Posted by: ryandensley17 | January 21, 2016

A Heavy Burden

I am a fan of comedy, especially when it is really funny. There are the classics (ie. Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Chris Rock) and then there are the writers-gone-jokesters (ie. Anyone born out of SNL) and all the other people out there willing to crack a joke and make people laugh (http://www.4music.com/news/news/10-women-who-are-ruling-comedy-right-now). Now, when you are a member of Hollywood, you have a lot of power over the consumers and viewers of your TV show or movie. Melissa McCarthy, who jump started her career in early 2010 as a part of the TV show, Mike and Molly, and leaped to stardom with a series of movies, including Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, The Heat, and Tammy. If McCarthy was walking down the sidewalk in early 2010, no one would expect her to be a blooming star on the Hollywood scene. McCarthy is not your stereotypical super-thin actress and she is not shameful of it…
1383405965_melissa-mccarthy-leno-elle-cover_3

Following the release of her movie, Tammy, the actress was bombarded with reviews attacking her appearance and offering unwanted commentary on her marriage (her husband directed the film). In September 2014, while at the Toronto Film Festival, a critic who had written a particularly vicious review of Tammy approached McCarthy, she asked him “Are you the one who wrote I was only a good actor when I looked more attractive and that my husband should never be allowed to direct me because he allowed me to look so homely?” He admitted he was. She continued by asking “Would you say that to any guy? When John C. Reilly—or any actor—is playing a character that is depressed and dejected, would you say, ‘Well, you look terrible!’?” She then asked the critic if he had a daughter, which he did and she told him to “Watch what you say to her.” If you watch her movies, especially the last couple, McCarthy’s characters are on the larger side, but each of those characters is an important part of the complete film. These attacks and negative reviews have led her to step up and speak out.

Melissa McCarthy has become a spokesperson for women everywhere, but she took it a step further and has become a spokesperson for fat people everywhere. In August 2015, McCarthy released her own clothing line, which includes 80 pieces in sizes 4 through 28 (http://www.today.com/popculture/melissa-mccarthy-slams-body-shaming-more-magazine-t22996) Have you ever realized that plus-sizes for women are in a different section, hidden from view of everything else? McCarthy points out that she is never able to go clothes shopping with her friends because she is required to go to a different part of the store. She claims her motivation is her two daughters, who she hopes she can inspire in the future to reach for the stars. Reading up on everything that she has done and said has caused me to question the readings from last class. Has the glass ceiling vanished completely? Are plus-sized women placed under further constraints and obstacles to keep them from their full potential? Don’t worry ladies, McCarthy hopes that she can break it. A woman’s image is her own and it does not deserve to be judged or criticized by anyone else.

Melissa McCarthy does not play the most glamourous roles and her character may not be skipping away in high heels, but she does have the chance to do some of the funniest stuff ever!

~Ryan

P.S. Melissa has actually lost a lot of weight over the last year. Check out the pictures here from over the last year: http://moviepilot.com/posts/3730065

 

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Responses

  1. One of the biggest problems women face when trying to be comfortable in their own bodies is the message the media sends to girls and women about what “looks good.” The expectation is that women are stick thin with not an ounce of fat on their bodies. This perception of how women “should be” is completely unrealistic. What women like Melissa are doing is helping to promote the idea that the standards society sets are not achievable for pretty much any woman. Many celebrities right now are speaking out against the media and telling all females, young girls especially, that no matter what body type they have, they are beautiful. Women like Melissa and Jennifer Lawrence, who often openly speaks about how she is regarded as a “fat” actress, are leaders in changing how society views women and how the media portrays them.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Ryan! I feel as though a lot of people in Hollywood don’t take advantage of the positive impact they can have on society and Melissa is changing that. She is using her image as a way to promote positive change. I think it’s also great that her and her husband creatively blend their careers and personal lives. The way that she is leading her family and her career in the midst of very judgmental times is inspiring.

  3. I love the idea of McCarthy being a role model for women and men of all ages and sizes. She’s leading not only by how she speaks out against the body image issue but also in the actions of the roles she takes and creates. This post reminds me of how someone commented in class that Shonda Rhymes tries not to incorporate women and people of color into her shows just for the sake of it but with the goal of a more realistic image in mind.

  4. Great post Ryan!! So glad you shared this. Personally, I love Melissa McCarthy and think she is a wonderful actress. McCarthy and, as bethanygeiger pointed out, directors like Shonda Rhymes are standing up to the ridiculous images and goals our society holds as “beautiful”. While I think it is extremely commendable the things these women are doing in an effort to portray the world more realistically, I also see another aspect of it. The way we learn about what is beautiful comes largely from our socialization via media and culture, but it also comes from the values and beliefs instilled by our parents and family. My point is essentially that you don’t have to be a famous person to stand up for what you believe in. We as educated citizens should feel confident about who we are as individuals and not feel pressured to succumb to the social norms around us. The conversations we have everyday affect us as well as the other participants in the conversations. Thus, in our daily interactions, it is important to be mindful of what we are saying and doing and how that may shape, challenge, or break social norms.

  5. I think the ways you mention for McCarthy’s leadership are especially important because of the resulting messages. As a key player in the battle against stereotypes and limitations for “plus size” women (along with Rebel Wilson who also has a similar stance and started her own plus clothing line),McCarthy uses empowerment as means of pushing women to leadership and roles typically categorized for men in comedy. She also embraces the differences between people and works to level the playing field. As you state, “a woman’s image is her own” and McCarthy aims to make it a positive one with more options for all and not just one group.

  6. I’m so glad you posted this Ryan! McCarthy has always been a favorite of mine, even back on her not so popular days on Gilmore Girls. I agree with some of the others who have commented about how the media portrays the standards of beauty. Social media plays a large part in creating an unrealistic view of beauty through photoshop. I think it’s great that McCarthy is using her influence as a tool for promoting self-worth. More celebrities should be doing the same instead of trying to compete with each other.

  7. One of the most promising trends I am seeing recently is the emphasis on diversity in entertainment. Del Close, a famous director and comedian who was based in Chicago, and founded the Improv Olympic and Second City Theatre, once said that there was nothing worse than a scene between two women.

    One of his students was Tina Fey, whose most successful scene was with Amy Poehler, when they impersonated Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton.

    The comedy world has changed a lot since the seventies and eighties, and hopefully comedians like McCarthy will continue to push boundaries.


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