Melissa Silverstein at Women and Hollywood is apparently, like myself, a bit of a Katherine Heigl fangirl. I am not exactly her biggest movie fan, though I do own a couple of her Rom-Coms (on Blu-Ray AND I WILL NOT BE JUDGED FOR THAT SHUT UP!), I do appreciate her acting. Going on a slight tangent here — Izzy Stevens was my favorite Grey’s Anatomy character, and I am still catching up on what they did to her on the show (I haven’t watched U.S. TV in so long!). The ugly spiral that threw her from being a rock star who worked her way through medical school (admittedly on her beauty privilege) and survived loss after a disastrous poor decision to, as this NY Times article says, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a deer. And that was only the half of it.
It isn’t her acting that makes the great package deal of the person inside. It is her willingness to put forth her opinions. I love a woman with a mind and the insistence to let you know that she has opinions that are informed, researched, and firm. Heigl has those, and isn’t afraid to let it show.
It seems that this isn’t the way to make a name for yourself, or rather, a nice pretty name for yourself, in Hollywood or the entertainment industry. They want quiet lady leads who are going to follow the narrative, be grateful for whatever role they are handed where they trot off as tropes…perhaps as vessels off of which coke will be snorted. Or maybe they prefer disposable semen receptacles which are popular in action, epic war, revisionist history, and horror movies that are popular. These seem to be acceptable roles, and they want women eager to play them. Not someone who is going to call movies out for being a “little bit sexist“.
Katherine Heigl seems to have gotten this reputation that she is the foot-in-mouth girl. That she comes on too strong because she has opinions:
“Now I’ve got this moniker that I’m the foot-in-mouth gal, and I keep thinking, In what way? Because I said something you don’t agree with? Because I said something you don’t like? I’m just telling you my opinion. I hate the idea that I can’t be honest about how I feel about things because it’s going to piss somebody off who feels differently. That seems preposterous to me.”
I can totally relate. I’ve been told that I am too “aggressive” when it comes to my opinions, my ideas of right and wrong, whether it is the rules of order and how business is conducted in a PTO meeting or defending myself to the medical officers at the local medical building, or even in my writing.
What I don’t see is how being firm, having opinions, insisting that something be done a correct way, and in a way that is not damaging you yourself, is too aggressive, or makes you a Bitch Diva. How it means that you are getting out of hand, and how it now means that Heigl needs to go on some Apology Tour.
For me it just means that some Marine Corps Colonel is getting all apoplectic because I have the audacity to say that she isn’t the boss of me. I am a civilian and I don’t answer to rank. Only rules.
But insisting that we have the right to our voices somehow marks us.
Yet, as Melissa pointed out, it isn’t an even blanket. It seems that if you are a child rapist, you can get all the Hollywood activists who can’t be bothered to think about it to sign petitions that you should be left alone, because it wasn’t that bad. Or ya know, yelling racist things at your girlfriend after beating her up is no big deal. And throwing a phone in a fit. Huh. That’s cool. No apology tour required.
But don’t you open your pretty mouth, Katherine Heigl! We saw you kick that stuffed bunny! (Really, do you know a mother who hasn’t kicked a stuffed animal out of the way? I don’t) You are a terrible mum, and an ungrateful nobody in Hollywood (that Emmy you won says so!). Now go pay your penance!
But as the NY Times article also points out, and as Silverstein also mentions, Heigl is apparently rocking it out as a smart businesswoman who is showing herself as a force with which to be reckoned. She has produced her latest movie Life As We Know It, which had best make its way to Korea, for well under the amount that the Big Boys spent on Killers. Which was a flop. Her name is being used in sentences with names like Grace Kelly and Carole Lombard for her ability to play drama and comedy with such essence, gradation, and depth, but she is boxed in with actresses who have scarred reputations, like Drew Barrymore and Angelina Jolie, for being less than perfect starlets. For the record, even when those stars show that they have become incredible businesswomen (Barrymore directs and produces now, and Jolie is in about every action move staring a woman I see now…) they can not ever overcome those reputations. Drew will always be the coked out girl who was in that porno you wanked off to, right, and Angelina will always be the slut who slept with Jennifer’s husband, right? OK then.
Celebrities have two choices: live the narrative and be perfect, or live with the labels that the tabloids put on them. This is compound for women who find their most intimate details, from their diets, beach body, how they mother, and if you are certain celebrities, speculations about your mental health. For Heigl, she apparently will always be the star who speaks her mind. I admire that. I honestly wish that everyone would get over that, because, honestly it is really refreshing. Especially when she speaks up about the way that women are treated in Hollywood.
Really, if she is a Diva, then so are many of us in Social Justice. And I guess it is just the new word of the era used to put us in our place and remind us that people are afraid of power. The power of the woman with a mind and a drive to push herself forward. The power of a woman who will assert herself. The power of a woman who will be active and not passive.
Divas we are then.