Vanity Fair profiled actress Margot Robbie this week. That should be a pretty cool thing.
Robbie managed to take over Hollywood with a solid, scene-stealing performance in "The Wolf Of Wall Street" and is now fronting two summer blockbusters — a serious achievement.
Instead, though, Vanity Fair had a man write the profile. And then it all went south.
@VanityFair yo @MargotRobbie is amazing but this article is trash. Pls find a reporter who isn't creeping on her next time. — Hunter Bishop (@Hunter_Bishop) July 6, 2016
The dude who wrote it, Rich Cohen, basically spent the whole time being super creepy and sexist — and did I mention creepy?
Here's how it started:
Let's start with that first sentence:
"America is so far gone..."
Translation: Americans are all ugly now.
"...we have to go to Australia to find a girl next door."
Listen, it's no big secret that Robbie is a gorgeous woman. But that doesn't mean she doesn't have a personality. Cohen just decided to make it all about her looks.
And then he has the gall to say that this obviously gorgeous woman is "a girl next door." If that's the standard we women have to live up to, I think we're all down for the count.
Meanwhile, it plays into racial ideas of beauty.
And it isn't even relevant to Robbie's professional work.
Margot Robbie doesn't even play “girl next door” roles. Unless you live next door to supermodels, grifters, Tarzan, or comic book villains. — Keith Calder (@keithcalder) July 6, 2016
Then we get into Cohen's description of Robbie.
Which, again, is all about physical appearance. Because a beautiful woman can never be anything other than beautiful.
The way he describes her is crazy talk. This is literal creeper nonsense:
She is 26 and beautiful, not in that otherworldly, catwalk way but in a minor knock-around key, a blue mood, a slow dance. 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.
I'll let Danielle Henderson explain it best:
The article continues on this general thread.
And by "this general thread" I mean it doesn't do anything. It just gawks at her. This is a literary embodiment of the male gaze.
I mean, OK, can you read this without cringing?
Didn't think so.
Cohen writes that you can find in Robbie "a kind of lost purity, what we've given up for the excitement of a crass, freewheeling, sex-saturated culture." This takes her white, blonde image and deletes any of her personality, experiences or even her roles, like in "Wolf Of Wall Street" where she plays a definitely unpure character.
She's just something pretty to look at that you can project your own idea onto.
Immediately after saying she represents "lost purity," Cohen writes,
It's how Pan Am, a fantasy of jet-age America, where Bryn Mawr girls took to the skies in search of husbands, becomes Jordan Belfort's Wall Street, where the Duchess stands nude in a doorway, turning slowly, like a Ferrari on a showroom platform, a human being remade by the late 20th century, coked up, cashed out, and hung on the wall like a trophy.
To which, as the sister of a Bryn Mawr alum, I must call "shame."
Even the description of Robbie's role in "Suicide Squad" is voyeuristic.
It's safe to say based on the trailer alone we're all already mesmerized by Robbie's Harley Quinn. This is how Cohen described that phenomenon:
There is a danger in personifying such a beloved avatar, but pictures of Robbie in costume—pigtails dyed red and blue, dark-red lipstick, crazy smile, and wielding a baseball bat, like one of the gangsters in The Warriors—have stirred happy anticipation in the community.
This is such a simple but indicative slip. Rather than talk about the fact that her portrayal of Harley Quinn is such expert, mesmerizing work that we're already excited by it, Cohen talked about "pictures" of her. How she looks. Not how she acts, moves and is a living being rather than an object to look at.
In addition to being generally blegh-worthy, the profile was seemingly written to be parodied.
It was bizarre and all over the place, with the main thesis being "Idk I can't think straight she's too hot."
Cohen quotes from an interview with Jerry Weintraub, a now deceased producer of Robbie's upcoming film "Tarzan."
'When I think of Margot Robbie, a single word comes to mind,' Jerry said. 'Audrey Hepburn.'
Cohen then feels the need to explain that:
In comparing Robbie to the classic movie stars, Jerry Weintraub meant that she is big-time, bankable, elegant.
Thank goodness we got that expert explanation, otherwise we never would have known what Weintraub meant.
And then he went on a tangent about Weintraub.
dude legit stops to talk about how great another man is while he's writing a profile of this woman pic.twitter.com/ROAOrx5uNm — CORIANDER (@priya_ebooks) July 6, 2016
Work like this shows that we've still got a long, long way to face sexism.
This piece comes the same week that Variety published a sexist, ageist, shaming article, again by a man, about Renée Zellweger. To which the Huffington Post said,
Dudes, Nobody Needs Your Opinion On Renée Zellweger's Face
Articles like this show that sexism, ageism and the male gaze are alive and well.
They also show that a lack of diverse staff leads to gross opinions getting published. Had a woman written the Robbie profile, for instance, it may have actually been about Robbie and not about how Robbie looks.
So we all reached the same conclusion:
Stop letting men write profiles 2k16 — Brandy Jensen (@BrandyLJensen) July 6, 2016
Citations: Vanity Fair