Lately, it’s become something of a trend for celebrities to hop online and address criticism of their work. For example, on Thursday Olivia Munn tweeted “a short essay on the ugly behaviors” of Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, the founders of the fashion blog Go Fug Yourself. In her essay, Munn denounces Cocks and Morgan’s status as “legitimate critics” and takes issue with “fashion-policing” of celebrities because of what the two bloggers wrote about the outfit she wore to a gala: They didn’t like her look (“This is just kinda like she got roped into making a sequel to American Hustle that ended up going straight to on-demand. Things could be worse,” the Fugs wrote), and Munn decided she’d had enough of their “snarkiness” and penned an essay about the dangers of fashion blogs.
While it is fair for Munn, as the object of criticism, to feel hurt by a blogger’s disapproval of her fashion choices, it’s probably a little off the mark for her to equate that criticism to the overall, systemic “suppression of women” and the ways in which women and girls are “emotionally and physically targeted and abused” by men, as she wrote. Those who replied to her tweet pointed at the holes in Munn’s argument and her analysis of the blog. This clapback of Munn’s isn’t the only one in recent memory wherein a celebrity takes some sort of stand on social media thinking they’ve just made the ultimate mic drop against their critics.
After reading Pitchfork‘s review of her new album, Cuz I Love You, Lizzo, a joyous (and quite popular) musician tweeted that music critics who don’t make music themselves shouldn’t have jobs. Then she backtracked and invited music journalists to come visit her in the studio while she records her next album.
And the list of celebrities who have taken shots at critics does not stop at Munn or Lizzo. Ariana Grande, in a now-deleted string of tweets, hopped on the bandwagon this week after E!‘s Nightly Pop host Morgan Stewart made light of Grande’s Coachella guest Justin Bieber for singing along to a backing track: “people are so lost. one day everybody that works at all them blogs will realize how unfulfilled they are and purposeless what they’re doing is and hopefully shift their focus elsewhere. that’s gonna be a beautiful ass day for them! i can’t wait for them to feel lit inside,” the singer tweeted.
This trend has caused enough of a brouhaha online that even Diplo got involved when he came to the defense of writers, tweeting, “music journalists gotta eat too even if they dont like our music. we need critics ?♂️.”
As it turns out, you can’t just endlessly throw vague “positivity” at something and hope that it manifests as thoughtful, nuanced analysis of a piece of art, because that’s not how you properly evaluate something’s value in the culture. However, for celebrities who feel overwhelmed by the prospect of being judged online and receiving less than favorable reviews from critics, there is an easy answer: Just log off. Anyone can do it. Even Jennifer Garner, who recently graced the “Beautiful Issue” of People has done it. “Not only do I not read comments, I work very hard to not see the pictures, to not read the articles or to not know what’s out there at all,” Garner said in her interview. “And it’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I care too much,” she went on. (She did, however, admit that she stays on Instagram because “I don’t get a lot of people being mean.”)
So, there’s no double bind here, really. A celebrity or artist can care about what people think of them and their craft, and they can also recognize that criticism of their work might not even be written for them to read in the first place. And if knowing other people’s perceptions of, well, everything will be subjective doesn’t sit right with them, they can always just stay away from the Internet.