Defending Keira Knightly
I was clenching my jaw and scowling on the train. I am sure that the other passengers noticed. Well it was that damn Facebook status. It was so distasteful, so mean-spirited. It made, just, a visceral reaction in me.
“Oh please – Keira Knightly poses topless — stop the presses! I had more cleavage at 16 than she’ll ever have.”
God damn it. No, really, I mean it.
GOD. DAMN. IT.
In the recent news people have vilified Renee Zellwegger for (people have declared) goofing with her face through surgery. I remember a few years ago when Kate Winslet was crucified for photoshopped photos of her in Vanity Fair Magazine. Now, here is Keira Knightly laying bare herself so that her celebrity could be used to make a point about the judgment that women suffer in today’s society, especially in show business. She is making herself vulnerable, which shows her absolute strength, in an effort to do some good in the world and what happens? Some middle aged, acid-tongued queen decides to use his Facebook status to make what he assumes is a remark that will be considered humourous and garner him many “likes”.
Yes, I know the man who wrote this sentence. He is someone that I know but who I would be hard pressed to call ‘friend’. We have had a pleasant passing acquaintance for many years. Thanks to the Facebook Machine I have to pleasure to read what he chooses to share from his life and his brain. This mean-spirited comment is exactly the kind of comment that people make all the time, believing themselves to be a great wit or incomparable expert on some matter, over which they hold no absolute knowledge or humour. I made a comment, defending Ms Knightly’s choice and pointed out that if he were to have someone comment unfavourably on his diminishment as a gay man of a certain age (something he can change no more than Keira Knightly can her cup size, without mutilating surgery) he would, most likely, be hurt. One of the issues that gay men focus on, maybe even stress over, is the aging process. Gay men are also more than a little focused on their physical appearance. This is a sweeping generalization and, naturally, there are gay men who do not care one tiny bit about whether they are or are not older or in less than optimal shape. However, I stand by my generalization, broom in hand. I’m a fifty year old gay man and most of my friends my age are bothered, in the extreme, by the thought that they might be considered a less useful member of the gay community, just because of their age or their shape or both. So to have read this mean spirited comment from a middle aged, chubby gay man made me so angry. I am, in fact, angry still.
When will we stop judging each other? When will we stop bullying each other. Jesus Christ on a crutch, have we evolved not one iota in these last decades? I mean, I understand that it was different in the past; but in the past people were racists who segregated others. Not just blacks and gays. People in the last century hated anyone whose skin was a different colour, who followed a different religious track, who had a different set of genitalia. Not just the men; there are a lot of man hating women in the history of our world. Everyone has spent so much time hating each other, in the past. In recent years, though, there has been growth in the area of bigotry. We have seen people stand up for their fellow man. Straight movie stars crusade for marriage equality. Men speak out for women’s rights. We have a black President. And, yes, I am aware that bigotry has seen a regrettable return to the forefront of peoples’ minds; but I am also aware that the rash of suicides in the youth of America, many of them based on bullying, has made the public at large more sensitive to the stopping of this particular crime against humanity. Children are dying at their own hands and people, famous and humble, rich and middle class, of all races are speaking out against bullying, in an effort to save the children.
Do those same people think that, once we are grown, we no longer have feelings? The internet seems to give people free reign to make comments on everything from what a famous person wore on a red carpet to how ugly a child with Down syndrome is. People leave heinous comments on the instagram photos of strangers and people blog about their hatred of everyone from the President to the family next door. People leave remarks on others’ Facebook pages that, given the chance, they would be mortified to say to that face, in person. I have seen comments left under photos of my loved ones that have caused me to remove others from my friend list. It’s not an act of malice on my part. I simply cannot associate, in any way, with people who are so oblivious that they don’t even know when they are saying something that might hurt another person’s feelings.
I know that the chances of Keira Knightly seeing the comments made by the man that I know are very slim. That being said: those comments are now on the internet. If it is on the internet, it can be seen. I wish that I hadn’t read some of the things I’ve read about myself online. Hell, I wish I hadn’t heard some of the things that I’ve heard said to my face by people that I insist on continuing to love. I know that I should get thicker skin and, indeed, over the years, I have. What I don’t understand is WHY we should NEED to get thicker skin. We are not creatures on the jungle. We are not defending ourselves from death. There is no reason why we should all have to build up the hide of an armadillo to protect us from the bullying or blind insensitivity of other human beings. What if we just tried to love one another? How about just trying to respect each other? Why not dismiss the urge to be mean – it only ever works for people like Don Rickles and Joan Rivers .. and even then, it didn’t always work. Can’t we just decide to love each other? We have so much to love each other for.
I respect, greatly, any person who is willing to lay open their heart and their soul, who is willing to open a door that could lead to their judgment, in an effort to change the world, to make it better for others. I cannot respect the people who take sport in criticizing people for the sake of sport.. or a few Facebook ‘likes’. That is a dangerous slope to get onto because, before you know it, you are the bully that everyone fears and nobody loves. And everyone who knows me knows what, at my core, I believe:
Love is Always Better.