“Your rating was great, maybe if you take your eyes off my breast you can watch the movie!”
Three lines, 19 words. Poetry, arguably at its best in the 21st century: the Instagram DM. Amandla Stenberg Hamlet could have been written, but Shakespeare certainly wouldn’t have written this. Just one or two short syllables of a haiku, but with a clear intent embedded in the distinct syllables—the innocent opening; sudden traumatic torsion of the second line; The closing feeling that kills me every time. As a film critic, perhaps if she had actually “watched the movie”, none of this would have happened. The real kicker is that she knew exactly how it was going to turn out – she didn’t know it would backfire terribly.
Film critic Saeed Ho Lena Wilson, a columnist for the prestigious New York Times, you may have heard of it? Well, a month ago, you definitely hadn’t heard of it. After a scathing review of the comedy and horror flick for A24″Bodies Bodies and BodiesWilson took to Twitter in a now-deleted post for his release This infamous private message From actress Amandla Stenberg, who stars in the film. shock! Rage! An inevitable controversy ensued! But let’s get more context. On its own, Stenberg’s baffling letter is meaningless, reading like a surprising and deeply insulting reaction to a critic just trying to do his job—something that Wilson has clearly benefited from. If you haven’t read her paid-for-wall review, you may not be familiar with the specific line Stenberg visibly encountered and was alluding to directly: the line in which Wilson called the film “95 Minutes Trailer For A Split And Charlie XCX’s Latest Single. Not a good look, to say the least (and to say the least, Charli XCX’s single “Hot Girl” is pop and has responded to the drama about The best possible way).
Here is where things start to get messy. Wilson tweeted this screenshot assuming that out of context, the Internet would blindly sympathize with it. A gay Wilson portrayed the DM as a homophobic, petty revenge of a distinguished actress unsatisfied with a less-than-stellar review. She acted as if the reason she posted a private message to a very public forum was because Stenberg was “More social power“from her, and that it simply wasn’t a good idea for them to do such a thing. The fault with Wilson’s strategy here is that, unlike the way an Internet audience might try to appear, no one is absolutely sympathetic, especially when it comes to petty celebrity disputes and the lives of Elite They may seem easy to manipulate and are often blindly misled, but Wilson didn’t have much credibility or camaraderie with Twitter fans to inspire them to act on her behalf.
The Internet quickly condemned Wilson instead. Like any good Twitter drama, the incident prompted people to search for a whole host of hateful evidence from internet bullies, including this somewhat incriminating one. tik tok Which pretty much speaks for itself. In it, Wilson gives viewers advice on what makes her a qualified arts writer, and before you ask, no, that’s not satire, though I sincerely hope so. I can justify this in a reckless defense of the heat she’s been in on the internet, but seven months ago it has absolutely nothing to do with “Bodies Bodies” (which somehow makes it worse). but that he is An expressive portrait of the person we are dealing with here. The final nail in the coffin arrived when Wilson relied on her position in the New York Times as “I’m just talented, I think,” conveniently ignoring the fact that her father editor there. Ah, nepotism, the basic technical sin. So now we’ve gone from a gay film critic receiving an unwanted homophobic DM from an actress to a rookie kid who unnecessarily draws attention to a celebrity interaction that she probably should have laughed about with her friends instead of posting on Twitter.
It feels like an internet safety tale that anyone under 25 should get their hands on in elementary school. The things you post online stay there forever. like forever. A basic rule of thumb for the web here, folks. There is no real omission of anything, and if it contains even the slightest bit of comedic value, people will never let you take it down. The Internet is simply never forgotten. Ask any famous person who participated in it.”imagineVideo – I imagine it still haunts them to this day. I certainly hope you do.
To get through the whole disaster, let’s hear it from Stenberg’s TikTok account. Air purifier, Stenberg published a file video Explaining that her intentions with the DM were primarily humorous (I could barely read it without laughing) and assumed that since they were both gay, Wilson would find it funny too. Regardless of the misreading of the encrypted spoken message, Stenberg was clearly not bothered by Wilson’s criticism of the film, but Wilson chose to reduce and revise the film to a somewhat shallow embodiment of the film’s cast. Whether it’s a neglected line or not, the film’s underestimation – let’s hear it again – “95-minute split ad” says more about Wilson’s superficial analysis than the “over-sex and sexual exploitation of ‘A24′” which seems to be take it. for reference, these be The Clothes Characters wear nearly the entire movie. Stenberg, pictured left at the top of the tank green, is the only one wearing anything even moderately revealing, which makes Wilson’s suspension more targeted and Stenberg’s subsequent reaction more justified.
I’m not sure how much definition this case can get. Wilson spends much of her review repeatedly blaming the film for its self-absorbed characters that are a shallow depiction of left-wing internet culture, only to end up engaging in internet culture itself in a frivolous, self-serving, attention-seeking manner. No matter what sides were taken, Wilson consciously tried to manipulate a weak online system that routinely thrives on conflict and explodes into total chaos due to minor celebrity mishaps. In sowing the seeds of discord, all it takes is the simplest rumor, the slightest notion of suspicion to turn into complete devastation, every response and response operates like a never-ending phone game in that digital void of the echo chamber. “Mean Girls” warned us about it long before the power of the internet came to full fruition, as did “Gossip Girl,” the long-running hero of destroying the life of a gossip little publication every time.
In all fairness, the audience’s reaction here hasn’t been entirely accurate, as this requires critical thinking, something that everyone can do to an extent but the internet likes to ignore in favor of the next new bit of gossip. Celebrity topics in popular online discourse retain their relevance not by giving people all the facts and allowing them to draw their rational, well-researched conclusions, but by providing them with snippets of shocking information that actively stimulate and encourage gut reactions. These responses are based on nothing but our own biases and the ever-changing wave of digital influence. Who was right didn’t matter much when it was so easy for the internet as a whole to take either direction.
What if Wilson’s review was from a lesser-known post or no one picked it up and tweeted it? Or if Stenberg is less well known, or has the slightest bit of pre-existing internet stigma against it (think of the visceral reaction you get upon hearing the names beautiful beautiful or Camila Cabello)? Details of either party’s criticisms or legitimate concerns become inconsequential as they are muddled by the disproportionate scope and impact of highly specialized internet drama. Maybe people will think twice about the next time a private message from a celebrity gets leaked, or maybe they’ll just laugh at Wilson’s condemnation of TikTok now and then. But when we allow art criticism to be tempered by the prevailing online orthodoxy of the subject and attempt to employ easy-going masses to disregard the substance in favor of something in keeping with the relevant current position held by all, it becomes meaningless outside of the internet context.
It’s hardly groundbreaking for me to say that we the public, users of Twitter and TikTok and the like, are constantly yearning for a new celebrity to love or hate. A person dethroned on the grounds of petty misdemeanors, aided by the parasitic nature of the Internet and the highly monitored documentary environment that has become a hallmark of social media as we know it. Perhaps it reminds us that celebrities are human, as flawed as we are, or that it simply satisfies a long-held desire to have some sense of being taxed, which is the price to pay for all that privilege and power. As the Bodies Bodies mantra aptly describes it, “This is not a safe place.” It never was, and I doubt it ever will be.
Time and time again, regardless of its correctness or intent, art criticism is lost in a sea of scandal and rumor, manipulated by agendas less focused on the artistic merit of the work or the artist’s talent than the prospect of ruin. In this case, Internet gossip was hidden under the guise of false intellectual criticism of the film A24 and even the current situation. Perhaps this same article is typical of that, but who am I to say? Subconsciously or unconsciously, Wilson played a role in this potential and engaged in an online system that pledges no loyalty and knows no boundaries just for the chance of getting attention and short acclaim online. She has received good internet notice, probably not the kind anyone would hope.
How did all this end?
Wilson deleted all of her social media, ‘Body Bosses’ briefly garnered a massive amount of attention they might not otherwise have, and Charli XCX emerged from the bloodbath unscathed and remained an unquestioned queen. Now just go broadcast “Hot Girl,” everyone!
Arts daily writer Serena Irani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.