As an avid consumer of social media, I saw the recent Jennifer Lawrence scandal go viral. At issue was her behaviour toward a reporter following the Golden Globes. What made mass rounds was a seconds long clip taken out of the context from what was, in fact, a 6 minute press conference. At the gathering, Lawrence’s dry tone had been firmly and graciously set, not to mention well-received by the audience (listen to the laughter). Even if you did view the comment from a negative perspective, let’s face it – at worst, she was peevish.
I was choked up that this outspoken, elegant young woman – who so thoughtfully and courageously crafted a letter about Hollywood’s wage gap between genders – would be blasted for nothing more than voicing an annoyance.
Moreover, she delivered it with the same deadpan tone and humour, she’d been using throughout the entire conference. And, while I’m not a fan of colloquial terms, her use of “bro” also kept it lighthearted. In fact, she was harmless enough that the reporter himself laughed heartily. He then asked her another question, which she answered with sincerity.
Keep in mind, the man had his cell phone up while asking her questions. Instead, she wanted him to speak to her directly to her. Not an unreasonable request and not one delivered in any way that deserves backlash.
But backlash there was.
Who’s being harsh?
That one 52-second clip garnered all kinds of criticism. She’s been called rude, harsh, scolding. Media headlines have pondered “did Jennifer Lawrence go to far”. According to one gossip columnist (who wasn’t there to witness it) Lawrence “made fun of the way he spoke, his cadence. That’s what made it so uncomfortable, the scolding and derision disguised as teasing.”
Um…ooookay…perhaps she hadn’t seen the video either because there was no “making fun of the way he spoke”. That’s pure fabrication.
Her “roasting of a reporter”, “slamming of a reporter” and “telling off of a reporter” also made international news. The UK’s Daily Mail called it an “outburst”. What’s shocking is, if you go back over old reports, they labelled Mel Gibson’s massive meltdown as an anti-semitic “rant”. In other words, using descriptors that essentially make both behaviours comparable.
Even Anne Hathaway was criticized for running to Jennifer’s defense.
In a week where David Bowie, Allan Rickman, Glenn Frey, and Celine Dion’s husband and brother died – this is the news covered by entertainment media?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Jennifer Lawrence, the celebrity. I’m defending the female. This is my point of contention.
PuffPost’s derogatory language
I was already annoyed about the hype. To my mind, this nonsense wouldn’t have made news had a man behaved the same way. In fact, if it made news at all in that case, I suspect it would have been positively touted as a disarming example of how to handle an irksome reporter. I also don’t think that it would have made news if an older female celebrity had acted the same way. Too late to train the Helen Mirrens of this world. Come to think of it, how great would it have been had some of our more established female celebrities run to her defense?
Here’s what really angered me though – I saw a headline on Huffington Post that read: Stop Praising Jennifer Lawrence for being a B*tch.
When did it become alright for mainstream media to boldly and unapologetically use derogatory language toward women – or any group for that matter? The B word may be culturally popular, but it’s still a pejorative. How is this okay? Will the N word become popular? Ummmm probably not. What about the C word? Maybe, I mean, it’s not racist.
Have we become so accustomed to this slur that we’ve lost our outrage?
It was bad enough that Jennifer’s unremarkable behavior made news, but that a media giant would approve the use of that kind of language floored me. “Puffpiece” Post is not so puff when you consider its vast audience and cultural influence. One might argue that the media doesn’t start trends, it leverages them. Perhaps that’s true. But when a cultural trend is picked up by the media, it starts to solidify. From there, a powerful cycle of reciprocity begins.
Does Arianna Huffington really approve of this?
Also, if you have to use * to get it by an editor then consider another word. How does * change the meaning? After all, it’s meaning that’s at issue, not the spelling of the word.
Did you know that there was a show on ABC called “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 C”? It had originally spelled out the entire word, but ABC censored it and the —- was made. Again, how is removing the vowels, but keeping the meaning, any better? Who’s coming up with these “alternatives”.
I have one friend who I playfully use the B word on and this exchange dates back years. It’s between us. Otherwise, it’s a word I use cautiously and certainly wouldn’t use in my writing. Given how it’s actually entered mainstream media and is boldly blasted across a headline, I hope we all become a little more reticent and more protective of our right to respect.
The outrageously unfair Jennifer Lawrence debacle leaves me with three commitments to myself:
- I’ll be more vigilant about the derogatory language that blatantly disregards my gender
- I’ll have a heightened sensitivity to a woman’s right to express displeasure or a preference
- In the case of Jennifer Lawrence, I’ll learn from her diplomacy. I like how she handled that reporter. He clearly meant no disrespect and she treated him accordingly. It was civil, congenial and handled with aplomb by both of them (though not the media!)
On a final note, congratulations to Anne Hathaway for speaking up. I’m impressed. I wish more female celebrities had come to Lawrence’s defense.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear.
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