Jeremy Renner called Black Widow a slut and Chris Evans agreed

donna-dickens
Deputy Entertainment Editor
04.23.15

Marvel Entertainment

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” reviews and interviews are popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. And as ever with major press tours, there”s bound to be drama. Everyone thought it had reared its head yesterday when Robert Downey Jr. walked out of an interview after a reporter took a sharp right turn into asking questions about his past drug usage.

But while that exchanged captured the attention of fans and news outlets alike, another soundbite was bubbling up, ready to explode.

During a video interview with Digital Spy, Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans were asked about the tendency of Avengers” fandom to ship (wish) Black Widow was romantically involved with either Hawkeye or Captain America, and how do the actors feel now that it appears she”s hooking up with Bruce Banner.

Their response? To call Black Widow a slut and a whore, albeit in jest. The bit is the first question asked below:

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As BuzzFeed has pointed out, the fandom is split down the middle. On the one side you have people who are put off balance by Renner and Evans” casual use of gendered slurs. On the other side are the people who say they were just joking.

It”s both. It”s a joke AND it”s appalling that Renner and Evans would make it. “Slut” and “whore” are words that have been around since time immemorial to use as a blunt-force weapon to keep women in their place. Enjoying sex and having agency over how many partners you have was a luxury afforded only to men. In women, it was something dangerous and dirty to be stamped out.

The fan backlash has been so vehement that both actors issued apologies via Entertainment Weekly. Evans owned up to his mistake and regrets his decision. Renner, on the other hand, is opting for the “sorry you”re offended” non-apology approach:

“Yesterday we were asked about the rumors that Black Widow wanted to be in a relationship with both Hawkeye and Captain America,” Evans said in a statement provided to EW. “We answered in a very juvenile and offensive way that rightfully angered some fans. I regret it and sincerely apologize.”

“I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone,” Renner also said in a statement provided to EW. “It was not meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour.”

We”ve grown as a society, but the connotations attached to those slurs are still very gendered and very negative. Movements like SlutWalk push hard for women to reclaim that word. But as with any reclamation effort, the oppressed party using the word does not grant carte blanche for the rest of society to start throwing it around like a bowling ball. Unless you”re a chick or a dude self-identifying as a slut, err on the side of caution and don”t use it.

In the world of fan-fiction, promiscuity is the name of the game. Everyone is hooked up with everyone else, that way all the fans can have their perfect couple. Even if they”ll never canonically get together. The Avengers cast has proven time and time again that they are aware of the fandom”s inside jokes. They know the cast line-up is basically one big orgy of ships. Literally. If Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans had laughed and said, “We”re all a bunch of sluts, really!” it would”ve changed the tone of the exchange completely. It goes from a judgement on Black Widow”s character as a woman to an admission that fandom is delightfully thorough in their quest to find their OTP (One True Pairing).

However, not even a non-apology can't save Jeremy Renner from his insane follow-up. “She has a prosthetic leg anyway,” Renner concluded, dismissing Black Widow – and by extension amputees in general – as not worth the effort anyway.

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