Let's All Get Very Angry That a Fictional Character from The Avengers Was "Slut-Shamed"

So what's "tearing the internet apart" today? An interview with two of the stars of the most anticipated surefire blockbuster of the season, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which they jokingly said something tasteless and insulting about one of the fictional characters of the film -- namely, Black Widow.
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So what's "tearing the internet apart" today? An interview with two of the stars of the most anticipated surefire blockbuster of the season, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which they jokingly said something tasteless and insulting about one of the fictional characters of the film -- namely, Black Widow.
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There should be some sort of international medal of honor reserved solely for whoever figures out how to make Twitter go down for good. Imagine a world where the outrage over a perceived offense or violation of politically correct orthodoxy went no further than a couple of people's front doors. Picture a whole day where we weren't subjected to a new clever hashtag demanding that we fire or boycott this person or that or a slew of headlines claiming that "(Insert Oppressor's Name Here) Went Too Far!" Just think of what it would be like for Salon to suddenly be relegated to posting no more than a couple of stories a week and for identity politics to not somehow seem to infect every single online interaction. It would be nice. It would leave those of us charged with writing about what's happening in the world of the media and pop culture free to find better things to do with our time.

So what's "tearing the internet apart" today? An interview with two of the stars of the most anticipated surefire blockbuster of the season, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which they jokingly said something tasteless and insulting about one of the fictional characters of the film -- namely, Black Widow. During one of the 963,000 five-minute one-on-ones in what surely feels like a never-ending press junket, Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans were asked about the love life of the character played by Scarlett Johansson. By the time we get through Ultron, Black Widow has been romantically linked to two of her other Avengers, the first being Renner's Hawkeye and the second being Mark Ruffalo's Hulk (with some sexual attraction hinted at toward Evans's Captain America). When asked by a reporter what Renner and Evans think about this, Renner deadpans, "She's a slut," which causes Evans to crack up and say, "She's a complete whore." Renner goes on to call her a "trick" with a "prosthetic leg" while Evans jokingly accuses her of "leading everybody on."

Let's first try to remember that before this one particular line of questioning took place, Renner and Evans had probably already been sitting in the hotel room where the rotating interviews were happening for hours. Junkets are pure fucking tedium and they can make any celebrity, even the most professional or easy-going, a little loopy. For proof of this, witness yesterday's news-making walk-out by Robert Downey Jr., which happened after a reporter wouldn't stop trying to get him to talk about his drug-fueled past. The other thing to keep in mind, as if this needs to be said, is that these two guys were of course making a sarcastic joke -- with Renner assuming the role of an embittered ex-boyfriend whose former love is now dating his friend -- and they were talking about a person who doesn't actually exist. Black Widow is a fictional character.

Maybe Renner and Evans should've been more careful considering that we all know how the perpetually aggrieved masses respond to jokes not made 100% clear and humor not scrubbed clean in the name of keeping everyone's delicate sensibilities intact. But God forbid you get a moment of personality out of one of these junkets rather than the usual pre-packaged answers to the usual pre-packaged questions. Next time Renner and Evans will know better and will probably try to make sure nothing they say ever offends anybody. But for now we get the onslaught of tweets from fans expressing how "disappointed" they are, as well as the predictable hot takes accusing the actors of being misogynist and of "slut-shaming" Black Widow -- again, a person who doesn't actually exist.

Both Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans have of course apologized, but only one of them gave those who rammed their pissy-sticks into the ground and shouted, "You shall not pass!" the contrition they demanded. Can you guess which one? Evans responded, "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, said this: "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." Oh well, it's not like Renner's worried about blowing that big Hawkeye solo film deal anyway.