The New York Observer‘s Rex Reed is a famous film critic who’s been involved in the industry for decades. And in his review of the new film Identity Thief, he proved that years of experience have granted him the supreme talent of fat-shaming. He creatively called Melissa McCarthy, the talented actress and comedian who’s been recognized for her brilliant work on film and television, “tractor-sized,” a “hippo,” and “a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success,” simultaneously wondering how her “charming, talented, attractive and versatile” co-star, Jason Bateman, got “stuck in so much dreck”–encouraging young writers to remember that if they just put in enough time at their craft, they too could be allowed to publicly bully successful adults with ad hominem attacks.
Reed has already proven an aptitude for doling out offensive platitudes about entire demographics and racially charged assaults on entire nationalities, and he hasn’t been all that kind to women, either. But his treatment of Melissa McCarthy just smacks of the kind of cruel size discrimination that gets us riled up. Maybe that was his point, but judging by the dismissive way he referenced her weight throughout his review–without once addressing why or how her weight played into his enjoyment of the film (or rather, lack thereof), he
McCarthy’s weight doesn’t have to be off-limits: Laura Beck of Jezebel hasn’t even seen the film (and she hasn’t been reviewing films since the 70′s either), but her thoughtful and informative assessment of Identity Thief justifies discussing McCarthy’s body in mature, intelligent terms. ”I don’t know how down I am with a movie that, by all accounts, includes some hardcore jokes about McCarthy’s weight,” she says.
She’s closer to an average-sized American woman than most people in popular media, and that’s a very good thing. Seeing different body shapes makes us more comfortable with seeing different body sizes. However, since we’re so accustomed to seeing size 2s everywhere, we don’t even know what to do when we see someone bigger on screen. (HINT: we refer to them as Bilbo Baggins.)
She must be a savant. Or, just someone who’s mature and intelligent enough to evaluate films based on a more thoughtful set of criteria than how much its female stars weigh.
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