Rose McGowan has been splitting her time between fighting sexism in Hollywood and making freaky music videos that put Die Antwoord to shame. Speaking out hasn’t helped her movie career any. She was dropped by her acting agency after publicly dissing a casting call for an Adam Sandler movie which demanded women wear “tank tops that show off cleavage (push up bra encouraged),” and has since made it a point to talk about the sorry state of gender equality in the film industry whenever she gets the chance.
Last week, Variety published an article titled “Renee Zellweger: If She No Longer Looks Like Herself, Has She Become a Different Actress?” It was a diatribe on plastic surgery in Hollywood focused on Zellweger, with author Owen Gleiberman reviving the recent media opinion that Renee has destroyed her face with secret cosmetic operations. It didn’t go unnoticed, with Zandy Hartig giving her perspective as a fellow actress over 40 for us here at Uproxx. It also pissed off McGowan, who had a response to the column published by The Hollywood Reporter.
Here’s some excerpts:
How dare you bully a woman who has done nothing but try to entertain people like you. Her crime, according to you, is growing older in a way you don’t approve of. Who are you to approve of anything? What you are doing is vile, damaging, stupid and cruel. It also reeks of status quo white-male privilege. So assured are you in your place in the firmament that is Hollywood, you felt it was OK to do this. And your editors at Variety felt this was more than OK to run.
I speak as someone who was abused by Hollywood and by people like you in the media, but I’m a different breed, one they didn’t count on. I refuse and reject this bullshit on behalf of those who feel they can’t speak. I am someone who was forced by a studio to go on Howard Stern where he asked me to show him my labia while my grinning male and female publicists stood to the side and did nothing to protect me. I am someone who has withstood death threats from fanboys, had fat sites devoted to me.
Any studio that Renee Zellweger has made money for, any co-star she’s supported or anyone who takes a percentage of her income should be doing what’s right; they should be calling this harassment out.
McGowan goes on to show you how ridiculous these kinds of articles focusing on an actresses’ looks would read with the names replaced by stars like Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The movie’s star, LEONARDO DICAPRIO, already had his “Did he or didn’t he?” moment back in 2014, and I had followed the round-the-world scrutinizing of his image that went along with it, but this was different. Watching the trailer, I didn’t stare at the actor and think: He doesn’t look like LEONARDO DICAPRIO. I thought: He doesn’t look like JAY GATSBY!
Columns like the Variety one are insidious in that they pile up one after another, shaping Hollywood and society’s opinion, not just of Renee Zellweger, but of all women. A culture that has Marisa Tomei playing Aunt May in the latest Spider-Man movie doesn’t appear out of nowhere. It is consistently reinforced by articles putting an actress’ age in a negative spotlight. At a certain point, people start wondering if perhaps it isn’t time for Zellweger to give up the mantle of Bridget Jones so another younger, fresher face can step in and continue … until too many articles about that new actress’ age begin to appear. And so the cycle continues.
I have my doubts that the author of the Variety article even realized what he wrote would be taken as offensive. Gleiberman possibly thought he was offering up a fairly glowing recap of Zellweger’s acting career and an indictment of a Hollywood that forces its aging stars under the knife. But boiled down to its essence, it calls out Zellweger for getting old and no longer looking enough like the Bridget Jones of 2001 and 2004. Maybe you could get away with publishing that kind of opinion without raising criticism back when the original movies came out, but not anymore.