After five years of absence, the gossip and pop culture website Gawker has been reborn under the Bustle Digital Group umbrella. No website has ever stirred the pot quite like Gawker, and while they may have a fresh brand, they are still up to their old tricks. In their latest bit of gossip-mongering (with flair), Gawker reminded readers of a controversial picture of Hilary Duff that is somehow still up on her Instagram page.
In 2019, Duff starred as murdered actress Sharon Tate in The Haunting of Sharon Tate, a slasher film that had the pregnant Tate have premonitions of her imminent death. Duff shared a photo of herself on set as Tate holding a swaddled teddy bear with the caption “Had the baby [embarrassed emoji, bear emoji].” Considering the fact that Tate and her unborn child were murdered by members of Charles Manson’s cult, many felt that this post was in poor taste and told Duff so in the comments, calling it “horrible,” “classless,” and “disgusting.”
The movie itself didn’t fare any better, sitting at 19% on Rotten Tomatoes with a 29% audience score. Tate’s sister Debra Tate slammed the film as “exploitive” and was critical of Duff’s portrayal as well. “It doesn’t matter who it is acting in it – it’s just tasteless,” Debra told PEOPLE. “It’s classless how everyone is rushing to release something for the 50th anniversary of this horrific event.”
Debra also criticized the elements of the film that had Tate dreaming of her death. “I know for a fact she did not have a premonition — awake or in a dream — that she and Jay would have their throat cut,” she claimed. “I checked with all of her living friends. None of her friends had any knowledge of this. Tacky, tacky, tacky. It’s a total fabrication.”
Writer-director Daniel Farrands claimed that the 50th anniversary of Tate’s murder had very little influence on his decision to make the film. “I wanted to do a story that would change the narrative so that the victims would be able to rise up and take their power back, if you will, from their would-be killers,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.