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The post The Joe Jonas-Sophie Turner Split Should Change How We Consume Celebrity Gossip appeared first on Consequence.
After a few weeks of speculation, musician Joe Jonas and actress Sophie Turner confirmed that they planned to divorce after four years of marriage. The pair were a relatively popular celebrity coupling: the Jonas Brother and the Stark sibling, both young and hot and part of the wider Team Jonas. In a joint statement, the pair said that the split was a “united decision” and an amicable one. It was a pretty standard divorce announcement, the kind meant to quash any scandalous rumors or speculation. But it felt hollow in the face of many days of “sources” spilling the beans on the marriage, with the brunt of the blame being pushed onto Turner’s shoulders. And fans were having none of it.
For days, we’ve seen various headlines offering reasons for the break-up, with nameless sources eager to position Turner as the culprit. Sites like the Mail Online and TMZ talked up Turner as a hard partyer who was never at home, while poor Joe had to selflessly look after the kids: They claimed that Sophie was too busy with work, while Joe was always there for their young daughters. Then TMZ vaguely alluded towards a Ring camera recording that convinced Jonas the marriage was over. No details were given on what he allegedly saw or heard, just that it was damning enough to call in the lawyers.
We’re familiar with this cycle as gossip consumers. Celebrities, especially those who are extremely famous in the A-List manner, are far less likely to spew out their personal drama on social media than, say, your average Love Island contestant. It’s the job of their well-paid publicists to get the narrative across in a thorough, manner without the celebrity’s fingerprints being visible on the crafting of it.
Consider the ongoing mess of the Ariana Grande/Ethan Slater romance and the accusations of infidelity on both their parts. We found out more about that relationship from TMZ sources than the horse’s mouth, and you could watch the story evolving as the public’s distaste for the potential pairing became evident. None of this is new, and the Jonas/Turner story is but one of many examples of how famous people try to manipulate public opinion in their favor. You can’t rely on good old-fashioned misogyny to get the job done on its own, after all.
However, that’s not what’s happening here. For once, fans and outsiders alike aren’t buying what’s being sold to them. They called out the obviously sexist claims of Turner being a neglectful mother in contrast to the glowing baston of fatherhood of Jonas, an image crafted that seemed built on celebrating him for doing the absolute bare minimum as a parent. (TMZ lamented him having to care for them for three months while Turner was on-set, with no mention of the Jonas Brothers’ years-long touring schedule.)
Fans started sharing stories that contradicted the growing claims, including an interview with Conan O’Brien wherein Turner said that she was a homebody who enjoyed a quiet life. An image being used in clickbait stories to sell Turner as a wild party girl was actually from a wrap party for a show she’d finished working on. When Page Six scolded her for doing shots at a bar before the divorce was announced, Vogue came to her defense and called out the mom-shaming. Jonas was then seen super-casually having a curbside lunch with his two daughters, whom the pair had previously fought to keep out of the spotlight, and fans instantly cried foul. We don’t even know the name of their youngest daughter, but now she’s possibly being used as a paparazzi toy? Not on.
Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner, photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images
The responses to this story have been fascinating and, it must be said, a massive relief. Based on past examples, it wouldn’t have been all that surprising if the Jonas Bros fandom had leapt on Turner and slammed her as the harlot of the split: How often have we seen this before, whether it’s the endless slut-shaming of Angelina Jolie, the barrage of organized hate faced by Amber Heard, or the recent smearing of Megan Thee Stallion after the Tory Lanez trial? When scandal comes calling, it’s almost always the woman who is thrown under the bus.
But right now, it feels like the majority of the public is stridently Team Sophie. Not only that, but so is a lot of the media. It’s not simply that people aren’t swallowing this narrative of her as a wild child neglectful mother: it’s that they’re calling out the powers crafting that image in real time.
Audiences are somewhat savvier about how gossip and celebrity media works in the current era. Generally speaking, a lot of us are far less likely to blindly embrace whatever we’re told. In the social media age, it’s far easier to dig beneath the surface and see what agendas are at play. The strings are more evident than ever, as is who is pulling them. A lot of people saw these stories about Sophie Turner and, rather than shaking their heads at her, wondered what the hell Joe Jonas was up to. Why work overtime to tell everyone how terrible your soon-to-be ex-wife is if the split is “amicable”?
It could have been easy for Jonas to wield the nostalgic thrall he still holds over many of his female fans to have them go after Turner. We’ve seen this happen too many times (again, hello, Amber Heard.) Yet Jonas’ team seemed to forget that his image is largely dependent on being a happy husband to a badass woman.
Indeed, the comeback of the Jonas Brothers was hugely shaped by their evolution from purity ring-wearing teeny boppers to suave cosmopolitan guys in a trio of power couples. Their wives are a big part of their music and videos. Alongside that is the protectiveness many feel for Turner, a former child star who became obscenely famous off the back of Game of Thrones and spent years being attacked by viewers because of their opinions of the character she played. As any Sansa Stark fan can attest, you underestimate the Queen of the North at your peril.
This could be a tipping point for gossip spectators to be more scrutinizing of the gossip that’s sold to them — and it would be a long-overdue change. Alas, it feels more likely that this is just an exception to the rule. It doesn’t take much for the public to hate famous women, to push them into the firing lines: Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, Amber Heard, Megan Thee Stallion, FKA Twigs, Amy Winehouse, Pamela Anderson, Constance Wu, any woman married to a famous man, and so on.
There’s money to be made in this game, and as long as celebrities want their dirty work to be cleaned up, we know who will be sacrificed to do so. Still, it’s worth being hopeful that change can happen. Other women deserve to be supported in the same way as Sophie Turner.