John Legend is not here to “melt your ovaries”

Maria Posted by Maria at September 11, 2017 15:07:58 September 11, 2017 15:07:58

Glowing celebrity parenting coverage is not reserved just for moms – famous fathers get a lot of credit for every damn thing (like changing diapers). Got a spit-up story? That will guarantee you at least one “heartwarming” headline. And when that celebrity father is parenting a daughter, the question will inevitably turn to dating. Why do we ask men about their toddler’s dating life? I suspect it’s to elicit an easy joke and an awwwwwwww reaction from fans. Like “awwwwww he doesn’t want his daughter to have sex.”

Usually, these questions are met with a shotgun joke. You know the joke: dad will chase any potential suitor away with a shotgun. (The joke doesn’t apply in any other situation – moms don’t typically threaten to murder their sons’ dates.) The shotgun joke is rooted in antiquated ideas of purity and protection, the idea being that growing women need both of those things imposed on them by their fathers.

And it’s low hanging fruit; there is an unspoken agreement that asking about a daughter dating is a set-up for a cutesy threat. When I saw the headline “John Legend on Luna Dating” I clicked it because I don’t expect that from John Legend (as I’m sure John wasn’t expected to be asked about his 1-year-old daughter’s dating life). Instead of the usual joke though, he said instead, “We’re going to just try to make her confident and smart and a good leader and kind and loving, and we feel like if we give her all the tools she needs, she’ll figure out the right person for her”.

That’s it – no threats to castrate anyone. If you follow John (as I have, increasingly so) he has no tolerance for playing Big Man. He’s involved in a program to “promote inclusive masculinity” and has talked openly about empathy, vulnerability and equality. There are not many famous men secure enough to speak like this (Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the only other example I can think of off the top of my head). 

In a recent interview, Lauren Duca described John’s speaking style as “pillow talk and TED talk”, which could also sum up his Twitter feed (a bit of promotion, a fair bit of philanthropy, a lot of politics). John and Chrissy are sharers, for sure. That’s why he’s even answering questions about Luna. But why is it that, no matter how much they show us, they never seem like famewhores?

I think it boils down to variety and self-awareness. He speaks about NFL protests and is often compared to cartoon Arthur and she claps back at people questioning her reproductive choices and live tweets Real Housewives. They are a mix of high (Oscars) and low (Vanderpump Rules fans; no judgement, me too). They are a brand together and separately (but not in the Tori and Dean way). They are as transparent as reality stars, except they have an Oscar and bestseller to their names. Moreover, they are of the now, both in their social consciousness and their strategy. We often talk about the celebrity ecosystem, the balance of fame, work, social media, press, gossip, strategy. If we are looking for a balanced mini ecosystem, I think the Legend/Teigen family would make an excellent case study. (Lainey: which is why Duana and I can’t stop talking about her on Show Your Work!)


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