Okay, I have to buy into this. A short time ago, in a galaxy not-so far away, actor Carrie Fisher had a tantrum at New York Post critic Kyle Smith, who wrote: “No one would know the name Carrie Fisher if it weren’t for her ability to leverage her looks. George Lucas only cast her in the first place because she was young, slim and cute at the time … As for whether it’s ‘messed up’ for Hollywood to prefer pretty people to appear in its films, Fisher made millions off being pretty. Far from being bitter about this, she and other actresses who profited nicely from their looks should be grateful they had a turn at the top. That’s more than average-looking people ever get.”
Instead of refuting the validity of Smith’s comments, Fisher attacks him (and others) for making the observation that she’s aged between 1977 and 2015. For Fisher’s army of supporters, this apparently adds ageism to the charge of sexism and body-shaming that Smith commits for noticing a difference:
Nothing new here, and decidedly plain-vanilla by comparison to some. For example, New York Observer critic Rex Reed gave Melissa McCarthy a pasting for her role in ‘Identity Thief’ where he describes her as “[a] cacophonous, tractor-sized, screeching, humongous creep … [a] female hippo … a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.” Ouch–that’s nasty. McCarthy had a more sanguine reaction to the criticism, and plenty of people in her corner, such as director Paul Feig, who said, “For his catty and school bully name-calling of the supremely talented Melissa McCarthy, I cordially invite Mr. Rex Reed to go f-ck himself.”
More generally on the home-improvements front, when Renée Zellweger revealed her new plastic face in 2014, activist Reece Witherspoon jumped in to raise seven shades of hell against any who dared comment publicly on the shock transformation. According to Witherspoon, comments about her BFF’s new face are “horrible, cruel and rude and disrespectful” — I wonder if the court used similar words after the police officer gave evidence of Witherspoon’s attitude when she was pulled over for DUI in 2013? Some might argue that’s irrelevant, but I think there’s an element of hypocrisy here: us Hollywood gals can do as we like! The new untouchables.
No question that critics and social commentators should get called-out when they deserve it. Again, our mate at the New York Post Kyle Smith seems to have been baiting women when he wrote that women don’t get the 1990 mobster classic ‘Goodfellas’ because “women sense that they are irrelevant to this fantasy, and it bothers them … [they] are the sensitivity police: they get offended“, which is horseshit, of course, but a deliberate and infantile goad designed to generate the attention this man so obviously craves.
Hatchet-jobs are certainly not the exclusive province of failed actors or wannabe celebrities, authors themselves can be the harshest critics — Mark Twain famously said of Jane Austen, “Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin bone.” Now maybe if Twain were alive today then he might not get away unchallenged with such comments, treading the thin line as it does between opinion and actionable libel. And just on that point, a lot of folk have undergone humorectomies these days, and while I doubt Kyle Smith’s comments on Carrie Fisher’s looks are libelous, he might be well advised to play the ball and not the woman.
And (it has to be said) isn’t it time for Fisher to stop being such a princess?