While You Were Offline: The Avengers Disassemble in Press Junket Hell

Have you ever thought about what it means to be a celebrity? Like, really thought about it? If there’s been a running theme to this week’s stories, it is that—just maybe—being a celebrity is fairly weird and leads you to have a skewed view on what you can say or do at any given moment (as well as what people think they can say or do in front of you). Oh, and a superhero came out of the closet because his telepathic friend told him he’s gay and Amy Schumer failed to impress Kanye West and Kim Kardashian with her antics. Yeah, it’s been that kind of a week. Here’s what you might have missed over the last seven days in the online wilderness.

In Which Iron Man Walks Out of an Interview

What Happened: In the middle of an interview promoting Avengers: Age of Ultron in the UK, Robert Downey Jr. got asked about his past. So he got up and left.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces
What Really Happened: The press junket interview is a strange thing; celebrities sit in a room while numerous interviewers come in, ask roughly the same questions for a limited time (around 10 minutes, say), and then leave to be replaced by another interviewer who’ll ask the same questions. Celebrities often comment on the surrealities of the process, saying that they love it when someone comes in and asks something that they don’t expect. Turns out, that’s not always the case.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy, for example, thought it’d be a good idea to use his seven minutes in interview heaven to ask Robert Downey Jr. about his history of substance abuse and getting in trouble with the law instead of whether it was cool to pretend to save the world one more time. Things didn’t go well. Unusually, however, Guru-Murthy then shared what happened online.

The video of the segment (above) quickly went viral on Twitter:

It wasn’t just social media that had something to say about it; soon, it was all over the Internet, going viral in a way that it wouldn’t had it gone well. Had Downey done the right thing, as many believed, or had he gone too far? Perhaps the best response might have come from writer and director Richard Ayoade:

He’s speaking from experience, after all

The Takeaway: It’s easy to be torn about who to sympathize with here: Downey Jr., who was clearly confused and uncomfortable with the line of questioning? Well, maybe not: He did seem a bit passive-aggressive with the line about “better ask the next question.” Guru-Murthy, for getting his interview shut down in such an unexpected manner? Well, OK, probably not, because he should’ve read the room a little bit better and realized that he shouldn’t go down that route after the first question. Maybe both of them, just a little bit? After all, there’s something about the whole press junket thing that’s more than a little unnatural, as you’ll soon see…

In Which Captain America Said What?

What Happened: In another interview promoting Avengers: Age of Ultron, Chris Evans (Captain America) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) made what could be charitably be described as an ill-chosen joke. Fans were not happy.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces
What Really Happened: It wasn’t just Iron Man whose Age of Ultron promotional interviews were making headlines for the wrong reasons this week, as this interview with Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner demonstrates.

Even as a joke, calling Black Widow a “slut” and “whore” was something that really, really didn’t go down well.

The comments launched a deluge of coverage online, with both actors rightfully criticized. While fans defended them with the “it’s just a joke about a fictional character” argument, others explained why it was important to talk about the comments nonetheless.

Eventually, both actors released statements apologizing, with Evans saying that the comments were “very juvenile and offensive,” while Renner opted for the more petulant “I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone,” blaming “an exhausting and tedious press tour.” That difference in tone was picked up online:

The Takeaway: Between this and the Downey Jr. moment, it’s as if the endless promotional cycle for the new Avengers movie is just breaking its stars. By this time next week, Mark Ruffalo will have lost his mind and climbed on top of the Empire State Building naked to try and catch some passing planes, mark our words.

It’s OK, Kanye Has That Effect on a Lot of People

What Happened: Amy Schumer collapses on the red carpet outside the Time 100 Gala, right in front of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. They were not impressed.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces
What Really Happened:Really, does this need any explanation?

Oh, it does? Well, fine; this might give a little bit more context:

(We love that Schumer explained what happened by saying “I saw them and said to my publicist, ‘Can I pretend to fall?’ and she said, ‘I can’t stop you.'”)

The sight of Schumer collapsing before Kanye and Kim was, of course, perfect Internet fodder, with BuzzFeed making the most out of it. Would that all red carpets could be this wonderful.
The Takeaway: As if the “Last F**kable Day” skit and “Football Town Nights” sketch hadn’t already convinced you that Schumer is on fire right now, this was just perfect.

The Muppets We Deserve, Not the Muppets We Want

What Happened: ABC’s planning the revive the Muppets (yay!), but in a faux-mockumentary format that will explore the personal lives of the characters (boo!).
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces
What Really Happened: Hey, remember the news that ABC was planning on making a new Muppet show that we all got so excited about a few weeks ago? Guess what: It’s going to be a “more adult” show about the Muppets’ personal lives. According to Entertainment Weekly, it’ll have “a 30 Rock feel,” shot in “mock-documentary style, like Arrested Development and The Office.”

Let’s just see how people reacted to this news, shall we?

It’s not as if we’ve never seen the Muppets’ personal lives on screen before (hello, The Muppet Movie), but for some reason, the idea of a “more adult” take is unsettling … perhaps because it’s responsible for headlines like this. Nonetheless: Do not want, ABC.
The Takeaway: Is this like some kind of Monkey’s Paw thing, where we get what we wanted, but in a form we really don’t want? It is, isn’t it? Can’t we just have a straightforward Muppet Show again, with celebrity guests and a song or two every week? It’s not that hard, television executives.

Oh, Cool

What Happened: One of Marvel’s first X-Men was revealed to be gay more than half a century after he first appeared, prompting … well, pretty much exactly the reactions that you’d expect, really.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces
What Really Happened: In this week’s issue of Marvel’s All-New X-Men, teenage telepath Jean Grey tells her teammate Iceman that he’s gay, something she knows because—well, she’s a telepath. The news actually broke before the issue was released when the sequence was leaked online, quickly becoming a big story in LGBT publications like The Advocate, NewNowNext and Pink News, before getting picked up by mainstream outlets.

The social media reaction was pretty predictable:

Brian Michael Bendis, who wrote the comic in question, talked about the revelation being part of an ongoing story for the character, while X-Men movie director Bryan Singer also spoke about his happiness at seeing the news. But the most wonderful thing about the whole reveal (other than the fact that Marvel now has a relatively high-profile gay character, finally) turned out to be an essay by Rachel Edidin and another by A.V. Club writer Oliver Sava, both of whom saw themselves in the scene and, in sharing that, managed to make it an even more touching event. All this from a comic book! What is the world coming to?
The Takeaway: Someone, somewhere is wondering what unfortunate things the actors at an Avengers press junket are going to say about this plot development. Also, we can but hope that this means Marvel will finally get around to admitting that Storm is bisexual sometime soon, because really, everyone, Storm is bisexual.

Don Draper Is Dick Whitman! Yowza!

What Happened: The Onion spin-off site Clickhole ran a fake oral history of AMC’s Mad Men that pretty much made it impossible to watch Mad Men ever again.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter
What Really Happened: Proving once again that it might be the greatest site on the entire Internet, Clickhole shared its Mad Men oral history with the world this week, revealing such never-before-known facts as Jon Hamm’s tendency to ruin scenes by shouting “No, I’m not Don Draper! Don Draper exploded! I’m Dick Whitman instead! Yowza!” at the end of every scene, and the fate of Joan Holloway. (“One day, in the early stages of filming the first season, Matt took me aside and told me that, in the Mad Men universe, Joan would eventually die by getting eaten by a shark in the year 2131, when she is 200 years old,” Christina Hendricks explained.)

Twitter was rapt by such investigate journalism, as it should have been.

For once, believe the hype. If you haven’t read this, you really, really should.

The Takeaway: It’s almost tragic that Mad Men didn’t have a chance to end before this article made it very, very difficult to take it seriously. If Jon Hamm doesn’t adopt “I am Hamm” as a real-life catchphrase immediately, then I think the world is justified in writing him off entirely. It’s up to you, Hamm.

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