Angela Lansbury is a 92-year-old legend of acting and singing. From Gaslight to Beauty and the Beast to Murder, She Wrote, Angela has entertained generation after generation during her lengthy career.
She's a beloved figure ... which is why this news is so, so disappointing.
Because Angela Lansbury appears to be placing part of the blame for sexual assaults in the entertainment industry on the victims. Oh no, Angela. ...
Like most people, one of the first things that I did this morning was check Twitter.
It used to be where we'd see short jokes and also some updates on the lives of famous people.
Now, Twitter is the vehicle through which we receive our news and perpetuate our sense of existential dread as the horror show of 2017 rages all around us.
I saw the name of living legend Angela Lansbury trending and was immediately gripped with terror that perhaps she had died. She is still alive, but the reason for which she's trending is incredibly disappointing.
As one tweet summarized:
"*sees Angela Lansbury is trending* 'OH NO SHE BETTER NOT BE DEAD' 'oh wait it's worse'"
That tweet resonated with thousands of people who liked and retweeted it.
Because, as it turns out, Angela Lansbury made some very incendiary comments about sexual assault and sexual harassment:
A few years ago, Angela Lansbury shot down the idea of a Murder, She Wrote remake. At the time, her view was a little controversial, but as the star of the incredibly long-running series, it was totally her right to speak her mind.
This, however, is another matter.
In a recent interview with Radio Times, Angela Lansbury addressed the #MeToo movement and the countless women who have come forward with horror stories about rape and sexual harassment, in and out of the entertainment industry.
Lansbury's comments are troubling:
"There are two sides to this coin."
Sure ... in that one side of the coin was just going about its life and the other side of the coin decided to rape it.
"We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive."
That's true, in part because patriarchal cultures value women based upon their looks while they value men for a whole spectrum of criteria.
"And unfortunately it has backfired on us -- and this is where we are today."
Yikes. It looks like she's operating under the misunderstanding that sexual assault is primarily about attraction, rather than about power, control, and violence.
And her comments get worse:
"We must sometimes take blame, women. I really do think that."
How, we wonder? Some women participate in a culture of silence (generally out of fear), but it's never a woman's fault that she's harassed or assaulted.
Lansbury did seem to realize what she was implying, because she partially backtracked:
"Although it’s awful to say we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped."
Yeah, that would be awful ... though it's not clear that this isn't what she was saying.
Angela Lansbury continued to attempt to correct her statements.
"Should women be prepared for this? No, they shouldn’t have to be! There’s no excuse for that."
Correct. There is literally zero excuse for sexual assault, in the workplace or elsewhere.
"And I think it will stop now -- it will have to. I think a lot of men must be very worried at this point."
It's good that she feels so optimistic about the #MeToo movement's effectiveness. We hope that she's right about that.
Her earlier comments did not go unnoticed, however, and Twitter was not having it:
"Dear Angela Lansbury, I understand that you are 92 years old and from a different time, but your views only strengthen the disgusting men who perpetrate such acts against your sex."
Again, women may wear whatever they like. That does not in any way mean that they are playing a role in inviting their attackers.
"It's NEVER the woman's fault!"
"Murder She Wrote would have been quite a different show if in each episode Angela Lansbury blamed the victim."
Sometimes, it's harder to hear these comments from actors who have portrayed champions for justice. Sadly, not every actor is Mariska Hargitay.
Only Mariska herself is, technically.
"Angela Lansbury's age doesn't give her a free pass."
That's also true.
Hopefully, Angela Lansbury will respond to the backlash.
After all, Gabby Douglas victim-shamed Aly Raisman after Raisman came forward about sex abuse at the hands of Dr. Larry Nassar.
But Gabby then apologized -- more than once.
We hope that Angela will do the same.
Otherwise, it's going to make our next viewing of Murder, She Wrote ... really awkward.