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Rose McGowan Blasts Male Journalist Who Critiqued Renee Zellweger’s Face, Weight

YouTube/Michael Loccisano, Getty Images
YouTube/Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

Rose McGowan vowed to speak up when she saw Hollywood “dickery” in play, and she meant it: The actress, director and activist has written an essay hitting back at a male journalist’s (very long) critique of Renee Zellweger’s current looks, and replaced the film critic’s observations about Zellweger with male actor’s names to point out Hollywood’s glaring double standard.

McGowan published her thoughts in the Hollywood Reporter today (July 6), addressing a film critic’s Variety essay titled Renee Zellweger: If She No Longer Looks Like Herself, Has She Become a Different Actress? The original Variety piece is a near-1400-word meditation on how Zellweger may or may not have done something to her face and it’s not how it used to be anymore, isn’t that a shame? — wrapped in a cursory, shallow acknowledgement of the higher-than-ever pressure Hollywood stars are under to look perfect. While ostensibly well-meaning, the article displays a startling lack of awareness regarding the specific pressure women in Hollywood are under. Other than the unexplored phrase “in most cases, it’s an actress” at the beginning, he never writes the words “woman” or “women,” and only uses the word “actress” to directly apply to actresses mentioned in the piece (Zellweger and Zoe Saldana, chiefly).

The article’s sexist undertones didn’t escape McGowan, who addresses the Variety journalist and his shaming remarks directly:

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.

Pointing to her own experience with online abuse for her appearance, McGowan is willing to bet a middle-aged white man who writes at a computer has not experienced the same, and perhaps lacks the perspective with which to effectively weigh in: “I am someone who has withstood death threats from fanboys, had fat sites devoted to me. I’ve withstood harassment on a level you can’t comprehend, Owen.”

To further highlight the kind of sentences (and objectifying treatment) Hollywood actresses experience on a daily basis, McGowan replaced the Variety critic’s sentences about Zellweger with the names of popular actors:

[HE] worked with costars who reinforced [his] supernova status, through their fame or their beauty or both. ROB LOWE, with pillowy cheeks and quizzically pursed lips and that singular squint, was beautiful, but not in the way that a BRAD PITT or GEORGE CLOONEY was.

Another gem:

In the case of [MATT DAMON], it may look to a great many people like something more than an elaborate makeup job has taken place, but we can’t say for sure. What we can say is that if that happened, it reflects something indescribably sad about our culture. For in addition to being a great actor, DAMON as much or more than any star of his era, has been a poster [guy] for the notion that each and every one of us is beautiful in just the way God made us.

And another originally-about-Renee line, from an article we’ll likely never see about Ansel Elgort’s weight and face:

A spirit reflected, at least in the first two movies, in the slightly slovenly doughy-cuddly perfection of ANSEL ELGORT’s face. Yes, he gained weight for the role, but the added weight was still him.

Read McGowan’s entire essay over at THR; she also directed Yoko Ono’s new video for “Catman” remixed by Miike Snow, which you can watch here.

As obtuse as his comments were, Zellweger’s Variety critic is hardly the only person to have wondered what the deal is with the Bridget Jones actress’s face; a photograph taken during her hiatus in 2014 surprised a lot of people who hadn’t seen her in years.

But more than the question of whether or not Zellweger had surgery, what might be worth considering is this: Why does a photo of an aging Hollywood actresses’ face rattle people so much? Do we expect them to age naturally and head straight into YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT THIS BAYWATCH STAR LOOKS LIKE NOW! territory/possible unemployment, or should they submit to injections and fillers, only to be ripped apart in a high-profile essay? Because you — we — can’t have it both ways.

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