In June of this year, I wrote for this very website that I alone was capable of saving Emma Watson’s career. In that piece, I suggested Watson either start taking better roles to better bolster her activism career, or to commit more fully to activism in lieu of her acting career. To the surprise of no one, Watson did none of the things I suggested, and instead she has engaged in a months-long campaign for Prada Beauty, which she is marketing as world-historic social justice advocacy.
Some context: Watson became the spokesperson for Prada Beauty’s new perfume “Paradoxe” (that’s “paradox” for girls, jk, it’s just French). But in order to justify doing what is glorified spon, Watson insisted on directing and writing the ad herself. You can watch it and see for yourself how effective it is at selling you the perfume.
“Boxes are always too small,” Watson says, perhaps the most universally acknowledged truth about trying to return a pair of pants you got in the mail. As far as perfume commercials go, it’s pretty run of the mill: rich in vague truisms and confusing imagery. Watson swims, she dances, she paints. She wears a wig to remind you of when her hair was super short, something Watson has now been doing at promotional events for the perfume. What does the perfume smell like? I have no fucking idea. But I don’t think any perfume commercial has had much to say about the product at hand. Remember when Adam Driver turned into a centaur for Burberry?
Watson, however, is doing what she is wont to do: turning directing a Prada commercial into a social justice campaign. This ranges from the totally legitimate (it’s Prada’s first refillable perfume bottle –– eco friendly slay) to the loosely bunk, namely whatever the hell she has been doing on Instagram for the last two months. Since August, Watson has been posting stills from the commercial a few times a week with captions ranging from the hilarious “Taking a moment <3” to stats about women in STEM. That she does so in the annoying celebrity Instagram model of three posts at a time to create a widescreen effect on her Instagram grid is slowly but surely giving me a stroke, but that’s a complaint for another time. Her IG story posts and reposts the commercial on a daily basis. You can never forget that boxes are too small.
Surely most of this is contractually obligated, and why shouldn’t Watson zhuzh up her sponsored work by highlighting inequalities faced by women today? To her credit, she hired a majority female crew for the shoot, and she also warned us there would be some cognitive dissonance involved with this whole project (“Paradoxe”). As Watson says while manically twirling down a triangular staircase, “I am never the same. But I am always myself.”