Kristen Stewart gave an interview yesterday to Variety in which she was asked about the perception of the movie industry as sexist and limiting towards women, and whether or not she felt that there was any positive change happening.
Her response, and apparent advice to women, has been summed up on the site as: ‘Do Something’ Instead of Complaining.
A comment like that — and the imagery it conjures up of a bunch of suffragettes saying, ‘Hey, maybe women should, like, also have the vote?’ only to be told to just stop moaning — would seem inflammatory enough (because, you know, acknowledging and pointing shit out actually is the first step towards enacting any change, including challenging an overwhelmingly behind-the-scenes male industry), but Variety decided to briefly add a different spice to the proceedings.
In the accompanying text for the video, as well as in the headline and the corresponding Tweet, the site initially mistakenly said that Stewart’s remarks were about diversity. People, justifiably, got mad. Variety since then corrected their error, but people — justifiably — have stayed mad. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about gender equality or racial equality, to tell someone not to ‘complain’ is one of the most privileged, tone-deaf, unhelpful and offensive things — short of just straight up explicitly admitting that you believe that the Straight White Man naturally belongs at the top of the ladder — that you can say.
Stewart was also quoted by Variety as saying that the ‘subject is just so prevalently everywhere right now, and it’s boring.’
Between #OscarsSoWhite and continuing, damming reports of the movie industry’s systemic racism, as well as a never ending drip-drip of sexist news nuggets — like Gillian Anderson being offered half the pay of David Duchovny for the X-Files revival just because she lacks that ineffable ‘between-the-leg-swingery-dickery’ je ne sais quoi — you’d think that Kristen Stewart might consider issues like this ‘vital’ rather than ‘boring’.
But here’s the thing: I watched that interview a few times, and I’ve gotta be honest: I am just not sure what to make of Stewart’s words. Not, ‘Oh yeah, she totally has a point!’ No, I mean I genuinely couldn’t be sure what angle she was taking, because there were times when she seemed to completely and humbly acknowledge her privilege and contradict her more nonsensical statements, only to then fully turn around and swing for the clueless fences again. Making sense of all this was like trying to spot your friend in a fairground crowd while you’re in one of those rides that spins in a circle at what feels like Mach 2.
So the only thing to do this morning was to hop myself up to the eyeballs on caffeine, sit down, and transcribe the damn thing:
Interviewer: A lot of people that have come through here have been like, ‘There’s a lack of great roles for women,’ or, ‘There aren’t enough female directors.’ Do you feel like it’s changing now?
Kristen Stewart: Um, yeah, I mean, like in any business that’s so old, uh, you know, it’s gonna have a somewhat narrow…view.
And it’s expanding quickly, um, on so many levels. It’s hard for me to speak to that because I’m… It’s awkward. I’m so fucking lucky and so stimulated and driven and, like, um, not bored. And I have something in front of me all the time so it sounds weird for me to sit around and be like, ‘It’s not fair!’
[interviewer mumbles something]
Kristen Stewart: ‘Yeah, exactly! It’s, like: well guys make more money because their movies make more money. It’s, like, let’s start making more movie-… It-… You know, if-… It makes sense. Like, uh, you know, if, um… If you’re bored, or if you feel like there’s a lack of something in front of you it’s silly for me to say, ‘Go do something!’ but, like, I came from a family-… My mum’s an artist, she’s, like, she’s a painter, she’s a script supervisor as well, so, like, when she wasn’t working she was making something, she was never bored. It’s like, you know, uh-… Instead of sitting around and complaining about that, do something! Go write something! Go do something for yours-… You know what I mean, so. Uh, and then that’s easy to say, like, fuck it’s hard to get movies made, it’s a huge luxury, it’s a huge, like a-… who gets to just make movies, but, um, that subject is just, like, so prevalently everywhere right now, and um, it’s boring.’
On the one hand she repeats cause-and-effect-confusing (and Star Wars-ignoring) gibberish like ‘movies starring men make more money’; but then she acknowledges that it’s virtually impossible for someone to make a movie out of nothing just like that. She also seems to be saying that the media attention being given to the fight for equal opportunities is boring, but then admits that she comes from a very privileged, industry-friendly background and it’s hard for her to comment.
Suffice it to say it’s left me a bit:
Petr Knava plays music