James Franco has been writing little op-ed pieces for The Huffington Post, and his newest one, ‘Kristen Stewart the Queen‘, is a review of Snow White and the Huntsman that sounds like something out of a college essay. It was a free-write, but James seems to have chosen as his topic: “Please solve the problem of the plot — who should rule — by somehow linking the professional life of the actors playing the characters and our societal definitions of hard work, power, and beauty.” Sound like a lot to cram into one piece? Well it is!
I’m not sure what HuffPo was expecting when they hired him, but when I opened the article, I was expecting to read a review of the film, with maybe some insider actor insight on the process and how that affected the end result. Period. And I guess it sort of started out that way, with James commenting that his movie companions thought that Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart, as the Huntsman and Snow White, were simply reprising their roles in Thor and Twilight, saying:
“Whether they heed it or not, those two are under a ton of pressure: Is Chris just an unusually rugged man with a deep voice, or can he play anything other than a Norse god? Is Kristen just a pouty Vampire lover riding a temporary wave of pop culture madness, or is she the real deal? I believe that they are both talented and special performers who make the most of their material in this film. What’s interesting is the way its story parallels the plight of the actors themselves.”
If I was grading this essay, I would’ve written in the margin “Nice transition, James, now bring us home with some pseudo-intellectualism. And James obliges! With a woeful examination of the connections between the movie and the unfair pressure our society puts on women to be beautiful as well as intelligent, fair, powerful, and successful. I mean, I don’t disagree, but a movie review is a weird place to bring up those kinds of issues, right? I feel like James is the only guy in a Women’s Studies class right now: you’re gonna get laid either way, buddy…stop working so hard. But, he doesn’t. Of course he doesn’t. He continues with his supporting thesis:
“Charlize Theron‘s Queen is a woman who has survived for generations in a ruthless patriarchy. Her beauty is what keeps her in power in a man’s world. Unfortunately, the downside of her perpetual power and beauty forces her to turn on her fellow females rather than on restrictive men. So, the conflict is ultimately between two females who represent innocent youth (Stewart) and aging beauty (Theron), each of whom is fighting to control the throne. Sadly, this can be seen as an analog to the dynamics faced by actresses (and, to an extent, actors) today. The old guard will always be wary of the new guard, but the fact is that women in entertainment still depend on their looks more than men do. Even two powerhouses like Theron and Stewart are beholden to the dictates of a man’s world.”
Oh, do we live in a man’s world? This is the first I am hearing of this. What a new, refreshing topic for an article, especially when written by a white, male millionaire. Can you also make sure you touch on the wage inequality between the 99% and the 1%? And the fact that slavery was an abomination? Those are also new, unaddressed topics that most people are completely unaware of…and that should totally be included in a movie review.
James wraps up with a reminder that in medieval times, there was no dental hygiene or moisturizer, so the women would have been much uglier (but just as valuable!) and equates Kristen Stewart’s career to being locked in a dungeon for ten years and then receiving the crown of the kingdom. And finally, don’t miss the paragraph where he reminds us what Kristen’s been through in her life:
“To me, then, the images of Snow White as a leader of immense strength, charging on horseback across the beach at the head of an army, has less to do with her character and more to do with the actress who plays her. Stewart has braved more scrutiny of her private life than most presidents. …[she] is a warrior queen. Give her the crown.”
Back to my margin notes: “A bit of a reach in these final paragraphs, Mr. Franco. Failure to connect large ideas. Please see me.”