What is the web-o-sphere angry about this week? An accused abuser who expresses no shame, a catfishing-themed Netflix romcom and a fatphobic Lena Dunham sweater. Here’s everything you need to know.
Jian Ghomeshi pens essay for The New York Review of Books
THE STORY: In “Reflections of a Hashtag,” Jian Ghomeshi, the former CBC radio star who was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and then acquitted in 2016, writes 3,400 words about his experience. At one point, he suggests that he should take credit for the #MeToo movement that took off in October of 2017: “One of my female friends quips that I should get some kind of public recognition as a MeToo pioneer,” he writes. “There are lots of guys more hated than me now. But I was the guy everyone hated first.”
OH LOOK IT'S ANOTHER MAN WHOSE BEEN ACCUSED OF SEXUALLY ASSAULTING MULTIPLE WOMEN FINDING REFUGE FROM HIS SO-CALLED "EXILE" IN THE PAGES OF WELL-RESPECTED NATIONAL PUBLICATION https://t.co/vmCWns2wzR
— Ruth Spencer (@ruths) September 14, 2018
Stunned that that New York Review of Books would commision Jian Ghomeshi for a cover story. Ghomeshi faced trial for 4 counts of sexual assault and 20+ women come forward w/ accounts of abuse, forcing a reckoning w/in Canadian music and media bc EVERYONE KNEW HE WAS A CREEP.
— Jessica Hopper (@jesshopp) September 13, 2018
— Amy Millan (@amymillan) September 14, 2018
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE: Ugh, gross. All 3,400 words of this piece are drenched in self-pity. This guy really doesn’t seem to get it: the #MeToo pioneers were not the men who have been made accountable for their actions, the #MeToo pioneers are the women who jeopardized everything to bravely share their stories of abuse. (And that’s just one problematic point of many.)
What’s particularly disappointing is that Ghomeshi was given a powerful platform to share his story. NYRB editor Ian Buruma gave an interview with Slate to explain his decision to feature the story, saying: “The exact nature of his behaviour—how much consent was involved—I have no idea, nor is it really my concern. My concern is what happens to somebody who has not been found guilty in any criminal sense but who perhaps deserves social opprobrium, but how long should that last, what form it should take, etc.”
To which the Internet appropriately responded:
Wanna know how male abusers get their comebacks? By having sexist male editors feel bad for them! @ian_buruma characterizes Ghomeshi's behavior – accusations of sexual assault & punching – as "being a jerk", among other gems
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 14, 2018
Sierra Burgess Is A Loser called out for problematic plot points
THE STORY: Netflix’s highly anticipated high school romcom, Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, has brought a wave of positive attention to its lead actors, Shannon Purser and Noah Centineo. Some of the plot points of the film, however—such as its catfishing premise, an unconsented kiss, a homophobic joke and a scene in which Sierra pretends to be deaf—have been called out by viewers as problematic. (You can read a round-up of the movie’s off-colour jokes here.)
sierra burgess is a loser was terrible written and had transphobic & homophobic jokes, as well as faking being deaf, & an unconsented kiss. the actors are all incredible but the plot sucked and the characters had potential but the writing ruined it.
— aya (@cvntineos) September 9, 2018
sierra burgess is a loser disappointed me. transphobic & homophobic jokes, catfishing and faking a disability is suddenly "ok". just because you've got a hard time fitting in doesn't mean being a straight up dick is fine and consent is not a thing anymore. would not recommend
— faria 🌻 (@coolfariaX2) September 7, 2018
So one of my close friends' deaf brother is in Sierra Burgess
When I learned, I was elated. Finally more deaf actors/representation & ASL inclusion in films
… Only to find out the deaf character was written and used for a terrible joke.
PS- pretending to be deaf is NOT ok.
— Nyle DiMarco (@NyleDiMarco) September 9, 2018
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE: I was hopeful that this seemingly body-positive, heartwarming romance film would shine—especially on the heels of Netflix’s oh-so-charming To All the Boys I Loved Before. Unfortunately, it just didn’t do it for me. Maybe it was the problematic plot points noted above, or maybe, I just couldn’t get over how uncomfortable the concept of catfishing made me.
That said, there are things about the movie that I liked: the female friendship formed between Sierra and Veronica is probably the most moving relationship of the film. And, the movie managed to stay away from the cliche (and toxic) makeover scene that suggests changing your appearance is the key to finding your happily ever after. Sierra Burgess doesn’t change herself, she simply lies and manipulates her love interest—which apparently still lands you the heartthrob in the end.
New LPA sweater reads: “being fat is not beautiful it’s an excuse”
THE STORY: A sweatshirt collab between LPA’s founder Pia Arribo and a series of celebs was released via retailer Revolve this week, with each sweater showcasing a comment made by an Internet troll. The “as said to” quotes from Lena Dunham, Paloma Elsesser, and Cara Delevingne are printed on grey pullovers with the recipient’s Instagram handle written underneath. Elsesser’s quote, “being fat is not beautiful it’s an excuse,” was the item in the collection that gained the most attention.
— Tess Holliday 🥀 (@Tess_Holliday) September 12, 2018
If I see thin women wearing this “being fat is an excuse” shirt from @REVOLVE …we’re gonna fight.
— Meghan Tonjes (@meghantonjes) September 12, 2018
— slayley (@haydigz) September 12, 2018
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE: I mean, I can see where this idea came from. (Other sweatshirts included quotes like, “Too Bony To Be Boned,” as reportedly said to Delevingne, and “Horrible Result Of Modern Feminism,” as reportedly said to Dunham.) But even within the context of combatting cyberbulling and reclaiming hateful words, it feels like this collab misses the mark. As many critics on Twitter pointed out, Revolve doesn’t actually carry clothes above a size XL. And so, instead of empowering women with a slogan, they’re really just reinforcing it.
Revolve released a statement to E! News on September 12th, which read: “The prematurely released images featured on Revolve.com was not only included without context of the overall campaign but regrettably featured one of the pieces on a model who’s size was not reflective of the piece’s commentary on body positivity. We at Revolve sincerely apologize to all those involved–particularly Lena, Emily, Cara, Suki and Paloma–our loyal customers, and the community as a whole for this error.”
The collection was canceled, but not before serial apologist Lena Dunham, who was the target of much of the Internet backlash, chimed in with her own hot take:
View this post on Instagram
For months I’ve been working on a collaboration with my friend Pia’s company LPA through parent company @revolve – sweatshirts that highlight quotes from prominent women who have experienced internet trolling & abuse. This is a cause very close to my heart and the proceeds were meant to benefit charities that help young women by empowering them to express themselves through writing and art. Without consulting me or any of the women involved, @revolve presented the sweatshirts on thin white women, never thinking about the fact that difference and individuality is what gets you punished on the Internet, or that lack of diversity in representation is a huge part of the problem (in fact, the problem itself.) As a result, I cannot support this collaboration or lend my name to it in any way. This isn’t meant to shame Pia or the great work she’s done with LPA. I am deeply disappointed in @revolve’s handling of a sensitive topic and a collaboration rooted in reclaiming the words of internet trolls to celebrate the beauty in diversity and bodies and experiences that aren’t the industry norm. *** I’d like to especially extend my love and support to @palomija, whose quote was the first to be promoted and mangled. She’s a hero of mine. Like me, she gave her quote in good faith and shared her vulnerability in order to support arts education and to spread her message of empowerment, and she wasn’t consulted in the marketing. Not an ounce of negativity should be sent her way. *** My only goal on this planet is to empower women through art and dialogue. I’m grateful to every woman who shared a quote and so disappointed that our words were not honored. As a result, I will be making a donation to the charity of every woman’s choice who was wronged with me and I hope that @revolve will join me with a contribution of their own. *** P.S. This Rubens painting makes me happy because it’s about women joining in love, but he didn’t recognize diversity at all- he just loved curvy butts. Problematic fave.