FEMFACTS
19 Dec 2018

Peddling sexism through fake celebrity quotes

Misogynistic statements falsely attributed to Keanu Reeves have been published in many different languages and have traversed the web for over two years.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team NewsMavens, Europe
Peddling sexism through fake celebrity quotes - NewsMavens
Keanu Reeves, Wikimedia Commons

WHAT’S THE CLAIM?

Since 2016, numerous web portals in the Balkans have published a misogynistic essay attributed to Keanu Reeves, with statements such as this (from the original English version):

I cannot be part of a world where men dress their wives as prostitutes by showing everything that should be cherished. (...) Where men and women are no longer ago identifiable and where all this together is called freedom of choice, but for those who choose a different path-get branded as retarded despots.

A Facebook page “The scientific miracles of Islam” holds one of the earliest mentions of the supposed quote. Religious websites like “Novi Horizonti” (New Horizons) and “Svjetlo Dunjaluka” (The light of this world), both from Bosnia, kept the initial religious context, with headlines such as these:

ACTOR KEANU REEVES EXPLAINED WHAT THE MUSLIMS HAVE KNOWN FOR MORE THAN 1400 YEARS

“ACTOR KEANU REEVES STARTED THINKING LIKE A MUSLIM, READ WHAT HE SAID”

Other headlines, appearing in tabloids all over the region, had little or no connection to the religious interpretation, but did appreciate the sexist parts:

Keanu Reeves: I can’t be a part of the world where men dress their wives as prostitutes (CMD, Montenegro)

KEEANU REEVES PUBLISHED A STRONG MESSAGE: Where women don’t want children and men don’t want a family? (Kurir, Serbia)

WHAT ARE THE FACTS?

Saying that a woman is dressed "by her husband" like a mannequin, let alone the additional "prostitute" remark, would be something quite out of character for the actor. But even if you never heard of Reeves, the bad English is enough of a clue that the statement didn't come from him.

When "Snopes" fact checked it in 2016, they traced its origin to a ridiculous Youtube montage, announcing “very deep thoughts” from Reeves, showing footage of him with a voice over in Russian. The made up statement has also been a subject of a fact check by “Politifact”, who reached out to Reeves’s publicist in 2016. They confirmed that  the quote is made up. They also stated that the actor isn’t present on social media and requested that Facebook removes the fan page which published the fake quote. It has since been deleted.

The made up and poorly written "very deep thoughts" clearly appealed to many. Aside from Russian, Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, English and Arabic version, It was published in Albanian, Spanish (with a dramatic video version as well), French, Turkish, Slovak, Bulgarian, Polish and several other European languages.

CONCLUSION

The usual recklessness with which false news is distributed is not the most disturbing thing here. It's the fact that so many people liked it and rushed to compliment Reeves for "speaking the truth". Accompanied, predictably, with laments over the "good old days" -- apparently, back when women were treated like property.

This piece of fake news was clearly meant to incite the sexist sentiments which agree with confining women to the “custody” of their husbands, treating them as objects to be “dressed” and denying them the right to decide on anything from the clothes they wear to whether they want to have children. We therefore rate this fake “speech by a famous actor” as an example of biological determinism and sexual objectification of women.

WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM:
SUPPORTED BY:

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

STRATEGIC PARTNERS:
NewsMavens
NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
CORE TEAM
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy
System.Threading.Tasks.Task`1[System.Threading.Tasks.VoidTaskResult];