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.