A wafer-thin by-election win won’t solve the Labour Party’s problems.
The talk of the town has been that the Batley and Spen by-election was a victory for Labour. “Labour is back” and “Labour is coming home” were the football inspired words Keir Starmer used to describe this wafer-thin by-election win. He forgets the party only won by 323 votes, that Labour have held this seat since 1997 and that Kim Leadbeater is the sister of the murdered Jo Cox suggesting a sympathy vote might have taken place.
Starmer’s approval ratings are still dismal. He’s only the 5th most popular Labour politician, is disliked by 40% of the general public and only 22% think he looks like a Prime Minister in waiting. Compare this to Boris Johnson who is the 2nd most popular Tory politician and liked by 22% of the general public.
I spoke to a former member of the Labour Party about what he disliked about Keir Starmer. “I dislike his passivity” he tells me. “Understandably he is leader of the Labour party in unprecedented circumstances, but he still seems to lack a “fire” that the opposition needs. There’s no discernable personality or charisma to attach to”. He notes that Keir’s leadership was responsible for him leaving the Labour Party.
Keir’s apparent lack of charisma is evident not only in the Commons. On his recent ‘Life Stories with Piers Morgan’, the leader broke down in tears over his mummy. To Starmer sceptics like me, this was nothing more than a rampant PR job to humanize Labour’s robotic text speech leader. He is a charisma vacuum with a rather stiff and awkward habit of tucking his chin into his neck. No matter how bufoonish Boris may be, you can’t deny he has a deft touch with the public.
The Starmer scepticism runs in my family. “I think the problem with Keir Starmer is we don’t really know what he stands for” says my mum, a life-long Labour voter. “He seems to stand against anything the Tories do, but he doesn’t put an alternative, positive vision forward for what he thinks Labour should do”.
That’s the crux of my own Starmer scepticism. He has no clear, articulate vision for the party or the country. He has spent the majority of the pandemic criticizing Boris on all counts, but not offering up a solid solution that Labour would do any differently.
Jamie Morris agrees with me. “I’d like to see him take a harder stance on things and not try to be like an everyman” he tells me. It’s ironic that that hard stance preached by Jeremy Corbyn with ideas of re-nationalizing railways and public utilities would’ve taken Britain back to the Winter of Discontent. The Labour Party is in fractures since their worst defeat since 1935 at the 2019 General Election. It’s somewhat unsurprising therefore that they would go for someone a bit bland and boring considering Corbyn was dragging the party backwards.
Keir is Soft Left, but the definition of what that means is still up for debate. He’s certainly not Blairite as he has trashed the free market model and he’s certainly not Corbynite as that would make him a crypto-Communist. But what is Soft Left? Is that just a word for a left wing politician with nothing new or positive to say?
Most worrying about his interview with Piers Morgan was when he said he didn’t realise why Labour lost the 2019 Election. Isn’t the answer staring at him right in the face? They lost because they were too left wing! “People with their heart liked what Jeremy Corbyn was saying” says my mum. “But at the end of the day people saw it was unrealistic and it would be trying to unravel such a new and complex way of doing things that has evolved over the last 20 years”.
Corbyn dragged the party backwards. Keir is hoping to push the party forwards. But in his recent essay for The New Statesman, Tony Blair stated Labour needed “total reconstruction and deconstruction” or it will “die”. “The Labour Party that he developed and the policies that he developed (Third Way policies, much more Centre Left policies) seem to have fallen by the wayside” my mum tells me. “Labour has shifted back to the old-fashioned Left...The old-fashioned Left doesn’t fit the global context today”.
Labour is utterly skewed to the Left. Keir maybe a softie, but his party is riven with Hard Left loonies. Look at Nadia Whittome, look at Zarah Sultana, look at Diane Abbott. These are the last remnants of the Corbyn era making a lot of noise, but, as I’ve often said, empty vessels make the most noise.
Boris, on the other hand, won the 2019 election and the recent local elections because he has a much firmer grip of the British centre. The Tories have even shifted to the Left in recent months with their high spending, high taxes, high borrowing budget. That’s not the mark of a conservative government, that’s a social democractic government.
And, at the centre of it all, we have an enigma. And that enigma is Labour’s leader. Until he was elected, I knew nothing about him. I still don’t know most of his shadow cabinet. And I’m sorry crying over your mummy isn’t going to make people vote for you. He has no vision for the party.
Tony Blair is right. “Without total change, Labour will die”. That’s harsh words from the man responsible for winning Labour the biggest landslide in post-war history, but it’s the truth. A bigger statement, however, should be that “without a change in leader, Labour will die”. Sir Keir just isn’t up to the task...
Opportunism exists on both sides of the political divide.
She got there by dirtying her hands. Politics is all about that - it’s a dirty game. There’s dirt on the hands of both the Left and Right. We should stop pretending it’s just a one-sided coin.
Amber Heard’s removal from ‘Aquaman 2’ is the right step towards levelling the playing field for victims of abuse both male and female.
Rumours that Amber Heard has been fired from ‘Aquaman 2’ (2022) have been circling the internet since February 28th. Various publications report she has been removed from the upcoming ‘Aquaman’ sequel where she plays Mera, reprising her role from ‘Aquaman’ (2017) and ‘Justice League’ (2017). The reports have not been confirmed by Warner Bros. or DC Entertainment and the claims arrive amid a larger dispute between Heard, Johnny Depp and the pair’s respective fan bases.
An article published on the website Latestly, then syndicated in a Yahoo! News story, stated that an anonymous source was quoted saying “Amber Heard did not pass her physical examination. She’s put on some pounds and is in terrible shape. There is a clause in her contract which she says is required to be in good form ahead of shooting and she violated that”. Heard’s alleged firing, if true, would be the result many fans and defenders of ex-husband Johnny Depp have been campaigning for ever since Depp was asked to resign from ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’ (2022).
Depp and Heard have each accused each other of domestic violence and abuse. Heard said she has been assaulted by Depp on more than 14 occasions - left with a broken nose, black eyes and a split lip. He also apparently threw a mobile phone at her face with “extreme force”. Meanwhile, Depp claims Heard was “flailing and punching him” and accuses her of severing his finger tip after throwing a vodka bottle at him that cut the top of his finger and “crushed the bones”.
What do I think about all this? Well, I think there are a couple of things to consider here...
On the subject of so-called “cancel culture” (when celebrities are removed or blacklisted from projects due to controversy), I’m generally against cancelling a person’s career. I don’t think a homophobic tweet, for example, should necessarily end someone’s career. There’s a difference between thinking inappropriately and acting inappropriately. A person shouldn’t be cancelled for having offensive, inappropriate beliefs, just educated.
Gibson has repeatedly apologised for his actions and made amendments such as asking for meetings with Jewish leaders, attending rehab and being sober for 10 years. It’s safe to say he’s a changed man.
25 years on, Downey is now the 2nd highest-grossing actor in Hollywood with a Box Office total of $5,818,750,378, raking in $75 million for ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019) alone playing billionaire industrialist, playboy and superhero Tony Stark/Iron Man. This can be put down to a remarkable rehabilitation and recovery on his part and effort - proof that even the baddest of boys can change for the better. Drug/alcohol abuse and racism and anti-semitism maybe be morally wrong, but there are far worse crimes and sins such as as sexual abuse, harassment and paedophilia. Neither Downey nor Gibson are guilty of these.
What were the consequences of his actions? Spacey was removed from the sixth and final season of ‘House of Cards’ as both star and producer, the Gore Vidal biopic ‘Gore’ starring Spacey was cancelled and Netflix severed all ties with him. Spacey was also removed from ‘All the Money in the World’ (2018) and replaced by Christopher Plummer. The International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences reversed its decision to honour Spacey with the 2017 International Emmy Founders Award. On November 2nd, 2017, Variety reported his publicist Staci Wolfe and talent agency Creative Artists Agency were ending their relationship with him.
There’s a distinct difference between Spacey’s case and the cases of Gibson and Downey Jr. Gibson made politically incorrect, offensive statements and Downey was a drug addict, but Spacey sexually abused people, even children which is a completely different kettle of fish and a far greater crime in my opinion.
There still isn’t proof that Spacey committed these acts which begs the question of whether he should really be cancelled if there isn’t evidence that proves he was a sexual abuser. That’s what police and courts are for and they’ve launched investigations into him. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office stated in April 2018 that it would investigate an allegation that Spacey sexually assaulted an adult male in 1992. In July 2018, three more allegations of sexual assault against Spacey were revealed bringing the total number of UK open investigations up to 6.
In September 2018, a lawsuit filed at Los Angeles Superior Court claimed Spacey sexually assaulted an unnamed masseur at a house in Malibu, California in October 2016. In December 2018, Spacey was also charged with a felony for allegedly assaulting journalist Heather Unruh’s 18 year old son in Nantucket, Massachusetts. This is the first formal piece of judicial evidence that could prove Spacey was a sexual abuser and therefore justified his cancellation. Later that month, Unruh’s son filed a lawsuit against Spacey, claiming emotional damages. On July 5th, 2019, he voluntarily dismissed the claims with prejudice.
Later, on July 17th, 2019, the criminal assault charge against Spacey was dropped by the Cape and Islands prosecutors. When the anonymous massage therapist who accused him died, the last remaining criminal case against Spacey was closed.
However, on September 9th, 2020, Rapp sued Spacey for sexual assault, sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress under the Child Victims Act, which extended New York’s statute of limitations for civil suits related to child sexual abuse. Joining Rapp in the suit against Spacey was a man who requested to remain anonymous who accused Spacey of sexually abusing him in 1983, when he was 14 and Spacey was 24. This is further proof of the allegations and justifies Spacey’s cancellation.
I love the biblical story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery. If you want to be religious at this time of day, the quote reads “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. I wonder whether this should be applied to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. We would be technically throwing stones by judging whether either of them are abusers. Let’s look at ourselves before throwing stones at others
But, say, we are throwing stones and both Depp and Heard turn out to be guilty of domestic abuse, doesn’t it seem wrong that Depp is the only one getting punished for his actions?
Heard claims Depp beat her on more than 14 occasions. He supposedly gave her a broken nose, black eyes and a split lip with vicious, drunken tirades that lasted for days. But then Depp accuses Heard of severing his finger tip with a vodka bottle and he’s still the one branded a “wife beater” by The Sun and 2020’s libel case.
I wonder whether this libel case has exposed a bias towards women in the legal system; favouring them in domestic abuse cases. The press are more likely to believe Heard because she is an actress, model, activist and domestic abuse survivor. She has been a vocal campaigner on the issue of domestic and sexual abuse. The UN Human Rights Campaign even named her as a Human Rights Champion for her work advocating women’s rights. She’s also an ambassador for Women’s Rights for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and has given speeches and written in the Washington Post and the New York Times about her experience of domestic violence.
In the #MeToo era, Heard has been a leading figure who speaks up for women suffering in silence by revealing the abuse she supposedly suffered at the hands of one of Hollywood’s most bankable movie stars.
But, then again, Depp has a reputation for being one of the nicest men in Hollywood. Just look at how he visits children in pediatric wards dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow on numerous occasions and supported 19 charities and foundations including Great Ormond Street Hospital, Sophie’s Gift and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
There is a further bias known as lookism at stake in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard case. That’s positive or negative discrimination towards a person based on their physical attractiveness. Heard is certainly a beautiful woman and I wonder whether that’s a very likely reason why the courts have stood in her favour and against Depp who the years have not been kind to with a pot belly and rotting teeth.
Roy Hollier from thelawproject.com uncovered that unattractive criminals were fined $800 more than attractive criminals for serious misdemeanors. Unattractive criminals got 4 years in prison as opposed to 1.5 years for attractive criminals. He also discovered that the more baby-faced the defendant, the more likely to win with 0.9% in favour of the highest baby-faced defendant and 0.3% for the lowest baby-faced defendant. That makes jurors 0.6% more in favour of baby-faced defendants than non baby-faced defendants. A shocking statistic.
Either way, if Heard has been removed from ‘Aquaman 2’, it is a step in the right direction towards levelling the playing field for victims of abuse both male and female. Neither should have to suffer in silence...
Why I’m thrilled Emma Stone has a new baby. Will it stop me crushing? Hell no!
Congratulations are in order. Emma Stone, my favourite actress and all-time cinematic crush, gave birth to her first child on Saturday March 13th. The news comes after People reported earlier in the year that the 32 year old actress was pregnant with her first baby with former SNL host Dave McCary after she was spotted walking with a friend in L.A with a burgeoning baby bump.
This same outlet also reported that Stone married McCary in September of last year. Stone and McCary met when she was hosting SNL in 2016 and he directed her in a taped sketch for the episode. The couple kept their relationship private until they decided to go public at the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards, where Stone was up for ‘The Favourite’ (2019). In December of that year, the couple got engaged and tied the knot the following autumn with a beaming photo of Emma’s engagement ring.
The couple have not yet revealed the sex of the baby, but I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Hollywood’s loveliest leading lady has successfully procreated and is now a mum!
Emma has always struck me as a lovely person. She’s raised awareness of her experience with crippling Anxiety with the Child Mind Institute. She flagged up that male co-stars took pay cuts to help with the gender pay gap in 2017. Even her and her former boyfriend Andrew Garfield were very positive in their response to the paparazzi; holding up signs in front of their faces promoting their favourite charities instead of beating them up or shouting profanities at them like Alec Baldwin and others. They were a lovely couple.
Stone has really evolved as an actress over the years. I first fell in love with her in ‘Easy A’ (2010) which confirmed her reputation as Hollywood’s most reliable girl next door. That was at the age of 22. She’s gone on to win an Oscar for ‘La La Land’ (2017), turned 30 and will soon be seen as one of the greatest supervillains of all time - Cruella De Vil in ‘Cruella’ (2021).
Being a new mum will be a great new chapter in this actress’ life. Hollywood’s girl next door has officially grown up. Will it stop fans like me crushing? Hell no! Congratulations Emma.
Hollywood studios are finally according women effective enmity. Why did it take them so long?
The new ‘Cruella’ (2021) trailer dropped the other week and it looks AMAZING. Set in 1970s London, this punk rock origins story stars an unrecognizable Emma Stone as everyone’s favourite dogskin-loving, scary-haired supervillainess - Cruella De Vil. It takes place when Cruella was a young fashion designer who becomes obsessed with dog skins, especially those of Dalmatians.
The trailer gave me serious ‘Birds of Prey’ and ‘Joker’ vibes and I say that as a good thing. It looks set to be a Heath Ledger-Margot Robbie-style transformation for Stone - similar to what those actors did for the Joker and Harley Quinn. It will be really interesting to see Stone’s psychotic, evil side. I had never really thought of her as a villain - she always strikes me as one of the nicest people ever, as well as adorable, bubbly and sassy as hell. But, thinking about it, she does have that glint of insanity and asymmetricality in her eyes that would look fantastic when completely and utterly unhinged.
Cruella De Vil is certainly an iconic character. She was created by Dodie Smith in the 1956 novel ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’. Betty Lou Gerson did a fabulous, spine-tingling job voicing her in the 1961 Disney film adaptation and Glenn Close did a scary job in the actually surprisingly decent 1996 live-action remake and its sequel ‘102 Dalmatians’ (2000). She is easily one of the greatest villains of all time.
Disney have a history of great female supervillains. Remember Maleficent? Not those terrible live-action films with Angelina Jolie. No. I’m talking about the evil witch in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (1959) - an heiress to the Wicked Witch of the West in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1939) for scariest witch on film. I loved Ursula the sea witch in ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989) and the Evil Queen in ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937) whose beauty hid that horrible witch face that gave me nightmares as a child. The Queen of Hearts with that awfully large head was also great in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (1951) although Helena Bonham Carter was just annoying as her in the 2010 Tim Burton remake. And then there was Lady Tremaine in ‘Cinderella’ (1950) who is responsible for every little girl’s fear of their stepmother. She didn’t just force Cinderella into hard labour, but allowed her two daughters to pull Cinderella’s dress apart before the big ball. Evil stuff.
Live-action supervillainesses have fared far less well. Apart from the live-action ‘Cruella’, I can only think of Electra King in the otherwise pretty mediocre Bond movie ‘The World is Not Enough’ (1999) and Bellatrix Lestrange in the ‘Harry Potter’ (2001-2011) films in terms of unsexualised queens of mean. Catwoman in the many ‘Batman’ films and Mystique in the ‘X-Men’ (2000-) films are heavily sexualised. Mystique is a naked blue alien and Catwoman is clad in skin-tight leather and spends most of her time seducing Batman with her power of seduction.
In recent years, female superheroes have really come of age. ‘Wonder Woman’ (2017) was the highest-grossing female-led superhero film of all time, 21st highest-grossing superhero film and 3rd highest-grossing film by a female director. This shows there is clearly a demand and market for female superheroes. Marvel Studios will be hoping to pull off the trick themselves this summer, provided cinemas are open in time, with the May 7th release of ‘Black Widow’ (2021). As with any major tentpole blockbuster released in cinemas post-pandemic, all eyes will be on ‘Black Widow’ and her arse-kicking lycra to kickstart the film industry again in the wake of the pandemic.
The odds are certainly in the movie’s favour. It stars a feminist two-hander in the two most pivotal roles in Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh as the kick-butt Black Widow sisters. We haven’t seen this many women headlining a potential franchise since ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ flopped back in 2019. That starred Linda Hamilton, MacKenzie Davis and Natalie Reyes in the lead roles.
‘Black Widow’ will surely do better than ‘Dark Fate’ as it stars one of the world’s most bankable movie stars, Scarlett Johansson, and the Oscar-nominated breakout star of 2019, Florence Pugh. There’s a newly renewed demand for conventional “movie stars” after the flops of ‘Tenet’ (2020) and ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ (2020). Neither of those movies starred any Box Office draws and the latter completely relied on an established brand like D.C Comics to draw in the crowds. Even this isn’t enough these days to convince people that it’s safe and cheap enough to attend the movie theatre. Maybe two big stars will do the trick? I hope ‘Black Widow’ is a success - both for the future of the film industry and female superheroes who are increasingly becoming the face of franchise blockbusters and terrific for it.
Harley was grimly sexualised and choke-raped by Batman in ‘Suicide Squad’ (2016) - the camera leched over her legs when Batman was carrying her unconscious body. She was better served by ‘Birds of Prey’ which let Margot Robbie exercise her grinning and gurning and her pixie cut.
Robbie is arguably the most sexualised actress at the moment. Just look at her multiple nude sex scenes with Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2014). But her blonde bombshell hair was bleached green and her fulsome prettiness was covered up by face paint in ‘Birds of Prey’. There was no chance of the camera perving on her body because it was more focused on the extremely violent acts she was commiting and watching her kick butt completely unsexualised.
Harley Quinn is a great character - a full-rounded, unsexualised supervillain and doubtlessly the inspiration for Stone’s Cruella. Stone and Robbie even look similar and the ‘Cruella’ trailer has a faux Sharon Osbourne voiceover.
I loved her ‘Taxi Driver’-style transformation from nerdy, Wonder Woman-idolizing young woman into all-powerful, arse-kicking supervillainess.
I wonder whether the #MeToo Movement is responsible for the rise in female supervillains. In the next few weeks, we’re getting ‘Promising Young Woman’ (2021) which is about a woman trying to avenge her raped best friend. That’s produced by Margot Robbie through her LuckyChap Entertainment production company and is shaping up as a major awards frontrunner and poster girl for empowering, feminist, arse-kicking #MeToo filmmaking. Showing that girls can be both the good girls and the bad girls and giving us a more rounded, evened-out approach to women doing good deeds and bad deeds.
Robbie clearly believes in the power of the women scorned. It’s a good cause and ‘Cruella’ will level the playing field for female supervillains even more…
Celebrity couple age gaps should be accepted regardless of whether the elder is male or female.
It’s Valentine’s Day week and my favourite actress at the moment, Florence Pugh, has been dating ‘Scrubs’ star Zach Braff since April 2019. They’ve had a seemingly happy and contented relationship for a good space of two years now. If you follow Florence’s instagram (as I do, being a huge Pugh fan), you’ll see many photos of the couple on holiday in Spain, a trip to Disneyland and one of Zach sleeping with the dog. Florence even appeared in Braff’s short film, ‘In the Time It Takes to Get There', which came out in 2019.
I couldn’t be happier for Florence. She seems like a lovely girl, a terrific actress and is entitled to date whoever she chooses. There’s just one thing that people seem to have contention with. Pugh turned 25 last month and Zach is 46 this year - that leaves a 21 year age gap between the two lovers.
Now, age gaps between celebrity couples are no new thing. Harper’s Bazaar published an article in May last year (which I looked at before writing this piece) listing 40 couples with big age differences. George Clooney (59) is married to Amal Clooney (who turned 43 this month), who he is 17 years senior to. Bollywood hottie Priyanka Chopra (38) tied the knot with Nick Jonas (28) - the joint lead singer of the Jonas Brothers - despite being 10 years older than him. Even moving beyond heterosexual relationships, Stephen Fry is 63 and his husband, Elliott Spencer, is 33 (old enough to be his son!).
Now, the concept of older men dating younger women is not a newcomer to controversy. As much as I hate Donald Trump, I do think the reaction to the 74 year old former President’s marriage to the glamorous 50 year old Melania Trump was out of proportion. People should be free to love and marry whoever they like regardless of age and I think the stigma about Trump being with a younger woman largely stemmed from the press’ dislike of Trump and his politics.
I was more surprised therefore to see the amount of flack Florence Pugh received for her relationship with Zach Braff. Pugh is a media darling at the moment - a Kate Winslet-style icon for acting talent and queenly elegance. I’ve been swooned by her acting many times as many men and women have too. There’s not many actresses who can go from playing Amy March in ‘Little Women’ (2019) to throwing punches in hotpants in a wrestling comedy (‘Fighting With My Family’ (2019)) with The Rock.
Forget her acting, in all her interviews, Pugh always strikes me as a very well-spoken, intelligent young woman (I’m saying young, she’s 25 and I’m 24 this year so she’s a little older than me and therefore I can hardly talk). So why are people so determined to bully and belittle her over the fact that she’s dating a man old enough to be her dad?
The Oscar-nominated actress stated in an Instagram video defending her relationship with Mr.Braff - “within about eight minutes” of sharing a photo of her boyfriend to mark his 45th birthday, she started to receive abuse and hateful messages. “Comments hurling abuse and being horrid” as she calls it...
These messages accounted for about 70% of the photo’s comments and “for the first time in my instagram life, I have had to turn off the comments on my page” she very sadly says.
Florence continued in impassioned style with the very powerful line “I will underline this fact, I am 24 years old, I do not need you to tell me who I should and should not love and I would never in my life ever, ever tell anyone who they can and cannot love”. She went on “it is not your place and really it has nothing to do with you. So if those rules are something that you do not like then please unfollow me, because the abuse you throw at him is abuse you are throwing at me and I don’t want those followers and I don’t want to be protecting my comments every time I post a picture of him”. Powerful words.
I watched Florence Pugh’s instagram video and was close to tears. Not just because I like her, but no one, especially not someone as talented as her, should have to justify their choice of relationship. People should be thinking of her as “the next Kate Winslet” and crediting her as an Oscar-nominated actress who has played Amy March and Black Widow’s sister in the space of a year and done more in 6 years of acting in the film industry than 40 year old actresses do in a 20 year career.
Instead they’re belittling her for going out with a man old enough to be her dad. Well, the abuse is directed at him, but I’m sure it hurts her too that people have so much contention with her choice of boyfriend as she said in the video. It just makes me feel sick that people can be so cruel!
It’s not just the women who get the flack for a huge age gap between them and their partners. Like I said, Donald Trump has been heckled and jeered at for marrying Melania. But I suspect that has more to do with the fact that Trump is a horrible person. Florence, on the other hand, is not. So why is she getting so much hate?
I suspect there is an element of sexism involved. Female politicians know a lot about this. Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon were constantly photographed and commented upon for flashing their legs rather than talking about their policies. Just ask Jacinda Ardern about that sexist interview on the AM Show when she was asked about her baby plans instead of her campaign promises as Labour leader.
I think we unfortunately still live in a society with two expectations placed upon women - to get married and have children. No one bothered about Boris Johnson not being engaged to Carrie Symonds, for example. Boris’ situation highlights further sexism as no one appeared to bat an eyelid that he is 56 and Carrie is 32 - that’s 24 years between them.
We have to assume that Johnson is the more famous one out of the Downing Street couple, being Prime Minister and all. Naturally, you would assume this would leave him the first to be at risk of scrutiny for dating a woman half his age. But I’ve not seen a single news article criticizing him for dating a younger woman and rightfully so. People should be able to date whoever they damn well feel like!
Out of Florence and Zach, Pugh is the more famous one. Braff is best known for ‘Scrubs’ (2001-2010), but he’s not one of the biggest and hottest movie stars at the moment, due next to star opposite Scarlett Johansson in ‘Black Widow’ (2021). Florence is at the centre of all the media coverage of Florence + Zach and she’s been professionally slaughtered for it. They don’t care about him, they care about her. Had a big actor around Pugh’s age like, say, Timothee Chalamet or Asa Butterfield started dating an older woman, they definitely wouldn’t get so much flack.
There definitely is a further sexism at work in what I refer to as “cougar culture”. You know, when an older, relatively attractive woman is caught in a relationship with a younger man. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher definitely knew a lot about this when they were married. Demi was 40 and Ashton was 25. They were constantly ridiculed by the press with Demi called a “cougar” and Ashton her “toyboy”.
Compare the media reaction to Ashton and Demi with the press coverage of “Brangelina” - when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were married. Brad is 57 now and Angelina is 45 and there’s an 11 year age gap between them. But Brad was seen as a hot player for pulling a woman as beautiful as Angelina while Demi was branded “desperate” for marrying boy toy Ashton Kutcher.
And think about grey-haired, nearly 60 George Clooney who is widely now seen as a sexy “silver fox” for pulling a woman as young and beautiful as Amal Clooney. Demi Moore and so many other older women dating young men (think Kate Beckinsale and Pete Davidson) were slandered as “past it”.
Basically, the double standards need to change. It should be as acceptable for an older man to date a younger woman as it is for an older woman to date a younger man. Maybe we should just forget about age, stop shaming big age gap relationships and concentrate on the fact that, as long as the relationship is consensual and legal, people should be able to date and marry whoever they bloody like. Florence and Zach included...