Add Rebel Wilson to the list of public figures learning the hard way that if you make a claim, the internet will fact check you with the quickness.
Wilson's new project, the studio rom-com Isn't It Romantic, was just announced, and it really is an exciting moment in a time when Hollywood finally, at long last, seems to be inching closer to inclusivity. Or at least trying to. A little. Bit by bit. Instead of being relegated to the role of funny sidekick, as used to be standard procedure for... well, really, all studio films, let alone romantic comedies, Wilson is the main character of Isn't It Romantic. Progress!
Naturally, Wilson is excited about this milestone, and said as much on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last week. But it seems she took her celebration just a bit too far when she told Ellen, "I'm proud to be the first-ever plus-sized girl to be the star of a romantic comedy."
"I’m proud to be the first-ever plus-sized girl to be the star of a romantic comedy," Rebel Wilson tells Ellen of h… https://t.co/pIDHFHsrIq— HuffPost (@HuffPost) 1541066669.0
The internet was quick to correct her, pointing out that actresses Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique both starred as lead actresses in rom-coms long before Wilson did.
I love @RebelWilson as much as the next girl, but she isn’t the first plus sized woman to play the lead in a romant… https://t.co/sYHliK1XAq— Halfapintdoll (@Halfapintdoll) 1541100392.0
From there, Wilson was quick to point out the nuance in her situation: hers is a studio romcom, a type of film that has nearly always been the province of thin, white ingenues.
@Halfapintdoll Hey girl! Yeah I of course know of these movies but it was questionable as to whether: 1. Technicall… https://t.co/22sbC8Sogo— Rebel Wilson (@Rebel Wilson) 1541112700.0
But that explanation (understandably, given its subtext) didn't sit well with many, especially women of color. And the clapback commenced over the weekend--starting with Mo'Nique herself:
@RebelWilson @Halfapintdoll Hey my sweet sister. Let’s please not allow this business to erase our talent with givi… https://t.co/eLNRkvPLXq— Mo'Nique Worldwide (@Mo'Nique Worldwide) 1541229484.0
Wilson was quick to acknowledge Mo'Nique's point, but several other women of color who pushed back were apparently immediately blocked by Wilson.
@RebelWilson @moworldwide That’s nice but Rebel you have blocked NUMEROUS black and non- black POC women who have t… https://t.co/BlRm9SWnW9— Kayla Prefers Ham Over Turkey Marie (@Kayla Prefers Ham Over Turkey Marie) 1541290449.0
Finally yesterday, Wilson seemed to recognize her mistake, and took to Twitter again to attempt to make amends, acknowledging that she'd unintentionally erased the accomplishments of plus-size women before her.
In a couple of well-intentioned moments, hoping to lift my fellow plus sized women up, I neglected to show the prop… https://t.co/pz6qxUEGPw— Rebel Wilson (@Rebel Wilson) 1541460777.0
She also acknowledged and apologized for blocking the poeple who'd attempted to push back on her claims, and then unblocked several of them:
acknowledge. I blocked people on Twitter because I was hurting from the criticism, but those are the people I actua… https://t.co/IdBKX0TrnW— Rebel Wilson (@Rebel Wilson) 1541460945.0
@chescaleigh @BlairImani @Such @ValerieComplex @IWriteAllDay_ @Maria_Giesela @MatthewACherry @youngsinick @isntitromantic @RebelWilson Same!— Aditi Juneja 🎃 (@Aditi Juneja 🎃) 1541462331.0
The internet being the internet, not everyone was entirely convinced of the sincerity of the apology:
@IWriteAllDay_ @BlairImani @ValerieComplex i wanna see the management emails— Franchesca Ramsey (@Franchesca Ramsey) 1541461872.0
@RebelWilson Whew! That PR team finally stepped in like https://t.co/VBMGtl9l1l— Whatupdoe (@Whatupdoe) 1541488963.0
@treescully @_Kelly_Murphy @IWriteAllDay_ @RebelWilson They are trying too but it's too late— Danielle (@Danielle) 1541514135.0
@RebelWilson Sounds about white. Thanks PR team! https://t.co/3lIIcdDE15— A WHOLE WOMAN (@A WHOLE WOMAN) 1541463298.0
But in a departure from the usual internet pile-one, some others took Wilson for her word, and kept their pushback focused on the issues:
@RebelWilson this was an unexpected turn, but i'll take it.— Franchesca Ramsey (@Franchesca Ramsey) 1541461241.0
@RebelWilson That's great you acknowledged the actresses of different races who came before you. You said you block… https://t.co/JvlFX5z0DK— Jenee Darden (@Jenee Darden) 1541466143.0
@RebelWilson (As one of the blocked) Thank you. Seriously, it was so disappointing to see your initial reaction, as… https://t.co/1YN8yLknB0— Jodes (@Jodes) 1541469922.0
@RebelWilson Hi @RebelWilson, We all make errors and it takes courage to acknowledge them. The supporters & fans of… https://t.co/PnQYNkSpSk— Nnegest Likké (@Nnegest Likké) 1541473215.0
At least some progress was made from this particular "call-out culture" moment, it seems. But it just goes to show that if you're gonna make a claim like Wilson did... geez, just Google it first!