Thursday 29 September 2016

'This is highly offensive' - Renée Zellweger's face sparks Hollywood sexism and ageism row

Alice Vincent

Published 05/07/2016 | 09:13

Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Baby
Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Baby

A film critic has come under fire after writing an opinion piece inspired by Renée Zellweger's changing appearance that many have deemed sexist and ageist.

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Owen Gleiberman, chief film critic for Variety, published an article last week in reaction to the latest trailer for Bridget Jones's Baby, the third film in the rom-com franchise. In it, he suggested that Zellweger no longer "looked like Bridget Jones."

Zellweger faced accusations of plastic surgery in 2014, when the actress, who is 47, returned to the spotlight after several years away. She denied having any surgery, explaining that any difference in her appearance was simply due to aging.

"I'm glad folks think I look different! I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows," Zellweger told People. "People don't know me in my forties...Perhaps I look different. Who doesn't as they get older?"

However, Gleiberman used Zellweger's appearance in the trailer as a reason to muse on the pressures women face in Hollywood, essentially judging the way she looks while chastising an industry that does the same.

He wrote:

"In the case of Renée Zellweger, 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 actress, Zellweger, as much or more than any star of her era, has been a poster girl for the notion that each and every one of us is beautiful in just the way God made us."

Gleiberman went on to explain that Zellweger triumphed in Hollywood despite not being conventionally attractive:

"It wasn’t until Bridget Jones’s Diary, five years later, that she hit her stride by finding a role that jelled with her image as an extraordinary ordinary girl."

"It may sound like I’m being patronising, but if you go back and look — I mean really look — at the old Hollywood stars, who we think of as some of the most incandescent people of the 20th century, the truth is that if you forget their iconic status for a moment, a lot of them were highly idiosyncratic-looking."

The critic acknowledged that Zellweger was made to gain weight to play Bridget in the first two films, but bizarrely consented that "but the added weight was still her", suggesting that Zellweger has become "a victim of Invasion of the Face Snatchers" in her forthcoming rom-com.

The piece stirred up debate about sexism and ageism in Hollywood, with fellow actresses Christina Applegate and Rose McGowan standing up to support Zellweger – who has so far kept a dignified silence on the matter. 

 

Meanwhile McGowan directly criticised Gleiberman, accusing him of contributing to "the pervasive f------up ness that is Hollywood", and damned Variety for lacking in diversity:

 

While another middle-aged, white film critic understood Gleiberman's point, Mike McGranaghan did concede that it was difficult to make:

 

 

But other social media users, many of them also part of the film industry, found Gleiberman's piece unfair:

Telegraph.co.uk

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