North Texas Daily

Critic’s comments have no weight

Critic’s comments have no weight

February 11
22:47 2013

In his New York Observer review of the movie “Identity Thief,” critic Rex Reed went pretty far out of his way to comment on star Melissa McCarthy’s weight. And he wasn’t saying she’d trimmed down since “Bridesmaids.”

Twitter has exploded with backlash, both from Hollywood stars and other film critics, condemning Reed’s review. And that’s good. That’s what he deserves.

You can’t judge an actress’s performance based on her weight, can you?

No, you can’t. You cannot fairly judge the quality of a work of film based on the actor or actress’ weight. It’s lazy, arrogant, and doesn’t do justice to anyone involved in the production.

Are we all clear on that? Let’s move past the mudslinging for a second and look at the big picture.

McCarthy has carved a definite niche for herself as an actress, and her weight is something she’s used time and time again to set herself apart.

She won an Emmy as Molly in “Mike & Molly,” a sitcom about a couple that has a goal of weight loss in common. She used her lack of traditional sex appeal to steal the show in “Bridesmaids.”

She uses her body to good effect again in “Identity Thief,” developing her character as a figure of gluttony and insecurity in spite of a weak script.

It’s a part of her public image, and like it or not, it is fair to observe her weight when it’s part of her character. Reed does this completely inappropriately, but that’s beside the point.

Think about it, what happens to McCarthy now? Does she use this review or other inspiration to change herself and lose weight?

If she does, she’ll be dogged by desperate entertainment reporters every step of the way, and on and on for the rest of her life.

If she ever has a cheeseburger again, the paparazzi will know. If she doesn’t, she’ll contract heart disease and die, because that’s what happens when you’re morbidly obese.

Somewhere lost in the name-calling and rebuking is the fact that there’s a woman here with an obvious, serious health condition that everyone in the entertainment industry is commenting on one way or the other. Doctors aren’t allowed to discuss their patients’ health issues, and Hollywood is about to show us why — this actress could be at serious risk for health problems.

Reed has to have written his last review. He’s been out of touch for a long time, and now that he’s angered the Internet, he’ll go soon enough.

But I feel terrible for McCarthy. Not just because she’s been bullied, but because her body condition will continue to be a public point of interest for the rest of her career. And the worst part is, she made this bed herself, turning a social stigma on its head to become one of the most recognizable actresses around.

The problem is, this social stigma was in place for a reason.

Joshua Knopp is a pre-journalism sophomore. He can be reached at hillbutton@gmail.com.

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