The old saying goes that good artists borrow, and great artists steal. Whether or not you consider movie marketing “art” can be left up to debate, but there’s no doubt that the latest poster for the Jessica Chastain-starring film The Eyes of Tammy Faye is truly great. In the newly released one sheet, Chastain, as her character Tammy Faye Messner, appears wearing her signature bold eye makeup, raising one heavily manicured hand to her face, leaving one eye exposed. If the pose looks familiar to you, its probably because it seems to be borrowed from one of Twitter’s great niche reaction memes.
We’re not exactly sure where the “I Pretend I Do Not See It” meme originated, but it’s been making its way around Twitter since at least 2020. It features your standard yellow emoji (albeit heavily made up after a day at whatever salon—and possibly domestic dermatologist—an emoji might go to) averting her eyes to ignore bad news. It’s used in certain circles frequently to react to any sort of minor inconvenience. Your favorite pop star says something that could be construed as slightly problematic? “I Pretend I Do Not See It.” Your friends text you a cringey old Instagram your current crush once posted? “I Pretend I Do Not See It.” You find out your preferred candidate in an election had positions you don’t 100 percent agree with, but their opponent is so much worse? Well, in the spirit of democracy, “I Pretend I Do Not See It.”
Referencing the meme actually makes perfect sense in marketing a Tammy Faye Messner biopic. In the ‘80s, Messner and her then-husband Jim Bakker rose to the heights of televangelist fame with their syndicated talks how The PTL Club. But it all came crashing down in 1987, when Bakker was accused of trying to cover up rape allegations as well as accounting fraud. Messner stood by her husband at first, but eventually filed for divorce in 1992.
“For years, I have been pretending that everything is all right, when in fact I hurt all the time… I cannot pretend anymore,” she wrote in a public letter to a church in 1992.
And in that moment, she admitted to pulling a “I Pretend I Do Not See It.”
The film itself, which co-stars Andrew Garfield as Bakker, has all the right stuff to become something of a camp classic in its own right. Not only is it about camp icon Messner, but it also stars Chastain, who valiantly continues to contribute to the camp canon with her idiosyncratic TikTok videos.
It’s also based on the 2000 documentary of the same name. That film was co-directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the co-creators of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and narrated by RuPaul himself. Comedian and director Michael Showalter helmed the adaptation. It’s set to make its debut at the Toronto Film Festival in September, before a commercial release on September 17th. We won’t pretend—we do want to see it. Watch the trailer here.