id-like-to-go-to-town-on-this-man-right-here

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Hi! I'd love to hear your opinion about Tom...
Anonymous said: Hi! I'd love to hear your opinion about Tom Hardy's shutdown on a journalist about sexuality question. Personally, I'm with the majority of cheering crowd, thinking that journalist...

oh my god i hate the fact that we can’t actually reply to ask posts anymore without including the ginormously long answer at the top instead of just linking it and snipping the rest of the discussion, so i’m just gonna make a new post, if that’s okay, to respond to a-forger-and-a-point-man​‘s response to my post re: Tom Hardy vs journalism.

She said:

i think you raise excellent points here, but i can’t help but defend that reporter’s right to ask his question. it’s a press conference. that’s the whole point. questions.

this specific question, however, was poorly worded. i cringed. i KNEW tom would go to town on this guy and i didn’t like how he turned the question around instead of taking the high road and answering it differently. he could have given a clever, witty answer to shut this guy down if he wanted to. or he could have said “i don’t want to talk about personal issues” and everyone would respect that.

instead, tom got all serious and upset and now his fangirls are calling for reporters heads like it’s some sort of war.

this isn’t a game. if a reporter asks something inappropriate, tom isn’t supposed to put the guy down. it’s not tit for tat. just don’t answer the question.

i also can’t help but think that a big part of this is tom’s ego. if he was still bronson-era tom, he wouldn’t have responded in this way.

now he’s mad max-tom. now he can get away with whatever and he’ll be applauded.

let’s not encourage celebs to be rude to interviewers. just brush them off. at the end of the day you’ve got fame and money and fans and these guys… don’t.

The thing is, from a journalistic perspective, the journalist has all the power. The celebrity is the one whose career could be hurt by the answer they give, who could lose work or be blacklisted if producers perceive them as “too gay” to play certain roles. The reporters don’t have to deal with that kind of backlash. Tom Junod, who famously tried his best to out Kevin Spacey in Esquire in the late 90′s, still has a great career, and even got to interview Tom Hardy *brittle smile* while Kevin Spacey basically reacted to that article by guarding himself (much as Tom Hardy does now) and putting a total moratorium on any kind of questions about his personal life, one that still exists to this day. Ellen Page’s coming-out speech was an eye-witness account of how difficult it is to be gay in Hollywood, how afraid she was of damaging her career and facing very real backlash. These things do impact celebrities negatively, and reporters do have a responsibility to recognize that. The nature of being queer or genderqueer in a homophobic society is that our actions as reporters could have serious consequences for the people we attempt to out, whether that person is a public or a private figure. We always have to consider whether we’re going to seriously detrimentally impact someone’s personal life in a negative way, and whether that’s worth the story, and if it is, how we do that ethically.

Most newsrooms have specific standards and best practices for how we investigate the personal lives of subjects, and those standards have to be met before we can actually report facts or allege things about them the way this interviewer alleged things about Hardy’s sexuality. The idea that the impetus should be on the celebrity to be polite in the face of rude and irresponsible journalism is IMO an outdated idea, and I’m personally glad for it. And Tom’s response was irritated but it wasn’t actually rude. He asked the reporter why he wanted to know, and when the reporter didn’t answer, he said, “Thank you,” and moved on. We’ve seen celebrities shoot down rude journalist questions plenty of times, and we’ve especially seen a recent trend of celebrities, including Tom, calling out reporters for being invasive, sexist, rude, or otherwise lazy. This trend serves not only to empower the celebrities, especially minority celebrities who too often get saddled with irresponsible questions about their gender/sexuality/race etc, but it makes us as journalists more accountable. 

I haven’t really seen fans calling for the reporter’s head, but a) that’s what fans do, lol, and b) obviously reporters should be free to make mistakes and learn from them. 

But, honestly, it’s 2015. The general ethical standards by which journalists discuss and speculate on celebrity sexuality are extremely well-known at this point. There’s no excuse for not abiding by them.