Newly appointed Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman recently wrote an article titled “Renée Zellweger: If She No Longer Looks Like Herself, Has She Become a Different Actress?” It was a strangely worded piece of writing that spent a lot of time positing — in a tone that sounded like compensation — why sexism leads women to feel the need to change their faces; it then devoted a good deal of verbiage to scrutinizing the actress’ face at an uncomfortable length. (It led Flavorwire, for example, to recall a similar piece by a different author on Drew Barrymore and the fact that she’s no longer seven.) It was an oddly self-serious article, given that the whole thing wasn’t saying much more than that the writer is trepidatious about seeing a romantic comedy sequel — not because it’s the third movie in a series where the first was awesome and the second was mediocre — but rather more because the actress’ face has changed.
Today, actress-turned musician and activist Rose McGowan penned a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter (who’re probably thrilled, since Variety is their key competitor) in response. She writes:
Renée Zellweger is a human being, with feelings, with a life, with love and with triumphs and struggles, just like the rest of us. How dare you use her as a punching bag in your mistaken attempt to make a mark at your new job. 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.
She also went a bit into her own history dealing with sexism in Hollywood:
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.
She goes on to replace Renée Zellweger’s name with that of male actors to exemplify the scrutiny and absurd, gendered adjective choices used in the article, finally concluding:
My interests are bigger than pondering a stranger’s face. My interest is destroying the status quo. My interest as a card-carrying member of society is to STOP the brainwashing Hollywood and the media have for too long gotten away with.