For some reason, Hollywood has always loved a good old woman-on-woman feud. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford’s acidic rivalry became the stuff of legend and lasted several decades.
aty Perry and Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor… apparently we, the showbiz-consuming public, love the dust kicked up by a good catfight.
But in the post-MeToo era, girl-on-girl bitching lost its sheen in Hollywood. Once upon a time, the feuds were often marked by women fighting over men. More recently, they appear to be warring over opportunities.
Meryl Streep is the last person you might expect in such a tussle, but this week she received a shot across the bow from Sharon Stone.
Stone (63) found herself going viral after noting that Streep, who has been Oscar nominated 21 times, is overrated.
“You say ‘Meryl’ and everyone falls on the floor,” Stone told Everything Zoomer. “I’m a much better villain than Meryl and I’m sure she’d say so. Meryl was not gonna be good in Basic Instinct or in Casino. I would be better. And I know it. And she knows it.”
Naturally, the unwashed public — who, lest we forget, love a bit of this inter-celeb tension — went wild for it. Many conceded that Streep was indeed pretty peerless, and that Stone’s tearing down of another woman was tantamount of career-ending.
Yet when you scratch the surface, Stone has previously alluded that Hollywood forces women to compete for a very small number of roles and professional competition is a grim inevitability.
“It was put to us that there could be room for only one,” Stone wrote in her memoir The Beauty Of Living Twice.
“The business was set up that we should all envy and admire Meryl because only Meryl got to be the good one,” Stone continued in her recent interview. “And everyone should compete against Meryl. I think Meryl is an amazingly wonderful woman and actress. But in my opinion, quite frankly, there are other actresses equally as talented as Meryl Streep. The whole Meryl Streep iconography is part of what Hollywood does to women.”
She’s not wrong there. It happens all the time, to women even younger than Streep and Stone. Once Phoebe Waller-Bridge had cut a swathe with her truly glorious comedy Fleabag, every salty, smart comedy was being dubbed ‘the new Fleabag’. (Waller-Bridge, in turn, was ‘the new Amy Schumer’)
Sure, it’s marketing shorthand designed to lure interested parties in within as short a time as possible, but still. Joaquin Phoenix has never been called ‘the new Daniel Day-Lewis’.
How it must rankle to be told you’re the ‘new’ anyone. Because the subtext is clear: you will only be valued in relation to that which has come before you. The opportunities for ‘your kind’ are limited, as is the attention people are willing to lavish on you.
When it comes to women and the Hollywood system, ‘scarcity’ and ‘lack’ have been constant bywords. Because of this scarcity, it’s often believed that women are in direct competition with each other. If one is successful, it means that others can’t be.
The problem isn’t that Streep has snaffled all the decent acting work in Hollywood or that other actresses have been ‘overlooked’ while Meryl has been effortlessly cast in Oscar-baiting roles.
Ultimately, it’s that there aren’t enough roles for actresses of this calibre, and of a certain age, to truly thrive on. And put in those terms, no wonder Sharon Stone is utterly annoyed.
Love Island’s our great escape
The moment Love Island fans have been waiting for is nearly upon us and in an appetite-whetting exercise, this year’s contestants have been rolled out in one glossy profile after another this week.
Despite a lot of noise being made about diversity and plus-size inclusivity, the line-up looks depressingly familiar to fans. There are abs, lip fillers, oiled six packs and shiny legs as far as the eye can see. There are women looking for ‘cheeky chappies’, but not ‘players’.
There are men who are hoping to meet women ‘who look after themselves’. I’m still squinting a lot to see which of the contestants can be described as ‘plus-sized’. That said, Hugo Hammond, Love Island’s first ever disabled contestant (he was born with club foot) is a step in the right direction. Aside from that, we’re in serious deja-vu territory.
But who are we kidding? We don’t tune in to emotionally invest in the interchangeable beauties; not really. We’ll be in front of the box next Monday night because this will be as close to an escapist week of sun, sea, sand and string bikinis as most of us are likely to get this year.
Ultimately though, Love Island’s strength is it gives a very human side to a cache of gorgeous people who seem to have it all. Its contestants are the aspirational and Facetuned superheroes of social media, with the glossy veneer stripped away to show the insecurity and humanity underneath. And, really, who can resist that?
Silence is golden on childbirth
Some thoughts are best left unuttered and chief among these is Henry Golding’s reflection on becoming a dad.
The actor talked on The Ellen DeGeneres Show about his wife Liv’s recent 16-hour labour: “I think it was more stressful for me than it was for Liv, my wife. She was cruising it. At the end of it, I was wrecked.”
Now I’m no biology expert, but something tells me that likening the mental stress of watching someone in labour to the stress and pain of contractions and pushing out a 7lb baby… well.
It’s probably a thought best kept to yourself.
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