It would be a good time to Lily James is going to bed, it seems. The actress grabbed the headlines this month not because of her latest film or upcoming projects, but because of some photographs that seemed to reveal an extramarital affair between her and her co-star Dominic West. As we mentioned before, the cycle of the celebrity cheating scandal is one of heightened shame and oddly archaic adherence to social norms. This is why so many of these or similar gossip stories (for example, nude photo scandals or DM leaks on Twitter) end with a public apology, regardless of the seriousness or private nature of the story. situation. This is not how things turned out with West and James. The former inexplicably decided to make this private matter extremely public through a bizarre press conference kiss with his wife, Catherine FitzGerald, as well as handwritten notes assuring the photographers gathered outside that their marriage was stronger than ever. Now he’s in talks for a major role on Netflix The crown.
James, meanwhile, has been on limited promotional duties for another project on the streaming service, the remake of Rebecca. While she was canceling or withdrawing from some appearances, she still did interviews and comfortably chat via Zoom with Jimmy Fallon. The elephant in the room was not mentioned, and now it seems to have grown even more monstrous. Daily mail, the newspaper which obtained the first photographs of James and West walking around Rome together, now alleges that, according to various sources, James may have had some sort of entanglement with Rebecca co-star Armie Hammer. According to the report, Hammer’s now estranged wife Elizabeth Chambers ended the marriage after finding impassioned messages from a mysterious woman named Adeline. Sources also claim Adeline was the name used on James’ call sheets.
These “ sources ” describe James as “ constantly touching him, giving him long, steamy looks ” and play the image of the actress as a blind temptress preying on married men. Never mind that these allegations against James are tenuous at best. The fact that they come from Daily mail, the newspaper that broke the Western scandal, automatically gives them a level of instinctive legitimacy. The story has spread like wildfire on the internet and in various other publications. The sun said James ‘was at the center’ of his co-star’s marriage breakdown. The message is clear. The slut-shaming is in full force.
When it comes to celebrity cheating scandals, no matter the background or the man’s marital status, it is usually the woman who faces the most contempt. These infidelities are most often categorized as battles between two types of women: the almost perfect innocent and despised wife and the amoral seductress who delights in destroying people’s lives. The man who made the choice to cheat is seen, at worst, as a heartless third wheel. Dominic West tried to lean into his corpse image with that raised eyebrow and that act of public shamelessness, and while it backfired dramatically, there is a noticeable difference between the fury he is at. faced and that of what James is facing.
It seems the press has now declared the season open to James, and the stories that have formed around her are painfully familiar. Of course, no tabloid will just come out and call her a “ bitch, ” but they’ll use a lot of euphemisms to play, like the Daily mail fact, her “long smoldering looks” at her married co-star. Or they will take the quotes out of context, because the Daily mail have – oh my gosh, do you see a pattern here? – when James described himself as a gullible person to fit their stuffy narrative mold. Since the image of James as a marriage breaker is already there, it’s painfully easy for the press to run with her in all kinds of colorful directions.
It is extremely simple to push these kinds of stories to women who correspond to this personality in the public mind. Think Angelina Jolie, Elizabeth Taylor, or any other reality TV contestant. James, however, was never someone with a fully formed image in the press. She wasn’t an easily identifiable type or someone who worked the talk show circuit in a memorable way. She played sweet roles, including Cinderella, and sang in musicals and wore a lot of corsets. James is enough for a blank slate for the press to adhere to the temptress label, despite the obvious misogyny and ridiculous position in which it places the actress herself. This is a position she cannot answer exactly.
Even though it is rather scary to position this act of private pain as an act of public interest, figures like James should always issue a big apology to their fans, the press and everyone before the offended party. The media thirst for this act of contrition, which is closer to self-flagellation than anything else. Any other kind of response would be dismissed or considered a public relations disaster. Like I said before, James can’t do what West did. Even though it didn’t work out well for him, it’s still a bit of shame James would face if she handed out handwritten notes and posed proudly for the cameras. All she can do right now is continue promoting her new movie, and now she has to do it with a bigger cloud of suspicion above her head. Dominic West becomes the cadet. Armie Hammer reels in his new energy of divorce. Lily James should be calm, contrite or ashamed, preferably a combination of the three.
I’m not saying any of this to dismiss the very real accusation of cheating that James faces. It looks like she had an affair with a married man, and at best it’s just shit. However, I don’t care to act as a moral arbiter for anyone, let alone those in the public eye. The questions here are more about the priority we establish and the narratives we reinforce as we embark on another cycle of shaming women in ways that men don’t. It’s worth asking what exactly we gain when we rely so heavily on the virgin-bitch complex in 2020, and what remains so appealing in these easily manipulated stories focused on ‘bad’ women and overjoyed men. by them. For James, at the moment, it seems the best thing she can hope for is for the press to get fed up with her and move on to their next target, allowing this point in her career to turn into an awkward but minor Wikipedia note. . Yet despite the seismic changes the entertainment industry has seen in recent years, the specter of toxic masculinity and systemic abuse remains strong. It’s still a world obsessed with the idea of good girls and bad women.
Source of header image: Getty Images.