Diversity Aboveground: Slut-Shaming

May 8, 2015

Natasha Romanov in lingerie

In 2014, electro-monk posted on Tumblr that, “Petition for all the Marvel actors to agree that whenever Scarlett gets a blatantly sexist question one of the Chrises just takes it instead.” Mark Ruffalo Reblogged this post adding, “You have my signature.” It was a hopeful time but then, 2015 came along and the Avengers: Age of Ultron world tour appeared no different than all those that had come before it.

The press tour started on April 8, 2015 according to a Tweet by Robert Downey, Jr.

April 11 in Los Angeles, US

A reporter suggested that Chris Hemsworth should have a bet with Chris Evans going like Chris Evans and Chris Pratt for the Super Bowl. They finally decided to bet on the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight. Hemsworth bets on Pacquiao winning.

Hemsworth: You get one of my children and if I win, you get to be my fourth child.

The Avengers hit Seoul

April 17 in Seoul, Korea

Mark Ruffalo on Claudia Kim: I look up to Claudia all the time because she’s so much taller than me, and also because she’s a great actress.

April 19 in Beijing, China

Joss Whedon, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey, Jr are told by the interviewer that their nicknames are taillight, chubby green and carrot. When asked how he feels about that, Ruffalo describes how Bruce Banner doesn’t wear underwear.

April 21 in London, England

At this point, the majority of the cast has been traveling and talking about the film almost non-stop for 13 days.

Interviewer: Scarlett, your character could be seen as the sexy one…

Scarlett Johansson: ‘The sexy one’? Have you seen Chris Hemsworth?

Downey Jr. in London

Also that day, Robert Downey, Jr. did an interview for The Guardian.

In October 2014, Alejandro Inarritu described in an Deadline article that superheo films “have been poison, this cultural genocide, because the audience is so overexposed to plot and explosions and (expletive) that doesn’t mean nothing about the experience of being human.”

Downey, Jr. was asked for a response and replied, “Look, I respect the heck out of him, and I think for a man whose native tongue is Spanish to be able to put together a phrase like ‘cultural genocide’ just speaks to how bright he is.”

Elizabeth Olsen, Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner appeared on The Graham Norton Show. Olsen described her character as a “gypsy” before Norton corrected her for using a derogatory term for the Romani people. Right after the admonishment, Ruffalo and possibly Renner started chanting “Gypsy!” until Norton made them stop. The incident was removed from the broadcast showing.

SAME DAY!

Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner

Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner are asked about the Black Widow being linked romantically with Iron Man, Hawkeye, Hulk and Captain America.

Jeremy Renner: She’s a slut.

Chris Evans: She’s a complete whore.

Renner: She has a prosthetic leg anyway.

Later in the same press junket:

Renner repeats interviewer’s question: If your cat was stuck up a tree, who would you call?

Evans: Hawkeye, he’d just kill it.

Renner: Done.

Evans: She’s dead. No more cat up the tree.

Renner: I don’t like cats.

Evans: Get a new cat.

Renner: Shoot that sucker. I would send Scarlett up a tree.

Interviewer: Who would you call if you couldn’t get your tv to work?

Renner: Just make Widow do it.

Evans: Like for no reason.

Renner: For no reason.

Evans: For no reason. Just make Widow do it.

Renner: Just for no reason, just make Widow do it.

Evans: Just to watch her fail. Just make Widow do it. That’s my favorite answer of the day.

Interviewer: Thank you for making me laugh.

Renner: Thank you for ruining my career.

Evans: Just make Widow do it.

Renner (mimicking a new headline with his hands): Renner wants to murder his family.

The Avengers on Good Morning America

April 24 in New York City, US

Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans were interviewed outside off and on for an hour during Good Morning America. Whenever not on camera, they were seen moving and trying to keep themselves warm. Evans complained on camera three times about being cold. The highest temperature for that day in New York City was 52 degrees Fahrenheit.

With those kind of conditions, being taken from place to place, country to country where the majority of their time is either on a plane or answering the same questions for hours and hours…it calls to mind the scene from Captain America: The First Avenger where Steve Rogers draws himself as being nothing more than a trained monkey. The thing about trained monkeys is that they won’t always want to perform. One day, they’ll snap. Maybe they’ll bite someone or just refuse to do anything or run away. In the end, they have their own mind and can’t be owned by anyone.

There were a lot of problematic conversations during that press junket. Children were offered as bets. Animal cruelty was joked about. People were made fun of because of their culture or race. Women were treated even more so as objects.

Yet most of the remarks were passed off as jokes or ignored. Ruffalo had to apologize for his behavior on The Graham Norton Show. A spokesperson for Downey, Jr. claimed that his remarks about Inarritu were “complimentary”.

And what did the internet deem the worst behavior of all?

Evans and Renner calling Black Widow a “slut”. This isn’t even the worst offense from that day. Remember that that they joked about killing a cat and Evans wanted Black Widow to try to fix a television “just to watch her fail.” What would make Evans think that Black Widow was capable of failure with anything she sets her mind to? Especially with technology? Who was the first human to figure out how to fly the Chitauri aircraft? Even with the use of an alien corpse, that still counts. Now, they could mean Johansson as opposed to her character but the implications of Evans and Renner using Scarlett and Widow interchangeably makes it scarier and the earlier slut comment much, much worse.

Hawkeye is naked.

Evans apologized but only for the “whore” remark. Renner stated how he was sorry for offending anyone. However, on Conan, he clarified that “I was asked the question like, ‘So Black Widow’s been linked to Hawkeye, Iron Man, Bruce Banner and Captain America. So what do you think about that?’ Well, I said, ‘It sounds like she’s a slut’.
“Now, mind you, I was talking about a fictional character and fictional behavior. But Conan, if you slept with four of the six Avengers, no matter how much fun you had, you’d be a slut. Just saying.

“I’d be a slut. Just saying.”

Of course, this was uttered by the actor whose character, Clint Barton, has slept with just about every female Avenger, or at least attempted to, so yes, your character IS a slut. In Matt Fraction’s second issue, Hawkeye won’t even give Kate Bishop a straight answer about whether he wants to sleep with Spider-Man.

Still, when you put people in a stressful situation for three weeks straight, should we really expect a different outcome? Especially when their every move is being recorded by someone? Most people do use humor to mask their true feelings or just make themselves feel better about an uncomfortable situation. Would slut and whore have been so villified if Scarlett Johansson had used it to describe Barton or Tony Stark who is usually described by the more culturally accepted term, “playboy”? Should slut and whore be stricken from language completely like mewling quim or thug?

Steve's drawing...

Why aren’t we putting pressure on the interviewers for having such awful questions in the first place? A stupid question deserves a stupid answer. Black Widow’s love life is only one small facet of the film or even just a small facet of her own plot-line. Just as the users on Tumblr feared in November 2014, the sexist horrible questions were still asked and nobody’s asking the biggest question of all:

Why do we still accept SEXISM in our celebrity interviews by the INTERVIEWERS?

Stop asking about their diet regimen. Stop asking about their love life unless it’s a remake of Titanic or a Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation. Stop asking them about who they’re wearing. Start asking them about their preparation for the role. Start asking them about their favorite experience on set. Start asking them about whether they plan to produce, write or direct in the future.

Start asking them all the questions that you normally just direct towards men.

*****************************************************

Peggy Carter

Agent Carter has been renewed!

As laid out in a previous column, Diversity Aboveground- Why Marvel NEEDS Peggy Carter and Miles Morales, this is a win for everyone. People love Peggy and it’ll be great to see the comparison for Agent Carter on ABC about a 1940s future S.H.I.E.L.D. Director versus Alias Jessica Jones on Netflix about a 2015 private eye. Television is also able to give greater time to important back-stories like the Red Room or foreshadowing like when Howard Stark tries to invent things to better win a war that and those same inventions end up killing soldiers instead.

However, the Black Widow film is as good as dead. Further confirmation arrived May 1st when Wikileaks archived the newest set of emails obtained during the Sony Hack last year. The LiveJournal community, Oh No They Didn’t!, found an email by Ike Perlmutter, Marvel CEO, sent to Michael Lynton, Sony CEO, entitled “Female Movies”. Inside he describes several films based around female comic book characters and how they failed as though that is proof that no female led films should ever exist again.

“Catwoman was one of the most important female character within the Batmanfranchise. This film
was a disaster.”

What’s the worst part of this email? It’s dated August 7, 2014. At that point, Lucy, the original property starring Scarlett Johansson, had already made over 88 million dollars just in the United States. However, the involvement of Sony in the email sounds like this corresponds to the rumor that Sony wanted to make a female led Spider-Man film, possibly Black Cat, in 2017. Most news outlets had announced the rumor three days prior; on August 4th. Perlmutter killed both the Black Widow film and whatever Sony was planning.

The fact that Perlmutter finally allowed Black Panther and Captain Marvel to be scheduled for 2018 could indicate that he will step down by that point. He turns 73 later this year.

There’s an excellent, longer article on the email by Christopher M., Marvel CEO Not a BIG Fan of Superheroine Films According to Leaked Email, also on this site.

***************************************************

Which female led superhero film do you want to see made the most badly?

Next week will be about the home release of Strange Magic, which other shows made the Renewal list and more.

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