The Brie Backlash: Exploring The Toxicity Towards Brie Larson

By Bee Garner

Hating Brie Larson seems to be a full-time job for some people and they’re making a fair profit off their toxic fandom. Typing her name into YouTube will generate results such as videos discussing her ‘Flat Bum’, ‘Avengers Cast Savagely Roast Brie Larson’, ‘Brie’s Bots Exposed’, and ‘Brie is ruining Marvel’ just to name a few. Despite both “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers Endgame” breaking box office history, the hate towards Brie Larson doesn’t seem to be evaporating. One has to wonder just how one woman has managed to generate such animosity and rage from a large majority of the Marvel/comic book fan base.

The reaction to Brie Larson’s “Captain Marvel” also addresses the dark turn that fandoms can go down, but this toxicity is hardly new. Rage towards one particular actor of a cinematic universe has occurred before, look at the reaction to 2016’s “Ghostbusters” or the reaction around “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. There’s something oddly intriguing about the reaction towards Larson and it reveals how a large majority of the fandom feels in general. I use the word ‘intriguing’ in a negative sense because frankly, I do not wish to encourage this kind of behavior. Examining the toxicity gives us a glimpse of the darker side of fandom if these types of individuals can be classed as fans.

brie troll

If you go onto YouTube and look through the endless Brie Larson related videos, there’s a sad pattern that emerges. The commentators (a large majority of them male) will pick apart Brie’s body language in interviews with fellow Marvel stars, they come across like conspiracy theorists as they try to see whether Chris Hemsworth actually hates her. Many of these videos will state that Brie lacks any charisma, or she can’t take a joke, however, the creators have a tendency to take clips out of context. Brie’s delivery of certain jokes or banter is a deadpan one, and she’s very good at this.

However, rather than acknowledging that she is performing while conducting these interviews, people will state that she is a ‘bitch’ and ‘stuck up.’ It’s not a surprise that many so-called fans and comic book nerds have reacted this way. Many female celebrities have endured a wave of online abuse in the past that it almost seems like a rite of passage for some actresses. Due to the level of anonymity on the internet, there are little consequences for those who wage war on certain actors. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion and this is what is beautiful about the online world. We can express ourselves online and get our opinion out there to the world.

The hate towards Brie Larson seems to have been in response to her decision to speak up on inequality in Hollywood. In her now-infamous speech when accepting her Crystal Award for Excellence in Film acceptance speech at the Crystal + Lucy Awards, Brie Larson cited USC Annenberg’s “Critic’s Choice” study and called for diversity in entertainment coverage. Her choice of words may have actually irked some individuals:

“I don’t want to hear what a white man has to say about ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ I want to hear what a woman of color, a biracial woman has to say about the film. I want to hear what teenagers think about the film.”

Brie was referring to how a study conducted by the USC Annenberg found that for every female film critic, there was the equivalent of 3.5 male critics. The study found that for the 100 highest-grossing movies in 2017, less than a quarter of the critics were white women, less than ten percent were underrepresented men, and only 2.5 percent were women of colour.

what-up-haters.jpg
“What up haters?”

The backlash to Brie, resulted in a swarm of people review bombing the film on the rotten Tomatoes site and skewing the audience ‘want to see it’ scores so much that the site had to remove this function. Many consider her remarks to be a personal attack of some sort, although she stated in her speech, that she denied hating “white dudes.” Brie was simply pointing out the findings of the study, and calling for more diversity in the film industry.

Much of the criticism towards “Captain Marvel” and Brie Larson does not appear to have anything that has nothing to do with the final product or the actual character herself (Carol Danvers has existed in the comic universe in some sort of incarnation since 1968).  The outrage would appear to stem from Larson’s observation that most people who interview her on junkets are white men. To the trolls, they believe that it is Brie who is the  “sexist” and “racist” one, to those who are either female or a person of colour or from the LGBTQ community and trying to make it in the industry, Brie is simply pointing out the facts.

brie with fan
“Women are such strong, powerful leaders, and a lot of the time, we play it silently.”

Perhaps the reason that there seems to be this hatred towards Brie is that she doesn’t play by the rules and isn’t your typical Hollywood young, pretty blonde star. Brie seems passionate about making a change and upsetting the status quo. There’s something admirable about Brie using her status as a star to promote diversity and too often celebrities seem reluctant to speak their minds. Brie is afraid to be open and honest. She has gone on record to say:

“I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male.Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive.”

The hate towards Brie doesn’t seem to be going away, but it is getting quieter now. Maybe because the hype around “End Game” and “Captain Marvel” has now died down, but the odd video (one was released on how her hair was ‘fake’ in the film was released a week ago) does crop up now and then. As long as Brie continues to speak her mind, there will still be the fans willing to attack. It’s a sad truth, but that’s the world we live in. At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their opinion, from the likes of Brie Larson to the anti-SJW fanboy behind their computer screen.

And, this is my opinion: I agree with Brie that there needs to be more diveristy and inclusivity in the film industry and it’s okay to allow girls into the ‘clubhouse’ because our love for comicbooks and geekdom should be uniting us, not dividing us. Let’s be marvellous together.

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