times I have seen it and each time a different layer is revealed. It’s the kind of film we used to see high in the 60′s and all the layers would shatter you and you couldn’t get it all, so you just said, “WOW!” I saw all of Bergman like that. Now I have to rewatch a number of times to slow them down so I can really understand them. The difference between art and entertainment. The difference between a best seller and a work of art.

    Criticism of women is subtle and intensely cruel in Victorian novels, especially Henry James. Women are perceived as objects, and evaluated like commodities. Men are the seen as the providers of commodities, so as long as they provide and provide well, we are satisfied.

  • disqus_WjKIYzni5a

    you’re so right…there are tons of double standards.

  • Qin

    Age-shaming Paul Walker’s a good example of a double-standard going the other way.

    • Jenni

      How so? When has a famous adult woman dated a teenage boy?

  • MCR

    Good article. Maybe you can hang onto that insight through the next, inevitable attack on a female celebrity. It’s possible to be funny while merely observing the vindictive mob from outside, without grabbing a pitchfork and joining in.

  • Callie

    I really agree with a lot of this. I really appreciate the self-reflection here in looking back at previous posts/positions and being willing to criticize yourself. That’s pretty rare.

    I do think that introducing intersectionality into this discussion is important. Chris Brown experienced way more backlash than what white male entertainers have historically experienced for being abusers. Gary Oldman, Sean Penn, Nicholas Cage, Bill Murray and Josh Brolin are all people who have either been accused or convicted of domestic violence charges against partners and none of them have experienced significant backlash for their actions.

    And women of color experience a double whammy of sexism and racism. Even though she is a very public victim of domestic violence, Rihanna continues to experience way more backlash and criticism from the public than Anne Hathaway. I don’t think you can separate structural problems like racism, misogyny, classism or homophobia from each other when it comes to which entertainers get the most criticism or backlash from the public.

    • elle

      It drives me crazy that people seem to have kind of collectively shrugged about so many white celebs committing DV but then Chris Brown comes around and they all start speaking out about DV while continuing to support so many white celebs who have committed it. Ugh yeah I just hate it.

    • Jenni

      I think one reason Chris Brown receives more backlash is that people like Sean Penn and Charlie Sheen or other men like that committed their acts of DV before the internet was in full force. I’d really like to hope that in this day and age of instant news, a white male would get the same backlash for attacking a woman. With that said, I won’t pretend like white celebrities don’t get away with a lot more.

  • Sacher

    Tom Cruise? Big Backlash there

    • Jenni

      I’d argue that he received backlash because he began to act erratic, not because he was overexposed.

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  • Kelly

    I think it doesn’t help that women always feel the need to apologize when men don’t or won’t. Another great example of this is when nude pictures are released, men aren’t shamed as women are.