Lady Problems is a weekly column that looks at how the entertainment industry — and its corresponding culture and constituents — is treating women in a given week. (Hint: It will almost always be “poorly.”) Every Friday, we’ll review the week’s most significant woman-centric conflicts, then provide a brilliant solution to each problem that nobody in Hollywood will ever listen to or enforce.
The Lady Problem: This month's Vanity Fair features a preview of Michael Schulman's Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep, which is, unfortunately, a Meryl Streep biography and not a guide to possessing Meryl Streep. Among the stories Schulman recounts are a few dark tales of Dustin Hoffman being a patronizing dick in the name of "Method acting" on the set of Kramer vs. Kramer. According to producer Richard Fischoff, Hoffman didn't trust in Streep's natural ability as an actor and used "stuff that he knew about her personal life" in order to "get the response that he thought she should be giving in the performance.” Hoffman slapped Streep across the face before one scene, taunted her about the recent death of her real-life boyfriend during another, shattered a wine glass disturbingly close to her fabulous head, and took umbrage with what he saw as her "feminist" tweakings of the script. “Meryl, why don’t you stop carrying the flag for feminism and just act the scene,” he said at one point, probably very loudly, because he is short and his face is very far away from other people's faces. Streep took all of this in typically magical stride, likely because, as director Robert Benton put it, “Part of the pleasure she must have taken is showing to Dustin she didn’t need to be slapped. She could have delivered anything to anybody at any time." Of course she could. She's Meryl Fucking Streep. Dustin Hoffman was just in The Cobbler.
The Solution: We will invent time travel. We will travel back to the set of Kramer vs. Kramer. We will descend from the ceilings moments before Dustin Hoffman winds up to strike the cheek of Meryl Streep. We will kidnap Dustin Hoffman using a sort of fishing net. We will take him to the year 2100, the official year of The Reckoning, when the West Antarctic ice sheet will disintegrate and raise the sea level by 3 feet and the entire world will be suddenly engulfed in hellfire and everyone except babies will be yanked down into the underworld by the spindly claw of Satan. We will dangle Dustin Hoffman over the flames; we will cackle. We will pretend to almost drop him a few times. Dustin Hoffman will weep and beg for his rapture. We will instead return him to the Kramer vs. Kramer set, where we will drop him off in the middle of filming a scene. We will say, "Dustin, USE this for your performance," and “Dustin, why don’t you stop carrying the flag for feminism and just act the scene.”
The Lady Problem: Reality Steve, a man who has devoted his life to the admirable pursuit of cutting the Bachelor franchise off at the knees, tweeted earlier this week that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was spotted on the Bachelorette set. Creator Mike Fleiss later confirmed this rumor with a tweet of his own (h/t Jezebel); according to Reality Steve, Roethlisberger was there with some other football players to host a "football obstacle course" date. Putting aside for a moment the fact that football = boring doom and a "football obstacle course date" sounds akin to death, let's recall that Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault twice. This 240-pound sack of sprouting potatoes is now appearing on an insidiously popular social experiment?
The Solution: After being cut from the episode and publicly denounced by Chris Harrison — which is as embarrassing as being publicly denounced by a seagull wearing sunglasses — Ben Roethlisberger will be forced to participate in an "obstacle course date" of my own design. First, he will wake up in the morning, and I will be there, hovering in the corner of his room like a ghost. In fact, he will think I am a ghost and respond accordingly. He will try to leave, but his front door will be locked from the outside. I will haunt him in a fun sort of Poltergeist way, placing the raw eggs he subsists on beneath his pillows and blowing a shofar every time he tries to go to sleep.
The Lady Problem: Renée Zellweger, like most women, is just trying to do her life and make her cash without anybody bothering her about the intricacies of her appearance. Seeing as she's an actress over the age of 40, this is impossible; in fact, Zellweger has been on the receiving end of more cruel, unsolicited commentary about her looks than the majority of her decrepit, foot-in-the-grave peers. For the past few years, nearly every piece on Zellweger has focused on her face, or, more specifically, "what has happened to it." As such, she's stayed relatively out of the spotlight, likely spending a lot of time Googling "How do I leave Earth and where should I move?"
Now, though, Zellweger is promoting Bridget Jones's Baby, which means she's back on TV, and all anybody can talk about is her damn face. At the end of last week, Zellweger appeared on the Today Show, where Sheinelle Jones did that thing where she pretended not to ask her about her face by asking her how she feels about people asking her about her face. "I remember a couple of years ago people were talking about, 'Oh, she changed her appearance.' Does it bother you, does it get to you, or is it just par for the course?" Jones asked Zellweger. Zellweger responded with the sort of low-key shade generally reserved for Chris Harrison's overachieving dentist. "It's not really part of my life. It's part of the job that I don't really experience except when I step into this arena. In my home, I'm not aware of it," she said. "I don't do any kind of social media, so I don't see it. I like to have — I guess you would call them real experiences."
The Solution: Here is a fact: Human faces change. Humans age! Some humans decide to respond to the aging process by getting plastic surgery. Other humans are quietly abducted by extraterrestrials and experimented on. Whatever's going on with Renée Zellweger's (very lovely) face is not any of our business, nor should it be the focal point of our lives. We will all agree never to ask Zellweger about her face ever again. Anyone who asks her about her face will be forced to remove their own face and replace it with the face of Ben Roethlisberger.