You know, I’m actually not.
Apologism is justifying or excusing the problematic or hurtful things that people do as if the good things that they do cancel them out. I don’t do that. I don’t think that Jennifer Lawrence, for instance, should be excused for the transphobic things she’s said. I don’t think that Taylor Swift’s slut-shaming and sex negativity should be glossed over or never talked about. I don’t think that Daniel Tosh and Seth Macfarlane and The Onion should be excused because “it’s humor” and humor is different, or whatever. I don’t think that Lena Dunham’s or Caitlin Moran’s racist comments should be ignored, nor Amy Poehler’s repeated fatphobia in her writing on Parks and Rec, nor that the domestic abuse that celebrity men in Hollywood have committed should be ignored.
I think all of these should be talked about and hashed through and that people are responsible for their actions, period. (I also think women are often targeted more harshly than men, but that’s another conversation entirely).
The discourse Tumblr prefers simplifies people to “good” and “bad” and has a tendency to demonize. There’s certainly no room for nuance or subjectivity or empathy in that discourse (and in some situations — rape, abuse, hate crimes or hate speech — there shouldn’t be). And, frankly, I don’t like it. I think it stymies learning and alienates those that need the help the most — and by that I don’t mean allies, but people who need movements and are just starting their journey into them. Not everyone starts a Tumblog with a textbook expertise of privilege theory and what it means. What about the queer teenager who has just figured out they’re trans* and loves Jennifer Lawrence? What about the kids that the It Gets Better project have actually helped? What about the countless girls who need to hear messages that skinny isn’t the only thing they can be, and isn’t the most important thing they have to be? If they get those messages from Lena Dunham or Jennifer Lawrence, does that make those messages less valuable? Hell, if you finally internalize that you’re good enough, and the person who made you believe that was Dan Savage or Lady Gaga, does that mean that belief about yourself is invalid or less valuable because it came from a hugely problematic source?
I dunno, I don’t think it does.
The vast majority of people aren’t just good or bad. They’re a mix of the good and the bad. I’ve done shit I am not proud of. Everyone I know has done shit they’re not proud of, that has hurt other people or perpetuated harmful beliefs or supported a part of our culture that oppresses someone else. And everybody — everybody — has privilege of a kind. Privilege in and of itself doesn’t make people scum. And those who are the most privileged (and many celebrities are hitting the top rungs, there) have the most work to do to unpack that privilege. It’s a learning curve that not all of them are capable of. Frankly (and I think people forget this) it’s a learning curve that many people aren’t exposed to in this framework.
The social justice parts of Tumblr are a unique place because they provide a framework for privilege education that simply doesn’t exist in many other places.
TL;DR: I think it’s important to task people — celebrities included — to do the work to be more empathetic citizens of the world (which is, actually, a phrase that I get a ton of secondhand embarrassment from, but I can’t think of a better one at the moment). I don’t think it’s worthwhile, useful, or fair to pretend that people exist only as “good” or “bad.”
And, to state the painfully obvious explicitly, if anyone ever tries to justify a rape or domestic abuse to me, I will break your nose.