Reel Women: Jennifer Lawrence Proves You Should Ask Actresses Better Questions
Your imaginary best friend/girlfriend/not-so-imaginary idol Jennifer Lawrence is making the press rounds to promote ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘ this week, and home girl is being asked your typical redundant questions by the pop press — What is up with your hair cut? What’s it like to have an Oscar now? What is up with your hair cut? What’s it like to work with such amazing actors? What is your fitness regimen for ‘The Hunger Games’? But really, what is up with your hair cut?
There were a couple of questions Lawrence was asked this week that stood out — female-centric questions, of course — and that further prove that actresses aren’t being asked the same questions as their male peers. And that’s not really fair.
More than half the questions I am asked are about the politics of the way I look. What it feels like to be not skinny/dark-skinned/a minority/not conventionally pretty/female/etc. It’s not very interesting to me, but I know it’s interesting to people reading an interview. Sometimes I get jealous of white male showrunners when 90 percent of their questions are about characters, story structure, creative inspiration, or, hell, even the business of getting a show on the air. Because as a result the interview of me reads like I’m interested only in talking about my outward appearance and the politics of being a minority and how I fit into Hollywood, blah blah blah. I want to shout, “Those were the only questions they asked!”
That’s just the way it is. Actresses are not typically asked the same (read: more interesting) questions as their male counterparts. Where an actor might be asked about his inspiration for a role or how he feels the film thematically relates to the real world, an actress will be asked about … her hair, or struggles with makeup, or what she ate to fit into a costume, or what it was like to work with other famous people because women are all starstruck groupies, apparently.
With Jennifer Lawrence, we all know that she is amazing. Like Anne Hathaway, she’s awesome at dealing with crummy interview questions about her fitness or when reporters try to get her to dog on other women. For instance, this week a reporter from BBC Newsnight tried to slyly get Lawrence to comment on Miley Cyrus by asking what she thinks of the sexualization of young women, to which Lawrence replied, “It is a part of the entertainment industry that sells. For some disgusting reason, young sex sells even more.” Appropriate and correct. When further pressed by the reporter — who then explicitly called Cyrus out by name and mentioned the time she twerked at the VMAs — Lawrence was incredibly cool about it, saying, “It’s not really something that I worry about because I feel like everybody’s kind of got their own path,” and, “I am just saying to each their own.”
You know what’s really uncool? Trying to get women to trash on other women for headlines. Tabloids are a disgusting machine that feed on the unhappiness of women, perpetuating senseless cruelty in which women attack each other and cannibalize themselves in an effort to aspire to some unattainable, ever-changing and nebulous “objective beauty standard.” Good for Lawrence for not participating in pointless female on female crimes for the sake of manufacturing a lucrative feud that benefits magazine bottom lines and is a detriment to our brain cells.
But it wasn’t enough to be that cool. Coincidentally, Access Hollywood asked Lawrence a very apt question shortly after — how does she feel about the relationship between women and the media? Lawrence, echoing the sentiments of Madeleine Albright, replied, “When girls are just mean to each other. I think that we’re just so unsupportive.” She went on to elaborate, “When I watch these shows and I watch these women on these television shows pointing to women and judging them and calling them ugly and calling them fat — where are we from? Why are we here? Why are we doing this to each other? Men were doing it hundreds of years ago and now we’ve turned around and we’re doing it to each other.”
And so she kind of hits the nail on the head.
We shouldn’t be asking actresses about their haircut when they’re promoting a new film as if that’s all we can notice about them. I watched three ‘Catching Fire’ interviews, and each one of them made a point of spending at least two minutes talking about Lawrence’s hair. Josh Hutcherson was asked interesting questions, like which scenes was he most excited to see translated from page to screen (a question posed to both actors, but only Hutcherson was allowed to answer), while Lawrence was asked if she brought her Oscar to set and how she felt working around such talented actors. We shouldn’t bait actresses with negative questions about other female actresses and entertainers, either. Women should be more supportive of each other, and while feminism isn’t about blindly supporting other women just because they have the same reproductive organs as we do, it’s also not about bashing them every chance we get just because they do something with which we don’t agree.
Take a page from J-Law and have some dignity. Be classy. Be cool. But above all else, maybe ask actresses the same questions you’d ask actors. Ignore the fact that they wear makeup, and treat them the way you’d treat a male interviewee. Ask them the interesting questions, and you’ll get some damn interesting answers.