**Jennifer Lawrence experienced a backlash last week, after criticising a reporter for reading from his phone. *Empire *editor-in-chief Terri White argues we should give her a break. **
Shock horror! A-list, outspoken actress in being taken to task shocker! Yes, Jennifer Lawrence, who we once held tight to our bosoms and celebrated as being individual, honest and real is being (metaphorically) strung up for her conduct at the Golden Globes. Let’s take a minute to revisit her offence, shall we?
At a press conference after winning Best Actress for Joy, Lawrence called out a reporter – E!’s Juan Pablo Fernández-Feo – who asked how she felt about Oscars night while appearing to be on his phone. Lawrence quipped, ‘You can’t live your whole life behind your phone, bro. You’re just not gonna... You can’t do that. You gotta live in the now,’ while rolling her eyes and wagging her finger. The room reportedly erupted in laughter. And then the general public got wind of it.
She was quickly labelled ‘arrogant’ and ‘rude’, with many speculating that as English wasn’t the reporter’s first language, he may have been using his phone to translate. At least one other reporter present, however, has claimed he was definitely not using it for that purpose. You know what, though? Who cares? The truth is that there has been a creeping swell of backlash against actresses like Lawrence. Actresses who some feel are getting ‘too big for their boots’ and clearly need to be taken down a peg or two. What are they so offended by though? That these women are unafraid to speak out? To not accept being publicly ignored? To call bullsh*t when and where they see it?
With ridiculous talk of us having hit ‘peak Lawrence’, there’s the familiar sense of people being ‘over’ a star they were pouring adulation over just a few months ago, when they loved her self-deprecation and straight-talking ways. That these (female) actors get such a transient and short-lived window of being celebrated seems incredibly unfair. When can you remember a male actor being ‘done with’ so quickly? They’re, in the main, judged for their work on screen and respected for the career they build. The cult of personality counting for so much – and the rise and fall being so sharp – is a distinctly female curse. As soon as a female star starts to sell out cinemas, win awards, demand higher pay, you can hear the knives being sharpened, ready for the moment when it’ll be OK to take her down.
With Lawrence, I can’t help but feel you can trace much of these feelings back to the publication of her controversial essay on equal (or rather, unequal) pay in Hollywood in Lena Dunham’s newsletter, Lenny. At the time, you could almost hear the sharp intake of breath: who did this young woman think she was? This young woman who was paid millions to appear in movies? This young woman who would earn more than almost everyone she knew? What made this young woman special enough to kick off, so directly, so beautifully, so publicly?
This, to me, is ultimately the issue. It’s not about her being rude, even if she was (which, for the record, I don’t see). Male actors can be rude, too. And that’s OK.They’re actors, they’re artists. But we expect our actresses to be princesses and saints as well as artists. We expect them to be grateful, quiet, compliant, but most of all subservient and always nice. Even if this is to do with her manners (which, I assure you, it isn’t), who are we to demand she has them? And why are we so quick to think the worst of her?
Lawrence, wonderfully, refuses to be always ‘nice’. She refuses to accept a public display of rudeness and deals with it in her own inimitable way. She wants to be noticed, recognised and respected. And last year, we all wanted the same.
From the winners and losers to the best dressed and the biggest talking points, read more about the Golden Globes in this week's Grazia, on sale now.**