Update: Citing that she was holding off on posting until after Blackout Tuesday was over in the U.K., Emma Watson has now posted additional Instagram posts and committed to using her Twitter and Instagram profiles to share resources that have helped her navigate the issue of racism.
It’s a rare day when one celebrity or another isn’t trending on Twitter for something that they’ve said or done. However, it is rare that Emma Watson receives public and widespread criticism. Though Watson has been in the public spotlight for most of her life, (thanks to her role as Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter franchise) she usually keeps a relatively low profile.
Though Watson often keeps her personal life under wraps, she is fairly outspoken about certain issues. A self-proclaimed feminist, the 30-year-old has been very vocal about Women’s Rights and issues such as Gender Equality and Time’s Up. While Watson is known primarily for her acting skills, she also has received a ton of fame and recognition for her activism. She has often utilized her social media channels like Twitter and Instagram to speak out against worldwide injustices.
Emma Watson fans ask her to speak out on Instagram
Recently, however, Watson’s role as an activist has been called into question. Fans and critics alike have noted that she has not spoken out against the flagrant racism that Black people in America are facing or police brutality. Instead, she’s remained silent on both Twitter and Instagram despite countless people demanding that she speak out. Contrastingly, she’s spoken up about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the form of retweets and Instagram posts multiple times.
And Watson’s impact is nothing to sneeze at. On Instagram alone, the Little Women star boasts 57.2 million followers. Many of said followers have asked that she utilize the platform that she’s been given to show her solidarity and support. “Please Emma, speak up about it. there is a whole community listening to you and paying attention to what you say, use the huge platform you have to help!” one person wrote on her Instagram page.
The ‘Little Women’ star participated in Blackout Tuesday
After a week, Watson did decide to make a statement by participating in Blackout Tuesday. For Blackout Tuesday, many people in the entertainment industry, and even everyday citizens, are taking to their Instagram feeds to post a single black square. The hope of this action is to mute self-serving and self-promoting content in favor of amplifying Black voices. Watson herself opted to post three squares, each with three hashtags attached: Blackout Tuesday, The Show Must Be Paused, Amplify Melanated Voices, and Amplify Black voices.
But, some people were less than impressed with Watson’s display of support. They felt that she was only contributing to performative activism and not actually using her platform to educate. They also accused her of upholding White Feminism and not having the same level of outrage for marginalized groups that don’t look like her.
Watson faces backlash on Twitter by critics
“Emma Watson got nearly 300k likes in 34 minutes and it was a performative activism post that doesn’t help BLM. F*ck her for not using that platform to share donation/petition links when she has a platform THAT BIG,” one person wrote on Twitter. Other people added that Watson hadn’t done her research. They argued that by utilizing the hashtags (some of which have been merged with the Black Lives Matter hashtag) she was helping to clog the hashtags and prevent people from getting important information.
Other people took further offense because Watson chose to crop the black squares she posted in order to fit her Instagram aesthetic. Thus, her photos aren’t just black squares, but black squares with a white background. Fans felt this was particularly tone-deaf because they believed it sent the message that she cared more about her Instagram feed than supporting Black lives.
Instagram feed aesthetic criticism
“Emma Watson just HAD to make sure she adds a white border to fit her Instagram aesthetic for this blackout bs after having said zero things, posted zero links for petitions, donations, and funds.. or raising awareness… she just CAN’T handle ‘ruining’ her aesthetic,” one Twitter user declared.
Other Twitter users maintain that Watson has always been an ally
After seeing the backlash Watson was receiving, many fans rushed to her defense. They stated that Watson has proven herself to be a phenomenal ally for many years and couldn’t understand why people felt the need to question her allyship because of cropped squares. “Emma Watson has always been against racism, even if she didn’t say anything, doesn’t mean that she agrees with all of these things. You are all wasting your time, it’s so stupid! Look at you, hating on someone because she posted black squares?! Shame one you!!” one person wrote after seeing the criticism that Watson was receiving.
“Emma Watson has been talking about these hard subject matters for years. She really is a true freedom fighter, #BlackLivesMattter #EmmaWatson” another person chimed in. Clearly, fans and critics alike are split on this issue. Only time will tell how Watson chooses to address the situation.