Last week, Variety provided a platform for senseless sexism by running a column by the magazine's new film critic, Owen Gleiberman. Ostensibly, this column was about the trailer for the upcoming "Bridget Jones's Baby" movie. Rather than talk about the actual movie, though, he devoted its entirety to criticizing something else: Renee Zellweger's face.
Titled "Renee Zellweger: If She No Longer Looks Like Herself, Has She Become a Different Actress?", Gleiberman laments the loss of Zellweger's "slovenly doughy-cuddly perfection" and asserts her appearance in the first two "Bridget Jones" films manifested the "spirit" of the franchise. Because of course the films, at their core, are about Zellweger's face.
Enter Rose McGowan. The "Charmed" actress-turned-activist blasted Gleiberman in a scathing response published by The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday (July 6). And she spared no words.
"Her crime, according to you, is growing older in a way you don’t approve of," McGowan expertly summarized. "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 ... You are an active endorser of what is tantamount to harassment and abuse of actresses and women."
McGowan made the letter increasingly personal from there, opening up about her own experiences being harassed by men like Gleiberman in Hollywood.
"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 recalled. "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."
I'm imagining Gleiberman reading this, and in my vision, he's already sunk quite low in his privilege-padded armchair by this point. But it gets better. McGowan also illustrated just how ludicrous this blatant sexism was by substituting Zellweger's name with various male Hollywood stars. Read an excerpt of her reworking below:
"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!
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.
“You complete me” is one of the great lines in modern romantic movies because of the way it takes its inner meaning from who TOM CRUISE is. This is what completes you: someone who looks just like this. What completes you is reality.
RYAN GOSLING had won the lottery, had been plucked from semi-obscurity by the movie gods (or, actually, by the daring of Cameron Crowe), but not because it was so unusual to see a non-famous actor starring in a major movie.
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."
McGowan capped off the letter with a simple, yet beautifully cutting synopsis of Gleiberman's character: "You are simply a bully on semi-glossy paper." We couldn't agree more, Rose.