What it comes down to is journalistic integrity, I believe. There’s something seriously wrong when you use a film review to do nothing but push a personal agenda, taking advantage of your voice as a film critic. Do I think obesity is a problem in America? Yes, we’re the Super Size me culture, the facts are there. Is that something I want to hear about when I’m looking for an insightful review of Identity Thief? No way. How is the reviewer calling Melissa McCarthy a hippo going to help me decide if I want to see her film? I know who Melissa McCarthy is, I’m very aware of what she looks like, and I think she’s a wonderful actress. If Rex Reed wanted to do an obesity piece on his own personal blog or somewhere that had nothing to do with Identity Thief, then fine. It’s his opinion, but people would know exactly what they’re reading and they’d be searching for that specific article to hear Mr. Reed’s thoughts on obesity. Instead, Mr. Reed exploited his status to dole hateful judgements that make critics as a whole sound like resentful, mean-spirited hate-mongers who live for nothing but to bash celebrities in a fit of jealous rage. Honestly, such comments are cheap, easy, and insulting to the reader, as well.
We also can’t ignore the fact that Melissa McCarthy doesn’t deserve the comments Rex Reed made about her. He makes her sound like some blubberous clown who can only make people laugh by falling down and not being able to get back up, or maybe shoveling fists full of cake into her face like a glutton. Funny, because I’m usually laughing at her hilarious command of raunchy comedy, brilliant understanding of comedic timing, ability to make people around her even funnier, and perky charm that has been abundant since her days on Gilmore Girls. Look at The Heat, even. Yes, there are scenes where she’s chasing a criminal (Spoken Reasons) on foot, and they are completely hilarious – but not because we’re laughing at the fat women running. They’re hilarious because Melissa can squeeze a laugh out of any situation, never breaks character, and her reactions are fantastic. Again, the notion that she’s nothing but a gimmick comedian who makes fat jokes 24/7 couldn’t be any farther off base, and I’m not even positive what evidence Rex Reed possesses that would cause him to say such a thing.
Here’s my other thing. Rex Reed refuses to apologize because he believes it’s his right to be so outspoken about obesity, and that’s fine. Really. If there’s someone out there telling people to be fat and promoting unhealthiness, then by all means, let’s launch a campaign against them. But, the last I remember, Melissa McCarthy isn’t standing on a mountain top throwing candy bars at children to create some super-race of obese minions. She’s a grown woman making her own decisions, but also a woman who breaks the Hollywood norm of what we consider “beautiful.” If anything, I honestly believe Melissa to be more courageous than anything, accepting herself for who she is, and not letting the overwhelming pressures of Hollywood keep her comedic talents from becoming so popular. Melissa is a conscious human who can make her own decisions, and her physical appearance doesn’t immediately turn her into some kind of anti-health monster. Seriously Rex Reed, out of all the “overweight” celebrities, you pick the least deserving one to act as your “Evil Overweight Celebrities Are Destroying America” effigy? Uneducated, asinine, and just all around tasteless – especially considering Honey Boo Boo’s mother is a person.
By this point you’re probably asking why I’m so adamant about defending Melissa McCarthy, because Reed made these comments a few months ago. I don’t know, I guess watching The Heat stirred up some emotions on the issue again, mainly because McCarthy’s performance had me in stitches. I also couldn’t stand to see Reed sully the name of everything I’ve been working towards. Who am I? Nothing but a passionate film lover who enjoys having his critical voice be heard, but also someone who vehemently loves what he does. Rex Reed may have ascended the ranks of film journalists over the years, becoming a staple amongst the media, but his most recent act of ill-informed cyber bullying does NOT reflect the attitudes of any other writer I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. A movie is a movie, and that’s what we’re here to comment on. Not people’s lives. Real, living people. I think Mr. Reed blurred the lines between characters on screen and the human beings bringing them to life, as he attacked Melissa McCarthy in an appalling display of grossly egotistical and sexist abuse of journalistic power.
As writers, we have the responsibility to be mindful of the content we put forward, as we strive to deliver pieces that genuinely explore films in a way that might make people think, laugh, or love. Everyone has a different style. But to come across as an entitled curmudgeon who can say whatever he wants because he writes for the New York Observer? That’s not anything I want to be a part of. Scott Weinberg recently had a beautiful rant about the same topic, and I truly agree with one of his hardest-hitting lines. Referring to Rex, he simply stated: “You’re no colleague of mine.”
I would end my own rant extending words of encouragement to Melissa about the whole ordeal, but I don’t have to because she’s taking it like the class act she is. No bickering, no petty insults, no hiding in sadness – just a happy woman going about living her life and owning every minute of it. You f#cking rock Melissa, don’t change a thing. Ever.