Let her make her own choices.
Florence Pugh has recently been the subject of much media buzz thanks to the age gap between her and her partner, Zach Braff.
Pugh, who is 24-years-old, has been dating Scrubs star Zach Braff, who just turned 45, for nearly four years. As Pugh's star has risen thanks to hit films like Little Women and Midsommar, media and fans alike have begun to question Braff and Pugh's age gap. Finally, tired of all the abuse, Pugh posted the following video to her Instagram account on April 9th. Watch the video here.
In the video, she firmly warns fans against commenting about her relationship on her posts. "I will not allow that behaviour on my page. I'm not about that. It makes me upset and sad that during this time when we really all need to be together and supporting and loving one another... a few of you decided to bully for no reason," the star said candidly. She goes on to say that she has been working and earning money since the age of 17 and paying taxes from the age of 18 and can make her own decisions when it comes to relationships.
"I'll underline this fact,' Pugh said. "I do not need you to tell me who I should and should not love and I would never in my life who they can and cannot love. It is not your place and really it has nothing to do with you. I don't want this on my page, it's embarrassing, it's sad and I don't know when cyberbullying became trendy or a points system. I don't know why it's a cool thing."
More recently, in an interview for Elle UK, the actress spoke out about the online abuse again, saying "I know that part of being in the spotlight is that people might invade your privacy and have opinions on it, but it's bizarre that normal folk are allowed to display such hate and opinions on a part of my life that I'm not putting out there," she said. "It's a strange side of fame that you're allowed to be torn apart by thousands of people even though you didn't put that piece of you out there." She went on to say, "I don't want to talk about it because it's not something I want to highlight, but my point to all this is that isn't it odd that a stranger can totally tear apart someone's relationship and it's allowed?"
While Pugh's rebuff of cyberbullies was inspiring, the question still remains: Why do people have such an issue with Pugh and Braff's relationship? Older male celebrities dating younger women is a tale as old as time. Think of Leonardo DiCaprio, known for dating women as much 20 years his junior, or Dennis Quaid (65) and girlfriend Laura Savoie (26). These couples don't receive the kind of abuse Braff and Pugh have weathered, so what sets them apart? Perhaps the answer lies with Pugh's fame. She is unquestionably the bigger star in the couple, so maybe fans' image of who a beautiful young star should date isn't compatible with Braff, who is cute in a non-threatening way and in no way the traditional Hollywood heart throb.
But then why don't people have issues with Leonardo Dicaprio dating little-known models and actresses? Well, sexism, of course. We expect a big star like Leo to date young beautiful women, and we have no issue with the age gap because we don't feel like we know the women in the relationship; they're just unknown, beautiful faces. Not only that, but we expect famous women to date men who are even more famous than them, in order to increase their own star power. Meanwhile, famous men can exist in their own orbit of stardom and date who they choose.
We expect young female starlets like Pugh to date hunky heartthrobs while she's in her prime, before she ages out of the narrow window in which women are valued in Hollywood. It makes us uncomfortable that Pugh is dating an older man who is not a massive star and not sexy in a traditional way, because it doesn't fit with the narrative we've come to expect from the people we choose to bestow fame upon.
Our response to Pugh's relationship also reflects the way society views a woman's personal autonomy. When Ashton Kutcher was dating much older Demi Moore, no one questioned his decision-making. But people seem to think that Pugh needs to be warned against making a mistake in dating Braff, that she isn't capable of making her own relationship choices. Why? You guessed it: sexism. Culturally, we don't trust women to make decisions in the same way we trust men. Not only that, but in the case of Leo and his semi-anonymous young lovers, in our eyes, the women in the relationship don't possess the kind of personal autonomy Pugh does; we don't know them, they're just pieces of eye candy. Pugh, on the other hand, has become a human being in our eyes, something that isn't automatic when we perceive women the way it is for men. But that doesn't mean she's free from the unfair expectations we place on all women, famous or not.
On some level, we feel that Florence Pugh owes us a sexy, tumultuous relationship with some hot young Hollywood star. We feel that since we have decided to make her famous, to watch her movies and invest in her personal life, it is her duty to entertain us. Having a stable relationship with a 45-year-old nice-guy who doesn't have a six pack and is known for a funny sitcom—not hit action movies—isn't entertaining. That isn't what we want to read about in the tabloids.
So, summarily, while you may think that it's anti-feminist that Pugh is dating a much older man, and you may think that commenting on her relationship is in some way proving your devotion to her, you couldn't be more wrong. If you have a problem with Pugh dating Braff, you're essentially saying that she can't be trusted to make her own choices, and you're making her relationship about you and your own prejudice, not her and her happiness.
Just let Florence Pugh and Zach Braff be happy, okay?
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The Trump-Twitter Industrial Complex continues to fester and mutate.
This week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a false statement about mail-in ballots.
He wrote that secretaries of state were sending mail-in ballots to every person, when actually states are only sending out ballot applications. For the first time, Twitter jumped in to fact-check Trump's statement, adding a link to a webpage full of information about mail-in ballots.
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Was the Jimmy Fallon Blackface Skit Intentionally Released as a Distraction from the Murder of George Floyd?
Racist police violence is a modern epidemic. So why are we talking about an SNL skit from 2000?
At this point, celebrity apologies are incredibly common. In 2020, it seems like some formerly beloved actor or TV personality is being put through the wringer of public opinion a few times a week.
Most recently, Twitter canceled Jimmy Fallon after an unquestionably racist skit from the 2000 season of SNL resurfaced online. The skit features Fallon impersonating Chris Rock, complete with black face and an offensive imitation of Rock's speech patterns.
Jimmy Fallon Blackface youtu.be
This quickly led to the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. While fans seemed split on whether Fallon should be forgiven for the 20-year-old misstep, most everyone agreed that Fallon should apologize regardless. This morning, he did just that in the form of a tweet.
As far as celebrity apologies go, Fallon's is a pretty good one. He doesn't try to sidestep the blame, he doesn't bring up the fact that there were undoubtedly many, many other individuals involved in the creation of the skit, and he doesn't even mention the fact that in 2000, many people still thought it was possible for black face to be done in the spirit of fun, because the deeply racist nature of the act was largely ignored in mainstream (white) media. Of course, we know better now, and it's easy to see that a white person doing an exaggerated imitation of a black person—darkened skin included—can only be a racist, belittling act with a long, dark history of racial oppression. With that in mind, Fallon's only option was to apologize without caveat or reservation. Indeed, it's refreshing to see a celebrity apology that doesn't try to justify or minimize their own misstep. While we can all agree Fallon made a terrible, racist choice 20 years ago, we have to believe that, like all of us, he's grown since then. If cancel culture is to have any efficacy in making the world a better place, it has to leave room for forgiveness and growth. Hopefully, the whole affair will leave Fallon (and those who witnessed it) more racially sensitive.
All of that being said, one has to ask why the clip was brought up now, given that it's been circulated around the Internet before, and the specific YouTube clip that was shared was posted on the site over a year ago. It's also worth noting that the version of the clip that was going around Twitter has a text overlay that reads: "NBC FIRED MEGAN KELLY FOR MENTIONING BLACKFACE. JIMMY FALLON PERFORMED ON NBC IN BLACKFACE."
Megan Kelly, an outspoken conservative, was indeed fired from her job at NBC because she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, saying on her talk show, "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween," she said. "When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character." While Fallon's instance of racial insensitivity was in 2000, Kelly defended blackface in 2019, long after society at large had begun to acknowledge the hurt that blackface and other forms of racial impersonation could cause. This fundamental difference aside, Kelly also has a long history of racial insensitivity that Fallon does not, even once saying, "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?" in a conversation about the epidemic of racist police officers in America.
Given the text overlay, it's pretty clear that whoever began the #jimmyfallonisoverparty was not necessarily seeking justice for the black community, but was instead trying to imply hypocrisy in the cancellation of Megan Kelly, given that Fallon (who has been outspoken about the flaws of the Trump administration and political pundits like Kelly) is still on the air. One even has to wonder if, given that it's obvious that the #jimmyfallonisoverparty trend was begun by a conservative individual or group, if the trend was meant to be a distraction from the widespread racist police violence that has been emphasized in recent weeks by incidents like the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer on Monday. It seems oddly coincidental that the clip of Fallon should flood the Internet with controversy the day after Floyd's murder, unfortunately serving to help steer conversation away from Floyd's unjust death.
Indeed, under the unquestionably racist Donald Trump administration, more and more black people are being harassed, attacked, and murdered at the hands of racist white civilians and police officers. But Trump and his supporters don't want you to focus on that–so much so that it doesn't feel impossible that the Fallon skit was intentionally weaponized as a distraction.
In the last few weeks alone we learned that Ahmaud Arbery was murdered senselessly by a white man while simply out for a jog, and we all witnessed the harassment of Christian Cooper, a black man who was threatened by a white woman in Central Park who didn't want to put her dog on a leash. It's clear that racism in America cannot be reduced to insensitive skits from 20 years ago but is instead a current and deadly problem. What Jimmy Fallon did in 2000 was racist, yes; but don't let that distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in 2020, don't let celebrity apologies make you take your eyes of our lawmakers, who aren't doing enough to protect people of color in this country. Don't let the latest "#_____isoverparty" trend distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in our laws, culture, and criminal justice system.
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