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It’s Been a Weird Week for Celebrities Punching Down at Critics Online

Olivia Munn in pink waving at the camera.

I don’t know what newsletter all the celebrities subscribe to that declared this to be the week they were all going to attack critics, but that’s what’s happening. Especially in the case of Olivia Munn’s misdirected rant at the Fug Girls.

Earlier this week, Lizzo tweeted out her belief that music critics shouldn’t be allowed to do their job unless they make music themselves.

It’s not clear what inspired the tweet, since reviews of her new album have been overwhelmingly glowing. This isn’t an uncommon belief, but it’s a strange one, akin to saying political journalists shouldn’t be allowed to write about Congress until they serve two terms themselves. Good commentary and analysis is its own valuable field of expertise, tangential to but very different from the act of making music (or any art form) itself.

But that take turned out to be the mildest of the week.

We also had Michael Che doing his usual thing of attacking a critic on Instagram. This isn’t new for him, though his specific angle this time—accusing said critic of bestiality—was a unique twist.

Colin Jost also came out to defend Che, who was defending Jost in the first place.

This week we also saw Ariana Grande slam critics after Justin Bieber was mocked for poorly lipsyncing through a surprise cameo during Grande’s Coachella set. There were plenty of people who were less than kind and Grande seemed to be speaking directly to a team of E! network hosts that fell into that category. But then she moved on to insulting all critics.

In a now-deleted tweet, she wrote, “People are so lost. One day everybody that works at all them blogs will realize how unfulfilled they are and purposeless what they’re doing is and hopefully shift their focus elsewhere. that’s gonna be a beautiful ass day for them! i can’t wait for them to feel lit inside. … i don’t like when people try to ruin beautiful moments for my friends that’s all. have a good day.”

Then this morning, Olivia Munn decided to publish “a short essay on the ugly behaviors of the @fuggirls.”

If you’re not familiar with the Fug Girls, that title belongs to Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, a couple of best friends who founded the fashion blog Go Fug Yourself back in 2004. GFY is the only fashion outlet I read, because it’s hilarious but never, ever mean-spirited. Yes, they can be absolutely scathing in their takedowns, but those are of outfits, never people. They also focus on men just as much as they do female celebrities, a rarity in fashion journalism. If Olivia Munn bothered to look at who she was attacking, she might have seen all of that.

Instead, Munn railed against what she sees as “blatant hypocrisy,” wondering who deemed Heather and Jessica “the judge and jury of what’s fashionable.” (You might argue that their continuing success and growing readership did, but whatever.)

Despite their success—15 years for a website run by two people is an incredible feat—Munn, like all of the celebrities mentioned above, has a gigantic audience compared to the people she’s attacking. There are legitimate issues in the field of celebrity journalism. That’s an industry rife with sexism, body shaming, and bullying. Not only are the Fug Girls a relatively tiny target compared to the bigger players in that industry, but they represent exactly none of those traits. And yet Munn is sending her followers after them with a misguided and disingenuous attack.

In addition to offering wit and their genuinely great fashion sense, Go Fug Yourself does a great job of framing fashion as a business, which it is. The relationship between celebrities, stylists, and designers is an enormous (and enormously lucrative) industry. The site critiques designers just as much as it does the celebrities who wear their clothes, and it offers a smart look at the industry as a whole.

Munn claims to be writing in the name of feminism—she lumps the girls of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, who refused to be rated and ranked by their male classmates, into her argument—and altruism, stating that the outfit she was mocked for was worn to accept an award from the organization Apex for Youth. Which is great! Good for her! But she was wearing the work of a designer (Peter Pilotto) with whom she has spent the better part of (at least) a decade cultivating a mutually beneficial professional relationship. She didn’t wear that outfit by chance. This is an industry—one rooted in celebrity and it is not immune from criticism.

Obviously, there are some problematic areas of criticism, but that’s true of literally every industry. For the most part, critics are people that love something—be it fashion, film, art, food, etc.—so much that they decided to make a career of studying it. Some are better at it than others, some are kinder than others. Olivia Munn appears to have not even bothered to check which camp her targets fell into.

(image: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Patrick Ta Beauty)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.