It has now been confirmed that Shailene Woodley has been cut from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. What’s disappointing is that this may not be story-motivated but instead a buckle to the pressure of loud, misogynistic fanboys who furiously took to their keyboards to insult the actress’ appearance. Despicable enough that these comments existed in the first place, it led to a lot of people defending Shailene Woodley – her talent and her appearance. It seemed good had triumphed over evil but with this confirmation and possible recast rumours, it seems the evil may have consumed the film. Mary Jane’s recasting isn’t definite but with her cut from the second after all of the abuse from fraudulent “fans” of the franchise – in all of its incarnations – could the rumours floating around have some truth? It may be one of the lowest points of the film industry. Lower than when Mila Kunis had her career threatened for not wanting to shoot for a magazine cover.
The Shiznit gathered together comments made back in February when an onset photo of Shailene leaked. They were infuriating and far too many as they attacked an actress for not being attractive enough to play the “stunning” Mary Jane Watson. Repeating the comments here, months later, would be unproductive as well as allowing their deprecating voices to be heard. The sad thing is there are more, many more in fact. These comments are probably doing the rounds again as they believe they have won which is why they should avoid replacing her. Recasting her would be letting them win. They won’t receive a bigger audience because those complaining will still go see it. Even if it is to scream about how right they are – which they aren’t at all.
Barry Steele wrote an interesting piece seeing 2013 as a step back from 2012’s female empowerment by writing about the thin characters that have so far inhabited this year, bringing up the gratuitous underwear shot in Star Trek Into Darkness, the women of Oblivion and the problems in Iron Man 3. The truth is that Barry is right. There’s been a complete misstep when it comes to female characters. If they allow Shailene Woodley to be recast by someone else – someone more “befitting” of the comic’s representation of Mary Jane Watson – then misogyny has won. It will see mostly teenagers who make kitchen jokes thinking they’re infinitely witty – when they’re infinitely witless – winning. That cannot be allowed. A studio, a director, or whomever that may give into their demands cannot acknowledge that pressure. They are the noisy few. A noisy few that everyone should ignore, putting to the side their infuriating discriminatory objectification. Shallow thoughts of one person’s beauty on one single photo – which that poor girl will have seen – is a form of anonymous cyber bullying that plagues the Internet. It’s the modern mob mentality. Masked users making consequence free hate comments out of ignorance, prejudice, misogyny and sexism.
Being attracted to someone is natural, it is in no way disgusting or trivial to like how someone looks. What is trivial is when you allow your interpretation of what is hot to interrupt your view on a character or story. When people start to froth at the mouth because they find someone unattractive for a role then there’s clearly something wrong. There’s also a double standard which can be seen lately on Twitter of women happily admiring Henry Cavill’s looks to be labelled as “shallow” from the same people that tout how “fit” an actress is. Finding someone attractive isn’t wrong but what is wrong is when you judge someone else, pot-kettle-blacking by calling them shallow for their views but not realising of it themselves. Hypocrisy is rampant on the Internet along with the dark side of all people when they get such freedom. Remember your own views, your own prejudices, your own biases before you start projecting your insecurities by insulting someone else’s thoughts.
This is why Marc Webb, Sony, or whomever made this decision to cut her from the second must not make the mistake to cut her from the franchise. If she tries to get out of it herself after the myriad of abuse received then we should rally around to support her and make sure that she does not leave due to insecurities. It would be deeply unsettling and upsetting to see a talented actress leave a project thanks to the prejudiced minority. That is, obviously, if she feels that way. She may rightfully ignore them. If the film decides to recast her because of people’s deluded perceptions of beauty then a boycott is necessary. Beauty boycott, as it were. Anyone who collapses to the nasty whims of Internet anonymity is a coward.
The negative group need a lesson in women. Especially when their perceptions are distorted by artists who may overly ‘perfect’ a women which becomes an unattainable fantasy. It seems that they’ve allowed themselves to think that people look that way or believe that’s how they should look. It seems they’ve blurred the lines of fiction, fantasy, and idealism with realism, biology, and possibilities. Anyone who believes Mary Jane Watson can look like she does in the comics – or HAS to look like she does in the comics – has a warped mind that wrongfully expects too much.
Do not recast Mary Jane Watson. Shailene Woodley does not need recasting. Not only is the girl attractive anyway but failing to see the problem in angry, vacuous comments is a scary thought. If it is true that it is only for scheduling reasons then, sadly, those few will take it as a victory. If it is as simple as not wanting to recast her as she’d be too busy for the sequels then that’s fair. What’s worrying is that could be a lie to paint the picture of timing issues when it is to bump her off for someone that will please the boys’ lusty eyes. That is a sad thought about the film industry which sees actresses continually struggling against the prejudice and sexism of a boys club.
Regardless of the reasons why, it’s still unfortunate to know those people are out there who believe those thoughts are acceptable. No actress nor actor nor anyone should be subject to losing a job because of their appearance. Thankfully, the positives we can see from this seem greater in numbers than the detractors. Many have spoken out in defence and in support for Woodley, which is wonderful to see. What is also true is that Shailene Woodley has a pretty full plate as well as taking on the Divergent series, a teen sci-fi book being adapted and already labelled as the next The Hunger Games. Reasons for the recast still remain a rumour, this rant could be for nothing; but it would be brilliant if the studios or the director tried to keep her in it as a protest to the protestors. Remember that the comments you make on the Internet can be seen by the person you’re insulting. As Rooney Mara says in The Social Network: “The Internet’s not written in pencil, it’s written in ink.”