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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WOMEN BJD Rene Zellweger - Just a pretty face?

There has been quite a commotion over Rene Zellweger's re-appearance in the media spotlight this past week, specifically surrounding her radically altered facial appearance. This is an actress, lets not forget, who piled on extra pounds to play a 'chubby' Bridget Jones (actually still well below the average size/figure of a British, never mind American, woman of her height, a quite invidious representation).

Steve Rose posts an interesting article which argues (quite briefly!) that, irrespective of gender, an actor's trade is centred on their face; it's their brand he effectively argues, with the close-up a key tool of cinema.

On the other hand ...

“Where did Renee Zellweger’s face go?”

To ask a question like that, as so many did on Tuesday is to cut in all directions, commodifying a woman’s body even as you seemingly seek to champion it. 
...
the same public that apparently believes Zellweger did something untoward to her greatest asset (which is, apparently, not her acting chops) is also busy gasping even more loudly should any woman dare to let a wrinkle, a glimmer of cellulite or a bravely untoned abdominal muscle besmirch her appearance.
The second point there is one we consider when looking at the topic of media regulation: the brazen hypocrisy of much of our media, censoriously condemning performers like Xtina Aguilera for sexualised acts whilst gleefully illustrating such moral tales with pictures of the purportedly over-explicit costume/pose.

Zellweger herself has responded by claiming that her radically changed new look is down to a healthier lifestyle:
The Oscar-winning actor Renee Zellweger has brushed aside media reports that she has undergone plastic surgery, suggesting that the claims are “silly” and a “nefarious truth which doesn’t exist.” Instead, the Bridget Jones star attributes her new look to a “happy, healthy” lifestyle.
“I’m glad folks think I look different,” Zellweger told People magazine. “I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows.” She added: “My friends say I look peaceful. I am healthy.”
Zellweger sparked a flurry of media speculation with her appearance at Elle magazine’s Women in Hollywood awards earlier this week. “This is not Botox or even surgery,” joked the writer Viv Groskop on Twitter. “It’s a MISSING PERSON ENQUIRY.” 
Is this a gendered issue - or is Rose right to point to the varying fortunes of Mickey Rourke for instance as evidence that this crosses the gender divide? Does it matter? Should we be discussing an actor's appearance, when, after all, they are employed within the "dream factory" that is Hollywood?! With Photoshopping and CGI touch-ups so common-place, should we not, as Baudrillard might, question the basis of the 'reality' we are making some supposed comparison to?

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