5 BS Celebrity Stories We Need To Stop Clicking On
We are currently drowning in a sea of entertainment news. For every one event in Hollywood, there are 500 articles written about it. This means that in order to get hits, some websites find themselves bending the truth eeeeeever so slightly. Or in the case of headlines like these, they take the truth, put it in a paper bag, and light it on fire on your doorstep for you to stomp out.
Your Favorite Star Just Teased Their Next Big Movie! Or Not!
Before the internet, you mostly found out that a new movie was going to be released when you saw a trailer which confirmed that yes, Batman would be returning. Now, you can learn such information years in advance, due to headlines screaming that the star or director has proclaimed a movie is "in the works," or something to that effect. Then, two years later, you're like, "Wait, wasn't that thing supposed to be out by now?" That's because those headlines are usually manufactured bullshit.
For example, while I was writing this, Rotten Tomatoes said the biggest story of the week was Steven Spielberg revealing that after Harrison Ford goes scowling into retirement, the next Indiana Jones would be played by a woman:
But Spielberg didn't really say that at all. He said the upcoming Indiana Jones film would be the last for Harrison Ford, so the series could only continue in a different form (i.e. as a reboot). A tabloid straight up asked him if rebooted Indiana Jones could be a woman, and he nodded -- it's 2018, and saying otherwise would needlessly anger the wrong people. "We'd have to change the name from Jones to Joan," he added. Which was a joke; surnames don't work like that.
Throw in the fact that Spielberg doesn't own the rights to Indiana Jones (Disney will decide where the franchise goes next), and you realize that asking about anything beyond his personal involvement is futile. But interviewers do this all the time. They give a leading question about a film, get a vague "sure," then run with the scoop. For example, interviewers have been asking Scarlett Johansson about a solo Black Widow movie for years, resulting in headlines like ...
... which is misleading because at the time of that headline, there was no "Black Widow movie" in the works at all. Or they'll ask Marvel captain Kevin Feige, leading to the headline ...
... even though an exec saying they're "creatively and emotionally ... most committing to" Black Widow but not actually putting it on their three-year schedule is the exact opposite of a commitment. It's like when your parents said "We'll see" when you asked them to buy you a drum kit.
Or ask someone from TV if they'd like their show to continue as a movie, and you'll always get something to tease readers with. Downton Abbey. Hannibal. The Shield. Freaks and Geeks. Ask about Fringe or Lost, and they won't say, "There's really nowhere to go. Did you not watch the finale?" --they'll agreeably say, "sure, that might be a way to answer stuff," which should not be reported as news. Asked about a Family Guy movie, a producer said, " There are no specific plans," but also, "if I were a gambling man, I'd say within the next five years," and joked that he was putting money on that. Thus, headlines read:
And people involved in one film would almost always potentially be interested in a sequel. John Travolta adapted 2000's Battlefield Earth from the first half of a famous book, a book he loved, which was connected to his religion. So even though it failed, asked if he was up for a sequel, he said, "Sure. Yeah." People acted like this was CRAZY news ...
... but it didn't turn out to be news at all. The sequel never came. Similarly, when Al Jean, Tiffany Haddish, or Peter Berg says they're up for a sequel to The Simpsons Movie, Girls Trip, or Hancock, but no sequel has been greenlit, that isn't news. Someone once took Will Ferrell aside and asked him about possible sequels to a bunch of his films, and he actually said no -- and when asked again which film he might be open to continuing, he stalled, finally said Step Brothers, but insisted he'd rather create new things. The headline for this non-story:
Only one actor in a hundred tells interviewers, "A sequel? Fuck no." Like Daniel Craig, who when asked about playing Bond after Spectre said, "I'd rather break this glass and slash my wrists."
The 25th James Bond film stars Daniel Craig and hits theaters next year.
A Celebrity Admitted That They HATE Their New Film! But Not Really!
When an actor hates life on set or hates their famous role, that makes for a hell of a story. But you're probably only going to hear it years later, because no actor wants a reputation for sabotage. So every time you see a headline about an actor badmouthing their movie, there's a good chance that they ... didn't badmouth anything. For example, apparently, the lead actress in the new Tomb Raider began literally taking a dump on a film reel when asked about her experience playing Lara Croft.
Wow, Alicia Vikander trashes Tomb Raider? Let's see this clip, in which she says ... the previous movies were good, hers is also good, the video game's realism was good, a sequel might be good, and, in the last 15 seconds, she agrees with the interviewer that it's weird that the film has so few women in it. Huh. She didn't trash anything.
OK, well then how about when Jennifer Lawrence spontaneously burst into flame when asked about playing Mystique one more time:
Lawrence's first quote in the article is "I love these movies." She then says that she loves the director, and loves fans, and that Dark Phoenix is her best experience yet. So what does she hate? " The paint." Getting into costume is difficult. You might notice that this isn't bashing the film. Very few people like to be doused in paint and latex for 16 hours a day. Most people don't like wearing pants for 16 hours a day. So it's not unreasonable, and it sure as hell doesn't mean that she "hates being in X-Men," as the headline proclaims.
OK, fine. So it seems like a lot of these sites are blowing minor things out of proportion. But how about the time that Batman v Superman was so boring that it caused Michael Shannon to slip into a coma?
First off, Shannon wasn't in Batman v Superman. They used a rubber model of him. He was never on set, and though he recorded a few lines, they weren't used. Also, he fell asleep while watching it on the tiny screen on an airplane, because it was an international flight and he was tuckered.
But what about actors who hate their characters? That's got to be something that happens in real life. Actors who find the characters they play to be so morally reprehensible that they have to shout it out loud. Actors like Jamie Dornan, the guy who portrayed Christian Grey, who was apparently doing something to the extent of burning copies of Fifty Shades Of Grey on set.
Nope, he only says that Christian's "not the sort of bloke I'd get along with. All my mates are easy going and quick to laugh." And who would want to hang out with the characters they portray? Jack Nicholson doesn't sit around waiting for homicidal clowns to buy him a beer, and Dornan probably won't be chilling with any sociopathic billionaires in the near future.
But what about Fifty Shades' predecessor then, Twilight? I heard the actors openly hated it, and Kristen Stewart just does a couple indies a year nowadays, right, so probably doesn't mind burning bridges. Let's see her trash her own performance:
The interview says she hates ... nothing. But it was uncomfortable for her to take on a role that mattered so much to so many people while she was so young.
This Celebrity Is Fed Up With Political Correctness! Maybe?
Hollywood is known as a bastion of liberalism, but if you believe clickbaity headlines, aging actors with no stake in the matter are calling press conferences to loudly tell they world that they're not going to take it anymore. You tell 'em, boys!
Almost always, a site is reprinting one extract from a much longer interview some other outlet did on a bunch of topics, such as John Hurt's terminal cancer diagnosis, or Eastwood doing family friendly films against his lawyer's advice. "70/80-year-old thinks younger people are different" may be the least interesting part of the interview, but it's the only part the sites highlight, so they can scratch a specific itch. I'd love to tell you the movie stuff John Rhys-Davies told Adam Corolla or Mel Brooks told BBC, but the full recordings are gone, and all we have left is:
But that's all old news. Here's the latest on Seinfeld and Alec Baldwin literally calling the #MeToo movement shit!
By "bowel movement," Seinfeld meant we're expelling something we must be rid of -- the harassers are the shit in this metaphor. It's a #MeToo endorsement. The story could really have been just about smarmy Baldwin being an ass ( watch Seinfeld alternate between agreeable and then dying inside, realizing he must tactfully fight Baldwin on this), but the twist here is that Baldwin was the interviewer. He was luring Seinfeld into making their conversation controversial. Jerry didn't take the bait. The media did.
When Matt Damon was interviewed about #MeToo, one line got quoted again and again. "There's a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?"
Out of context, it comes off like his entire cause is to defend butt pats, proclaiming it loudly and defiantly with a sword and shield in front of the Damon family crest. But Damon was talking about an actual person who'd touched butts and an actual person who'd molested children, saying there's literally a difference (one so obvious, you might call it self-evident) -- but noted that both acts "need to be confronted and eradicated without question." He also said a bunch of other pro-#MeToo stuff, and then a really interesting bit on NDAs.
But the headline's going to be whichever part grabs the most outrage. If manufacturing disagreement and drumming up hatred is what it takes to pay the bills, then that's what they do.
Holy Shit, The Star Was Injured On Set! Or Maybe They're Just Joking!
Acting can be physically challenging. And like any activity that requires movement, you can get injured while you do it. SERIOUSLY injured. Like Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! levels of injured:
Despite all the mentions of rib dislocations on forums and quack chiropractor sites, it seems rib dislocation isn't a real thing, unless you already suffer from a specific condition. I wondered whether this was a joke (specifically a reference to the movie, in which Ed Harris loses a rib). Or they might have meant some other rib injury, and Lawrence also supposedly tore her diaphragm. Diaphragm rupture is a real injury ... one usually caused by stabbing, gunshots, or car accidents. If someone ruptures their diaphragm and hurts a rib by "hyperventilating," that would be an extreme medical oddity, not a cute anecdote about how method J-Law is.
But no one apparently cares enough to clarify. Also, "breathing so hard she ripped herself open" is apparently a whole genre of on-set accident:
A ripped stomach muscle is generally not caused by yelling a bunch. Was Theron even being serious? It's reported seriously, but in the interview, everyone's laughing throughout. She gave the stomach story in another interview too, and the interviewer immediately changed the subject to her wardrobe.
And wait till you hear about poor, afflicted Gary Oldman:
He did say that. But actual nicotine poisoning is a big deal -- as in phone poison control, because it can be fatal. And it's caused by swallowing a lot of nicotine at once, not by smoking for several weeks. Maybe Oldman only meant "I went through a whole LOT of cigars"? That's not dramatic enough. Gotta hint that the toxic cigars have brought him one step closer to the grave.
I'm not calling these celebrities filthy liars. Maybe something crazy did happen to them, or maybe they're indulging in a little hyperbole to liven up some interviews. And that's fine, as this is the film junket and not 60 Minutes. But unexplained anecdotes shouldn't end up as headlines, not without additional reporting. So, when Martha Stewart says on her Snoop cooking program she's been struck by lightning three times, maybe call her publicist before sticking it in a story. "She said in 2008 it was twice," you might ask, "but in 2009, it was three times, so strike three was the intervening year, while she hosted her own show? She blogged about a lightning storm that year but not about getting struck. I'm just checking."
Or when Jonah Hill talks for 25 seconds about being hospitalized for bronchitis due to snorting Wolf Of Wall Street's fake coke, maybe 800 sites don't have to share that in a headline. Not until someone asks, "When you first said this a couple years ago, you didn't mention hospitalization and weren't so sure it was bronchitis, and also, bronchitis doesn't lead to hospitalization, unless you're like 90 years old. So what I'm asking is this, Mr. Hill: Are you secretly 90 years old?"
A Celebrity Confirmed Your Favorite Fan Theory! If You Twist Their Words A Bit!
Fan theories are so prevalent now that they're getting back to the actors involved. For instance, someone sat Neil Patrick Harris down and asked about the popular fan theory that How I Met Your Mother's Barney wasn't really a womanizing jerk -- we just see him that way because unreliable narrator Ted wants his kids to hate Barney so they'll prefer that Robin be with Ted. Harris said that the theory made a lot of sense. So we were all treated to headlines saying:
But Harris didn't confirm anything. He didn't offer insider info about what the writers intended, or about how he played the character. Nor did J.K. Rowling when she said a convoluted fan theory about Dumbledore being the physical embodiment of Death is "beautiful and it fits," yet headlines reported that she too had " confirmed" a huge fan theory. And nor did the Jar Jar Binks actor when headlines said he released a "Bombshell" about Jar Jar being a Sith Lord. (He said, "That's really a George Lucas question. I cannot answer that question.") At this point, it seems like literally any combination of words would have been interpreted as a confirmation.
Celebrities will almost always cheerfully nod along with a fan theory, if it's interesting enough. They'll even accept balls-out absurd theories, jokingly, and don't count on websites clarifying they were only kidding. So, no, no one on iCarly seriously confirmed their character is half-bee (but headlines say they did). Tom Holland didn't confirm he keeps a frog in his mouth (but headlines say he did). And I bet you saw this headline:
This was a joke. No one on Parks and Rec has the power to confirm theories about a show that started after theirs ended, and Ben Schwartz further joked Jean-Ralphio ran the Upside Down and had a dance routine going with the monster. Or:
Peele does not confirm Get Out is a sequel to Being John Malkovich. He joked about it, told it to Malkovich director Spike Jonze, and he laughed too. Peele tells us the theory is now true "as far as I'm concerned"-- which is a joke, one lost when you transcribe it.
Jason Alexander didn't "confirm" anything by saying "Elaine always kind of longed for George sexually" -- that was a joke. The voice of Olmec didn't "confirm" the Legends of the Hidden Temple host was trapped by evil, both in and before the show -- that was a joke. And to return to Star Wars again, no, Andy Serkis did not "confirm" Snoke is evil Jar Jar -- that was a joke.
News stories about fan theories are next-level bullshit because they're lies about fiction. And besides, the coolest fan theories are so weird and so involved, they'll probably never be confirmed. Let's say your theory connects all the Pixar movies, and it later becomes the most famous theory of our age. Don't wait for Disney to "confirm" it (by calling the connections Easter eggs, which actually confirms nothing). If you like the theory, believe it, and to hell with anyone who says you're wrong. To return to Star Wars yet again, Mark Hamill said of a fan theory, "I'd say it is meant to be interpreted by the viewer ... You should not be ashamed of it."
Vanity Fair's headline about that interview with Hamill:
CONFIRMED! THANKS, MARK!
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