On January 11, Mic Media published an article addressing Jennifer Lawrence’s behavior at the Golden Globes and her supposed fall from grace (you can read it here). In case you are not familiar with the exchange, Ms. Lawrence criticized a foreign reporter for ostensibly using his phone to translate a question for the actress. The social media response was immediate. While Facebook trends initially purported the incident as an act of the witty, sarcastic Jennifer known so well to audiences, Twitter users were quick to point out that Lawrence was not joking.
I take no umbrage with Mic’s coverage of the event. They gave the actress an appropriate amount of criticism for her behavior. A quick review of the transcript alone proves difficult to find Lawrence innocent of unjustified rudeness.
What I do take umbrage with is Mic’s assessment of Jennifer Lawrence’s removal from the spotlight. They claim that the backlash Lawrence received is “part of a pattern that extends far beyond her”; actresses are quick to gain the spotlight and just as quick to lose it. The article’s author, Kevin O’Keeffe, goes on to say that, “None of this [cycle] is Lawrence’s fault. It’s how Hollywood works.”
The article suggests two fixes for this cycle: one, that the media stop idolizing one actress at a time, and two, that Jennifer Lawrence needs to challenge herself as an actress to remain a star in the public eye (O’Keeffe notes Lawrence’s recent mediocre success in the box offices).
O’Keeffe’s solutions are hardly solutions at all, as proved by their irony. He states, “the media has to stop putting such pressure on one actress at a time,” but essentially goes on to advise Lawrence on her future career moves. So much for the media lessening its pressure. Despite their irony, O’Keeffe’s suggestions are fundamentally too idealistic to be effective. The paparazzi will always pressure the newest meat in Hollywood---idolization is human nature, the reason Hollywood prospers, and the entertainment industry’s backbone. O’Keeffe even concedes this point at the end of his article. Actors and actresses will continue to choose films that leave audiences puzzled at their decisions. Human beings are flawed, that much is inarguably clear.
Perhaps in the film industry this disappearance from headlines seems like a much stronger trend than in other industries. When people make their living in the spotlight, it becomes a bigger deal when the light turns off. It is, however, not a problem exclusive to Hollywood. The financial crisis of 2008 is not dissimilar to the situation at hand; big name banks became infamous or obsolete almost overnight. The Sandusky Scandal at Penn State boasts resemblance as well. Though dramatically different in details, these examples nonetheless illustrate a classic story arc---quick to revere, quick to dismiss.
English professor Roxanne Gay touches upon this phenomenon of the “pedestal” in her book Bad Feminist. The idea of falling from grace is one of the oldest stories in the book---literally. Mythologies and historical texts alike detail epic rulers and figureheads whose missteps and misguidance landed them in an unfavorable position.
The actual sickness that plagues the entertainment industry is not the media’s pressure or an actor’s mediocrity, but a feeling of entitlement (J Biebs cough cough). It is starting to show that Jennifer Lawrence has become too comfortable as “the darling of Hollywood,” free to say whatever because she is funny and cute. It has become the norm for public figures to act as they please, garnering both positive and negative attention, for any form of attention will do.
Those who conduct themselves as “normal people” remain out of the tabloids; names such as Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Matt Damon---even J. Law’s contemporary, Brie Larson, promised to write thank you notes to all those she forgot in her Golden Globe acceptance speech. The obvious point here is that those who have remained kind and humble have remained in the spotlight while those who have faltered become part of the cycle that Mic mentions.
So no, Mr. O’Keeffe, it is not the media’s pressure or a failed blockbuster’s fault. It is the individual’s and the individual’s alone. True character comes through in situations such as these. Kindness is invaluable, kindness can prevent a fall from grace.
While I do appreciate Mic’s attempt at attacking the bigger issues at play, namely the harm that media causes, Occam’s Razor all too often holds true.
Simply put, be kind.