When Emma Watson did her first press tour in 2001, for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, we didn’t learn a ton about her. She was a nice-seeming British child who did a great job playing Hermione; she charmed people because she had an accent. But mostly she was part of a multi-armed wizard-kid blob, and all we learned is that she liked purple velour.
A press tour is the all-important “getting to know you” moment for celebrities — a time when they are repeatedly thrust into the public eye and expected to speak on the record. A press tour is how an actor reveals the kind of star he or she would like to be: charming? Standoffish? Intellectual? Jennifer Lawrence? It’s also a time when celebrities are forced to go on talk shows and dole out anecdotes that we may use to mock them for years to come. It’s an incredibly important moment for “the brand.”
In advance of Beauty and the Beast, Watson is leading her first full-fledged, megabudget, “it’s all about me” press tour. It’s Watson time. Here she is yukking it up with Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres; here she is on the cover of Vanity Fair and British Elle. She’s doing Facebook Live Q&As and defending feminism in interviews. She’s driving home the parallels between her and Hermione and Belle, like a champ. Fifteen years after the first Harry Potter film, Watson has emerged as a 26-year-old press-savvy star with a well-defined shtick. She is, in short, a pro.
But even the best glad-handers encounter occasional difficulties. A press tour is rocky terrain, filled with awkward video junkets and missteps. On the high-profile road to opening night, some will win and some will lose. Herewith, the winners and losers of Emma Watson’s Beauty and the Beast press blitz:
Winner: Emma Watson
She looks great. She plays along with late-night hosts’ stupid gambits. She smiles at children. She talks about books and feminism, and people are applauding her for doing both. She gets to be Belle. People have already forgotten that she said Belle doesn’t have Stockholm syndrome. It’s going great.
Loser: Hermione Granger
In a promotional Facebook Live Q&A I watched the other night, the moderator told Watson that a whole new generation of children wouldn’t know her as Hermione, but as Belle. Is there room for only one book-loving feminist in pop culture? Does Hermione have to die so Belle can live? RIP Hermione.
Beauty and the Beast IMAX Live Stream Q&A
We’re LIVE with Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Dan Stevens, and Bill Condon at our Beauty and the Beast IMAX Live Stream Q&A! #IMAXVIP #BeOurGuestPosted by IMAX on Monday, March 6, 2017
Winner: The Children
I’m not sure if Emma Watson believes she is the real-life embodiment of both Hermione and Belle, but she likes to remind us that she shares a lot of qualities with both characters: a love of reading, a strong will, a strongly defined sense of feminism, glossy brown hair. While it’s sort of annoying for adults to deal with any person constantly comparing themselves to fictional characters, it’s lovely for children to have role models. And isn’t that what this is all about? The children?
Winner: Emma Watson’s Wardrobe
True story: Watson and her stylist run an Instagram account called “The Press Tour” to showcase Watson’s eco-friendly fashions as she wears them. Each photo of her outfit is accompanied by a lengthy write-up explaining exactly how eco-friendly the look is. At first I thought, Oh god, there is not enough space in my eye cavity to accommodate the eye roll, but after some exposure I have to admit Watson is killing it on the fashion front, and also there is nothing wrong with taking some extra time to make sure your viscose is responsibly sourced. So I can forgive the insufferability of the phrase “green carpet” and focus solely on her great taste in pants.
Winner: Beyoncé and the Beyhive
We will discuss this “controversy” many times and in great detail over the next centuries, but here are the basics: Emma Watson is a feminist, it is her platform, she started a whole weird video series about it. Then Emma Watson posed in Vanity Fair in a “shirt” that exposed a significant amount of underboob. It was a cool shirt.
People got sort of mad at her because feminists can’t have boobs or something, but the Beyhive reminded the internet that Emma Watson once criticized Beyoncé for being sexual and a feminist at the same time, and then Emma Watson had to go back and defend herself and remind everyone that no, she too loves Beyoncé. In short, Beyoncé wins because her name was invoked in something she had absolutely no stake in, and a battle was waged in her honor while she looked on placidly. Also, she got to attend the Los Angeles premiere of Beauty and the Beast with Blue Ivy. They wore matching Gucci and we got pictures and that is a victory.
As previously mentioned, Watson’s boobs are at the center of a mini-controversy, thanks to that “racy” Vanity Fair shoot (winner: Vanity Fair). All of a sudden, we’re forced to read headlines like “Beauty & the breasts” or “Emma Watson Is Defending Her Boobs Against the Haters” or the worst, “Emma Watson’s Boobs Prove Why We Still Need Feminism” (loser: headlines). Boobs, this is all your fault.
Winner: Gloria Steinem
Because this press tour involves a lot of discussion of feminism and what is feminism and are you a feminist, TMZ stopped Gloria Steinem in an airport to get her to weigh in on this very important matter. Steinem just laughed and sort of answered, but ultimately expressed a DGAF attitude about this petty little matter. She who gives the least fucks always wins.
I’d like to think feminism wins every time someone with a platform says the word, but it does not. It has lost every time Watson’s fake Boobgate — Breastghazi, whatever we’re calling it — controversy has led to a discussion about “What is feminism in 2017?” In an interview with Reuters, Watson gave this impassioned definition, in case you were wondering: “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it.”
Is this really where the conversation is? Still? Boobs? No more, please. Feminism really took an L here.
Loser: Dan Stevens
Poor Dan Stevens already has the difficult job of justifying playing a romantic lead that is also a buffalo/minotaur while ignoring whispers of “But is this beastiality?”, but in recent days he’s also taken a backseat to Watson. Oh, what’s that, Emma, you want to tell the story of how I can’t throw snowballs? OK, I’ll chuckle along. Oh, what’s that, Emma, you want to keep talking about this boob situation? I’ll gamely ask questions about feminism but stutter when I have to mention your chest! I know we hear from men too often anyway, so in theory it’s nice for him to sit there and look pretty, but it’s also difficult to watch. Someone, ask this man a question.
Winner: Lip Bleaching
Lip bleaching gets such a bad rap. Why is it so hard for the world to accept that some women — no, a lot of women — get dark hair on their upper lip and would like it to be lighter? What is it that offends so? Is it the acknowledgement of women’s lip hair? The fear of a strong chemical, such as bleach, touching the skin? Today, let that stigma end, because lip bleaching has another crusader, Emma Watson. In an interview with Into the Gloss, in between listing dozens of really great beauty products to spend too much money on (winner: the beauty industry, always) and recommending Fur Oil (winner: pubic hair), Emma Watson admitted, no, proudly declared that she’s been “bleaching her top lip since [she] was 9.” That seems incredibly early to start any sort of beauty treatment, but team lip bleaching has gained another crucial member. All of you lip bleachers, raise your hand! You are not alone! We have Emma!
Things I don’t want to hear Emma Watson say ever again: “I can’t believe I’m playing Belle!”; “I can’t believe I got to play Hermione and now I’m playing Belle!”; “It’s a dream come true!” It’s not that I want Emma Watson to be a raging asshole on her press tour, but I would love for her to tone down the wide-eyed, blinking, happy, “Geegollygosh, can you believe I’m here?” vibe. You are beautiful and went to Brown and have been acting for your entire life, so, yes, we can believe you are here. Find your chill. If you need new discussion topics, let’s discuss having to make out with a minotaur.
Loser: Céline Dion
Céline Dion recorded her version of “Beauty and the Beast” with Peabo Bryson in 1991, and it was perfect. Then these goddamn traitors went and gave Céline’s Oscar-winning song to Ariana “Doughnut” Grande and had the audacity — the audacity! — to ask Céline to record a different song for the reboot. Do you understand how disrespectful this is? On top of that, poor Céline still has to be included in all of Emma Watson’s lame, “I went to a premiere! And met famous people!” anecdotes. “My mom and I used to play Céline Dion in the car nonstop,” Watson told Jimmy Kimmel. Just stop. Everybody stop. Apologize for what you have done to Céline, and leave her out of this. Just let Céline Dion live.