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 Thursday 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: As our own Teo Bugbee reported earlier this week, Delta has done Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara dirty by airing a "sanitized" version of their Oscar-nominated lesbian romance Carol — a version devoid of not just sex scenes, but even kissing scenes. Lesbian comic Cameron Esposito was the first to notice the nixed smooches and tweeted about the omission, leading AfterEllen.com's Trish Bendix to pick up the story. In a statement to MTV, a Delta spokesperson explained that "there were two versions of the film being offered by the film’s distributor, and due to the company’s stance on nudity, the edited version was chosen. ... If we were worried about kissing we wouldn’t be showing the film, but because there are scenes with more than a few seconds of nudity, we opted for the edited version instead of the theatrical version."
Airlines have long shown edited films to their captive, Xanax-ridden audiences, but, as Esposito pointed out, while she watched a version of Carol in which two women enjoy a platonic tour of America's motels for two hours, her seatmate was watching Paul Giamatti engage in a BDSM scene. (Et tu, Paul?) And screenwriter Phyllis Nagy confirmed that American and United Airlines both chose to air the theatrical cut, a version in which Blanchett and Mara mount one another atop a burning American flag, shrieking "Fuck the police!!!!!" as they orgasm. (JK, they have pretty standard movie sex.)
As Bendix writes, Weinstein Company, the studio behind Carol, is ultimately responsible here, as they deemed the kissing scenes indecent for general audiences and handed Delta the desexualized cut: "It seems they all share the blame with the greater global entertainment industry that is concerned more with making money in areas of the world that criminalize homosexuality or deem it indecent than catering to those who are looking to see themselves represented onscreen, some of whom may only have the opportunity from the safety of a flight where they don’t know anyone sitting around them and feel a kind of privacy that may be unavailable to them elsewhere." The Weinstein Company has offered no comment on the matter, likely because its employees were too busy paying strippers to make out with each other.
The Solution: What a strange time we're having in 2016, a time when I must acknowledge the fact that United Airlines has done something other than "ruin my life." Thanks, United Airlines, for being less of a fucking asshole than usual.
As for you, Delta Airlines and the Weinstein Company: Everyone involved in this terrible decision will gather at a large warehouse set up to look like the inside of a plane (cramped, suffocatingly gray, dank, full of malevolent babies and middle-aged white men playing Candy Crush at full volume). Everyone will have an assigned seat, and, in a magical perversion of physics, each seat will be a middle seat. After you put on your seatbelts and turn off your cell phones, Paul Giamatti will walk in and tear off his clothes. Behind him, another Paul Giamatti will walk in and tear off his clothes. You will watch Paul Giamatti engage in BDSM sex with Paul Giamatti for two hours, or the length of a standard in-flight movie. After Paul and Paul clean themselves up and wave a merry good-bye, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara will satellite in from space (where they are filming Carol 2: Kissing and Sex in Space) and inform you that you have permanently lost the rights to Carol and Carol 2: Kissing and Sex in Space. For an encore, you will watch this gif for an additional two hours.
The Lady Problem: Here at Lady Problems, we've had to talk about Renée Zellweger's face a lot, because nobody else will stop fucking talking about Renée Zellweger's face. Most recently, we took Variety's Owen Gleiberman to task for writing a batshit column whose basic thesis was "Renée Zellweger's face has personally offended me :(." Today we're going to talk about Renée's face yet again, although for a vaguely cheerier reason: In the grand tradition of Jennifer Aniston before her, Renée has taken to the illustrious pages of the Huffington Post to rain hellfire on Gleiberman and her legions of face critics.
Titled "We Can Do Better," Zellweger's essay both addresses the rumors that have plagued her for years and shits all over everybody who perpetuated them. "In October 2014, a tabloid newspaper article reported that I’d likely had surgery to alter my eyes," she writes, explaining that the rumor somehow, over the course of the past few years, mutated into fact. "Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I did not make a decision to alter my face and have surgery on my eyes. This fact is of no true import to anyone at all, but that the possibility alone was discussed among respected journalists and became a public conversation is a disconcerting illustration of news/entertainment confusion and society’s fixation on physicality."
At one point, she casually hip-checks Gleiberman — "I am not writing today because I have been publicly bullied or because the value of my work has been questioned by a critic whose ideal physical representation of a fictional character originated 16 years ago, over which he feels ownership, I no longer meet" — and at the end, she goes as far as to suggest how we might fix all of media forever. "What if immaterial tabloid stories, judgments and misconceptions remained confined to the candy jar of low-brow entertainment and were replaced in mainstream media by far more important, necessary conversations?" writes Renée. "Maybe we could talk more about why we seem to collectively share an appetite for witnessing people diminished and humiliated with attacks on appearance and character and how it impacts younger generations and struggles for equality, and about how legitimate news media have become vulnerable to news/entertainment ambiguity, which dangerously paves the way for worse fictions to flood the public consciousness to much greater consequence."
The Solution: I agree with Renée's basic point, as it is also the basic point of Lady Problems: Everyone stop being dicks re: women. Her solution — "have more important, necessary conversations" in the mainstream media — is nice, in theory, but this is 2016, Renée; Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber are having a literal penis-measuring contest from disparate tropical locales, a penis-measuring contest made possible only by the mainstream tabloid media. We are past the point of no return in this sense, dear Renée.
Allow me to assist you with a better solution: In an effort to throw the tabloids off your scent, we'll fill the candy jar of low-brow entertainment with better candy. We'll start by recruiting Orlando and Justin to engage in a years-long dick-measuring contest. They will whip it out on a daily basis in every corner of the world, forcing the tabloids to engage in a perpetual international dick stakeout. Orlando will release his one-eyed snake in the Bronx Zoo. Justin's beanstalk will climb Mount Everest. Bloom will dig up his own bone in Arlington National Cemetery. Justin will loan his dicktionary to the Library of Parliament. In 2020, they will meet at the center of the equator and make out until they die of old age. Delta will air the entire thing on every flight for 50 years.