While Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye in Avengers is often the most overlooked character of the star-studded superhero bunch, the actor is having no problem keeping the attention on him during the movie’s extensive press tour. Too bad it’s not the good kind of attention.
During an interview last month, Renner and Avengers co-star Chris Evans were asked about the alleged promiscuity of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow character. “A lot of fans were pretty invested with [Johansson’s Natasha] with actually either/or both of you guys and now she’s obviously with [Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner] — what do you make of this?” Instead of defending Johansson, or even questioning the ridiculousness of the statement/question, Renner, for reasons none of us will ever understand, immediately jumped to this conclusion: “She’s a slut.”
People were quick to jump on that, of course, and started an uproar against the two actors, labeling them as misogynist for their response and, well, that was justified. You can see the video above, neither Renner nor Evans exhibited any remorse for those dumb comments. Here’s a pro tip: there is literally no appropriate time to call a woman a slut. Especially when it’s two men trying to take down a woman, fictional or not, joke or no joke. We have allowed our society get away one too many times with this word and people now believe they can freely wield it around with no cares in the world. Well, it’s 2015 and people – in fact, tons of them – will call you out on your misogynistic bullsh*t.
Shortly after that, Evans and Renner released public apologies for those statements. Evans gave a meaningful statement, acknowledging the public’s right to get angry, saying: “We answered in a very juvenile and offensive way that rightfully angered some fans. I regret it and sincerely apologize.” Renner, on the other hand, gave a bit of a flippant response: “I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone. It was not meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour.” That latter apology reeked of eye rolls, like a boy being forced to apologize for fear of being grounded. Come on, Renner, you can do better than that.
But instead, he continues to dig himself into a deeper hole.
Last night, Renner stopped by Conan and when asked about the incident, he had this to say: “It was a joke, off-coloured, whatever, but yeah, I’m unapologetic about a lot of things. But I got into a lot of ‘internet trouble.'” He goes on to mutter a “Geez, man.” Welp, clearly he’s not sorry at all.
“Mind you we’re talking about a fictional character and fictional behaviour,” Renner continued. (WHY, RENNER.) “But, Conan, if you slept with four of the six Avengers, no matter how much fun you had — you’d be a slut. Just sayin’. I’d be a slut.”
Oh boy, where do we start. First off, “internet trouble” doesn’t dismiss the severity of the backlash. The backlash, though heard loudest on social media and online outlets everywhere, is very much real and exists outside of the internet. The internet is where most of us express our thoughts and opinions nowadays, where social justice warriors are turned into angry caricatures, but surely, if we ever saw Renner in person, we’d bring this up to him IRL, too. So don’t belittle the comments by calling it “internet trouble”; you are very much in “real life trouble,” Renner.
Secondly, fictional or not, you are slut-shaming a woman. Fictional characters can have genders and Renner is clearly railing against a fictional FEMALE character. That’s still misogynistic. But beyond that, Renner is just slinging the word “slut” around with absolutely no f**ks given and that’s also problematic. He’s calling Johansson’s Black Widow a slut, he’s calling Conan a slut, he’s calling himself one — all because of one’s presumed sexual promiscuity. That’s just straight up judging a human being for something we don’t have the right to judge human beings for, and then giving them an offensive label. There is no way around it: it’s sexist (when applied to Black Widow) and it’s just straight-up offensive (when applied to both Black Widow and Conan).
Blame it on an exhausting press tour, blame it on us not having a “sense of humour” about things, but Renner needs to really sit back and learn about the connotations and sexism behind the word “slut”. And then, and only then, should he issue a real and honest apology. Unless he wants to remain unapologetic. In which, I will unabashedly admit that Hawkeye was never my favourite Avenger, and never will be. Not sorry.