Ageism has reached a fever pitch in Hollywood, and Rose McGowan is not standing for it. In a personal essay, the actress has not only defended a fellow woman, Renée Zellweger, she's rallied against a system bent on destroying the self-esteem of women. Here's what happened.
On June 30, film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote a piece for Variety titled "Renée Zellweger: If She No Longer Looks Like Herself, Has She Become a Different Actress?" In the article, Gleiberman goes on to point out how Zellweger looks "different" than she used to: "Her nose is thinner, or her lips are fuller, or her lips are thinner and her cheeks are bolder, or her forehead is younger, or maybe you can't even quite put your finger on what the difference is, but you know it's there."
Gleiberman goes on to comment on how Zellweger's looks brought a certain sense of "reality" to Jerry Maguire and how the culture of bad plastic surgery is "the result of a decision, an ideology, a rejection of the self."
The most toxic thing about "having work done" is the feeling it can create that someone doesn't look dramatically different from the way they looked before so much as they look . . . less. Less vivid, less distinctive, less there. You can't prove it, but you know it when you see it. Our physiognomies express a great deal of who we are (that's why we're so hung up about them), and the redemptive comic spirit of the Bridget Jones films is the passionate drunk-girl-next-door everydayness of Bridget, the way that she's no better than any of us — a spirit reflected, at least in the first two movies, in the slightly slovenly doughy-cuddly perfection of Renée Zellweger's face. Yes, she gained weight for the role, but the added weight was still her. I'm one of the few critics who loved even the second film (the Bridget-goes-to-Thai-prison plot might have seemed absurd, except that Zellweger grounded it), and the third chapter is long overdue. I just hope it turns out to be a movie that stars Renée Zellweger rather than a victim of "Invasion of the Face Snatchers." I hope it turns out to be a movie about a gloriously ordinary person rather than someone who looks like she no longer wants to be who she is.
On July 6, Rose McGowan published a response in The Hollywood Reporter, calling Gleiberman's piece "vile, damaging, stupid, and cruel."
"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." (Gleiberman previously worked for Entertainment Weekly, where he once gave McGowan's cult classic Jawbreaker a C+. This is unrelated but obviously misguided.)
You are an active endorser of what is tantamount to harassment and abuse of actresses and women. 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. I've withstood harassment on a level you can't comprehend, Owen.
The post goes deeper, but you get the gist. Even McGowan's former Charmed costar Alyssa Milano approved.