It’s been a week since the Golden Globes aired and since Jennifer Lawrence’s now-infamous “gaff” of “scolding” a foreign reporter. The backlash against the young actress in the ensuing week has been a nauseating sight to behold. The media seized upon the moment like a pack of rabid dogs, eager to characterize the incident as the “dethroning of Jennifer Lawrence” and naming her the “world’s most hated actress.” Talk about hyperbole.
Not only is this reactionary witch-hunt evidence of how the Hollywood machine chews young women up and spits them out, but it’s also proof that society suffers from an illness of its own making. The fickle public creates heroes and legends and then dismantles them at the first sign of flaw or weakness. The blame for this illness is found in the way we build our heroes. We expect, no, we demand, perfection. Look at the dust-ups that occur every time a star gains a few pounds, dons a questionable haircut, or writes a poorly thought out or possibly offensive caption on an Instagram photo. Fallibility is unforgivable. When stars falter, we don’t want to see them pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move on. We want to see them wear shame like a mantle. This is especially true in the case of female stars, whose public failures or gaffs are splashed across headlines and who stumble on their own humanity for a moment and are subsequently dismissed. “Did you see Jennifer Lawrence scream at that reporter? Her career is so over.”
To break down how absurd the reaction against Lawrence has been this past week, we need to understand what actually happened. After winning the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her starring role in Joy, Lawrence spoke to the press backstage. As one reporter began to ask her a question, she interrupted him and said, “You can’t live your whole life behind your phone, bro. You can’t do that. You’ve got to live in the now.” The reporter laughed heartily at the reprimand and launched into a second question about the Oscars, to which she replied, “We’re at the Golden Globes. If you put your phone down, you’d know that.” That’s it. That’s all that happened. That’s the spark that supposedly started the fire that burned down Lawrence’s reputation overnight, the spark that provoked thousands of Twitter followers to declare the death of their allegiance to her. These are strange times we live in.
After Lawrence’s reprimand went viral, more information came out about the event. One reporter came forward to defend her with his account of the story.
Took this pic of Jennifer Lawrence last night at the Golden Globes. ❤️ There are a lot of negative rumors going around that she was disrespectful to a reporter & rude because English isn’t his first language. It’s sad because I was right there in the front row & that’s just NOT true! The reporter was holding up his phone, taking photos + video of Jennifer while asking his question and she found it distracting. I found it distracting too. She asked him to put his phone down. Then, she had literally JUST won a Golden Globe & he asked about the Oscars just seconds after winning. It wasn’t the time or place. She handled it in usual Jennifer Lawrence humor & the reporter himself laughed as well as the rest of the press. Don’t believe the rumors, I was there & Jennifer Lawrence was in no way rude. She was a sweetheart when she answered my question & was nice to all the press. ? #jlaw #jenniferlawrence #goldenglobe #goldenglobes
Another actress who has experienced the same kind of gleeful reputation bashing, Anne Hathaway, took to Facebook to support Lawrence.
Hathaway, who has also been cut by the double-edged sword of fame, makes an important point by asking us to remember Lawrence’s talent. This incident has entirely overshadowed her Golden Globes win, and turned her into fodder for the internet bullies who judge from the safe distance of virtual space. Not only is Lawrence a talented actor, but she is also known for her very dry sense of humor. Many were provoked to call her “rude” because she wasn’t smiling when she told the reporter to put his phone down, but this criticism falls under the same sexist thinking that calls for women to smile, to always be pleasant, in order to justify their own existence. She was not wrong to expect the reporter’s full attention when he was posing a question, and while some have come to his defense because English is his second language, what really happened was that he was caught taking pictures and videos of Lawrence by Lawrence, and then called out for it.
This is not the Roman epoch, where gladiators are dispatched from the earth by the whim of the emperor and his thumb. It’s time to stop ripping apart our heroes every time they make a mistake. What occurred was so minor that it’s laughable in hindsight to think that it has become one of the week’s most popular “news” stories. If I were Lawrence, I’d ignore the nonsense and take a page from another maligned star’s book by declaring, “Can I live?”