After Defending Rapist, Blake Lively Dabbles in Cultural Appropriation

Blake Lively is having an extremely problematic time at Cannes.

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Complex Original

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Blake Lively has done it. She’s completed a rare trifecta of overprivileged declarations in a single film festival—and Cannes isn’t even over yet.

Last week, she fucked around and said Woody Allen is “empowering to women.” That was after she rallied against a rape joke aimed at Allen, saying this never would have happened in the ‘40s. Here’s that bit in its babbling entirety: 


But two instances of being problematic weren’t enough, so Blake tripled down last night, sharing a red carpet Instagram of herself and captioning it, “L.A. face with an Oakland booty.”

There’s a lot to say about this unfortunate series of quotes. Likening your body to a largely black city is a racist mess. Yes, it’s a Sir Mix-A-Lot lyric, but this bit of cultural appropriation could just as easily have read, “I’m allowed to have a big butt because I’m white.” And calling Woody Allen “empowering to women” is about as well-advised as hiring Ted Bundy to be a girl scout leader. But it’s in that other fumble of basic awareness that we find an explanation for all three slip-ups: All of this would have been so totally fine in the ‘40s!

So let’s take a trip back in time, shall we?

“Hit it,” Blake Lively says to a big band in an old time-y accent. Smoke swells in tune with Harry James’s 1943 hit, “I Had The Craziest Dream,” and you’re off, whizzing through the decades, touching down at a snazzy little cocktail party. 

You practically tumble into the room, as Blake floats down next to you (her hair is still perfect, of course). You’re disoriented, but not too disoriented to notice little cliques of people whispering menacingly. You think they’ve noticed you, but then you realize: You’re invisible because you’re time traveling. They’re not upset at you—they’re scandalized that the host has hired a black waiter.

Blake holds her head high, ignoring the tasteless kerfuffle to grab a drink at the bar. 

“It’s time to go home,” a tuxedoed man growls at his wife. She resists for a moment, and he physically drags her from the room. “See you at the tupperware party, Carol!” Blake waves to the distressed woman, whose eyes are screaming everything her mouth cannot say.

“Isn’t this just divine?” she smiles at you, before inexplicably spinning around. 

“Wait, what year is it?” you ask. “Is World War II still happening? Has the Voting Rights Act been enacted yet?”

Blake doesn't answer, instead she gasps with excitement. “Can you believe it?,” she gushes, the old-timey accent cutting in and out with her delight. “Fred Astaire is here!” She swoops over to dance with him before you can get an answer either way on Hitler’s continued reign of power.

And just like that, it’s over. You wake up the next day, your head throbbing from all the Old Fashions, and because of the physically taxing elements of time travel. You pace through the events of the evening, trying to figure out if it was all a dream. A rote flashback montage plays for the benefit of lesson-learning: Blake’s “Oakland booty” comment, the Woody Allen defense, her entire lifestyle website dedicated to lightly fetishizing slavery. That’s when it hits you.

Whether Blake can legitimately time travel or not (unclear), she’s definitely living in a fantasy. It’s a perspective from which the white supremacist patriarchy is simply a factor of the heaping serving of privilege she’s more than happy to receive. In this mode, she’s blissfully unaware of the moors of oppression, perhaps willfully ignoring it, or, maybe even deliberately profiting from it in the form of Instagram likes, Allen-funded paychecks, and the profits of Preserve. There’s devastatingly toxic context surrounding each of these convenient blind spots, but Blake doesn’t care what the world’s problems are...she’s just swinging on a star. Also, she literally got married on a plantation.

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