Wednesday 28 September 2016

Vanity Fair's profile of Margot Robbie slammed as 'creepy' and 'vividly horny'

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 08/07/2016 | 15:25

Australian actress Margot Robbie. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Australian actress Margot Robbie. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Jungle fever: Margot Robbie and Alexander Skarsgard in 'The Legend of Tarzan'.
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad
Actress Margot Robbie arrives on the red carpet for the 88th Oscars
Margot Robbie

A new profile of Margot Robbie in Vanity Fair magazine has come under heavy criticism for its descriptions of the actress’s looks and references to Australians as “throwback people”.

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Written by Rich Cohen, who also co-created the now-cancelled HBO flop Vinyl, the controversial piece appears on the cover of the August issue of the magazine to promote Robbie’s upcoming films The Legend of Tarzan and Suicide Squad.

Robbie grew up in Queensland, which Cohen describes as a place where “a dingo really will eat your baby”.

He also refers to Australia as being “America 50 years ago”.

Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie promoting The Legend Of Tarzan in London
Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie promoting The Legend Of Tarzan in London

“Australia is America 50 years ago, sunny and slow, a throwback, which is why you go there for throwback people,” he wrote.

“They still live and die with the plot turns of soap operas in Melbourne and Perth, still dwell in a single mass market in Adelaide and Sydney. In the morning, they watch Australia's Today show. In other words, it's just like America, only different."

In his portrait of Robbie, Cohen variously describes her as “having a lost kind of purity”, “like a second-semester freshman” with “painfully blue eyes”, and “too fresh to be pegged”.

“She is 26 and beautiful, not in that otherworldly, catwalk way but in a minor knock-around key, a blue mood, a slow dance,” he wrote.

Actress Margot Robbie arrives on the red carpet for the 88th Oscars
Actress Margot Robbie arrives on the red carpet for the 88th Oscars

“She is blonde but dark at the roots. She is tall but only with the help of certain shoes. She can be sexy and composed even while naked but only in character.”

The interview ended when Cohen began to ask Robbie about her sex scenes with Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, telling readers she “partakes in some of the most graphic on-screen shenanigans I’ve ever seen, famously short-skirted in one scene”.

After that awkward moment, Cohen notes that Robbie “stood up, said goodbye and went to see a friend across the room”.

Robbie has previously spoken about her discomfort with being seen as a sex symbol.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad

At a press conference earlier this year, she said: “I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve got a really good team around me. I haven’t been exploited, I don’t feel.

“I’m more concerned with being labelled as a sex symbol. That makes me feel more uncomfortable than any day-to-day interactions I have.”

When the piece was published online earlier this week, Twitter users were quick to post extracts and respond to Cohen online.

One user criticised the piece as “sexist, outdated, horny drivel”, while others described it as “creepy” and “embarrassing”.

Another user added: “The quietly awful thing that the Vanity Fair piece did is steer the conversation away from Margot Robbie’s talent, which is what matters.”

Cohen has since responded to the criticisms, telling Fairfax Media that he was “mostly joking”.

“It is a good. Supposed to be funny,” he said, insisting his description of Australians was intended as a “compliment”.

Margot Robbie
Margot Robbie

“To the extent that the point is serious, it’s a compliment. I’m saying that Australia is still a unified country whereas our American culture has shattered into warring camps. Australia had what we lost.”

He added that he had been to Australia: “I loved it, best people in the world.”

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