Critic’s Choice

This NYT Film Critic Had Some Things to Say About Amandla Stenberg and the Internet Wasn’t Having It

Bodies Bodies Bodies is out in theaters and while many critics are fans of Halina Reijn’s film, some critics had a few things to say about the Gen Z-fueled horror comedy. One in particular, Lena Wilson (she/her), wrote a review for The New York Times that stated that the film was a “as a 95-minute advertisement for cleavage”. Amandla Stenberg (she/they), one of the stars and executive producer of the film, got a hold of the review and sent a DM to Wilson. 

Unfortunately, Wilson interpreted this message differently from how Stenberg anticipated. 

@neilsmom

unfathomably weird to get “i don’t want you in the locker room while i’m changing” bullying from a whole other lesbian

♬ original sound – Lena Wilson

The journalist took to TikTok, posting a screenshot of the message and stating “I’m posting it because I don’t want this person who has more social power than me to think that it’s fucking okay to do something like this”. Additionally, Wilson mentioned Stenberg navigating mental health issues and being homophobic. Interesting enough, Wilson’s caption to her post on TikTok states “unfathomably weird to get “i don’t want you in the locker room while i’m changing” bullying from a whole other lesbian”.

Now, are critics allowed to have opinions? Yes. As one of those folks constantly reviewing, interpreting, and critiquing art, there’s merit to the work. However, are the artists we critique allowed to engage with our work, just as much as we engage with theirs? Also, yes, but that seems to be something Wilson forgot about. 

Let’s be clear, Stenberg sending Wilson a DM isn’t homophobic. Nor are they using their “social power” to hinder Wilson in any way. If anything, Wilson used the opportunity to wield white privilege as a means to take down a Black, biracial, nonbinary celebrity by unfairly making them out to be a bully. 

Stenberg took to Instagram to share their thoughts on the situation.

“There’s this film critic and her name is Lena Wilson. She wrote a criticism of a movie I just had come out called Bodies Bodies Bodies”, Stenberg stated. “She described in her review the movie as a ‘95 minute advertisement for cleavage,’ which I thought was hilarious. I’m proud that a piece of work I was a part of was described as such in such a renowned publication.”

And in regards to that DM, Stenberg had this to say. 

“I thought it was hilarious. I thought because Lena is gay, and I am also gay, I thought that as gay people we would both find this comment funny. I was also curious to know what Lena would say to such a statement. Lena decided to publish it and also says that I am homophobic for saying that.”

Stenberg also voiced their frustrations on the industry’s focus on their chest. “It’s quite surprising the amount of commentary I receive on my boobs is so extreme,” Stenberg stated. “I wore this tank top in this movie because me and the costumed designer felt it fit the character well. I do get tired of people talking about my chest. There seems to be a lot of unwarranted conversation about my chest”.

Both Wilson’s TikTok and Stenberg’s Instagram response have set the internet ablaze, with many folks rightfully supporting Stenberg. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out what “Film Twitter” had to say. 

The Acolyte star said it best. “You are allowed to have your criticism on my work and I’m allowed to have my criticisms of your work. I wish you the best.”

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