If an typical, healthy heterosexual man walked up to you and said he was a fan of Scarlett Johansson, it probably wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. You’d react the same way if they told you the sky was blue, water is wet, and expired milk smells bad.
It’s one of the few universals that most heterosexual men agree on. We find women like Scarlett Johansson sexy as hell. That means when she says something, we pay attention. That’s not to say we pay attention to her words, but we do pay attention. That has to count for something, right?
I’m not going to lie. Scarlett Johansson has a very special place on my list of sexy Hollywood leading ladies. Ever since she first put on the skin-tight attire of Black Widow and became an fixture in the seamy fantasies of superhero fans everywhere, she’s established herself as the alpha and omega of Hollywood hotness. The fact that she was the top-grossing actor/actress of 2016 doesn’t hurt her cause as well.
Whether you love her or hate her, and those who hate her rarely have a good reason, Scarlett Johansson’s words carry more weight than the rest of us. She’s successful, she’s beautiful, she’s rich, and she’s sexy as hell. She has more leverage than most of us ever will.
That’s why her recent comments on marriage and monogamy are making more than a couple of Sunday School teachers gasp in horror. For those of you who missed it and/or haven’t taken her words out of context, here’s what she said:
“With every gain there’s a loss, right? So, that’s the loss. You have to choose a path. I think the idea of marriage is very romantic; it’s a beautiful idea, and the practice of it can be a very beautiful thing. I don’t think it’s natural to be a monogamous person. I might be skewered for that, but I think it’s work. It’s a lot of work.”
Now on the surface, there’s nothing too appalling about these words. However, she’s a beautiful woman and a Hollywood star. Of course her words will be used as an excuse to love, hate, condemn her as a sign of the apocalypse. Considering how Pokemon Go was once considered a sign of the apocalypse, that might not carry much weight.
It still matters though because Johansson, like every major Hollywood star before her, lives a life in the spotlight, under a microscope, and under the constant threat of becoming an unflattering Twitter hashtag. What she does invites far more scrutiny than what the average person, be they a truck driver or aspiring erotica/romance writer, ever would.
If someone other than Johansson had said these words, most people would’ve rolled their eyes, shrugged it off, and gotten on with their lives. There would be no need to call her every horrible insult imaginable in the comments section of every article. Unfortunately, Johansson did say these words.
On top of that, her personal life is already well-known and exceedingly public. She’s only 32 and she’s been married twice. First, she was married to Deadpool actor and former sexiest man alive, Ryan Reynolds. That marriage lasted shorter than the first season of Firefly. Then, she married a French man who owned an advertising agency named Romain Dauriac. This one lasted longer a bit longer and resulted in the birth of her daughter, Rose.
However, as her comments reflected, both relationships failed. Both ended in divorce. That means she has subjected herself to the full force of the internet’s unforgiving, soul-crushing shit storm. The fact that she could date the sexiest man alive and still not make it work makes her an easy target.
I’ve seen some of these comments. They usually amount to something like this:
“Typical Hollywood elitist skank!”
“Arrogant, selfish bitch!”
“She ditches her husband because one man isn’t enough for her? What a slut!”
Trust me, this is the PG version of the comments circulating the web right now. There are some comments that are so hostile, so extreme, and so hateful that even a director on the set of a hardcore porn movie would stop the scene.
It’s not all insults, put-downs, and crude remarks about female anatomy. One other, somewhat less extreme comment that frequently comes up often goes like this:
“I’ve been married to the same man/woman for 40 goddamn years and I did it while working shit jobs and raising ungrateful kids. What’s her excuse?”
This comment, in my opinion, is a lot more revealing about us than anything about Scarlett Johansson’s personal life. It’s actually something I’ve talked about before on this blog, predating Ms. Johansson’s divorce and remarks.
I’m not saying it was prophetic. Hollywood stars getting divorced is so common and mundane these days that someone was bound to make a comment like this at some point. I’m not going to lie though. The fact that Scarlett Johansson, the Black Widow of the Avengers movies, made the comment kind of makes my day.
What exactly does it reveal though? Why does Scarlett Johansson’s remarks about monogamy matter? It’s not just because she’s richer, sexier, and more charismatic than 99.998 percent of us will ever be. It matters because she’s saying something that speaks to much bigger issues with our modern approach to romance, marriage, and relationships.
Last year, I asked whether we were asking too much of our lovers. Now that I look back on it, I think that’s an incomplete question. That’s because what we ask and expect of our lovers varies from person to person.
Some people are naturally independent and don’t need their lovers to do much. Others are more dependent and really define themselves by the relationships they forge. Expecting too much from either is bound to cause problems, strain emotions, and inspire bad sitcoms.
Let’s go back to that comment about the people talking down to Scarlett Johansson because she can’t hold down a stable marriage while other people can under far less favorable circumstances. While I’m sure those commenters feel like they’re Spartacus, being all high, mighty, and moral, they’re ignoring a few key issues.
First and foremost, Scarlett Johansson is richer, sexier, and more talented than they are. That’s not to say those commenters aren’t decent people. That’s just pointing out a clear, indisputable fact. She is a very successful, Hollywood actress who has been working hard in a cut-throat industry for over two decades. As such, her work and her life might as well be that of a sexy Martian alien.
The people who proudly proclaim they’ve been married to the same person for 40 years have probably never had the same experiences as Johansson. They don’t have people scrutinizing every second of their lives, spreading every nasty rumor on tabloids and celebrity blogs. They also don’t have attractive partners practically throwing themselves at you, begging to be your personal bitch.
If you’re successful at all in Hollywood, there’s are entire industries built around catering to your every whim and shoving every possible temptation into your face. Most people never have those opportunities. Many have a hard time resisting them. Just ask Drew Barrymore.
Take those same people who proudly proclaim they’ve been married to the same person for 40 years, de-age them by 20 years, and give them even half the success that Johansson has achieved and will they be able to make the same claim? Some might, but most won’t. That’s just how we flawed humans are wired.
Beyond the temptation and opportunities that people like Scarlett Johansson face, there’s also the nature of the work itself. It’s one thing to maintain a stable marriage and family when your job involves sitting a desk eight hours a day and listening to people bitch about their slow internet connection. Being an actress is a lot more demanding.
Scarlett Johansson, like any successful actress, has a crazy schedule that demands she work crazy hours while maintaining a crazy health regiment to ensure she stays crazy beautiful. She travels, she works out, she does interviews, and she deals with nosy media types. Somewhere in the middle of all that, she has to find time to act as well. With a work schedule like that, I’m shocked she doesn’t say more crazy things.
Very few relationships can handle a hectic schedule like that. Perhaps Johansson should’ve added that, in addition to not being naturally monogamous, human beings aren’t meant to work such crazy schedules. That still would’ve earned her plenty of vulgar comments from internet trolls, but fewer people would’ve been inclined to disagree.
Even with all that context, there still may be some legitimate substance to Scarlett Johansson’s comments about monogamy. Perhaps she should read “Sex At Dawn” too, which offers some legitimate scientific reasons as to why humans aren’t wired for monogamy. Again, that won’t stop the internet trolls from making vulgar comments, but she could at least say she has some science on her side.
Lastly, I think the comment about the amount of work that goes into marriage should be most telling. I don’t think anybody not named Homer Simpson would agree that good things are worth working for. However, if something requires so much work that it feels forced, then that should be a sign that maybe it isn’t supposed to be that way.
People like Scarlett Johansson have to put in more work than most of us will ever do in order to succeed in her business. However, even ordinary people, from coal miners to aspiring erotica/romance writers, have to be careful to know the difference between working for something and forcing it.
If I could give Ms. Johansson advice, and I know that she’ll never read this blog so I feel comfortable saying it, I would say that she should not treat her relationships the same way she treats her job. If she has to work that hard on a relationship, then that’s a sign that it isn’t meant to be.
Relationships that work are most functional when you and your partner can just be yourself. When the makeup comes off, the cameras stop rolling, and the internet trolls go to bed, the person you are and the person your lover is should complement each other. You shouldn’t always have to feel like you’re in the middle of a scene in “Love Actually.” That person is sometimes hard to find, but they’re definitely worth finding.