Am I knee-jerk overreacting?
It seems nowadays you can’t say anything online without some total stranger saying you’re overreacting. Comment on a video about a man whose rape conviction was too short? You’re a knee-jerk feminazi. Express your views that Asian actors should play Asian characters in films? You’re told that representation in movies doesn’t really matter and so you should chill out. Feel that the Orlando attacks earlier this year were an attack on the gay community? Some straight person will put your view down quicker than you can say ‘justice.’
In general I try and stay away from Facebook and Twitter arguments because if I get too involved, the red mist descends and I come out saying something stupid that they can use against me, and then they say I’m ‘overreacting’ and ‘irrational’. Until yesterday, when the Headline about Matt LeBlanc at the Emmys came out. In case you haven’t seen it, here is how the shit went down.
On the red carpet at the Emmys, E News were interviewing Emilia Clarke (a nominee for best supporting actress) and after a mildly awkward video link moment where the two were on screen at the same time, Matt LeBlanc was asked if he was a Game Of Thrones fan. He gestured to the Clarke interview and said “I saw the first season and I kinda fell out of touch with it so…and I guess that’s when she (Clarke) started getting naked, so I need to catch up.”
I found the whole thing very creepy. This is a woman who he has appeared on talk show couches with and chatted enthusiastically about friends with. This is also a woman who is being nominated for one of the highest achievements her field can offer her, and the only reason he wants to watch the show is because of her naked body? Seriously? A TV show that has won a record breaking number of Emmys for production values and writing and acting and the only reason you can think to watch it is the fact that a woman gets naked in it? That is creepy. And Clarke is so much more than just a pair of tits.
Every news outlet released an article about the incident, and most of them put ‘creepy’ in inverted commas in the headline in the annoying way that all news outlets do. Just today…
‘Up to a hundred’ children in mass brawl.
‘Giant’ wasp buzzes BBC news bulletin.
Doping hacks ‘put athletes at risk.’
I know it’s so the paper can’t be held accountable for things that are quotes, but it just makes it sound sarcastic and like the outlet doesn’t believe the sources. Maybe it’s childish of me, but it always gets on my nerves. Read back those headlines with a sarcastic tone and you’ll see what I mean. So to see Matt LeBlanc described as ‘creepy’ made me laugh because it IS creepy. I tweeted about this.
Which I thought was okay. I mean I wasn’t being too serious about it. I hadn’t tagged and tried to shame the news outlet, I was just calmly expressing my opinion, and since this was from my actor’s Twitter page I knew some of my fellow female actors would be thinking the same thing.
24 hours later I get a reply from a bloke to this tweet.
I only responded because he was trying to reduce my argument to something which I hadn’t said, which is that Matt LeBlanc’s age is what makes it creepy. I know some women find it particularly creepy when an older man hits on them like this, but to be honest I would find this equally creepy from a man any age so that wasn’t part of my problem with it. I continued to make my case in a calm and measured way, and thought that would be the end of it, since I’d corrected his problem with my original tweet. I was wrong.
Again I saw the guy wasn’t using anything substantial to actually bring my opinion down. He just wanted it down so badly that he was clutching at anything he could. The fact that he once played a character that was a dick to women is not an excuse for his own behavior. They are not the same person. And my opinions on the nudity in Game of Thrones had not been raised so were again nothing to do with the problem I had. I felt the need to point this out to him. But again he was not going to back down.
I wanted out of this conversation now so you’ll see that when he put it down to just being a ‘bad joke’ I did get a bit angry. And then he started to seem a bit nicer so I felt a little bad for being a bit rude, but not for long…
I was starting to get irritated. This man was hell bent on proving to me that my opinion was wrong, but so far all he’d used were words I hadn’t said and statements that had nothing to do with the incident. I am all up for healthy debate, but just like those who voted leave in the Brexit referendum, you’d better have actual facts to back yourself when you tackle somebody’s opinion rather than just self-important nonsense.
Also where the fuck did ‘uncle’ come from???? That word is a really weird choice. But sure. I’ll humor you random guy. Let’s pretend that the word ‘uncle’ is a synonym of the word ‘old’. It does not change the fact that I never said it, or any other word that also means ‘old’.
I don’t like that final sentence. ‘It’s the media that have made this an age thing.’ I don’t like having to defend myself from a point I didn’t even make. I never brought up the age thing. I don’t like having to be like ‘It wasn’t me officer, It was the media!’ I wish I’d just stuck to my guns and reminded him that I never said the age thing, and that the comments were creepy despite it. But he hadn’t responded to anything else with any semblance of clarity. And it was only now that I’d left my well thought out arguments in favor of finger-pointing at someone else that he gave me any slack. But STILL he was falling back on things that weren’t true.
I’ve since discovered that NME used my tweet in their coverage of the event (which just affirmed for me that I was not alone in my view). I scoured the article for where it described him as ‘Creepy Uncle Joey,’ and the closest thing that I could find is that someone else’s tweet called him ‘America’s Gross Uncle’. So now he was not only inventing stuff that I’d said, he was using what other people had said as evidence against me, like we’d all gone to a big meeting and discussed the issue before concluding that every single one of us who voiced an opinion on the issue must first believe that Matt LeBlanc’s age is the main factor here. But this is what he responded with next.
I mean what the actual fuck. What is the pattern. Please enlighten me.
This is what he said:
“It’s not (Ridiculous). There is a culture of such quick offensive and draconian reaction that it is unhealthy and not productive.”
With that I was fucking done. I told him again that he was part of the problem and stopped responding.
Ok dude. The man who could not create a coherent and fact-based argument against me was now throwing around words like ‘draconian’? Christ. I googled the definition of ‘draconian’ just to check because it’s not a word I’ve used myself.
It means excessively harsh and severe.
And the example in a sentence is…
“The nazi’s destroyed the independence of the press by a series of draconian laws.”
Hold on a darn minute.
So because I tweeted my friends and followers that I found Matt Leblanc’s comments creepy I can suddenly justly be described in the same way as a nazi? As in slaughtered millions of innocent Jewish people nazi?
And you know what? For a second I checked myself and I believed him. I thought holy crap am I really easily offended? Am I knee-jerk and do I even have a right to feel those things?
If you have ever felt like that or do feel like that again I have one word for you: don’t.
If they manage to make you feel like that then they are winning. Then they have put you down and stopped you speaking out for what you believe in.
The word feminist stopped being used as an insult when we stopped taking it like one. When we stopped saying “No I’m not…” and started saying “Yes, your point being?” The word Feminazi will be the same. If Feminazi means “willing to fight for the equality of the genders” then sign me the fuck up. I will wear it on a neon hat for all to see.
If someone tells you to not be so offended when you call them out on putting down your race or ability or gender or sexuality, then they are part of the problem. There is a line somewhere where offense stops being about fighting for equality and starts being about keyboard bashing. I don’t know where that line is, but I know that it doesn’t start with calling men out on their sexist comments, or battling homophobia, or racism, or ableism.
While I’ve been writing this article I’ve received more tweets putting me down for my views. They’ve all been men who’ve come off the back of the NME article. That means that these people have gone out of their way to hunt me down on Twitter to tweet me. Why are they so desperate? Why does this threaten them so much? It’s fucking stupid and petty. But here’s the thing. Every great social movement in history has had a vehement and vicious backlash. If you hit a nerve with a few straight white guys on their phones then you’ve probably done a good job.