You might recall, among the reviews for Identity Thief, was Rex Reed’s diatribe, lambasting Melissa McCarthy for daring to appear on his screen and try to be funny while also being fleshier than his delicate eyes could tolerate. I mean, this seasoned professional has viewed countless films with countless performers traipsing across his screen, and his disdain for McCarthy clearly must mean that she is the worst thing he has ever witnessed.
Or, you know, that he’s a total dickrag. One of those.
If you don’t remember, I’ll freshen your memory tea with some of his choicer word snuggles:
“cacophonous, tractor-sized Melissa McCarthy”
“a screeching, humongous creep”
“a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success”
Be still my beating heart, is he single?
In an interview with the New York Times, McCarthy, who’d previously remained relatively quiet on the incident, spoke up:
When Ms. McCarthy was asked about the review over lunch in April, her characteristically cheerful tone evaporated. In a softer voice, she said her initial reaction to reading it had been “Really?” and then, she said, “Why would someone O.K. that?”
Without mentioning the name of its author, Ms. McCarthy said: “I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate. I just thought, that’s someone who’s in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and my kids who are mooning me and singing me songs.”
Had this occurred when she was 20, Ms. McCarthy said, “it may have crushed me.” But now, as a mother raising two young daughters in “a strange epidemic of body image and body dysmorphia,” she said articles like that “just add to all those younger girls, that are not in a place in their life where they can say, ‘That doesn’t reflect on me.’ “
“That makes it more true,” she said. “It means you don’t actually look good enough.”
There is an argument to be made that McCarthy has made a career of being “the fat funny one.” And that argument is stupid (but common among the rare Reed defenders and McCarthy dissenters, who are also stupid). Focusing on the appearance of a performer, disregarding all other elements of performance, skill set or techniques, gimmick or otherwise, is an unfair, lazy method of critiquing a person. And to do it because someone is heavier than the waifs one is more accustomed to on the cinema screen is just hateful, dismissive and dangerous to the self-esteems of moviegoers the world over. McCarthy is right. Young girls, girls painfully aware of the appearances of their peers and tragically delusional regarding their own physical forms (ask any group of ten tween and teen girls weighing 90 to 120 pounds and at least eight of them will tell you they want to lose weight), cannot afford to see a woman, successful and talented, criticized, not for skill but for appearance. It has and can and will have dangerous consequences to their already fragile egos. It’s sick.
This came up in last week’s Lindy West post, but, for the love of assholery, can we bust out a dictionary and come up with a new brainless, go-to means of writing people off other than “she’s fat”? Jesus.
So, because Identity Thief feels like a long time ago (I had to look at the article twice to recall its title), I’ll just reiterate: Fuck you, Rex Reed.