So here we are again. Another Melissa McCarthy movie, another person stepping forward to call her names and disparage her weight. I wasn’t going to address the venomous Rex Reed review of “Identity Thief,” where he refers to McCarthy as “tractor-sized” and a “female hippo” because I didn’t want to lend it any attention. (BTW, why specify a “female hippo,” Rex? Knowing how you hate women, was that your idea of a double insult?)
But then Rex made the mistake of trying to explain himself, and just made matters worse. He went on WOR Radio and called her “Melissa Manchester.” And then he played the card every fattist eventually gets to: Hey, I’m just worried about her health. Yep, it’s the overweight person’s equivalent to “some of my best friends are black” or “I don’t mind the gays, I just don’t want to have it in my face.” The last salvo of a prejudiced person.
Way back in 2010 I addressed this in a blog when a writer for Marie Claire criticized McCarthy and her show “Mike and Molly” in a charming piece titled “Should Fatties Get a Room?” As I said then: “Is she entitled to her opinion? Sure. Is it okay to spout hate speech and encourage disdain of people based on their appearance for a national magazine? Absolutely not. There is a professional way to have made this argument, but it would have involved the writer having a modicum of class.” That writer and Reed are cut from the same cloth.
So Rex claims he’s just worried about her health. He says: “I have too many friends that have died of obesity-related illnesses, heart problems and diabetes…I have helped people try to lose weight, and I don’t find this to be the subject of a lot of humor.” Give me a break. That’s like me saying I only care about Reed being gay because I don’t want him to die of AIDS. Rex Reed may care about a lot of things but don’t dismiss McCarthy by saying she has “devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success” and then pretend you care at all about her well-being. Oh, and “short career”? Is this an entertainment writer who knows nothing of her lengthy career? Is he unfamiliar with The Groundlings? “Go”? “Gilmore Girls”? Does he really believe McCarthy is just some flavor-of-the-month flash in the pan? Also, does he have access to McCarthy’s medical records? Is he qualified to speak about a person’s physical health?
I don’t want to respond to all this with a personal attack on Rex Reed because it’s not necessary and frankly, it’s too easy. You all know Rex is a failed actor, right? Anyone remember his Magnum Opus, “Myra Breckenridge“? You know, the “Showgirls” of its time, where Rex plays a man who wants so badly to be a woman, he has surgery and is thereon after played by Raquel Welch? I think that says it all; though I love this write-up of his performance by the great Glenn Kenny. What I would like to say to Rex Reed is, to misappropriate a line from “Flawless,” Melissa McCarthy is more woman then he will ever be or have. And more man, too. I will close with the same text from the post over two years ago:
“All I can say is I’ve met McCarthy in person a couple of times and am always taken aback by how stunning she is. I’m not talking in spite of or because of her weight. Beautiful is beautiful, and McCarthy literally glows. As for the guys who want to criticize from their keyboards, don’t get so stressed out. I have no doubt that McCarthy is way out of your league.”