Saturday, June 14, 2008
the contrarian: Misquoting/Demonizing Katherine Heigl
Having spent a long time as a working journalist - far too long than is reasonably healthy - I developed something of an aversion to the species.
Show me a journalist who isn't self-important or self-righteous and I'll show you a dead journalist.
That may sound like a wild generalization but, believe me, spend enough time in the vicinity of one and experience the puffed-up self-quoting and you'll know what I mean.
Case in point: The media's lip-smacking dissing of actress Katherine Heigl for doing the decent thing and rejecting a potential Emmy nomination for her work on ABC's pansexual soap opera, "Grey's Anatomy."
"I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention," Heigl told Gold Derby writer Tom O'Neil at the L.A. Times Envelope Web site.
Entertainment Weekly immediately posted this headline on its icky website: "Katherine Heigl Out of Emmy Race, Blames Writers." Huh?
Exacerbating matters, Dave on Demand, an unctous, self-consciously snarky weekly column in The Philadelphia Inquirer, drooled:
"You have to wonder if she knows how pretentious and petulant this announcement makes her sound.
"First of all, it's not like she was a lock to win this thing. When she took Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series last year, it was her first Emmy. In fact, it was her first nomination.
"And even that was a huge upset. Not only was she not the best supporting actress, she wasn't even the best actress from her own show in the category. (Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson were also nominated.) So for her to act like this Emmy stuff is old hat to her is wildly arrogant."
First off, a journalist is the last person who should use words such as "pretentious," "petulant" and "arrogant," particularly within the confines on a single article. (The column's author, who writes in a way-too-eager-to-impress-his-editors style, adds insult to injury by referring to Heigl as "honey," a well-worn, nay, dated piece of sexism which said editors, people ostensibly paid to edit the Inky, found bizarrely acceptable.)
Secondly, you have to wonder about the motivation when a journalist resorts to selective editing because Heigl also went on to say:
"In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials."
This part of her statement, in which Heigl explains and justifies her controversial stance, has been conveniently overlooked.
Instead the media is looking for easy ulterior motives on Heigl's part, the easiest being that she has stars in her eyes and would prefer to have a movie career. And what performer in Hollywood wouldn't?
But that's a distraction, shading what Heigl really said, namely that she did not give an award-worthy performance this year - that the material didn't lend itself to a golden statuette - and that an undeserved nomination would deny another, more worthy actress.
That's not arrogant or pretentious, honey; that's character. Furthermore, she said nothing negative about her writers or their work.
Also lost in the fray are these facts:
1. Heigl was arugably the most supportive player on “Grey’s Anatomy” of the recent strike by television and film writers. She was an active presence on the picket line, a staple, and went on record, several times, saying that she would not violate any picket line to attend any ceremony.
2. Heigl was the most vocal member of her TV cast to defend co-star T.R. Knight against the sexist insults of Isaiah Washington.
3. She had the veracity to call a spade a spade, referring to her break-out film, the hugely overrated "Knocked Up," as being "a little sexist." (I've a hunch that she was being coyly diplomatic here.)
Heigl has emerged as something refreshing on the moldy/creepy Hollywood landscape - an outspoken woman with uncompromising principles and beliefs. If George Clooney is "the last movie star in Hollywood" (as Time magazine recently pontificated), then Katherine Heigl is easily the last honest person there. It's not a matter of ingratitude.
It's a matter of having cojones, scruples.
Anyway, I'm hoping that Heigl doesn't succomb to what has become the newest all-American bad habit - hastily wimping out.
You know, being intimidated into apologizing. Apologize? For what?
(Artwork: The gloriously, incorrigibly truthful Katherine)
Posted by joe baltake at 4:23 PM