What is it about Chris Pratt?
This week, the Guardians of the Galaxy star was trending after doctored problematic tweets surfaced, including one that allegedly included a racial slur. "Chris never tweeted the offensive things that are being circulated today. Any suggestion that he did is not only totally false but also defamatory," Pratt's representative told TMZ. A Twitter executive also stated they "strongly believe these [tweets] to be fake," the outlet reported.
While the whole fiasco was a sham, seemingly a manufactured troll job in order to get Pratt cancelled, that didn't matter to thousands of Twitter users who shared their general feelings of disdain towards the father of two. The "4 Chrises" debate was also reignited, with Pratt once again ranking as the least favorable of his peers among Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pine.
This debate comes up often. In October, filmmaker Amy Berg tweeted pictures of all four of the leading men and wrote: "One has to go.” Among the countless replies, the overwhelming consenus pointed to Pratt getting the boot with popular reasons given pointing to the theory that Pratt supported former President Donald Trump (this hasn't been confirmed, however, Pratt hasn't aligned himself with a political party and around the 2020 election mocked the importance of voting) and his reported affiliation to a church with anti-LGBTQ views.
The negative attention prompted Pratt's celebrity fans to come to his defense.
“I know him personally, and instead of casting aspersions, look at how he lives his life,” Mark Ruffalo tweeted. “He is just not overtly political as a rule. This is a distraction. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize, friends. We are so close now.” Robert Downey Jr. called Pratt “a real #Christian who lives by #principle” and said he “has never demonstrated anything but #positivity and #gratitude.” Zoe Saldana even shared a Tupac quote in support of Pratt with the personal message, "Your family, friends, colleagues & everyone who’s ever crossed paths with you knows your heart and your worth."
Responding to an Instagram post on the topic, Pratt's wife Katherine weighed in as well, writing, “Is this really what we need? There’s so much going on in the world and people are struggling in so many ways. Being mean is so yesterday. There’s enough room to love all these guys. Love is what we all need not meanness and bullying. Let’s try that.”
Obviously, Pratt is hardly the only celebrity who is subjected to criticism online and it's interesting to note that people seem more willing to go out of their way to defend a handsome white celebrity than the countless women and people of color who are harassed online every day.
While noting that double standard is completely fair, it does not totally negate the fact that for some reason, the internet seems to take special pleasure in taking Pratt down a peg and it begs the question — why does Chris Pratt stir up so much negativity?
Sue Scheff, the author of Shame Nation: Global Epidemic of Online Hate, says that it has little to do with Pratt as a person and everything to do with the epidemic of “cancel culture” that has become a common source of debate online. According to Scheff, the “unforgiving” internet has allowed “adults acting like children” to ignore “diplomatic truths” and instead “publicly shame due to what they deem to be a controversial issue or act.”
“We have to keep in mind, the internet is unforgiving, even if Chris Pratt or any celeb makes a mistake, the gang-up mentality of social media is overwhelming,” Scheff tells Yahoo Life.
Karen North, a clinical professor of communications at USC, notes that people are often “motivated to share ‘shocking’ information because you feel like a thought leader.” North also says that the latest round of unfounded attacks against Pratt was likely due to “confirmation bias” against him due to his perceived conservative and religious values.
“People like to share or consume information that confirms beliefs they already had,” North explains. “These fake tweets validated the opinions someone already had.”
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