Today we’re gonna learn how to say sorry, and we’re gonna use the recent Marvel shenanigans to do so.
A couple days ago MCU stars Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner (Captain America and Haweye, respectively) made some stupid comments about the Black Widow’s sexual integrity, and fans got a little pissed. Watch the clip here, if you’d like. Basically, the interviewer asked about the rumors that the Black Widow wanted to be with both Haweye and Captain America, and Renner stated, “she’s a slut.” Evans burst out laughing and quipped, “she’s a total whore!’
Why fans were pissed we’ll address later, but for now lets focus on the apologies these two actors issued.
“Yesterday we were asked about the rumors that Black Widow wanted to be in a relationship with both Hawkeye and Captain America … We answered in a very juvenile and offensive way that rightfully angered some fans. I regret it and sincerely apologize.” – Chris Evans
“I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone … It was not meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour.” – Jeremy Renner
Whoa. Big difference. Let’s talk about it.
Chris Evans, the internet’s collective boyfriend, apologized like a pro. He took the blame, admitting to being juvenile and offensive, and then he validated his fans’ feelings. “…rightfully angered…” Good on you, Chris. He seemed genuinely remorseful and did not even try to explain himself. It was just, “dude I messed up. I’m sorry.” Ten points to Captain America.
Now Renner, on the other hand, is a classic example of assholery in an apology. Right of the bat he minimizes the offense (“tasteless joke”) and then defends his words by reminding us all, hey, the Black Widow isn’t real (“a fictional character”). He then places the blame on the upset fans (I’m sorry…offended anyone”). He isn’t sorry for his actions, he’s sorry you got mad.
He goes on to explain himself. “It was not meant to be serious, guise, geez it was just for the lols, lighten up.” And then, and here’s the kicker, he tries to evoke sympathy from you.
Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour.
“I’m just so tired! It is so exhausting making millions of dollars and having to go to tedious press tours, where people are interested in what I have to say, where I make more money, and where I become more loved by my fans! My life is real hard, guise.”
This is the kind of “apology” an abusive parent might issue her children. “Sorry you’re so upset. I was just joking, obviously. I’m under a lot of stress lately because your dad sucks” kind of thing. Your emotionally manipulative romantic partner may do the same.
It is bullshit and you don’t have to accept it. In fact, you cannot accept it. An apology must be an actual apology for there to be room for acceptance. There is nothing to absolve the other party of if she’s still clinging to her correctness and your over-reaction.
Remember this the next time you do something shitty to someone else, either inadvertently (you were joking) or on purpose (you’re an asshole). When you say sorry to someone, shoulder all the blame. Wait to discuss it until the other party has mellowed, and then in a controlled and calm environment you may be able to say, ‘it was wrong and here are the factors that contributed to me doing this wrong thing.” But that is only after your apology has been accepted, you’ve been forgiven, and there is some water flowing under the bridge.
One more point about Renner’s asshole apology; he reminds you that the Black Widow is a fictional character to undermine your sympathies for her, but our treatment of fictional characters is indicative of our underlying viewpoints. If I had a dollar every time someone called Skylar White a “nagging bitch”, or passionately stated that Cersei Lanniseter deserved to be raped at her murdered child’s funeral (“she’s just such a fucking bitch!”), I would, I don’t know, have enough money to move to a treehouse village where no misogynists were allowed. Or something.
People love to hate women, and the media loves to deliver easily hated women. Fans were pissed because we’re sick of the internet scum trashing the few female characters we actually have in TV and movies. We’re sick of shitty representation or none at all. We want female characters who are fun, who make mistakes, who are evil, who are crude, who are needy, who have sex for their own pleasure, who have interesting backstories and have hopes and dreams. In the MCU right now, the Black Widow is the only female Avenger. We want her to be more than some superhero’s love interest, or a sexy butt-shot during a fight sequence.
You want to hate the Black Widow for being attracted to two attractive men in a movie where she’s the only female in the group? Have you never wanted two people, or more, at once? You’re mad because she “uses her sexuality as a weapon”? Really? You’re not heralding her for working the system that was set up against her? Little girls are sexualized before we even know what sex is; yeah we learn to use it in our favor. Sometimes, it’s all you have, and if a fictional female assassin goes, “fuck this, I’ll blow him and when he’s squirming in delight, that’s when I’ll kill him” good for her for using the tools she’s got at her disposal.
^the scene in GoT that broke my heart, because yeah, Cersei sucks, but so does being a woman in a world that wants to hurt women.
I don’t see the same hatred directed at Petyr Baelish, in Game of Thrones, who uses his own sexuality and charm to get what he wants. In fact, I see people fawning over him. He’s so sexy! He’s so bad!
Your double standard makes me sick.
And finally, one more thing, Mr. Renner; you make your living off fictional characters, and people giving a shit about those fictional characters. You don’t really get to turn around and dismiss people’s opinions on the industry that’s made you filthy rich.