Was the Oscars really held just yesterday? Because I’ve seen a week’s worth of takes on Twitter—with Los Angeles Times writer Dave Schilling’s tweet about “50 young freelance writers working below the poverty line who had to stay up all night crafting a take they don’t actually believe” as my personal favorite.
Much of the “discourse” surrounding the ceremony is centered around taking a joke, eclipsing some important conversations on diversity and fair treatment in the industry. But what can we do? The Will Smith and Chris Rock drama really was a lot. However, as a member of the Kirsten Dunst hive, I would like to shed light on the less talked about but still unclassy Amy Schumer joke where she called Dunst a “seat filler.”
Here’s what happened: Oscar host Schumer had a spiel explaining what seat fillers are. ICYDK, they’re audience members who temporarily take the place of attendees who need to leave their seats. Schumer made a joke about it by having Dunst get up from her seat, who BTW was present at the ceremony for her first Best Supporting Actress nom. After taking Dunst’s seat she spoke to Jesse Plemons, who said in a stone-faced reply, “You know that was my wife?” It was a rough night for exceptional married Hollywood actresses.
But word is, the joke was trying to subvert the “Dunst is the more famous half of the couple” notion than making fun of the actress per se. Plemons has opened up about being disrespected and enduring name-calling despite his impressive filmography. However, the criticisms against Schumer’s joke point to the comedian failing to consider its underlying misogyny.
Schumer has since published a Notes app response to the backlash from the joke. “Hey I appreciate the love for Kirsten Dunst. I love her too! That was a choreographed bit she was in on. Wouldn’t disrespect a queen like that,” she said in an Instagram story today, March 29.
What Schumer might have missed is that Dunst has also struggled with underappreciation. She has previously spoken up about how she’s felt overlooked by Hollywood and how she has “never been recognised in my industry.” She regards the nomination and the reception for “The Power of the Dog” as something that “opens new doors” for her. As a fan, I wish she was given the chance to savor the moment.
Not to come off as a snowflake, but I think it’s common decency not to invite other people to poke fun at something that we know someone has agonized over for years. It’s also not necessary to bring someone down to lift a person up. Sure, it’s nice that some professional comedians ask for permission for possibly offensive jokes. But who among us hasn’t felt forced to say that we’re fine with something even if we weren’t? Feel free to boo me but the joke didn’t land—Plemons’s face says it all.