Oh, Jeremy Renner.
The Avengers star may have wowed audiences in Age of Ultron, but it seems that he hasn't quite learned his lesson when it comes to interviews.
In April, Renner was promoting the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, when he was asked about Hawkeye's relationship with Black Widow - specifically, how he felt about her character being romantically linked to Bruce Banner in the new film, when many fans believed she had some kind of connection with Clint. His response (which you can watch in full below) was definitely meant jokingly, but he and Chris Evans used the phrases "slut" and "total whore".
Unsurprisingly, these comments enraged many fans, who were unimpressed with the men's responses, whether they were joking or not. Slut-shaming, especially involving one of the few on-screen female superheroes (alongside Scarlet Witch, Lady Sif and Gamora), just doesn't come off well.
Renner (and Evans) apologized for their words almost immediately afterward, mentioning the long and tiring press tour and mollifying fans (although it still rankled with many).
This could have been the end of it, but unfortunately, Renner made an appearance on the Conan show and poured gasoline on the fire that had almost gone out.
First off, he essentially negates his original apology, and dismisses the concerns of those fans who didn't find a joke about slut-shaming particularly funny.
It was a joke, off-colored, whatever, but yeah, I’m unapologetic about a lot of things. I got in a lot of Internet trouble. I guess that’s a thing now.
I'm fairly certain that this was an attempt to breeze past the incident, but unfortunately, it's dismissive and blase, and it's not doing Renner any favors with the fans. Even more concerning is that this shows that the original apology was nothing but lip service, that he hasn't done any real thinking into why his words were so offensive.
He follows this up with a comment that is the definition of slut-shaming.
I was asked the question like, so Black Widow’s been linked to Hawkeye, Iron Man, Bruce Banner, and Captain America, so what do you think about that. Well, I said, ‘It sounds like she’s a slut.’ Now, mind you, I was talking about a fictional character and fictional behavior, but Conan if you slept with four of the six Avengers, no matter how much fun you had, you’d be a slut.
Clearly his little "joke" came from some real negative and sexist beliefs, and while the first comment was defended by many as off-color humor and nothing more, a flat-out statement like this is far worse.
Let's get one thing very, very clear. If a woman, fictional or otherwise, has slept with four whole men, it does not make her a slut. Even if they all know each other. End of story. Given that these movies take place over a time period of more than one year, and that at least one of the other Avengers is known for womanizing, this kind of double standard is appalling and untenable.
Perhaps Renner will make another public apology, no doubt crafted by someone in the Marvel PR team, but this time around few people will believe he is sincere. I was actually incredibly surprised that whoever dragged that first apology out of him didn't prep the actor a little more thoroughly before he went on the show. It's no surprise that Conan would ask about the situation, so I cannot understand why he didn't have a more appropriate response ready and waiting.
At this point, I'm not angry, I'm disappointed (and I sound like my mother). I defended his original joke, thinking that Renner didn't truly believe that an openly sexual woman should be looked down on. Having heard these comments now, it seems like I was wrong.
Here's hoping that Renner's PR person gets him a little more on top of his public appearances, or that he learns all by himself just to stop talking.