It's the pictures that got small

Is Hollywood not letting actresses age gracefully? Or are fading ingenues to blame for their own declining careers? TTers debate it this week.


Salon Staff
March 10, 2006 6:00PM (UTC)

Movies

TBizarre Hatred of Random Celebrities, Part the Fifth

Dr. Zachary Smith - 09:33 a.m. Pacific Time - March 3, 2006 - #3219 of 3501

[ Meg Ryan is] trying to give her career mouth-to-mouth. I have great sympathy for these types -- her, Goldie, others -- who suddenly realize, around the end of their 30s, that everything they had depended on for so long is disappearing -- face, figure, cuteness, sex appeal, etc. -- and that nobody is going to make movies using them anymore.

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I've seen some people suggest that these fading stars should use their own money to fund their own movies. It is to laugh. They just don't have that much money -- and even if they managed to scrape the funding together, they can't secure a distributor. They'll be told, with some truth to it, "Who wants to see a movie about some old broad?" They're well and truly screwed.

Some of you have pointed to aging actresses who have managed to continue with their careers -- in particular, Susan Sarandon is held up as a model. But S.S. can act, folks, and while she wasn't above using sex appeal -- you use everything you can in a role, everything you've got -- she could actually act beyond "cute." Ryan, Hawn, et al., didn't have much going for them to begin with except for "cute."

Now don't get me wrong -- somebody like Ryan has made some truly awful choices in trying to reanimate her career. Trying to look like a young mom -- using adoptees for publicity, and plastic surgery gone horribly, horribly wrong -- none of these things make me want to stick up for her or those like her. On the other hand, their existence daily becomes more and more like Nora Desmond's. Not a pretty picture, and I often pity, rather than hate, these folks. "Sucks to be them," as my unfeeling children are wont to say.

E Fulton - 10:36 a.m. Pacific Time - March 3, 2006 - #3221 of 3501

Meg F. Ryan has a production company deal with a studio and has used that production company to make movies starring herself in roles designed to break herself out of the "cute" mold ("Into the Cut" being her attempt at "sexy chick" and that one where she's the boxing promoter being her attempt at "tough cookie"). What's disappointing is that she's taken those steps with no one -- especially herself -- being aware that she just doesn't work in those roles. What I don't understand is why she didn't instead take those opportunities to develop her vanity-press-style position and make movies developing new talent, giving her a new possible career as a producer.

Obviously, I have issues with Hollywood for denying women careers once they age out of their cuteness, but if MFR possessed self-preservation and self-awareness, she would see that her choices are either to make some behind-the-camera power plays or to look desperate and claw at her fading cute career. Maybe she made the latter choice with eyes wide open, but at least we can all see that it's been a wrong one for her.

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Norma Desmond - 11:28 a.m. Pacific Time - March 3, 2006 - #3224 of 3501

On the other hand, their existence daily becomes more and more like Nora Desmond's. Not a pretty picture...

I beg your pardon. If you are going to make me an object of scorn and derision, at least have the decency to spell my name right.

Actually, I agree with a good deal of what you said. However, one reason behind my choice of nom de plume is that I actually adore Norma and think that in a better world, it would have been she who was the bestower of close-ups, that is, she would have moved on to become a de Mille herself. And of course, she could and would have eaten either Hawn or Ryan for breakfast.

One of the great follies of our culture is that precisely at the age at which women really come into their own, i.e., their 40s and 50s, they are relegated to the sidelines. Maybe it's because that's the age at which they stop putting up with any crap from anyone, if they ever did. Except, of course, for sorry specimens like Ryan, Hawn, and Sarah Jessica "I Enjoy Being a 40-year-old Girl" Parker, who would sell their birthright for a mess of collagen. By their actions, they tacitly approve the judgment that women past the age of nubility are irrelevant, and only hope to escape by "passing," like aged Aunt Jemimas. Gah.

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Posts of the week is an ongoing feature of Table Talk, Salon's vibrant community forum. Older posts of the week may be found here in TT. Want to join the discussion? Sign up here.


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