The XX Factor

The Anatomy of Sandra Bullock’s Classy Comeback

Sandra Bullock emerged triumphantly last night at the MTV Movie Awards to accept the MTV Generation Award . This was her second televised appearance in two days after a few months away from the spotlight while she was dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s multiple dalliances. Not only did she look radiant, but she offered a perfect primer for celebrity public damage control:

1. Acknowledge the scandal, but don’t say a bad thing about anyone involved. Bullock made oblique reference to James’s cheating, saying, “Whoever established the high road and just how high it would be should be fired.” But she refused to mention James by name or denigrate him in any way. Contrast that with Jennifer Aniston’s public slam of Brad Pitt in the short-term aftermath of their very public divorce. She told Vanity Fair he had a “sensitivity chip” missing, and that dig became the focus of the press coverage .

2. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Bullock was self-deprecating in the extreme, and very funny and charming. She addressed a lot of the tabloid rumors going around, but in a cheeky, sweet way. “I’ve never gone 14 days without showering,” Bullock made clear.

3. Change the narrative. In this case, Sandra Bullock smooched Scarlett Johansson, ensuring that all the headlines would be about their liplock, rather than her husband’s shenanigans. She also made clear that her tabloid woes were small potatoes compared to the oil spill. “I think that when we all go to bed tonight, we should think about all the people who are being affected in the Gulf and just say a prayer for them and hope that everyone is going to be OK,” Bullock said at the end of her speech. While from someone else this may have sounded sanctimonious and annoying, from her it sounded heartfelt. Video of the speech embedded below.