This post contains mentions of sexism-as-humor and uncensored gendered slurs.
For those of you that missed it, here’s a quick summary:
During an interview with DigitalSpy, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner have themselves a nice sex shaming giggle over Black Widow. Because of her new relationship with Bruce Banner (who everyone figured out would be her love interest eventually because Whedon is predictable as hell and loves to humanize “monsters” through the love of a good woman), they got together and giggled over the only lady on the Avenger’s roster presumably because they’re both toddlers… or maybe they’re just turds.
Oh yeah and not only did the two of them call ScarJo’s Black Widow out of her name (by calling the character a slut, a whore, and a trick, Renner also had to throw in ableism to the mix. (We should know that he would do that by now because of his whole Captain Narcolepsy bit. The man makes ableist comments and thinks he’s funny.) Renner made comments about how “she has a prosthetic leg anyway” you know because women with prosthetic legs aren’t good enough to date?? Could the guy get any more shallow?
Sure, they apologized (Evans more than Renner whose comments are basically him getting pissy that he angered and upset people with his sexist comments), but the damage has already been done.
As I write this post, there are dozens of thinkpieces and articles already up about what Evans and Renner said and how fucked up it was. (MizCaramelVixen over at VixenVarsity in particular has what I think is the actual best post I’ve seen about it so please go read her post “Apparently Black Widow is a Slut, Whore and Trick According to Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans” if you’re at all interested in the down and dirty about why this whole thing is well… so dirty.
This post… isn’t actually about Evans and Renner themselves or what they said. It’s more about how we (fandom “we” or nerds “we”) put celebrities on pedestals and are surprised when they fall off. (With a heavy focus on Chris Evans in this situation because he’s the fandom darling here.)
Anyone that’s vaguely decent gets put on a pedestal in fandom and nerd. We worship them. These people don’t even have to do anything significant to wind up with a devoted fanbase cropping up and propping them up.
Not a thing.
All they have to do is star in our favorite films, write our favorite books, or be drop dead gorgeous.
And once they’re on that pedestal, shit gets pretty intense because sooner or later, they’re getting off of that post and no matter what happens, their fans won’t be happy.
One of the first things that I noticed when all of this was going around tumblr and twitter was how many people were reblogging the angry posts and videos going “I can’t believe Chris Evans said that! He’s so good”. I didn’t understand that kind of thinking while I was at work mulling it over and I still don’t understand it now five hours later.
None of us on tumblr know Chris Evans beyond the roles he’s played in films or the comments that he’s made in interviews. We don’t actually freaking know what kind of person he is besides hella privileged white male.
So why exactly is fandom acting like this is the ultimate of betrayals?
Because many people conflate actors with the characters that they play. Especially when the actors and characters in question are relatively (or ridiculously) attractive guys. Look at how when Anthony Mackie was doing the press bit for CATWS, how so many people were saying how he was Sam Wilson. Or how Chris Hemsworth is Thor. (That one got on my nerves because fans went from using ableist insults and “jokes” about MCU!Thor to using them about Hemsworth and that was just… ugh.)
At first, you think that these people are joking. They don’t really believe that so-and-so really is the character they’re playing. But then problematic shit goes down and you get to see all of the people out their losing their shit at the thought that celebrities suck just as much as the plebs do.
I’m still unsure why Chris Evans calling Black Widow any kind of sexist slur is something that people legitimately think that he wouldn’t do. Not only do we not know him from adam, but that’s the sort of thing that guys do. This is how they talk about the women around them whether or not the women are there to hear.
Fandom has this image of Chris Evans that borders on the saintlike. He’s the quintessential All American kid. He’s this loveable dork that can do no wrong and is the ultimate feminist like Captain Steven “the second most important person to me is Peggy Carter” Rogers.
Except for the small fact that well… no he isn’t Captain America.
He’s a dude from Boston that, like many other men including several of the ones you know, got a kick out of making crude jokes insulting and minimizing a female character (played by his female friend) because she may or may not be in a romantic relationship with someone in the film.
The thing that stuck in my head all day while I was working was how many people cut celebs this incredible amount of slack that when stuff like this goes down, they’re actually blindsided by this. It’s what I was tweeting about earlier today:
I’m not mad at the people who feel betrayed, not at all (and if it comes off like that, I’m so sorry).
But I’m definitely wondering why many of the same people that’d be quick to post about experiences with everyday sexism in their daily lives (including “jokes” like the ones Evans and Renner made in the video) are very slow to consider the fact that most men do make jokes like this. They’re your fathers and brothers. They’re not just strangers in the street. So if people you’re related to can make jokes about women that reduce them to sluts and whores, why not your celeb fave?