The second Jamie Lee Curtis won Best Supporting Actress, people were mad. And that would be fine if they were mad at the Academy for undervaluing the incredible performance of Stephanie Hsu or the equally impressive film history of Angela Bassett or any other reason they’d be within their rights to be mad at the Academy. Heck, people are even allowed to think that Jamie Lee Curtis didn’t do a very good acting job and that it’s silly to give her an Oscar for what they think is an inferior performance. (I disagree, but it’s all a matter of taste.) What I saw from some people, however, was anger at Jamie Lee Curtis. Because she, personally, had I guess gone into every Academy member’s house and filled in their ballots for them?
It’s not the first Academy incident I can think of where the blame falls disproportionately on a woman over any and all responsible men. Take poor Anne Hathaway. Why were she and James Franco chosen to host the Oscars? Oh, there’s a lot to unpack there. Still, they were, and Anne Hathaway was by-Gods going to do the best, or at least biggest, job she could. People were upset at her determined energy, but it seemed clear to me, at least, that she was trying to fill the charisma vacuum she was sharing a stage with. He didn’t want to be there and made it obvious at every turn, but their failure as hosts was obviously her fault somehow.
Let’s be real; Janet Jackson is waiting in the wings for her turn to talk, and rightfully so. Justin Timberlake got less blame for ripping open her clothing than she did for . . . having a breast? And no matter the sequence of events there, no matter the plans and intentions involved, it’s undeniable that Jackson got more blame for what happened than Timberlake did and that blaming her more than him makes no sense. At absolute minimum, he was an equal partner in what happened. If he hadn’t been, he wouldn’t have touched her. That’s just basic logic. Yet her career was damaged far worse than his, and he admits it.
As a mentally ill person, I find the comparison between, say, Britney Spears and Charlie Sheen hard to avoid. No one has proposed giving him any kind of conservator, at least that I know of. Maybe Amanda Bynes needs one and maybe she doesn’t, but male celebrities who have had similar obvious mental health issues seem to be left in control of their own choices. We could be using the whole thing to have a conversation about our society’s treatment of people whose mental illness is so out of control that they are not responsible for their own actions, but no, let’s make it a joke instead.
Plenty of other female celebrities have similar stories. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark at least had many people blaming it and didn’t all fall on the shoulders of Julie Taymor, which I’m sure she feels grateful for. (Apparently we can also blame George Santos, at least according to George Santos.) But a lot of other flops were blamed on female directors or leads and not, for example, studio interference or bad marketing. Our culture still finds it easy and convenient to blame a woman, and maybe we should consider that for a while.