I watch the Academy Awards with a bit of skepticism every year. My favorite part is generally the live performances, and this year was no exception.
Leave it to Facebook to totally dampen my joyful viewing experience. I was scrolling through my news feed while watching Barbra Streisand sing and all of a sudden I see someone post one of the meanest pictures I’ve seen on the internet (that says something doesn’t it, since the internet is full of cruel pictures), followed by a string of people “liking” and sharing it.
The image was part of a series comparing celebrities to their supposed animated doppelgangers.
Barbara Streisand was compared to one of the alien species characters from the 1980s movie The Dark Crystal — described by the caption as a “Dark Crystal thing” but which is actually called a Mystic (I mean, if you’re going to reference the character, you can do the tiny bit of research it requires to get it right).
Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of Streisand’s vocal stylings, it’s hard to deny that she is one of the greatest voices of her generation — but I guess it’s too much to ask to celebrate that and not compare her to a hunchback lizard from a fantasy film instead.
Babs wasn’t the only celebrity given this kind of treatment. I am loath to post the site because I don’t want to give them the traffic, but for the purposes of taking these people down a peg, here it is.
Two photos down the list from Streisand was Giuliana Rancic — I have written before about how I think she can be a little hypocritical, but despite not being a huge fan of hers, I feel the need to say, “Are you freakin’ kidding me? Comparing her to ET?”
I’m not someone who frequently feels tons of sympathy for the rich and famous, but can you imagine for a minute how one of these women might feel if they see this?
When scrolling through the list of comparisons, it was hard for me not to notice the difference between the treatment of the men and women celebrities.
The men were compared to fairly bland looking Muppets and puppets (yes, I know that the Dark Crystal characters are also Muppets created by Jim Henson). Ben Affleck and Matt Damon became Bert and Ernie.
The captions are similarly discrepant, with Reilly being called “baby-faced” and LeAnn Rimes being captioned as nightmare-inducing while being compared to the dog from the old film The NeverEnding Story.
There are other comparisons that I’m sure could be considered “less offensive” by most, like Kim Kardashian being compared to Princess Jasmine from Aladdin.
But given that this comparison was also made superficially, I’m not sure I’d say it’s any better than the others.
Not much on the internet surprises me anymore. But comparing famous people — particularly extremely talented, brilliant performers who have stood the test of time — to cartoon aliens and lambasting their appearance may have done just that.
Larkin Callaghan is an epidemiology and health communication fellow at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, where she also received her doctorate in Health Behavior and Education. She blogs regularly at her own site, I’m Not Tired Yet, about women’s and adolescent health issues.