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Yikes, Reuters, Kirsten Dunst Is More Than “Spiderman’s Girlfriend”

We're still angry about how media has treated this legend.

Kirsten Dunst in a mermaid costume as Krystal Stubbs in ON BECOMING A GOD IN CENTRAL FLORIDA

Kirsten Dunst is having a big week. Her new series, On Becoming a God in Central Florida, debuted on Showtime. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and beautiful tributes from her partner and collaborators … and British News service Reuters thought it was a good idea to say she’s best known as “Spiderman’s Girlfriend” (c’mon, guys, it’s Spider-Man). The tweet has now been deleted, but the internet remembers—and the internet is filled with righteous fury.

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screenshot of reuters tweet referring to Kirsten Dunst as "Spider-Man's Girlfriend"

Now, we’ve already hopped on our soapbox this week about how Dunst has been done dirty by the media and audiences. Dunst herself commented on how people will only see her for her fluffier roles, and even movies that many fans now celebrate were savaged at the time. Dunst told SiriusXM’s In Depth With Larry Flick, “Well, remember when Marie Antoinette—y’all panned it? And now you all love it. Remember Drop Dead Gorgeous? Panned. Now you all love it. It’s, like, interesting for me.” While there are a lot of factors at work with how audiences and media treated Dunst then and now, we can’t ignore one of the biggest culprit: plain old misogyny.

Kirsten Dunst has been working steadily in Hollywood, turning out amazing work, since she was a child. She transitioned gracefully from child actor to teen star to serious leading lady at the head of a massive franchise without ever melting down, but the fact that her work has been incredibly feminine and female-focused has led a lot of people to dismiss her, whether as just a girlfriend or a teen cheerleader.

Dunst’s greatest roles rely on her innate delicacy disguising a spine of steel, from Claudia in Interview With the Vampire to Marie Antoinette, Dunst embodies a specific, underestimated female power. That makes it extremely ironic that even after she’s called out the industry for dismissing her, she continues to be pigeonholed and overlooked.

Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire- The Vampire Chronicles (1994)

(image: Warner Bros.)

That’s pretty much the essence of being a woman who Hollywood has watched grow up, and decided to cast aside as if it outgrew her. A woman can only be seen as an accessory to a man, or as something superficial and silly. Even when she passes thirty and is considered to be past her ingenue phase (and supposedly less bankable), she remains saddled with the negative aspects of that past. Dunst’s situation actually feels a lot like Claudia’s in Interview—forever frozen in time, her true wisdom and ferocity hidden behind a younger face that the industry can’t see past. Now, I’m not saying Dunst should start eating media outlets that underestimate her, but I’m not saying she shouldn’t, either.

Overall, she seems quite chill when it comes to her media presence. She’s a new mom and being selective about choosing interesting new projects. Being called “Spiderman’s girlfriend” probably doesn’t surprise her, but it hopefully doesn’t bother her. I just hope the conversation around Dunst, and the outcry about the Reuters tweet, means media will become more aware of how they categorize women—or maybe we’ll just start calling Peter Parker “Mary Jane Watson’s boyfriend” and see how that goes.

(via Twitter, featured image: Showtime)

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Jessica Mason
Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.

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