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Jennifer Lawrence Misspoke And Now We all Hate Her

The backlash is in effect. We no longer love Jennifer Lawrence. It seems to happen to everyone eventually. As far as I know, she's still they same person we loved. She’s still a delight to work with, still gracious with fans, still self effacing but now she’s said some stuff that we don’t like and we just won't stand for that.

Here’s the article that started it. A silly little piece about Lawrence’s antics with curing her own hiccups at a Vanity Fair party at Cannes. It contains the following passage:

"I first spotted Lawrence, deep in protection of her posse, because she started screaming: "Ahhhhh! Ahhhhh!" Those were cries of joy; she'd just spotted Alfonso Cuarón in the crowd. "I broke out my rape scream for you!" she cried and grabbed his shoulders and screamed "Ahhhhh!!!" shaking her head like a crazed fan, or a woman in distress, into his face. Cuarón seemed quite pleased with his greeting.” 

Now she’s in trouble for making a rape joke, which this article is more than happy to detail.

And of course now someone has expressed outrage and the inevitable apology has been demanded as seen here. It includes this quote:

"Lawrence is painted as the goofy girl next door that everyone wants to be best friends with, but would you really want to befriend someone that describes excitement as a 'rape scream?'

And here we go. When did this ONE instance where she trivialized rape become something she does all the time? Because that’s what “would you really want to befriend someone that describes excitement as a “rape scream?” implies. As far as I know she did it exactly once. Singular. Semantics, yes. But this is a pretty serious accusation.

I thought the title of this article was ironic but nope, I'm afraid it’s sincere. The author even admits that Lawrence likely didn’t intend anyone to hear the remark but still insists that it doesn’t excuse it.

I’d befriend Jennifer Lawrence. Because she's Jennifer Lawrence, one of the most talented actresses to come along in a great while (until we decide she isn't anymore, I guess) but also because despite what she said, I’m willing to bet money, good money, that she actually abhors rape. Because most people do and I’m not going to suddenly change my entire opinion on someone because of ONE off the cuff remark.

But it seems others are more than happy to. Now we're keeping a tally on all the things she’s said that we might want to get indignant about. And while it's kind of a sociopathic to put that much effort into scrutinizing every last detail of the behavior of someone you've never even met, in the interest of science, let's take a look at some of them.

For instance, she likes to body shame. Even though the only thing that article convinces me she's guilty of is saying things about enjoying food and eating and having the nerve to be skinny.

She also trivializes trans gender issues. Because she thought her cat was male due to it’s “energy”, gave it a male name, later found out it was female and now calls it Chaz Bono. That's really the whole offense. My question is, have any transgendered people come forward voicing concern that this is trivializing them? Or might many of them have taken it for the dopey joke it is because being transgendered doesn't mean you lose your sense of humor? Or maybe they're too busy dealing with actual, real struggles to worry about a joke that isn't even belittling Chas Bono but simply references a trait that he is known for? My other question is, did anyone even ask Chas Bono if HE was offended or did we decide we'd just go ahead and do that for him?

As far as I know, and again I'd bet good money here, she hasn’t actually raped anyone or taken part in the raping of anyone. Has she actually done anything that would lead us to believe that she has so much hate in her heart? I can't think of anything. But that’s how we roll in this country. We care far more about words than actions even though a person’s actions reveal so much more about a person’s true feelings than a person’s words.

This is all coming on the heels of the Donald Sterling incident. And I couldn’t sum up the problems with that whole mess better than Kareem Abdul Jabbar's recent editorial in Time. If you don’t feel like reading it (still, I recommend you do), the gist is, Jabbar finds more than a little hypocracy in a country that lets Sterling engage for decades in practices that fit the definition of racism without any of us really seeming to care, let alone notice but the minute he says some nasty stuff in the privacy of his home, NOW we decide to put our foot down. We’re talking racist actions that actually affected people’s lives and we let that slide but then he said words, that we can choose to ignore if they really bother us, and this is where we draw the line.

Here’s the problem. We spend so much of our mental outrage on the things people say that we either A) completely space out when there are very real, destructively racist ACTIONS being taken or B) we’re falling all over ourselves to drag someone through the mud who is by all accounts a genuinely good human being.

Jabbar rightfully thinks we should be directing some of our outrage at the fact that Sterlings' privacy was violated. He was in his home, not thinking he was being taped. Lawrence’s comments, like his, were not intended for public consumption. I point this out for two reasons. Firstly, every last one of us has said things we were very glad people weren’t around to hear. Sometimes we’re aware of the offensiveness, sometimes we’re not. And thank God no one was there to run through the streets telling everyone what a scumbag you are. So what makes your words harmless but everyone else's harmful?

My second point involves the apology. The only people Jennifer Lawrence might need to apologize to are anyone in the immediate vicinity when she said those words who might have been offended. The rest of you chose to expose yourself to those words. You did it when you clicked on the Jennifer Lawrence rape joke headline. If the subject of rape offends you badly enough that a goofy young woman making an offhanded remark will upset you, why would you click the link? Because it gave you a chance to feel superior? This goes for every subject a celebrity might slip up on, be it rape, racism, sexism, what have you. I click on the stories knowing full well I may be exposed to something that will get my blood up and I take responsibility for that. I’ll have an emotional response to it, it may even change the way I feel about that person but I don’t require an apology. I wasn’t there. It has absolutely nothing to do with me.

They’re words. Yeah, they can hurt but there’s some personal responsiblity in that exchange. Like Ricky Gervais said, “offense is taken, not given". How about we focus more on the actions of people. Afterall, they speak louder than words. And if we are going to get all chuffed up about the things people say how about we factor in some things called context and intent? No one vets every last thing that’s about to come out of their mouths to make sure it’s 100% offense free to every possible sensibility. We’d hate it if everyone did. Your life would become a Barney episode-- every possible edge shorn off until it's void of anything genuine, be that emotion, humor, humanity, etc. You shouldn’t have to walk a tight rope when ever you speak. Stop expecting it of everyone else.