I would like to get through one goddamn week without something in the world being on fire, because frankly, I am f*cking exhausted of constantly having to beg to be recognized as an equal member of society. Please pay me the same, please give me the same opportunities, please don’t harm me. Just let women do more stuff, pay us fairly for our work, and stop f*cking murdering us when we say “no”. But no. It’s 2018 and everything is on fire all of the time. The latest toxic f*cking waste dump of a discourse is about Brie Larson and what she said at the Women In Film Crystal + Lucy Awards.
While receiving the Crystal Award, given to those who “expand the role of women” in entertainment, Larson used her acceptance speech to talk about the lack of equal representation in film criticism:
“[If] you make the movie that is a love letter to women of color, there is an insanely low chance a woman of color will have a chance to see your movie and review your movie. […] I do not need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about A Wrinkle in Time. It wasn’t made for him. I want to know what it meant to women of color, to biracial women, to teen women of color, to teens that are biracial.”
Larson didn’t just come to give a motivational speech, though. She did her homework and had statistics to back up her position. She cited a USC Annenberg study released just this week that says of nearly 20,000 reviews of last year’s Top 100, 63.9% of reviews were written by white men. That leaves 18.1% written by white women, 13.8% by underrepresented men, and 4.1% by underrepresented women. Now this report is not terribly scientific. Kristy Puchko at Pajiba breaks it down, and I can tell you for sure the stats are skewed by at least one person because I do not have my photo on my Rotten Tomatoes page, and even if I did, I’m pale. And my name isn’t Sarah Walking Crow or anything like that, so I guarantee they counted me in the “white women” category. Really, the “underrepresented women” category should be 4.101%.
You know what, though? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if the study is unscientific, because there is still a problem. Maybe USC Annenberg could try working with Rotten Tomatoes to produce a more accurate survey of contributors—send a survey to registered critics? Just a thought—but while the numbers will move (a little, I am not convinced a stricter approach will yield wildly different results), the problem will remain. Film criticism is dominated by white men. It just is. A statement of observation is not the same thing as advocating hate. But of course Larson had to qualify her remarks with “I don’t hate white men”, because if she didn’t, the conversation today would be even more toxic than it already is. She has nothing to apologize for, she is simply aware of a discrepancy and she brought it to the attention of others. She’s not even the first actress to do so. But a woman can’t say anything without worrying that some f*cking guy might get his feelings hurt.
And oh, golly, do a lot of f*cking guys have hurt feelings. IndieWire had to delete their tweet quoting Larson on the night, I assume because of the demon diarrhea spewing across their mentions. Pajiba has one of the best commenting communities on the web but the comments on Kristy’s article are a hellscape. And I am actually worried for Captain Marvel now, because you know there is some fungus growing under a rock on 4Chan that will sprout next spring with the intent to tank this movie because Brie Larson is a Woman With Opinions. (Honestly, though, this is the best I’ve ever felt about Captain Marvel. Carol Danvers is a determined and outspoken leader. I am increasingly convinced Brie Larson IS Captain Marvel.)
This conversation is a radioactive garbage fire and it boils down to one thing: Brie Larson pointed out a lack of representation and advocated for change, but instead of hearing, “We need more voices,” a bunch of diaper babies heard, “We don’t need YOUR voice.” That is because they cannot imagine a world in which their voice is not the loudest in the room. But no one is trying to silence anyone. Keep talking, no one is stopping you. Just let someone else talk, too.