by Naama Kates
Tuesday, 6
September 2022
Dark Web
13:47

What Olivia Wilde gets wrong about Jordan Peterson and incels

The director is not taking the subjects of her film seriously
by Naama Kates
Olivia Wilde described Jordan Peterson as a “pseudo-intellectual”. Credit: Getty

Sometimes working on a story highlights the distance between myself and other people, when each additional detail requires an explanation longer than the story itself. It reveals how far I’ve retreated into my own echo chamber. Other times, however, the chasm is explained by the simple fact that the “other people” are indefensibly clueless. Such is the case with the actor/director Olivia Wilde. 

On the press junket for her scandal-ridden sophomore effort, the unfortunately-titled Don’t Worry Darling, Wilde made a series of bizarre assertions about the clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson.

In what appears to be an ill-advised attempt to infuse her drab, insignificant costume drama with some cultural relevance, Wilde revealed that the “inspiration” for the lead character, “Frank,” was “this insane man, Jordan Peterson, who is this pseudo-intellectual hero to the incel community.” 

She then explained just what that was: a “community of disenfranchised, mostly white men, who believe they are entitled to sex from women.” She continued: 

This guy Jordan Peterson is someone that legitimises certain aspects of [the incels] movement because he’s a former professor, he’s an author, he wears a suit, so they feel like this is a real philosophy that should be taken seriously.
- Olivia Wilde

Now. It’s one thing to be an out-of-touch Hollywood dilettante who hasn’t read anything not published on the goop website. But to be ignorant about the real-life “inspiration” for the lead character in one’s own film is both lazy and short-sighted. 

Jordan Peterson’s singular intellect is worthy of admiration even by detractors, and his cultural influence is undeniable. In bestselling books, charting podcasts, and consistently sold-out lectures, Peterson wrestles with timeworn questions about man’s quest for meaning and the role of responsibility in today’s society. He may get it wrong sometimes, but the eager consumption of his content by the general public reveals a tremendous appetite for intellectual engagement that I find heartening. 

Peterson himself seemed appropriately amused by Wilde’s comment, and playfully responded by saying that he was flattered to be portrayed by Chris Pine. He has also in the past been rather dismissive of incels — to whom he once referred as “useless men”. 

This is harsh and a little unfair: most incels suffer from a variety of mental health conditions that interfere with social functioning, like autism spectrum disorder, depression and anxiety. An overwhelming majority have experienced bullying and suffer from PTSD, and over half have sought treatment but found it ineffective. They feel invisible, unwanted, and alone. 

Wilde’s description of the incel community as “mostly white” is also plain wrong. In fact, according to one survey, only 55% of incels are white men, but what most share in common is a yearning for connection more than sex. Maybe the loathsome, entitled white men here are actually the flat, unexamined characters in Wilde’s film.

Whether the director actually believes these things is beside the point. Her intention is to signal that her art is socially conscious and woke; her film isn’t just a derivative murder story set in the 50s but a statement about anti-feminism in neo-reactionary cultural movements. 

But a proper artist should love and intimately know their characters, and embrace them with empathy. Olivia Wilde has made an entire movie about this “insane man”, so why wouldn’t she have the faintest curiosity, or a modicum of respect for him? If the entire film is this shallow, arrogant, and unoriginal, I’m going to wait until it’s streaming somewhere for free to find out.     

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Will Crozier
Will Crozier
20 days ago

This charlatan director obviously formed her opinion on Peterson based on spurious articles published by the mainstream papers (thinking the Times and the Guardian). I’m genuinely flabbergasted by the inaccuracy of such articles. Their conclusions are, in most cases, the total opposite of what Peterson actually believes and espouses. Peterson teaches that men must earn a woman’s admiration if they are to be desired. The idea that Peterson believes men are entitled to women’s bodies because of some mythical patriarchy is totally insane, but that is exactly the belief ascribed to Peterson by the propagandistic mainstream. Welcome to clown world friends

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
20 days ago
Reply to  Will Crozier

Thank You.
I used to believe Peterson was a misogynistic monster based on the kind of crap you described. When I actually watched an interview with him, I was shocked by how much I agreed with what he was saying.
I also watched the documentary The Rise of Jordan Peterson, which also portrayed a very brave and thoughtful human being with a great deal to offer society.
Do I agree with everything he says? No – but so what?
If I had to demonized everyone with whom I have disagreements, I’d have to demonize the whole world.

polidori redux
polidori redux
19 days ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

His lectures available on youtube are, in most cases, superb. You don’t have to agree with everything to learn a great deal. That is what teachers are for. Or at least what they used to be for.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
19 days ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Absolutely. I watched his Psychology class videos for years before he became internationally famous, or infamous, and could not equate what was being said about him with the man himself.
Although I don’t agree with a lot of what he says, I like the way he says it, ie he quotes the evidence and his reasons for saying it. He doesn’t just say ‘this is my truth’.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
20 days ago
Reply to  Will Crozier

It is interesting to me that a person like Peterson has been demonized by mainstream culture mainly for the sin of telling young men that they are not worthless garbage. It really puts the lie to the idea of the patriarchy.

Last edited 20 days ago by Gunner Myrtle
Carol Jones
Carol Jones
19 days ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Yes but I would say a particular definition of Patriarchy.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
20 days ago

Thank You for your compassion towards “Incels”. How can we not have compassion for people who are desperate for love? Sure, there are creeps among them, but I suspect most of them are just extremely hurt and extremely lonely.

Matt M
Matt M
20 days ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

It beggars belief, doesn’t it? The beautiful and connected despising the lonely and unloved while believing they are the moral ones. Very unpleasant indeed!

Naama Kates
Naama Kates
20 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

Indeed.

Last edited 20 days ago by Naama Kates
Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
19 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

Excellent point.
There’s no logical consistency to who counts as the deserving sad and who the undeserving sad.

Cassander Antipatru
Cassander Antipatru
20 days ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Not only are they desperate for love, but they live in probably the most sex-saturated society in history, where having regular sex is (in most other contexts) viewed as both a human right and important for psychological health. The surprising thing isn’t that some people get bitter under these circumstances, it’s that more people don’t.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
20 days ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

If you get on subreddits that discuss men’s issues the #1 response when asked what is hard about being a man is loneliness. They are not just talking about romantic partners – it is heartbreaking to read. Modern culture is becoming very alienated and men are not very good at creating or maintaining social networks. Incels are just a subset of the larger problem.

JP Martin
JP Martin
19 days ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Great comments. If it were possible, I would upvote your earlier comment about the patriarchy more than once. It does, however, seem a bit unfair to me that we should blame young men for not being very good at creating or maintaining social networks. There is some truth in this,I know, but it borders on victim blaming. In my experience, the educational system is profoundly antagonistic to boys and young men (many of whom have the added disadvantage of lacking a father). As much as I hate to borrow from the woke dictionary, they are systematically oppressed.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
18 days ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

yes – but is that partly because they dont get off their phones and actually DO something in the real world – most of my friendships have come from actually DOing thinks and meeting people via that – or via the workplace – likewise women etc. Unfortunately I suspect it is too late for many men to do this because they have been formed in a culture that is lazy – much easier to goof off on a phone than develop an outside hobby involving effort. Most of the men’s shed movement in NZ is about hanging out with other men drinking tea – guys that actually DO stuff have their own sheds…………I grew up pre MOB’s , internet etc and have a huge array of real world skills/hobbies because there was no other option ! – and all those real world skills/hobbies bring me in contact with as many other men as i wish. Get off ya bum and DO something vs whinging !!

Todd Thundercock
Todd Thundercock
14 days ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

Most men can’t just get off our bum and meet people. People don’t want to be around unattractive, low-value men. There’s plenty of recent stories of men getting arrested for trying to talk to people.
My childhood and early teens were also pre-internet days. Talking to people, any people even attractive women was easy to do. There were always opportunities with people who were bored at times or waiting to do something.
How are we supposed to talk to women who are on their phones 24/7 with hundreds of guys trying to get in their DMs?
The world is very VERY different now.

Chris Hume
Chris Hume
20 days ago

Isn’t it interesting how the descriptor “white” is thrown in just to make the object of derision seem that little bit more contemptible?
The portrayal of Peterson as some king of the incels is probably the most bizarre of all the stuff I’ve read about him. I would argue that their views aren’t only different, but diametrically opposite. He argues that men must face up to their failings and address them head on and that if women are rejecting you then it’s more than likely your own fault. Incels just complain about women and make vague excuses, as far as I can tell.
It seems people have seen Peterson appealing to disaffected young men, equated those men with incels, and then cast him in their minds as their leader. A few out of context quotes about culturally enforced monogamy and you’ve got yourself a bogeyman and a Guardian article.

Jamie Smith
Jamie Smith
19 days ago
Reply to  Chris Hume

If so called ‘incels’ were predominantly non-white, we could be sure that Wild would be either dismissing their existence or portraying them with sympathy while blaming their plight on systemic racism.

Zak Orn
Zak Orn
20 days ago

Olivia Wilde talking about pseudo-intellectualism and calling other people entitled/privileged, you truly couldn’t make it up. Hollyweird is so detached from reality it’s worrying, it wasn’t too bad 10 years ago where you only heard their ridiculous opinions if you watched trash talk shows… unfortunately these days social media has amplified these narcissistic clowns’ voices to a dangerous level.

joe hardy
joe hardy
19 days ago

Nobody has a right to criticize Jordan Peterson without first reading his books. He’s billed as ” the stupid person’s smart guy” and I’m o.k. with that. But listening to him on YouTube is quite different than getting through his books.
Point being, Peterson in no way endorses the lifestyle of an incel ( cellar dweller in the states).
I. For one ,am really appreciative that he can pull his academic ideas down and translate them to us working scmucks His impact will be far greater than anything that comes out of Hollywood.

Last edited 19 days ago by joe hardy
William Shaw
William Shaw
19 days ago

Dr Peterson has several hundred hours of his lectures available online plus numerous interviews.
It’s difficult to imagine how someone could be so misinformed about his message and beliefs.

Last edited 19 days ago by William Shaw
Christo R
Christo R
19 days ago

What is interesting is how she calls incells a “movement” rather than people suffering from a condition imposed on them by societal standards that no one ever taught them to meet in the first place…. largely because while everyone lives like they hold these standards they claim to believe the opposite. The left needs to label everything in a derogatory way to make hating it acceptable.

In a hilarious way she she actually accidentally agrees with JP, she has nothing but contempt for men that in her mind behave like needy woman. She is simply a dishonest shill like all the rest and should not be taken seriously.

It’s also just plain the old leftist tactic of scolding someone for not dying quietly, the screams of pain are making the torturer uncomfortable and drawing unwanted attention.

Last edited 19 days ago by Christo R
Alan Girling
Alan Girling
19 days ago
Reply to  Christo R

Peterson’s ‘contempt’ for incels is more a disappointment that they are not working at being their best selves, so he admonishes them like a father would. Wilde is just full of ignorance and hate.

Last edited 19 days ago by Alan Girling
Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
19 days ago

Funny how the description of a group of people as ‘white’ seems to be a kind of subtle dog-whistled insult.

Peter Strider
Peter Strider
19 days ago

Pseudo director calls psychologist professor pseudo intellectual. Lol

But then I’ve seriously hear modern philosophy grads argue Socrates wasn’t a real philosopher but an amateur.

In his day that sort of people were called “sophists”. Today they are called woke or progressive. But they are just selling the same tired tropes of the original Sophists that you can read being mocked and refuted in Plato’s works

Valerie Taplin
Valerie Taplin
19 days ago

Am I being cynical to imagine that Olivia Wilde is just piggy backing on Jordan Peterson’s vast following, in the hopes of gaining more publicity for herself. She’s got lots of column inches already. Shameful.

Max Price
Max Price
19 days ago

Do high cheek bones get you directing gigs now?

John Riordan
John Riordan
20 days ago

What a pity she’s gone and done this. I really liked her character in the excellent House TV series.

Laney Roberts
Laney Roberts
20 days ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Me too. That show was terrific.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
19 days ago

In light of the comments below, I have just finished listening to Tammy Peterson’s podcast (the wife of JBP). She was talking with Janice Fiamengo about some of the subjects brought up here.
Fiamengo is doing deep dives into the history of feminism that came out of the woman’s movement. She had this to say regarding an anecdotal comment given after one of her lectures from an audience member about their 30yr old experience that lead them to say;
“…So what. This is what happened to me and so I don’t give a damn. Why should I give a damn what’s happening to young boys or young men today.” That was the whole import of it and I all I could say to her was that, again, I don’t believe in an ideology of collective vengeance. 

Carol Jones
Carol Jones
19 days ago

Great article. I have come upon Peterson later than most and find his theories thought provoking and well argued. I like your explanation of Incels. Like many afflictions we see in society today that some in society are attempting to normalize, there is a clear mental, emotional and physical-autism eg, that is behind it. As a holistic medical professional I find that society doesn’t want to do the hard work to figure this out and perhaps find a way to mitigate these afflictions (ie not drugs). Its just too hard, easier to normalize it.

Diana Roussel
Diana Roussel
19 days ago
Reply to  Carol Jones

Are you upset about trans people being accepted in society and having rights Carol?

Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
19 days ago

No Oscar this one!

Laney Roberts
Laney Roberts
20 days ago

Thirteen! What happened to you?

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
19 days ago

Who the hell is this “Olivia White” creature?

Peter Tyquin
Peter Tyquin
18 days ago

I use to think Olivia Wilde was one of the most beautiful creatures to walk on two legs. That was until she opened her mouth. Ignorance may not be a crime, but it sure is ugly!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
18 days ago
Reply to  Peter Tyquin

I still would

Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson
19 days ago

At the risk of sounding ignorant can I ask what an “incel” is?

Christo R
Christo R
19 days ago
Reply to  Alan Jackson

Short for “Involuntarily Celibate”

Jamie B
Jamie B
19 days ago

So weird that heterosexual virgins are being stigmatized.

Jennifer Vaughn
Jennifer Vaughn
18 days ago

I felt bad for her when I heard she had been served custody papers while onstage. But now I feel sorry for Jason Sudeikis. She realizes she’s saying completely inaccurate things while the world is watching, right? I think I’m putting more thought into a paragraph maybe 10 people will bother to read than she does into her public statements. Jordan Peterson is fabulous, in my opinion. As another commenter said, he’s not a god nor is he perfect, but he’s not an incel supporter either. Looks like she could have, oh, read maybe one of the top five Google results after typing in his name plus “incels” to find that out, before creating a whole film depicting his “monstrosity.” She is utterly ridiculous.

elizabeth shannon
elizabeth shannon
18 days ago

What a silly woman!

Steve Cobb
Steve Cobb
15 days ago

I wish Olivia Wilde had done “What Is a Woman?” and Matt Walsh had done her film. Actually, I wish Freddie Sayers had done both.
Sex an love are commonly considered essential to human health; some even consider sex a positive human right (i.e. entitlement):
https://theconversation.com/is-sex-a-human-right-ummm-yes-no-maybe-it-depends-on-what-you-mean-by-sex-really-4491
So should prostitution be legal? Surely incels should be offered *some* solution.
Of course they “should” be able to access sex, and there is a long and an interesting conversation to be had about the many factors involved. To such a conversation I would invite Mark Regnerus, author of Cheap Sex–if sex has gotten cheaper over the past few decades, why are some men unable to get it? And invite evolutionary psychologist William Costello, recently a guest on Triggernometry.
Olivia Wild is clearly the wrong person for the job. Funny that she calls academic Dr. Jordan Peterson a pseudo-intellectual, when she herself lacks a college degree, or any trace of academic cred.

Duncan Vincent
Duncan Vincent
18 days ago

Pathetic, childish, fanboi sniveling.
Pointing and laughing.

george grosz
george grosz
17 days ago

Jesus Christ, honey. Learn the very basics of sentence structure and punctuation, then someone other than bleach poisoned housewives or their obese no-necked husbands might take your opinion seriously.

Get a job.

David Holland
David Holland
12 days ago

Olivia Wilde – “this insane man, Jordan Peterson, who is this pseudo-intellectual”
Inigo Montoya – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
18 days ago

Olivia Wilde has made an entire movie about this “insane man”, so why wouldn’t she have the faintest curiosity, or a modicum of respect for him?
I agree, but aren’t you doing the same thing by writing an article about a film you admit you haven’t seen?
I haven’t seen it either and am neither a particular fan of Olivia Wilde or Jordan Peterson, but I think the author should practice what s/he preaches.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
18 days ago

I don’t believe the author was criticising the film, merely that the director has said she based the lead character on a person she appears to know very little about

Diana Roussel
Diana Roussel
19 days ago

Doctor Peterson is definitely worthy of our respect, admiration, and hero worship. Who else would be able to come up with groundbreaking, nuclear-hot takes like autism really being a sign of hypermasculinity, while also going out of his way to express hateful trans eliminationist views and denying the existence of racism to his eager, definitely-not-racist-or-transphobic-in-any-way-shape-or-form audience? I think we should probably make his lectures mandatory viewing in high school, to celebrate this unimpeachable icon of genius.

Last edited 19 days ago by Diana Roussel
Will Crozier
Will Crozier
17 days ago
Reply to  Diana Roussel

I like your point about viewings in high school. That would likely be a great encouragement for all the children whatever their immutable characteristics. Despite being seen as controversial, Peterson is clearly very thoughtful and not lacking in compassion, whatever you make of his political and philosophical opinions. True he can be harsh in his rebuttals but his haters certainly give as good as they get.

Chris Voge
Chris Voge
20 days ago

With regard to “incels”, it possible to distinguish between those that are, or will be, mass murderers, and those (if any) who aren’t or won’t?

Jamie Smith
Jamie Smith
19 days ago
Reply to  Chris Voge

Probably much easier than with Muslims.

Paul Hughes
Paul Hughes
19 days ago
Reply to  Chris Voge

With regard to handsome men to whom women are physically attracted – Ted Bundy for example – is “it possible to distinguish between those that are or will become mass murderers, and those (if any) that aren’t or won’t?”

Laney R Sexton
Laney R Sexton
19 days ago
Reply to  Paul Hughes

Enough with the ‘Ted Bundy was so handsome and clever’ schtick. He was moderately attractive, not very smart (he only got into the university of Utah, trust me it’s easy, I got into there) and life was very different in the 70s. The factors that made him so prolific were a) women weren’t expecting to be murdered so randomly and weren’t as cautious as we are now. Serial murderers were relatively novel. B) forensics and police policy were more rudimentary back then. It’s not as easy to get a body count that high these days unless you’re exclusively killing prostitutes. Bundy was a product of his time.

Sheryl Rhodes
Sheryl Rhodes
18 days ago
Reply to  Laney R Sexton

I get why Paul made the remark about “handsome.” I think he was trying to show the weakness in the (implied) assertion that incels, because they can’t attract women, are likely to become serial killers. The point is, Bundy was decent looking enough, and charming enough, that he WAS able to attract women. So no relationship has been shown between incels and murderers.

Jeff Davenport
Jeff Davenport
19 days ago

“To say that most incels are white, is plain wrong. Only 55% are white”.
55% IS most. More than 50% of something means “most”.

JP Martin
JP Martin
19 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Davenport

Last time I checked the US was roughly 60% white so this would actually make whites slightly underrepresented among incels.

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson
19 days ago

Well, I’ll tell you what: Olivia is right on this one.
Jordan Peterson is so wrong about everything that there’s really no practical way to even start explaining how wrong he is — or why. Only people suffering from an absolute — and blameworthy — lack of education could possibly be gulled by that man’s constant stream of blatherskite.

Aidan Trimble
Aidan Trimble
19 days ago
Reply to  Kevin Johnson

Thats handy. Hes so wrong that there’s no way to justify why he’s wrong. Super convenient.

Peter Strider
Peter Strider
19 days ago
Reply to  Kevin Johnson

Lol. But the sarcasm is a bit too deep mate. People are thinking you are an idiot for stating what only preening progressive idiots say

Jamie Smith
Jamie Smith
19 days ago
Reply to  Kevin Johnson

Why not tell us about just one thing he’s so very wrong about? Here, I’ll help you out;- Solzhenitsyn. JP has an awful lot to say about him? How is he wrong about him?