Yesterday, I wrote a post criticizing Jennifer Lawrence for making an insensitive comment about rape while at a party in Cannes. Today, that post has over 215 comments, the majority of them angry at me for even pointing it out. We need to talk about that.
The original post was written by Jada Yuan, a writer for Vulture, who overheard Jennifer saying “I broke out my rape scream for you!” to Alfonso Cuaron, after squealing excitedly when she ran into him at the Armani and Vanity Fair party. When I first became aware of the quote, I rolled my eyes like I would for any celebrity who made a comment like this. Being as open and unguarded and genuine as Jennifer is makes her a very accessible, likable celebrity on the one hand, but on the other hand, it sets her up to be extremely susceptible to little faux pas like this.
Because that’s exactly what this is! A faux pas. I’m probably more interested in it than most, because I’m more fascinated by the public’s infatuation with J-Law than I am drawn into it, but even I was not calling for her head. I don’t want her to get fired, to lose endorsements, or even to apologize if she doesn’t want to. I want what I always want when I write up something dumb that a famous person said — to increase awareness.
When Julianne Hough went in blackface for Halloween, that didn’t mean she was a racist, it just meant that she was ignorant. When Britney Spears said that gay people were ‘somewhat girls‘, that didn’t make her a homophobe, but it did point out that she’s incredibly insulated and has a lack of awareness of how to talk about people different than herself. And similarly, the fact that Jennifer made an offhand comment about a ‘rape scream’ doesn’t make her a rape-apologist, it just makes her one of those lucky people who’s never had to sit down and consider what a rape scream really is.
That it’s something that comes out of someone at one of the most terrifying moments of their life, when they’re being violated and fighting for their life. Not a way to get the attention of a famous director at a party. If you don’t have that information, it’s an easy mistake to make. People inadvertently say offensive things all the time, which creates an opportunity for the people around them to correct them, educate them, and foster awareness.
But for whatever reason, that opportunity doesn’t seem to exist when it’s Jennifer Lawrence that we’re talking about. For whatever reason, her fans have formed such a fanatical allegiance to her that they’d rather believe the Vulture writer was paid to invent the quote by the publicist of a rival star (this is a real thing that was suggested) than that Jennifer had a slip of the tongue and said something she A. shouldn’t have and B. didn’t expect to become public.
But whether she wanted it to get out or not, it did, and I believe that what she said is inappropriate and insensitive. So why can’t I write a piece pointing out the potential offense latent in an offhand remark without being attacked myself? I can do it in much stronger, harsher terms for other stars like Katy Perry, Alec Baldwin, Paula Deen, or Sean Penn and never hear a peep, but I point out one quote that was recorded in another article by another writer, and all of a sudden I unleash a shit storm.
In the twenty-four hours since I put up that post I’ve been called a liar, a buffoon, hypocritical, petty, a woman-hater, cruel, classless, and ignorant, and told that I can’t criticize Jennifer unless I myself am perfect. (Eep. I hope no one ever explains the definition of a blogger to these people.) The adjectives themselves don’t really bother me — as clearly I’ve heard far worse in my time on the internet — but the idea behind them does.
How did a group of people become so blinded by their affection for J-Law that they’re willing to spend an entire day haranguing the author of a blog post for daring to suggest that their idol could have made a mistake. Just because they themselves weren’t offended, they were willing to dedicate hundreds and thousands of words to telling me why I didn’t deserve to even have my job for suggesting it.
They’re fully within their rights to make comments like that, and I’m not even really bothered as much as I am baffled. So if you have answers, please enlighten me — why am I not allowed to have an opinion on Jennifer Lawrence?
(Photo: Dennis Van Tine / Future Image / WENN.com)