With all of the action happening right now between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, I feel the need to write this. Johnny Depp at this date in time has not made a statement about Amber’s domestic violence claims because he’s promoting his new film Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass. This movie, needless to say, has come into bad reviews by critics and audiences. The first movie wasn’t that great, but critics and audiences both thought it was an average movie. Worldwide it grossed over 1 billion dollars, so a sequel was bound to happen one day or another. But it’ll be interesting to see now with the allegations on the table, how the movie will be perceived knowing that Depp is in it. Diehard fans of his films, I bet, will go flocking and defending the performance, while people who are now skeptical of him and all of his relationships will probably boycott the movie. I don’t really go to any movie in theaters anymore, but I can say I will actively avoid Depp movies until more information comes out, but also in solidarity with Amber.
Depp isn’t my only qualm about the film. Though I bet casting and production started before the Oscars for Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass, I cannot stand Sasha Baron Cohen. After he made the Asian “jokes” at the Academy Awards, I will do my best to avoid anything with his name attached. As if “the dictator” wasn’t enough. It’s nice to know how low brow the Oscars has become.
So I guess this brings me to my main point. We all know movies are illusions. Much like a real life theatrical play, movies are supposed to draw you into a world without the actors, sets, and props, but real people, real locations, and real objects, even though it’s also a man made production. Most movies are able to suspend my disbelief. My threshold for bullshit is pretty deep. It’s enough to thoroughly believe Bee Movie. But when does it stop for me? When can my suspension of disbelief just not get into a movie? Well, I’d say when I know the actors are complete jerks. I can’t watch the Avengers without getting mad at Gwyneth Paltrow, I can’t sit through the Beauty and the Beast trailer knowing that Emma Watson, a spokeswoman for feminism and women’s equal rights, will play the Belle role. How could she just ignore the backlash against the tale as old as time, domestic violence?
I can watch X-Men and believe that Michael Fassbender can bend metal, but why is it so hard to sit through a movie where I should believe Tom Cruise is upset about his dead son? I guess this is why Hollywood needs to protect its stars so much from bad press. Because even though yes, there’s no such thing as bad press for some, their work really depends on being as likeable as possible. It’s hard for most audiences to believe an actor’s performance with recent bad news in the headlines. I think it’s good that we are getting the truth and seeing the real colors of some of these people we put so high on a pedestal. So what if we can’t enjoy their work anymore? That’s what thinking about entertainment means.
The newest of these celebrity screw-ups was Jennifer Lawrence and butt scratching incident. She told a candid story about how when she was filming one of the Hunger Games movies how she scratched her butt on sacred Hawaiian rocks. Not only that, but almost killed one of the crew members when she dislodged a boulder. She overstayed her welcome, for sure. She was formerly known as the average girl next door. She was “heavy” set for a Hollywood celebrity, and “totally relatable” when she stumbled at the Oscars. But Jennifer, your privilege is showing. And almost everyone agreed that she should apologize to the Hawaiian people. Instead, she said that she didn’t mean to be offensive. Intent doesn’t matter. If people were upset, you should apologize. You should be sorry that you made others feel inferior because of your privilege. Clearly her PR person needs to be fired.
Another Hawaiian disaster was Emma stone white washing in Aloha. Of course, she didn’t mean to, or realize it. And she even made fun of herself on SNL, but she never apologized for taking a role away from an Asian/ Asian American actor. She just laughed at the fact that people thought she looked Asian. There is plenty of Asian American bashing in the Hollywood community. Mark Wahlberg half blinded an Asian American man when he was a teenager. He was drunk and beat him; he called him a “gook.” Instead of being arrested, he got a slap on the wrist and this was conveniently swept under the rug until recently. Lastly, Scarlett Johansson never commented on white washing and the backlash that ensued by the Asian American community.
In addition, in Scarlett Johansson’s role in Lost in Translation, does her attitude with Japanese people continue into real life? What about the sitcom stars on TV who constantly makes homophobic, transphobic, and other marginalizing comments? Sure, they’re in the script, but does that reflect their real lives? And how much privilege they have? Does that seep into how they see themselves after the filming as ceased? I wonder this when Will makes homophobic jokes on Fresh Prince. Is it just for cheap laughs, or does it reflect his own beliefs? What about all the fat-phobic jokes directed to Uncle Phil? How does that make him feel? I also wonder about Margot Robbie playing the mentally ill Harley Quinn, in Suicide Squad. Not only was she mentally ill, but sexualized at every chance the camera/direct/screen writers etc., got. How does that effect how she sees herself? Where is the line drawn between public persona, an individual’s reality, and the work they do? I’m guessing, it’s incredibly hard to balance.
21 year old college senior. English major. Adopted from China as a baby living in the US ever since. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.