06 September 2007

On Scantily Clad Celebs

Maggie Gyllenhaal © Alice Hawkins

The Guardian today ran this column by Kira Cochrane about the travails stardom imposes on talented women. The column, entitled "Too Much to Bare" specifically laments the fact that otherwise intelligent and talented women seem compelled to expose themselves in order to have any chance of market success. Among the women Cochrane discusses is the truly terrific actresss Maggie Gyllenhaal who has recently appeared in this spread (pun intended) of photographs in The Daily Mail clad only in various underthings. Here is Cochrane:

“I think what I find so incredibly discomfiting about these
pictures is their suggestion that, no matter how talented a
woman is, how many plaudits she has received, how
intelligent her reputation, ... at the end of the day, if she
wants to stay in the public eye, if she wants the
magazine covers and the leading roles, she has to be
willing to reduce herself to tits and arse.”


It is hard to disagree. Cochrane raises all sorts of questions about celebrity and prudishness and responsibility and compulsion that I think are important and worth discussing. The picture is not black and white. But neither is it pretty. Among the questions one might ask is whether it is only the obvious talent and intelligence of the women Cochrane discusses (and I have qualms about whether, say, Jennifer Anniston fits either category) that should make us squeamish when they are reduced "to tits and arse." Perhaps that is the price of celebrity; and if it is too high couldn't the women involved live and work just like the rest of us? I am not persuaded. But the implication of Cochrane's view seems to be that we would have less to object to if "ordinary" women (to say nothing of the various emaciated and vacant fashion models) were so reduced.

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