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Let Greta Gerwig snark on I Feel Pretty in peace

Celebrities have a right to privacy, you know.

ON WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, Greta Gerwig attended a quiet matinee screening of I Feel Pretty. During the screening, she allegedly laughed talked loudly, drank from a giant soda, and made some disparaging comments about the movie.

We know this because one of the other people attending the screening livetweeted Greta Gerwig’s reactions to the film.

“um I’m in a movie theater about to see I feel pretty alone and greta gerwig just walked in and sat down in front of me,” tweeted Jaye Hunt.

Over the course of the film, Hunt posted 21 observations of Gerwig’s behaviour during the film. These ranged from, “she’s drinking the biggest movie theater soda I’ve ever seen!!!!” to “every time a song plays in this movie she dances along in her seat which is VERY relatable”.

She also insinuated that Gerwig did not enjoy the film, stating that the actress pointed out plot holes and exclaimed, ‘Aidy Bryant was wasted in that.’

Needless to say, the thread went viral. If there is one thing the internet cannot resist, it’s an insight into how celebrities behave away from the public gaze and the knowledge that Greta Gerwig attended a romcom in the middle of the day to snark on it was Twitter catnip.

Many found the story delightfully endearing in a ‘Celebs! They’re just like us’ sort of way. Others deemed Gerwig’s behaviour obnoxious.

More importantly, it raised questions over the degree to which we treat celebrities as abstract figures that exist only for our personal consumption.

When Greta Gerwig attended I Feel Pretty, she did so as a private citizen. This was not a press screening and at no point did she consent to having her reactions documented and broadcast to the internet. What should have been an unremarkable outing with friends was turned into a viral news story and Greta Gerwig had no say in it.

This is troubling. Celebrities may be public figures, but surely they are also entitled to see a film without the fear of strangers turning it into shareable content.

That the author of the thread implied that Gerwig was less than fond of the film complicated matters further. If Gerwig didn’t like the film, that’s fine. But shouldn’t it be up to her whether or not that information is disclosed, lest feelings are hurt or relationships are compromised?

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Case in point. On Thursday, actress Busy Philipps addressed the situation on Instagram. Philipps’ husband, Marc Silverstein, co-wrote and directed I Feel Pretty. The actress has a supporting role in the film. She also happens to be friends with Greta Gerwig.

“Guys, did you see this woman that livetweeted Greta watching I Feel Pretty?” she said. “I mean, she’s pretty f**king mean about the movie, but that’s not my issue necessarily. I mean, that does suck especially because Greta’s our friend.”

“But I guess the thing that, like, struck me is that… are we seriously at this point that we’re just like, ‘Everyone exists for my own personal LOLs and I’m going to just livetweet George Clooney at Starbucks.’’

Philipps, a keen social media user, noted the distinction between celebrities documenting their own lives versus strangers documenting them from afar.

“I think it’s up to the rest of us to understand what privacy is and what discretion is, and to allow people to be people,” she said.

Later that day, Philipps took to Instagram to say that she had spoken to Gerwig over the phone. She said that the actress was “so bummed” by the ordeal and noted that she disputed some details from the thread.

“She was like, ‘We had the best time, we haven’t had that much fun since Girls Trip,’ she said.

I know that it’s like, ‘Well, of course she’s going to say that to you because you guys are friends and she doesn’t want to bum you out.’ But literally, this is the thing that broke me. She was like, ‘We were drinking small sodas, Busy!’” Like that’s the first thing this woman said is a lie.

Indeed, another cinema goer has since disputed a detail of the thread in question. Hunt tweeted, “someone just fully left because of how loud she and her friends are being I’m CACKLING.”

The gentleman in question has since clarified that he left not because of how loud they were, but because he had somewhere else to be. “Didn’t recognize Greta Gerwig,” he added.

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 4.15.59 PM Source: Brendan Fay/Twitter

And therein lies the problem. Many of the observations were based on the author’s own perceptions and projections. There was no fact-checking or corroborating. She spoke for Greta Gerwig without speaking to Greta Gerwig.

Hunt has since defended the thread and denied that there was anything creepy or invasive about it.

“I was just going to tweet omg greta gerwig is here and then move on with my life, but she was being loud (and funny!) so I thought it was something my followers would find as amusing as I did!” she wrote. “I’m not a f**king paparazzo or whatever.”

Hunt may not be a paparazzo and her motivations may not have been sinister, but she is nonetheless guilty of prioritising the desires of her internet audience over the rights of the real-life human being sitting in front of her at the cinema.

Before she knew it, both herself and Gerwig had been thrown to the wolves, something which could easily have been avoided had she just saved the anecdote for the bar or even kept it within the confines of a private WhatsApp group.

But that’s 2018 for you, eh?

Once the awkward conversations are over, Greta Gerwig will emerge from this unscathed and it will all be forgotten. There will be another viral thread to fuss over tomorrow and the day after that. The culture of entitlement surrounding celebrities and their private lives will persist.

As Busy Philipps lamented, “It’s just such a bummer that you can’t exist in a public space if you’re a public person. How rotten.”

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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