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bitchy | Amandla Stenberg DM’d a NYT critic about her review, then all hell broke loose

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Okay, I was only halfway paying attention to this Amandla Stenberg-Lena Wilson controversy last week and whenever I saw a new headline about it, I was like “is this still happening?” At best, this is all some huge misunderstanding. At worst, it’s a queer New York Times critic attacking a young queer woman of color over the younger woman’s reaction to a piece of criticism? This is just… so unnecessary, all of it. The story began when Lena Wilson watched and wrote a New York Times review of Bodies Bodies Bodies. Amandla, who stars in the ensemble horror movie, “clapped back” at Wilson via a DM. Wilson then posted Amandla’s DM on her public profile and suggested that Amandla was homophobic? It kept going and going too.

Amandla Stenberg took to Instagram Stories on Thursday to clarify why she sent a pointed DM to NYT’s Lena Wilson after the critic posted their back-and-forth on Twitter late last night. It has since inspired hundreds of comments about everything from homophobia to how critics write about actresses and their bodies, particularly Black women.

“Ur review was great, maybe if you had gotten your eyes off my tits you could’ve watched the movie,” Stenberg wrote to Wilson on Aug. 8. The DM was in direct reference to this line from Wilson’s review: “The only thing that really sets Bodies Bodies Bodies apart is its place in the A24 hype machine, where it doubles as a 95-minute advertisement for cleavage and Charli XCX’s latest single.”

Wilson responded by saying that she’s “generally a big fan of your work, but this sure is something. Really wishing you well in your career and life.” She then took the exchange public by posting it on Twitter and questioning whether Stenberg also sent messages to critics Alison Willmore of New York Magazine/Vulture, Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times or Anthony Lane of The New Yorker, all of whom reviewed Bodies Bodies Bodies. (Wilson, who blocked Stenberg on Instagram, took her Twitter private Thursday afternoon.)

[From THR]

After that, Amandla went on her IG Stories and posted her reaction to Wilson’s comments, and addressed why she DM’d Wilson in the first place. Amandla said in part:

“I just thought I would get out here really quickly cuz I’m receiving a lot of commentary on the internet for being a very naughty girl and sending a DM that I thought was hilarious. I’m proud that a piece of work that I was part of was described as such in such a renowned publication. That is a really unique experience that I get to have.”

She continued by saying that because both she and Wilson are gay, “I thought that, as gay people, we would both find this comment funny. I was also curious to know why Lena would say such a statement, but Lena decided to publish it and say that I am homophobic for saying that.” Wilson did post that on Twitter, writing, “Always weird when the homophobia is coming from inside the house.”

Aside from that, Stenberg said that the amount of commentary she’s fielded about her breasts “is so extreme” and has been happening since she was a teenager. “I could literally be wearing a t-shirt and just because of the size of my boobs, there will be some sort of sexualization or commentary on my chest…”

“Lena, I thought your review was hilarious. I thought my DM was funny. I did not mean to harass you and I do not wish you any harm. You are allowed to have your criticisms on my work and I’m allowed to have my criticisms of your work, and that is A-OK with me. I wish you the best anyways. Thanks to anyone who has gone to see our 95-minute advertisement for cleavage.”

[From THR]

Amandla is exactly right – Wilson is allowed to write her movie reviews and Amandla is allowed to react to those reviews. I didn’t even think Amandla’s DM was threatening or harassing in any way – it reads as a youthful (and entirely private) clapback and Wilson probably should have dealt with it privately, if Wilson felt the need to react to Amandla at all. I mean, if a celebrity DM’d me to stop obsessing about her chest, I would probably apologize and promise to do better. I totally understand what Amandla is saying too, about how she’s just existing with breasts and that freaks people out.

When Lena posted Amandla’s DM, she did so in this video, below. She… published Amandla’s DM without her consent and tried to pretend like Amandla was publicly attacking her or something. This is wrong. Lena Wilson is in the wrong.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.



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