Thursday, July 10, 2008

On Slapping the Mouth that Bites the Hand

As I always seem to do these days, I'm gonna jump off of a post made on Jason's blog, this one about that terrifically awful, Joss Whedon-scripted, line in X-Men. You know the one, about what happens to toads when they get electrocuted.

Anyway, that led to a link to an old A.V. Club interview with Joss that I know I read back in the day, wherein he waxes bitchtastic about old scriptwriting wounds, on everything from the original Buffy movie to his doctoring jobs on Waterworld and X-Men. Now, hard as it may be to believe given how many times I've knocked him on this blog, I really love Joss and (the lion's share of) his output. I don't even mind him doing an interview and bitching about Donald Sutherland and Halle Berry and Kevin Costner and what hash was made of his precious Waterworld script or whatever. Honestly. I love reading about it, so it'd be damn hypocritical of me to wag a finger at it.

My question is this: why did/does Joss get such a pass for his (consistent) bitching about behind-the-scenes ineptitude, and yet Katherine Heigl is currently getting such shit for it?

I'm honestly curious to know. Is it because Joss's work is more highly regarded? That would make some sense to me -- I'm a believer in double-standards for people who've earned them. But is that the reason for the disparate reactions? Is it really sexism, where we STILL in 2008 can't stomach a mouthy broad? Or is it that Buffy's fans were loyal geeks while Grey's viewers are bitter cat ladies who conflate soap actors with their characters and hate pretty blonde girls?

I'm curious, is all!


Rinaldo said...

For me, it's about the difference between bitching about something in retrospect, after it's over and it has succeeded or failed and nobody is associated with it any longer, and dissing your coworkers on a current project (in particular, the writers) with whom you will be going back to work.

dreamylyfe said...

Oh, so many things to consider here!

But I have laundry to do, so I'll make it quick and scattershot.

First of all, I think the big one is that, in the world wide web, Joss is seen as a Xander and Katherine is a Cordelia. With Cordelia's penchant for 'saying true stuff'. On a TV show, we might find the Cordelia more entertaining (maybe -- maybe not) -- but when it comes to fake outrage at celebrities, the got-it-all gorgeous actress has way less room to act like a human being.

Secondly, I think there's something to their places on the hollywood food chain. You expect the writers to be bitter. William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade sets a tone that Joss's comments totally align with. It's that whole "I wrote this great thing and then ego and politics and gross stupidity RUINED it!". They're usually smart enough to be self-depreciating about the whole thing to take the edge off -- but it does beg for sympathy towards them rather than their oppressors.

Actresses don't have that mythology attached to them. They're part of the ego, politics and stupidity branch of artistic enterprise. So another whack at KH.

To get more personal -- and I know more about JW than I do about KH -- Joss has a history of being occasionally tempered in his remarks. When he killed Doyle, it was pretty obvious that something was going on backstage, given that the series was 8 episodes old (and he is totally the guy who kills the sidekick in episode 8 of season 2, not season1) -- but he was not quick to say there were problems with the actor. He's also mostly held his tongue on the Charisma issue, I think (If I'm wrong, please tell me. No, really -- spill!). KH doesn't have a history of being asked the question and demurring, I don't think.

But really, at the end of the day, I think that KH gets the kind of flack she does because she's got everything going for her. She's breathtakingly gorgeous. She's got the best off-Grey's career going. And yeah, I don't think people want to hear her opinions. It drives me nuts, the whole Shut Up And Sing mentality you see all over the 'net, the idea that the fabulous should not voice their opinions on anything (while simultaneously being disgusted by the Paris Hiltons of the world, for not having a meaningful thought in their head). There is totally a pressure for the gorgeous and successful to maintain a certain tabula rasa aspect that people can project on, and when that is threatened by something like an strong opinion, or -- worse -- snippiness, then all bets are off.

Really, at the end of the day, I think people just find it way more fun to tear apart KH than they would find tearing apart JW.

adam k. said...

Both the above commenters seem to have it pretty figured out. The one other difference I see is that JW is bashing specific people and their behavior, whereas KH is bashing the quality of her show as a whole, which is more abstract and less personal. But that totally doesn't make sense as a reason for her NOT to get flack. You'd think people would be more upset if you attacked them personally.

Joe Reid said...

Ah, but if you're a fan of the show KH is slamming, then you'd be more pissed at her.

Of course, the lion's share of the hatred she's getting is from people who can't stand Grey's Anatomy anyway. People who would, you'd think, be inclined to agree with the substance of what she said.

Rebecca said...

I think dreamylyfe has it with his/her second point. We expect writers to talk about stuff like this, especially a few years after the fact, and it's no skin off a producer's nose that some writer didn't like having their words changed.

Actors, on the other hand, generally don't criticize writers/directors publicly, unless it's maybe several years later and the project in question was a disaster. Even then I think most people are more circumspect.

I think the Heigl thing blew up because it was unusual for (a) an actor to bitch about writers and (b) for anyone to bitch about a project s/he is currently working on. She didn't call out names, but it was a pretty clear "fuck you" to the whole writing team. I expect there were a lot of people truly hurt by what she said. I could be wrong, but I doubt that's true in Whedon's case.

Is the backlash as bad as it is because we like seeing the gorgeous girl get hers? Probably, but I still think she deserves it.

BeRightBack said...

One difference is that I think people see Heigl, rightly or wrongly, being as much of a beneficiary of bad writing/a bad show as she is a victim of it. So it seems hypocritical to turn around and criticize it (I don't share this view, I'm just saying that it may exist). Joss continuously poses as a noble artist victimized by the machine and only able to wrest partial victories from the sea of ineptitude that surrounds him, so he is constantly heroic, his successes attributed to his own abilities, his failures attributed to the inabilities of others.

Linda said...

What I find ironic is the notion that the writers would be all pissed off because she had the nerve to challenge the quality of the writers, when many, many, MANY writers were, during the strike, very willing to play the "we are the whole thing, writing is the alpha and the omega, you are nothing without us" card, which I frankly thought was bullshit and insulting to actors. Yes, yes, without writers, actors don't talk, but without actors, writing for television isn't on television. I saw a TON of disrespect for actors (and everyone else) in a lot of the rhetoric that surrounded the strike, so for the writers to be all boo-hoo because Katherine Heigl suggests that perhaps they're not writing great material for her -- when everyone I know who watches that show agrees that they're not -- strikes me as a little bit hard to take seriously.

Frankly, I think a lot of this comes down to the fact that there's a shitload of bad blood between people of different creative persuasions who all feel put-upon and all feel unappreciated, and they're taking it out on each other. Everybody's tense, the rich are getting richer at the expense of everyone else, just like everywhere else in the economy, and it leads to a lot of in-fighting and status insecurity.

I also think the fact that the people running Defamer are obsessed to the point of near-mental-illness with bitching about Katherine Heigl has contributed to her status as a punching bag.

I dig her. She's feisty.

Admiral Neck said...

Partially Whedon gets a break just because his fans love him and feel he has not been given the free reign to do what he likes, after seeing some of his projects altered or compromised or cancelled, but it might also be that anyone who has any creative urge within them would empathise with someone who has had their work changed or mishandled.

It's the way collaborative art works, and I can understand that, but the thought of something I had created being turned into a mess that didn't look or sound like the thing I had imagined generates an emotive response above and beyond my understanding of the reality of filmmaking.

It might also have to do with the increasingly common perception (in some corners of the internet) that Heigl is utterly unable to stop herself from saying things that celebrities never usually say in interviews. Her Emmy (was it an Emmy?) acceptance speech where she slipped in a dig at her mother, various interviews (either red-carpet or chat show) where she makes comments about her husband not supporting her, etc.

It could just be a salty sense of humour coming off wrong, but those kinds of comment, combined with her outspokenness about the projects she works on, might have altered people's perception of her complaints from, "Well, good on her for speaking out about crappy writing," to, "Jesus, does anything make this woman happy?"

Mostly I think it's because Whedonites really connect with his work and the thought of him as the relatively powerless guy who gets beat down by The Man all the time. Whether he is responsible for the failures of some things or not (and while I consider myself a fan I think even the pure version of Alien Resurrection would have been a failure) is neither here nor there. The perception is that he is the plucky fighter who battles against corporate interference. Heigl, rightly or wrongly, is often seen as someone in a position of greater power and fortune busily throwing rattles out of her pram for no other reason than that's how she rolls, and in doing so is ungratefully insulting the people who have helped her get where she is.

Anonymous said...

For me, what it comes down to is this: the crappiness that Heigl is bitching about didn't just magically appear. It was always there. Just like with Knocked Up. I doubt the issues she had with the script showed up *after* they'd started filming. She knew what the film was about when she signed up for it, accepted the millions and used it to get other film roles.

And then when she made that idiotic announcement about not seeking a nomination? Like, please, you know? The quality of writing hadn't changed that much. Every other year she sought a nomination she was playing a weak role on a soap opera- but this is the year it bothers her?

Anyway, about the toad line from X-Men: I always hated the delivery. The line seemed like something Buffy would say. You know, evil toad creature is terrorizing the citizens of Sunnydale, and after hunting it down, Buffy gets into a fierce battle with it. After getting her ass kicked for for 20 tense seconds, Willow appears on the scene ready to fire up her witchy ways. Buffy tosses her hair and addresses Evil Toad:

"You know what happens to a toad when it's struck by lightening?"

Willow fries the fucker. Buffy shrugs.

"The same thing that happens to everything else."

It really reminds me of the scene in that episode when Buffy, as a runaway named Anne, is sent to hell. And she beats this guy with a sledgehammer after asking him if he wanted to see her impression of Gandhi. And a random girl was all "Gandhi?" And Buffy said "Well, he was really pissed off." Er, that's my take anyway.

Joe Reid said...

"Partially Whedon gets a break just because his fans love him and feel he has not been given the free reign to do what he likes, after seeing some of his projects altered or compromised or cancelled, but it might also be that anyone who has any creative urge within them would empathise with someone who has had their work changed or mishandled."

Yeah, but isn't Heigl -- a creative person in her own right -- subjected to the same kind of stifling and mishandling, just from a different position on the food chain?

Linda said...

I've always found the perception of Joss Whedon as beaten down by the system when he started his second long-running, much-loved series before he was 35 to be kind of hilarious. I don't hold it against anybody, but...for God's sake, very few people have EVER had as much creative and popular success on television as quickly as Joss Whedon. Would that every creative person could be so beaten down. Like, talk to somebody who couldn't get his good projects made for years, and I'll feel sympathy for that guy.

And: Joe, as you point out, I'm sure that being Katherine Heigl hasn't been without its moments when she feels pretty pushed around as well. It's not like being in Hollywood as a pretty young actress is a recipe for everyone giving you total creative freedom.

Admiral Neck said...

"Yeah, but isn't Heigl -- a creative person in her own right -- subjected to the same kind of stifling and mishandling, just from a different position on the food chain?"

Of course, but to the outsider who harbours dreams of writing for TV or film, the thought of some perfect glowing jewel of a script being dissed by some evil man whose only daily creative decision is what overpriced shirt to wear is too much to bear. While Heigl is an artist too, she interprets someone else's words, and without something to work with, she would be standing around onscreen doing nothing (though isn't she writing something for Judd Apatow? Or am I getting my wires crossed?).

To some, her insistence on criticising the writers and producers she has worked with and who provide her with material smacks of ingratitude. I'm not saying that criticism is justified, of course, and I don't mean to label actors as mere mouthpieces, but there could well be more frustrated writers than frustrated actors watching Mutant Enemy shows and GA, and they would likely side more readily with the wronged writer over any interpreter of that writing.

I don't watch GA, so I'm just speculating on what the reason might be, but even as an outsider looking in on the controversy, I was surprised she had said it. It just seemed impolitic to be cursing out the people she is working with, and as she is not a fool it fed into the speculation about her trying to get out of her contract. Add to that the fact that "ambitious" women are often looked at with suspicion, and she's dismissed by many as being "catty" and "difficult". Earlier in her career, as she put up with the usual crap any young actress had to, she might have earned sympathy for her trials, but now she's in a position of (relative) power, that same spunkiness is now handily relabelled arrogance. Such is the way of things.

"Would that every creative person could be so beaten down. Like, talk to somebody who couldn't get his good projects made for years, and I'll feel sympathy for that guy."

Good point, and yet Whedon still elicits sympathy, partially because he seems like too sensitive a person to be working in Hollywood. Again, just perception, but that's the way people will see it, ignoring the possible nepotism of entry into the industry being linked to his family working in scriptwriting for generations. Luckily he's hella-talented, which mitigates against those accusations.

"I dig her. She's feisty."

If we were to pick sides, I'd be all Team Whedon (mostly as I've not seen much of Heigl's work), but if you've seen her drive her thumb into Everett McGill's face in Under Siege 2, you'd know she's not to be trifled with. Please could no one tell her I've been talking about her behind her back. Thanks.

Admiral Neck said...

Sorry to keep coming back (you have no idea how bored I am at work), but I just realised another possible explanation. If Heigl hadn't previously taken a shot at Judd Apatow over Knocked Up, perhaps GA fans might have been more forgiving of her criticisms. As those comments about Knocked Up have been widely discussed, her subsequent views are being seen through the lens of, "Oh, that's just what she does." Whether she is right or not has become immaterial to many. She's just a serial moaner to them.

"Yes, yes, without writers, actors don't talk, but without actors, writing for television isn't on television."

Agreed, but it's a circular thing, I guess (not taking the strike comments into the equation, that is). They're in a symbiotic relationship, certainly in an ongoing show, and to outsiders, it seems like a weirdly self-destructive thing to do. Whedon bitching about Jeunet misinterpreting and rewriting his script years after the fact is more readily accepted because his career isn't jeopardised by bitching about someone he'll never work with again.

Shutting up now.

deirdre said...

Heigl, rightly or wrongly, is often seen as someone ... ungratefully insulting the people who have helped her get where she is.

This, to me, is the big thing. Heigl got famous because of GA and now because she's a movie star she thinks she can dump all over the people who got her there. (Yes, without actors writers wouldn't have their stuff on TV, but writers can, supposedly, write books or magazine articles or ad copy; actors who don't write for themselves can't act without writers.) There's also the rumour that this isn't the first time she's done this to a show she's currently involved in, and the undisputed fact that some of her public comments are impolitic.

The sum total of my Joss Whedon experience is that he appeared (I think?) on an episode of Veronica Mars and directed an episode of The Office, so I can't speak to his Hollywood experience, and I'm not going to sit here and say that none of the criticism lobbed at Heigl is because she's a woman, because I'm sure that's part of it.

But so far as we know, she's not like the women on Ally McBeal feeling like they have to starve themselves, and she's not like Janeane Garofolo dealing with the boys' club in the SNL writers' room, and she's not like Gillian Anderson, sharing equal time with David Duchovny and getting a ridiculously smaller paycheque - she's just someone who doesn't like the way her character's been written lately. To which I say: get in line, sweetheart.

Joe Reid said...

But this is what I mean, though. You don't think her chararacter's been written well. I don't think her character's been written well. She actually said so. And while I completely agree that that was a bad move for her professionally (in terms of this current job and future jobs), why are we getting PISSED at her for echoing our own thoughts? Isn't her work situation her problem?

Sorry, this kind of thing fascinates me. Oh, and on the Ally McBeal tip, Katherine may not be starving herself, but as my (blessedly infrequent) trips to the GA boards on TWoP taught me, she gets as much crap for not looking like a twig as anyone else does, if not more.

adam k. said...

I have to say, also, as an aspiring actor, I know that there's kind of a generally accepted rule that actors don't shit on current projects. They just don't. It's not accepted.

The common wisdom is that, yes, writers get their shit fucked with my producers all the time. It's the biz. Everybody knows it. Creatively, the writer has the most street cred of anyone (to make up for their having the least power relative to their contribution). So no one really cares when they bitch.

It's also common wisdom that, with all the out of work actors out there, any actor is really lucky to have a job at all. Let alone one that made them a huge star with lots of money and the luxury to choose quality future projects. You just don't say things like that about your material... it's your job to MAKE your material good, not to bitch about how it's not. Like, Leo and Kate could've bitched about the shitty Titanic script, but did they? No. They buckled down, made the best of it, and rode that boat right on into the A-list. Kate had no business refusing her oscar nod - and of course she didn't - cause it was fuckin' hard work making that script work and saving a $200 million movie from crappiness and failure. And what did she always say about why she did the film? "I loved the script, I loved the character." That's called class.

Basically, I'm ranting here now, but what I mean to say is that, while they may be true, the things Heigl says just are not acceptable in the culture of the movie business. It's the show business equivalent of a "gaffe" in politics. True or not, doesn't matter. You leave that kinda truth to other people to point out. The actor's job is to say "thank you for this work" and then make the absolute best with the material given to them, NOT to bitch about how it should be better. MAKE it better, don't bitch.

The sad part is refusing an Emmy nod was actually quite selfless of her, and pretty classy in theory, but in practice... I'm sure the way she made that statement rubbed many people the wrong way.

It would go a long way if she prefaced these things with: "While I'm extremely grateful to be working on the show and for all the opportunities it's given me, I also feel that..."

Maybe she actually did say something like that, in which case maybe the people on her case should chill the fuck out... I don't recall.

Alright, I'm done now.

adam k. said...

But I must point out also that I'm sure the "feels good to pick on the pretty girl" aspect plays a part. But I can't say I have that much sympathy for Heigl in this regard, cause you know what? I'm sure she got the part, and is famous now, at least in part because she's pretty. You gotta take the good with the bad.

Don't get me wrong, I like her, I think she's sassy and discerning, but at the same time, I see exactly where the detractors are coming from. She comes off as ungrateful, and hence, arrogant, stuck up, and hypocritical in terms of being willing to reap the rewards of things she doesn't believe in.

It's all quite fascinating, isn't it?

Lester Freamon said...

I'm not going to say that sexism has nothing to do with it at all, because it probably does. But the incident I'm most reminded of is David Caruso leaving NYPD Blue to become a movie star. It seems like her success is going to her head and she's not appreciating how lucky she is. Out of all the GA cast, her career has blown up the most so she can afford to be publicly critical in a way that Eric Dane or Sara Ramirez can't; if she gets fired or wants to quit, she can.

Another aspect of the "doesn't know how lucky she is" thing is racial. For all the talk of how diverse the show's cast is and how race-blind the casting was, it's still true that the biggest star to come out of the show was the blond white woman. For her not to appreciate that fact--that Sandra Oh or Chandra Wilson, for all their talent and success, would never be asked to star in 27 Dresses--reveals an unseemly blindness to her white privilege.

Linda said...

How does taking herself out of the running for an Emmy or agreeing with everyone else that the character is being written badly indicate that she doesn't understand white privilege? I'm not following that part at all.

I guess to me, what I'm confused by is why stating truthfully that she doesn't think she was doing Emmy-worthy material during one particular year indicates that she's ungrateful or doesn't appreciate that she's lucky to be working. The implication is that in other years, she DOES think she was doing Emmy-worthy material, and I'm sure she's extremely grateful for that.

The other thing that I'm interested in is that her comments about Knocked Up were really very measured -- she didn't do that movie and then take a big dump all over it at all. She basically said that she loved doing it, she loved the people, she loved lots of things about it, but she recognized that there was an aspect of the woman as a no-fun ball of responsibility. It's really not news that the Apatow movies are celebrations of men and men's friendships, or that he's not great at writing women's characters.

The argument that it's "just not done" doesn't really do anything for me. That doesn't make her wrong, it just makes her...her own person. "Actors just don't do that" is a good reason why it wasn't a pragmatic thing for her to do, but it's not a reason why it was wrong, and it doesn't make her ungrateful. Lots of things just aren't done -- in politics, in creative environments, wherever -- and lots of those things aren't done for reasons that aren't very healthy.

Jenn said...

I think Heigl's main problem is that she's part of an ensemble cast but she wants to be the star. Really, there's no problem with that - who doesn't want to be the star? But she seems to have a need to be the center of attention, and she doesn't seem to like it when other people are the center of attention. (Example: the way she inserted herself into the T.R. Knight/Isaiah Washington drama.)

I think she wants out of her contract, too. She's been making noise about that since the Washington stuff, and news recently surfaced that she tried to get out of her Roswell contract years ago. She's seen so much success outside of the show that I think she's trying to use its quality as an excuse to get out, when she really wants to leave to do movies. Nothing wrong with her wanting to leave, but honey, you signed a contract. You have to honor it.

I used to really like Heigl, and I still like Grey's, but her attitude has soured me towards her recently. I still think she's a good actress, but when she talks to the media, I start shuddering. It's ironic, because after the Washington stuff, she said in an interview that he needs to keep his mouth shut more often, and now she apparently has the same problem.

Joe Reid said...

Do you think she should have been less vocal during the whole Isaiah Washington thing? I sure don't.

Jon said...

After a year of recapping it, I swore off GA, and haven't watched more than 5 minutes of the most recent season. So I don't know what the quality's been like. But I do know, based on their earlier work and their crappy, crappy blog, that the GA writers are (with the exception of Deborah Cahn) just about the most self-important, pompous, navel-gazing bunch of gasbags in Hollywood. They all seem to be members of the cult of Shonda Rhimes, and they seem incapable of acknowledging that what she and they do isn't perfect. If I had to work with them (especially in light of the utterly crap quality of the third season), I'd probably be talking about it too. Because somebody has to be willing to puncture their egos.

Jenn said...

Do you think she should have been less vocal during the whole Isaiah Washington thing? I sure don't.

Not necessarily less vocal, but I think she tried to put herself in there when she shouldn't have. She was saying that if Knight left, she would leave, too, and it blew up in her face since she still had a contract. I think Knight wanted everything to just die down - I don't remember him saying much, if anything, to the media - and she kind of kept it going.

She definitely should have defended Knight, because Washington was just an idiot about the whole thing, but she criticized Washington for putting his foot in his mouth then has proceeded to do the same ten times over. I have no problem with her saying that Washington was in the wrong, but to talk about how he should be fired when she has no place to make the decision, I think she went too far. She doesn't seem to know how to conduct herself with the media without coming across looking petty and disrespectful.

Linda said...

"she criticized Washington for putting his foot in his mouth then has proceeded to do the same ten times over."

I don't think any amount of criticizing the writers of her show compares to what Washington said, which was not "putting his foot in his mouth" so much as "using a bigoted, disgusting, hateful slur."

JA said...

I think what it all comes down to is Heigl's a chain-smoker whose name sounds like the noise a person makes when hocking a loogie.

It's second place in the contest of what's most unforgivable only to being a virgin who can't drive, ya know.

Admiral Neck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Admiral Neck said...

(Bah, stupid html)

Maybe the Isaiah Washington situation is where the dismissal of Heigl started. When she defended T.R. Knight I'm sure many people thought, "Good on yer for sticking up for yer mate." In that situation she seems like someone willing to break the affable-but-empty PR line to comment on a backstage drama when often that kind of thing is handled behind closed doors with everyone grinning for the cameras and pretending nothing was happening. She's plucky! She's a loyal friend! She's an enemy of homophobia! Go Katherine Unpronounceable Last Name!

Since then, she's spoken out again and again. Maybe people are now backlashing because they think, "Oh, it wasn't just a noble thing to do. She tends to speak out a lot about stuff that pisses her off." Quick caveat insert: I'm not saying I agree with that. I'm just saying that might be the case.

"The other thing that I'm interested in is that her comments about Knocked Up were really very measured -- she didn't do that movie and then take a big dump all over it at all. She basically said that she loved doing it, she loved the people, she loved lots of things about it, but she recognized that there was an aspect of the woman as a no-fun ball of responsibility. It's really not news that the Apatow movies are celebrations of men and men's friendships, or that he's not great at writing women's characters."

The problem with her Knocked Up comments were that the Vanity Fair interview was reported everywhere as "Ungrateful Heigl calls Apatow big sexist jerk!". I didn't read the interview, and for all I know she spent 24 hours before that "sexist" comment and 24 hours after telling the interviewer she thought it was a wonderful experience, but that's not how it was reported. And yes, after that she clarified that it was a great experience and that she was upset that it had been reported the way it had, but nowadays people won't automatically take those comments at face value. It would be interpreted as damage control forced on her by panicky PR people. Hence more fuel to the "difficult" fire, just like when her GA contract renegotiations were leaked.

Compare this to Whedon. His comments about the people he has worked with crop up in the odd interview with the AV Club or whatever, and are often only found by those who seek his comments out. Heigl is in the public eye, and so every pronouncement she makes ends up in the tabloids or on t'net. "Grey's Anatomy star slams catering mishap!" "Anatomy star Heigl unhappy with service at local IHOP!" "Hater Heigl calls wet weather 'thoughtless asshole!'"

In a parallel world Whedon's every utterance is plastered all over the cover of the National Enquirer, but here it's often only fans who will chase down his interviews, and they're bound to be more forgiving. In this world, it's much easier to accidentally stumble across another story quoting Heigl criticising something (which she openly admits to doing a lot -, and so that perception is shaped thusly.

Or we're all inherently sexist. One or the other.

Deirdre said...

she gets as much crap for not looking like a twig as anyone else does, if not more.

Which makes me want to weep. She has, in fact, lost weight, or at least toned up, since the show started, and she wasn't even in the same universe as fat then... I'm at a loss.

why are we getting PISSED at her for echoing our own thoughts? Isn't her work situation her problem?

Oh, well, I guess I'm not paying enough attention to the whole thing to realize people are getting pissed at her.

But yes, her work situation is her problem, and as such, should be dealt with behind closed doors wherever possible. But she's not doing that. There was the Knight/Washington thing (where speaking out was justified), there was her pay raise issue and now there's this. She could easily have just not submitted her name for Emmy contention without giving an explanation, instead she chose to dis her employers publicly. It's bad form, plain and simple.

Like I say, I can't speak to the Whedon thing, but compare Heigl's complaints with, say, David Cross's about Fox's inability to market AD. One comment is being made by a newly-minted movie star on one of the biggest shows on TV. The other was made by a cult comic on a cult TV show that no one was watching. As other people here have pointed out, sometimes it's hard to listen to the rich, pretty ones (male and female) complain.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, she's stating what the erst of us have been thinking. NOW. Now that that crappy show has helped make her supremely famous. That was what I was trying to communicate in my last post. Her refusing the Emmy nomination was a bogus, kiss-ass move on her part because, while yes, her role is sucky this year and she has no business being nominated- her part has always been sucky and she never had any business being nominated. And if she could refuse the nomination now, couldn't she have done that when she was nominated (and won) for supporting actress? Yes. But she didn't then. It's completely false.

There are tons of actors and actresses who don't sign onto work they think is horrible, and plenty of actors who do because they can't get anything else. And 98& of those actors say things like, "Yeah, I wish I hadn't done that but it was work." And it's just this stated fact. Like when Natalie Portman stated that she wished she hadn't signed on to the Star Wars prequels without seeing a script first, but that it did pay for college and her house and provide her with financial support while doing theater and smaller films.

And I still feel bad for the Emmy announcer who mispronounced her last name (the horror!), and after she got on stage, she not only took the time to correct the poor soul, she did it again later on when she won an award- even though no one had mispronounced her name that time. Like, shit. Let it go. Happens all the time. I doubt Cate Blanchett would stand up there and put the announcer on the spot. Twice.

As for the comment re:Knocked Up:

"A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I'm playing such a bitch; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you're portraying women? Ninety-eight percent of the time it was an amazing experience, but it was hard for me to love the movie."

Honestly, I thought all the characters were badly written. The only Apatow film I like is The 40 Year Old Virgin. I just have to wonder if she brought this up with Apatow during filming, or did she save her comments for the papers? She's not wrong, that's not what I'm saying. But she chose to do the role, which she didn't have to do.

It just seems weird. You're offered a movie role to film while your popular show is on break. You understand that the role is "a little sexist". So you decide....what? She didn't voice any concerns when discussing the role during contract negotiations?

And I dislike, on principle, celebrities who sell their personal photos to the tabloids. And she sold her wedding pictures to OK!

They I did feel alsight twinge of sympathy when Kate Hudson said, after being asked about Katherine Heigl as a potential romcom rival:

“Who is she? Oh, that girl in 27 Dresses? I just don’t think about that stuff.”

Anonymous said...

She could easily have just not submitted her name for Emmy contention without giving an explanation,

She did. She simply didn't submit her name. Then some LA reporter noticed she didn't have a submission and asked her for comment. It's not like she made a big production of it in the first place.

I think it's sexism, Joe.

adam k. said...

To clarify my previous comments (way the hell up there), I didn't say I necessarily agreed with the explanations I gave, or thought Heigl deserved criticism or was a bad person, I'm just offering up what I think the reasoning is behind any public lambasting she may be getting.

But honestly, is it really that bad? Does she have some kind of rep as someone who's difficult to work with? I mean, is she losing work over it? Cause last I checked, she was still getting work, still famous, still getting paid however many million $ a year. So I doubt it's that big a deal.

Tom said...

why did/does Joss get such a pass for his (consistent) bitching about behind-the-scenes ineptitude, and yet Katherine Heigl is currently getting such shit for it?

Because, at the end of the day, the Internet is still owned by geeks. Be it 'net geeks, film geeks, vampire geeks, gaming geeks, or whatever. Joss is one of us. We don't attack our own.

Also: Joss created one of the more groundbreaking series in the last few years. Heigl scored a spot on a really good TV show and turned into a diva in record time.

Think of it this way. If Kristin Bell (who went to a comic convention dressed up as Princess Leia in the Jabba bikini) did the same kind of bitching, do you think people would be more likely to turn on her or agree with her?

Joe Reid said...

Ahhh, but they DID turn on Kristen Bell by the end there. She did an interview where she said something or other about not being in favor of the Veronica/Logan pairing and the fan community (the Logan-loving ones, at least) totally turned on her.

Of course, my perspective is skewed having to moderate message boards around that time, and that perception didn't really extend much past the Logan/Veronica shippers, but it did happen. Viciously.

And if Kristen Bell went out in the media and made the same complaints about her Forgetting Sarah Marshall character as Heigl did about hers in Knocked Up (complaints that would be justified), I do believe she'd get the same kind of flak for it.

Val said...

It kind of boils down to decency, it seems to me. If I went and publicly decried how my team was working on a project, likely without talking to them about it first, I'd be ripped all over by co-workers. If I published it in some newsletter so it could really get to all the company's workers? Downright wrong.

It's one thing when you work together, like it sounds like with Joss. It's completely different when you're working for someone or having someone working for you (whichever it is, actors working for the writers, essentially, or vice versa), as with KH.

It just seems like a person that has consideration for their workplace kind of keeps it there, you know? If she has some dialogue with the writers and they still give her crap to act, then she can complain (though I maintain a decent person still doesn't bitch to the world in as loud a way as possible). In this case though, it sounds like she took it up with the world before taking it up with the writers.

In all though, the way she comes off smacks of, "this free dinner is disgusting". And you know, there's something to consider when anyone complains their comments were taken out of context - they can't be misinterpreted if you don't say them in the first place.

deirdre said...

some LA reporter noticed she didn't have a submission and asked her for comment.

There's a really simple solution to that problem, you say "No comment." Or you say something politic about how other women on your show were more deserving last year and you don't want to compete with them. Or something. These people have armies of flaks to teach them how not to give a straight answer.

I'm sure some of it is sexism, but Ellen Pompeo had a cover interview with EW where she said both she and Dempsey had problems with what was going on with their characters, too. Last I looked (which, admittedly, was some time ago) at least as many people loathed Meredith as hated Izzie and Pompeo doesn't seem to be attracting the same amount of anger, so it can't just be that Heigl's a woman.

Anyway, there's now a rumour going around that they're going to kill Izzie off next season, which will probably make everyone happier. Hopefully for KH, her career will follow Clooney's trajectory rather than Caruso's.

Gadge said...

I like Heigl. I like that she jumped in to support TR Knight when Isaiah Washington just couldn't stop opening his mouth; she defended a friend. I agreed with her comments about both Knocked Up and Grey's Anatomy - especially the latter, as her character was *destroyed* over the start of season four.

(My personal conspiracy theory? Shonda Rhimes didn't want to fire Washington, but the continuing furore over his behaviour, in part inflamed by Heigl's continued, outspoken reaction to them, meant she had to - and she took out her frustrations by making Izzie a hateful woman. I have a lot of respect for Rhimes, but she's not unimpeachable. She's even in the same boat as Joss with the running two shows simultaneously, one a spin-off.)

But Heigl, though right on the merits, is completely slagged off in what I do regard as including both sexism and the belief in the ultimate unimportance of actors. Most of the comments hating her have gone on about how she should be *grateful*, that there's thousands upon thousands of actresses who would kill to be in her position, and how dare she say something of this kind. Writers are the auteurs, actors are the cattle, and she should know her place.

It mightn't have been politic, but she's shown herself to be outspoken in the past, so assigning it to her thinking she's a bigshot movie star trying to get out of her contract comes from the same place of the 'I heard she's done this before/her head's too big/who does she think she is, anyway?' It doesn't help that a huge swath of the reactions come from people who use the opportunity to slam her show, her movies, and indeed the whole 'chick-flick'-aspect to her career; she can't be allowed to take her work seriously if they think it is worthless artistically.
The outrage comes because she's seen as uppity, as both a woman and an actor, and so the assumption is made she's trying to manipulate the situation to get out of her contract. I'm certain this would be interpreted much less harshly if one of the actors said it; as mentioned before, Patrick Dempsey has expressed reservations about some of the direction of his character, and there's been no backlash there.

... It doesn't help that few people remember any of these quotes in full or in context, rather getting outraged over what she is perceived to have said.

This has pissed me off for awhile, and yet not a one of my friends care, so at least I have somewhere to vent it now.