David O. Russell Compares Jennifer Lawrence's Work On 'The Hunger Games' To 12 Years Of Slavery. Right.
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David O. Russell Compares Jennifer Lawrence's Work On 'The Hunger Games' To 12 Years Of Slavery. Right.

By Joanna Robinson | Trade News | January 14, 2014 | Comments ()

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I’m not here to get my knickers in a twist about the inadvisability of comparing anything (let alone a role that every actress in Hollywood would give their eye teeth to play) to slavery. I know it’s dumb. You know it’s dumb. Even David O. Russell knows it’s dumb. Regarding her work on The Hunger Games franchise, he said:

I personally think they should give her a bit of breathing room over there because they’re printing money…I’ll tell you what it is about that girl — talk about 12 years of slavery, that’s what the franchise is. And I’m going to get in so much trouble for saying that.

Yeah so even David O. Russell, not the most cautious public speaker, knows that bringing slavery into the conversation is pretty nuts. But what irks me more than that is the tunnel-vision ignorance that statement conveys about the nature of fame, popularity and Hollywood. Is O. Russell really not aware of how the Lawrence fame feedback loop helped his own work gain popularity? I’m not saying having Jennifer Lawrence in his last two films made Russell’s career. He’s was doing absolutely dandy pre-Silver Linings Playbook and I’d happily cite the Lawrence-free The Fighter as his re-entry into the A-list in 2010. (It had been six years since I Heart Huckabees, a personal favorite but not exactly a juggernaut in the film zeitgeist.) But does he really REALLY think that Lawrence’s fame as Katniss had nothing to do with the success of Silver Linings Playbook? Does he think her general popularity and America’s Sweetheart status had nothing to do with her Oscar win? Doe he not realize how much they beefed up her presence in the American Hustle ad campaign to help sell that movie to the general public?

Lawrence is darling. I love her, you love her, but her Golden Globe win for American Hustle was pretty preposterous given the field she was competing in. That was some Mighty Aphrodite-level f*ckery. So yeah, you know what O. Russell, The Hunger Games franchise gets to milk the star they helped create for another two films. Should she be worked to the point of exhaustion? No. But O. Russell’s complaint sounds more like a petulant man who wants full access to Lawrence and is forced to work around her time in Panem. As for Lawrence, well, it makes sense that she would thank O. Russell for “making [her] career what it is” when clutching her Golden Globe Sunday night, but make no mistake, Katniss had a lot to do with it.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Kate

    David O Russell says something hyperbolic and offensive. Shocker.

    I'm not really getting all the angst over Jennifer's win though. Sally Hawkins and June Squibb obviously weren't going to win and I'm quite sure a lot of people complaining about Jennifer's win haven't actually seen either ladies performance. Oprah wasn't even nominated and did anyone actually want Julia Roberts to win? Even Julia Roberts knew it wasn't going to happen.

    Lupita was the only real competition, and while I think she deserved it, I'd imagine a lot of voters want to see her in something else so they can get a handle on whether she really is spectacular or whether the material and direction were propping her up. The same reason Jennifer lost out with Winter's Bone.

  • kirbyjay

    Ick. Oprah.

  • John G.

    to answer your question, Joanna, yes. David O'Russell really thinks that, because he's an egomaniac nutball. He probably couldn't get J-Law on set at American Hustle one day out of all the shooting days, and had one of his legendary cry baby fits.

  • Wigamer

    I can't like him after seeing the footage of him during the filming of I Heart Huckabees. I just can't.

  • Jezzer

    I couldn't like him after seeing that pretentious piece of crap movie anyway, but the footage of him shrieking at Lily Tomlin cinched it for me.

  • Wigamer

    I only got through 10 min. of Huckabees. Silver Linings Playbook I sat through, but it became hate-watching pretty early on. I just loathe him.

  • kimk

    Ok, either this guy is an asshole, engaged in some advanced-level trolling, or a little of both. Because you can pretty much guarantee any analogy comparing "XYZ" (i.e., anything other than actual slavery) to slavery is going to be offensive.

    In terms of JL winning the award, while she might not have been my top choice I don't think this reaches Mira Sorvino-level insanity. On an outrage level of 0 to "Crash wins best picture????!!!??" I give it a 3, max.

  • Merski

    Can we just generally agree to not compare anything to rape, slavery and Holocaust?

  • John G.

    then what will the tea party put on their misspelled signs?

  • Wow. I didn't know I could dislike you more, David O Russell. Thanks for that.

  • You can't compare slavery to anything that wasn't slavery. Just like you can't compare someone to Hitler who wasn't Adolf Hitler.

    Still don't get why these are so hard to get.

  • Ben

    What about other genocidal dictators? Like Pol Pot or Stalin?

  • John G.

    how would you compare Hitler to Hitler? Which was worse?

  • Yeah....no. It would be one thing if he simply said "it's like slavery". Still immensely tone deaf and stupid, but not as bad. But he directly refers a movie whose whole point was showing how horrible slavery really is. So people have a point of reference to his tone-deafness and stupidity.

    Look, acting is hard work, and there are few who have Lawrence's proven talent at it. She deserves the accolades and compensation she gets. That is the key: ACCOLADES AND COMPENSATION. Nobody gave a "Best Performance With A Cotton Gin" and certainly no kind of profit share. She is just a hard worker who is getting her due. That is as close to the concept of "slave" as Pluto is to the concept of "orbiting the Earth". Yeah somebody can argue the similarities on a technical level, but they will just sound insane if they do so.

  • Maddy

    The thing about any of these awards is, it can never be judged objectively, and all this treatment of actors and filmmakers like they're in a race where we can clearly see who is the best - It's just not what this should be about. It's no more than the inescapably biased cumulative opinion of a certain group of people. I mean, I love looking at the dresses and the whole thing is entertaining to talk about, but at the end of the day, it's not really worth getting upset about. At least it (hopefully) exposes people to movies they wouldn't otherwise have gone to see. That said, I haven't yet seen American Hustle or 12 Years a Slave (which STILL hasn't come out in Australia for some reason) so what do I know.

  • Becks

    30th of Janaury it's due out here. Hopefully with the awards buzz that will mean that it gets more promotion and is played at all cinemas.

  • I am of the opinion that he said it to purposely ruffle feathers and get media coverage and that he genuinely believes Lawrence is teflon right now, so it's okay to use her stardom to whine about how she achieved said stardom. I am not maligning her role in Winter's Bone, but we all know she's a hot property now because of The Hunger Games. This feeding of red meat to a rabid internet/press corps was done to keep his name front and center prior to the Oscars.

  • Holly Martins

    If he keeps talking like that, he's going to incite the much feared Jennifer-Lawrence-backlash. That's what often happens when we're asked to throw a pity-party for a pretty, wealthy, successful & popular celebrity.

  • Aside: anyone else slightly skeeved by that header picture? And I say that as a future applicant into the "Dirty Old Men" club.

  • cedarfalls

    David O. Russell is the guy who admitted to groping the breasts of his 19-year old transgender niece after enquiring about the effects of hormone treatments. I'm skeeved every time I see his picture...

  • ed newman

    I don't get why you are skeeved. Unless any picture of a 20 something woman next to a 50 something man skeeves you out. She leaned in slightly for a photo. No arms around each other, not sitting too close together. I think his smile is ok, but i guess if you try real hard you could make the case it is a slight leer.

  • I guess it was seeing it after reading the comments. That strong a defense makes me question motives.

  • The comment wasn't offensive. The fact it needed a rimshot to sell it was offensive.

  • Zeus McGuinnes

    Leave it to hyper-politically correct liberals to take offense from any mention of the word slavery.

    Perhaps he was stating that her talents are wasted on long running soap-style acting seen in the hunger games.

  • Jezzer

    It's really neat the way you tied yourself into a square knot attempting to twist around and find a way that what he said could have been misconstrued. It's almost like you didn't read what he actually said, or perhaps made a disingenuous statement as a cover for your real purpose of making a lame political potshot or something.

  • Zeus McGuinnes

    It doesn't need to be misconstrued, its simply not offensive to any group except fans of the hunger games, and i fail to see why an article is written about a director being condescending.

  • Jezzer


  • Except the part where he directly references 12 Years a Slave.

  • Zeus McGuinnes

    yes? how is this any different to comedians/award show hosts using nominated titles to deliver a punchline. It was obviously said in dark humor.

  • Jezzer

    David O. Russell doesn't have a sense of humor, much less a dark one.

  • Zeus McGuinnes

    I'ld have to disagree as silver linings and american hustle were rip-roaring humorous films inwhich he wrote.

  • You use that term but I don't think you know what it means. Furthermore, David O. Russell is not a comedian, which renders your point moot.

  • Zeus McGuinnes

    hes not a comedian so he can't make a joke?

  • You think this is a joke? Whiteness is one hell of a drug.

  • Zeus McGuinnes

    >implying i'm white
    >implying someone who gets offended by the mention of the word slavery isn't a white college student.

  • And that's just it. Whiteness is so potent a drug that you don't even have to be white to be on that shit. Or are you completely unaware of the mental vacancy that goes by Armond White?

  • Zeus McGuinnes

    I don't understand your point so i'm going to take it as disrespect.

  • Shocking.

  • Berry

    "Perhaps he was stating that her talents are wasted on long running soap-style acting seen in the hunger games."

    If he wanted to say that, he should have said that. It's not that hard.

  • Robert

    I have no problem with Lawrence winning. Would I prefer other nominees winning over her? Yes. Would I prefer performances that aren't even in the running at this point (Emma Watson done got fucked over for The Bling Ring)? Absolutely. Lawrence gave a great performance. We're not talking "how did Sandra Bullock win for The Blind Side over Gabourey Sidibe, Meryl Streep, and Carey Mulligan?" here. We're talking "how did Gwyneth Paltrow win over Cate Blanchett, Fernanda Montenegro, and Emily Watson?" levels of it should be better.

    And fuck David O. Russell. Talking about no flexibility? At least The Hunger Games plan casting. Lawrence got the part in American Hustle because Russell couldn't get his act together and cast an age appropriate actress by the time shooting started. And a 12 Years a Slave Joke about making millions off of a Hollywood contract? Totally clueless, but anyone who saw him turn a clinically depressed character into a manic pixie dream girl with boundless energy for Silver Linings Playbook already knew that.

  • Camilla

    I agree with everything you said, except one. Emma Watson? Really? She's actually one of the most awkward actors I've ever seen on screen. In The Bling Ring, she was inconsistent, sometimes okay, sometimes unnatural. She is not an awful actress, but she is not great either. Just very average and certainly not award worthy. I even thought she was the weakest in that movie, which was a shame, considering she was the most veteran in the cast.

  • cruzzercruz

    My brain is torn between that fact that I've enjoyed Russell's films but also want to punch him in the face every time I hear him speak.

  • Guest

    A poor analogy? YES. Worthy of the INTERNETS / Media over reaction? NO.

    And I’m going to get in so much trouble for saying that.

    Yes you are David.

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