Abigail Fenton 3rd July 2019
Another day on the internet, another female celebrity everybody seems to hate.
The latest in the long line of women who apparently can’t do or say anything right? Captain Marvel actor Brie Larson.
I stumbled upon this fact late one night while stuck in a vortex of Wired autocomplete interviews, which for some reason I find strangely addictive.
I had seen Captain Marvel. But otherwise I knew nothing about Larson, other than what I had gathered from scrolling through my Twitter timeline or happening across a gifset on Tumblr. I hadn’t even seen the critically acclaimed Room — still haven’t, in fact. (I know. I’ll get around to it.)
But I’m a simple woman. I see a Wired autocomplete interview, I click.
I was delighted to find I really like Brie Larson. She had me charmed instantly — laughing at my screen at 4am, thinking, yeah, I could be friends with her, as she lamented, “I’m sorry you had to google that. I feel like the Disney execs are super bummed about that,” in response to the question of who plays Captain Marvel.
In fact, I found her so charismatic and endearing that I resolved to finally get around to checking out her work.
Larson’s crimes are three-fold: she’s a woman, she has opinions and she occasionally cracks a joke
So imagine my surprise when I glanced at my sidebar and saw a video titled 5 Common Habits That Make People Instantly Dislike You, featuring the face of none other than Brie Larson. Not just her face, in fact, but a still from the video I had just watched.
The video, which attempts to detail why Larson is widely-disliked by Marvel fans, would have you believe her crimes are numerous. She’s “rude”, she’s “cringey” and she “feels personally attacked by everything”.
Really, they can be reduced to about three: she’s a woman, she has opinions and she occasionally cracks a joke.
Now, like most young lesbians on the internet, I often engage in “stan culture”. So I was aware of the existence of Larson hate. But only in a removed, abstract way.
As the woman leading the next phase of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, of course Larson is bound to be unpopular with a certain subset of the fandom
Mostly, I would see friends of mine say things like, “Brie Larson doesn’t deserve the hate she gets,” and I would nod in agreement.
I would think about the sexist, bad-faith negative review-bombing of Captain Marvel before the movie even came out.
I’d remember how angry internet troglodytes were when DC first announced Wonder Woman.
I would assume that, as not only Marvel’s first female superhero to get her own movie — a decade into the franchise, btw — but the woman essentially leading the next phase of the MCU, of course Larson was bound to be unpopular with a certain subset of the fandom.
But nothing could have prepared me for the pure volume and intensity of the vitriol I saw upon clicking the “back” button and scrolling down to the comments section of the video I had just wholeheartedly enjoyed.
“Would Brie Larson workout? Like, hypothetically, would I at some point? Is that, like, a personal attack or something?” Larson banters in the interview.
This is what seems to have ignited the most hatred among Marvel fans. In particular, the response to the phrase “personal attack” seems… let’s just say disproportionate.
“Brie Larson, you’re not a bad person. You just have a bad personality.”
“She needs a charisma double.”
“She’s just so negative about everything.”
“She’s the kind of person who tries to be funny but just ends up being so mean to you.”
Sometimes it feels like there is nothing women can do without being vilified for it
On and on and on. It might actually be somewhat amusing — in an ironic, meta way — to watch the internet condemn Larson for “reading negative intent where there was none” while simultaneously losing its tiny hivemind over what was clearly a joke… if it wasn’t so frustrating.
Sometimes it feels like there is nothing women can do without being vilified for it.
Kristen Stewart “never smiles”. (She does.) Anne Hathaway “tries too hard”. (Trying is cool.) Taylor Swift’s kindness is “fake”. (A deliberately cynical, boring take.) Jennifer Lopez is a “diva”. (Come on.) Megan Fox is literally just too attractive.
Larson is “touchy” and “too sarcastic”, I guess.
Sarcasm should have “a tell”, Charisma on Command says. It requires a particular inflection, as well as body language that “gives away” the joke, insists the narrator — who I assume to be exceptionally fun at parties.
Maybe I’m just too much like Larson
Larson’s dry, deadpan delivery of it will not do. What she should do if she wants to be liked is make her voice less flat, tilt her head, narrow her eyes and smile afterwards to “release the tension”.
She should hold your hand through the horrific ordeal, then wipe your brow afterwards too.
It’s telling that no videos like Charisma on Command’s exist for Jeremy Renner, who regularly makes “jokes” actually worth getting upset about — remember when he called Scarlett Johannsen’s Black Widow a “slut”?
While Renner was (rightfully) forced to apologise for this and countless other remarks, they seem to have left barely a stain on his reputation. He’s not “rude” or “unlikable”. He’s just a dude.
Maybe I’m just too much like Larson. I’m frequently sarcastic — acerbic, even. I pride myself on not taking ribbing too seriously. My friends and colleagues would probably tell you I like to dish it out. But I can take it too.
And I would love to grab a drink with Brie Larson. I get her sense of humour. I feel like we’d get along.
It’s not my job to appease men who can’t read sarcasm or interpret jokes correctly
Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t like hurting people. If I accidentally cross a line occasionally, I know how to swallow my pride, admit I was wrong and give a sincere apology. But I’m not interested in modifying every aspect of how I express myself on a daily basis just to be more palatable to you.
It’s not my job to appease people — particularly men — just because they can’t read sarcasm or interpret a joke correctly. Nor is it Larson’s. Or any woman’s.
And that doesn’t make any of us “unlikable”. So stop telling us how to act.
Abigail Fenton 3rd July 2019