Eddie has spoken out in regards to the twitter backlash that J.K. Rowling has received since making comments related to transgender individuals earlier this year. The Telegraph has shared his done a right up on the situation.
The actor may be ‘cancelled’ for refusing to join the trolls. Or have his critics never forgiven him for The Danish Girl?
Eddie Redmayne has made a terrible mistake – he has attempted to say something nuanced in an interview. Was he not aware that in an age of Twitter soundbites and conveniently cropped screenshots, nuance is for fools?
In said interview, Redmayne, who has just started filming the third film in the Fantastic Beasts series, attempted to convey the sentiment that, while he doesn’t agree with JK Rowling’s stance on trans issues, he also doesn’t support the vitriol she has received on social media. In case you missed it, the abuse involved #RIPJKRowling trending for several days.
The full quote from the Daily Mail reads: “[Redmayne] said he has many “trans friends and colleagues” who are ‘having their human rights challenged around the world and facing discrimination on a daily basis”.
It goes on: ‘Though [Redmayne] disagreed with Rowling’s comments on the issue, he was alarmed by the ‘vitriol’ hurled at her on social media, which he termed ‘absolutely disgusting’, and which prompted him to write her a private note. However, Redmayne felt that the insults to trans people on social media is ‘equally disgusting’. He said: ‘Similarly, there continues to be a hideous torrent of abuse towards trans people online and out in the world that is devastating.’
So in short, Redmayne has gone for the old “I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”, which until recently was regarded as rather a reasonable sentiment. But unfortunately for Redmayne, we are apparently no longer capable of understanding any statement other than “this is very good” or “this is very bad” – especially when it comes to high profile public figures like JK Rowling.
Redmayne’s cancellation is somewhat reminiscent of the film Final Destination, where people who cheat death are then hunted down by death itself. Back in 2015 he somehow got away with playing trans woman Lili Elba in the film The Danish Girl, a role for which he was Oscar nominated. By comparison, in 2018, when Scarlett Johansson was announced as the lead in Rug & Tug, playing a trans man, the objections were so fulsome that she was obliged to relinquish the role.
Let’s not forget that earlier this year, when JK Rowling first nailed her colours to the mast, Redmayne joined Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson in speaking publicly about his disagreement with Rowling’s views. He told Variety: “I disagree with Jo’s comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid. I would never want to speak on behalf of the community but I do know that my dear transgender friends and colleagues are tired of this constant questioning of their identities, which all too often results in violence and abuse. They simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it’s time to let them do so.”
And yet despite all this, his role in The Danish Girl, combined with his comments about Rowling, is now being used as comprehensive ‘evidence’ that he himself is a transphobe. Or perhaps just transphobic by association, because he does not support outpourings of online abuse and threats towards women like Rowling. Similarly, actor Tom Felton who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, became the object of online objections because he didn’t make a statement in which he disagreed with Rowling, and apparently liked one of her tweets in the aftermath of her open letter.
There is a sense that it’s permissible to do whatever you like to someone, if you find their politics abhorrent. But tweeting JK Rowling telling her that you wish she had cancer belongs to the same category as throwing milkshakes on people who voted for Brexit. It does not ultimately further your argument, it merely sets fire to the moral high ground you were attempting to occupy.
Probably the most compelling part of this entire saga was when a trans group came together to publicly condemn a headline in The Sun which read “I slapped JK Rowling and I’m not sorry.” Trans and non-binary activists, who were clear about the fact that they disagreed with Rowling’s personal views, wrote an open letter to Victoria Newton, the Sun’s editor, reading: “We stand alongside JK Rowling against this cruel and malicious reporting, which sends a dangerous message to all survivors that their stories are only valid when corroborated by their abusers. It sends a message to all survivors of domestic and sexual violence that they will not be believed, and it is dangerous.”
Surely such support for someone with whom you disagree is infinitely more likely to win respect for your cause than tweeting that JK Rowling can “suck my big transgender c**k”.