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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Tok the Talk: Celebrity press tours

Johnson’s recent press tour for “Madame Web” indicates a larger trend in celebrity interviews.

Tok the Talk Column Graphic

Graphic by Molly Sullivan

“They annoy me,” Dakota Johnson recently stated about her co-stars Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O'Connor and Isabela Merced on the press tour for the recent release “Madame Web.” Johnson, perhaps most known for playing Anastasia Steele in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise, has always been known to be something of a loose cannon on press tours. One of the more noteworthy instances of this is an interview on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” during which she challenged Ellen’s statement that Johnson did not invite the interviewer to her birthday party: “Actually, no, that’s not the truth, Ellen,” she said dryly. “Ask everybody. Ask Jonathan, your producer.”

Now, the star has been gaining a lot of recent media attention, particularly for some of her comments on her new movie “Madame Web” (2024). “I don’t think they include me,” Johnson said about her younger castmates. “I’m older than them, and they make sure that I’m aware of that.” From afar, it sounds bad. And the situation seems messy — but the real question is this: How bad are these comments, really? Isn’t she just being honest? Isn’t that what we want to see in interviews?

This phenomenon — unbridled honesty in interviews — is seemingly indicative of a larger trend in pop culture at the moment. We can see this in celebrities like Renee Rapp, who recently confessed to being “very ageist” in an interview because of how “millennial women were always coming for [her],” and Cillian Murphy, who revealed that he doesn’t believe “Red Eye” (2005) was all that good. Specifically, he stated, “I love Rachel McAdams, and we had fun making it. But I don’t think it’s a good movie. It’s a good B movie.”

Many fans have praised Johnson, Rapp and Murphy for their “refreshing honesty,” whilst others argue that it is indicative of a lack of media training. Which one is it?

Though it can be argued that this recent phenomenon of outspoken celebrities in interviews is simply a case of their personality shining through or their desire to remove all pretense in favor of keeping it real with their fans, I don’t believe it is that simple. Celebrities like Dakota Johnson have crafted a particular image that makes them so appealing to the general public. Johnson, particularly since that fateful Ellen interview, has created a persona that is humorous and doesn’t take any crap from anyone else. This personality is what has made her so likable and what has kept her relevant during her spell of films and TV shows that haven’t done particularly well. Similarly, Rapp, by hating on millennials, has fostered a connection with her primarily Generation Z fanbase. Do I think that her comments are calculated? No. But I also believe that it isn’t simply a “lack of media training.” Celebrities are simply too smart for that.

What I’m most interested in regarding this phenomenon, however, is how quickly the public tires of such candor. While Johnson's comments may not be egregious, they've still made headlines and garnered some negative attention. Some still praise her for her “realness.” A few others, however, fear that she is just difficult to work with.

To that, I’d like to say this: It's very easy for celebrity statements to be misconstrued. In truth, when discussing her castmates, Johnson didn't merely label them annoying, as I previously stated. He said: “I love them, and they annoy me, and I love them.”

Is her honesty such a bad thing?