Hollywood women fight back against ‘fluffy’ interview questions

Whether actresses are Harvard graduates or can barely spell “cinematography,” they are becoming more upset with the increased superficiality in interviews. While male actors receive thought-provoking questions pertaining to their work, female stars are not taken nearly as seriously. Although this gender bias is hardly a new phenomenon, women are starting to bite back.

Sure, both men and women have obtained positions as “sex symbols” at varying levels of talent, but is a woman’s choice in accessories a reflection on her career, or even her worth? I recognize that the superficial questions won’t cease, and that’s not even my goal. I’d feel aesthetically directionless if I didn’t know Emma Watson’s or Blake Lively’s ateliers of choice. However, these women merit interview questions that display their performing talent.

Out of ignorance or tact, some actresses respond to fashion and beauty inquiries with a broad smile, knowing that the glitz is another part of the package in a visual-centric world. However, other ladies are beginning to reveal a growing disdain for “fluffy” interrogatives. Instead of revealing styling tips, actresses have short, biting retorts to stereotypical interviews.

Anne Hathaway, a strong woman both on and off the silver screen, is one of several of Hollywood’s elite who is taking a stand. According to the National, in a recent interview for her role in “The Dark Knight Rises,” Hathaway rebutted interrogations by a male interviewer about her filming diet with “What’s the deal man? You look great, are you trying to fit into a catsuit or something?” Although her physical feats at the gym are awe-inspiring, her craftsmanship should take center stage.

Hathaway isn’t alone. The National also reported that Emma Stone remarked that co-star Andrew Garfield “get[s] asked interesting, poignant questions because [he] is a boy.” Scarlett Johansson is equally jaded, asking “The Avengers” co-star Robert Downey Jr., “How come you get the really interesting, existential question, and I get the ‘rabbit food’ question?” Such statements are hardly a feminist uprising, but they may be a premonition of less compliance in interviews.

Even outside of Hollywood, where physical features are not as much of a focus, powerful women are hounded on their appearances by journalists. The Boston Review reported that when asked by a male interviewer which designer she prefers, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton barked back with, “Would you ever ask a man that question?” Clearly caught off-guard, the interviewer merely answered, “Probably not. Probably not.” These interviewing tactics are not an isolated issue, but rather a growing problem among female leaders.

Women in the limelight are not taking an aggressive stance on gender-biased interview questions, but anyone who reads these interviews can sense a quiet resolution not to be taken lightly. As employed women, actresses merit reflections on their artistry, shrewd business skills and desire to spread positive messages. In a visually superficial world, I think that we all should applaud the beautiful heroine in the latest blockbuster as a woman of style and substance.

Caroline Bressman ’15 bressman@stolaf.edu is from Omaha, Neb. She majors in English.

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