I have had the great good fortune to know the actress Mae Whitman personally since she was a little girl; like any doting adult, I have been proud and amazed to watch her grow from an incredible child to a beautiful, astonishingly talented woman. Many millions of people have also had this great pleasure, as she has been a consistently working actress since she was "knee high to a grasshopper," as the expression goes. One of her very first roles was in the now ubiquitous blockbuster Independence Day, playing President Bill Pullman's daughter. I mean, President Thomas J. Whitmore's daughter. I would now like to pause for a moment to objectify Bill Pullman's absolutely gorgeous head of hair! YOWZA! And speaking of objectification, turns out they are making a sequel to Independence Day, and while the majority of the cast is returning to reprise their roles, Mae's part has been recast. Apparently, this beautiful and astonishingly talented consistently working actress is not "hot" enough. Check it out if you don't believe me.
Now for the record, in spite of my personal bias I would like to mention that Maika Monroe, the actress who apparently IS hot enough to play President Bill Pullman's daughter (she does have nice hair) recently appeared in the low budget horror film, It Follows, which I very much enjoyed. I do not want anyone to construe this as an attack on her even though based on experience alone she empirically cannot have Mae's chops. This is an attack on the concept of "hotness" and the absurd assumption Hollywood seems to have made that it is not a totally and completely subjective standard. It is also an attack on the idea that "hot" is a valid objectifying factor in casting ANY role that includes lines and is not called something like "The Playboy Bunny." Charlize Theron recently referred to her boyfriend Sean Penn as "hot," God bless that gorgeous girl, and if that is not definitive proof that hot is in the eye of the beholder, I don't know what is. Sean Penn gets great roles because he is a great actor. Therein lies the real issue: unless the president's daughter grew up to be a Playboy Bunny and that is an intrinsic plot point in ID2, her subjective level of "hotness" should not matter even one little bit.
Back to the beautiful and astonishingly talented Mae: she recently starred in a successful little movie called The DUFF, which I loved and recommend to you. The irony of this delightful star turn is that The DUFF, for those of you not hip to the lingo, is the "designated ugly fat friend." Basically a girl version of The Wingman (interesting how men get a less insulting nickname); or, in Harry-and-Sally-speak, the one with the good personality. And guess what? A lot of people were not happy with this piece of casting news either, because Mae is most obviously not fat or ugly. Well, except apparently to the producers of Independence Day 2. Ooooh, mind melt! Too hot for one role, not hot enough for the other and I say: MAKE IT STOP. Hot is not a cup size, a waist measurement or a perfectly symmetrical face... hot is confident, strong and willing to take chances. YOU decide if you are hot, and nobody else. Nobody else has any right to tell you that you are not hot (#nothot) because it is not about them. If you believe you are hot, believe me, you are. It is up to others whether or not they can handle it.
Beautiful women, beautiful people come in all shapes and sizes and this is something as a society we are struggling to accept. But it sure gets a LOT of press and air time these days, because it is an important conversation to have. But in the year 2015, I think we need to accept the notion that the objectifying label of "hot" is perhaps the most fluid on the planet... a good damn thing too, because it would be a sad world indeed if we were all attracted to the same handful of people. Mae Whitman can be hot, and Maika Monroe can be hot and I can be hot and you can be hot and the beauty of it is, no one's hotness in any way shape or form diminishes anyone else's. We can all be hot or #nothot, as we choose. But let's stop throwing it around as a label or definition that has the power to excuse what is good old fashioned sexism: because some dude (or dudette!) in charge says you're not hot enough, you're out. What other industry could get away with rejecting a fully qualified applicant based on sexual standards? Why isn't it humiliating for studios to openly admit that they are casting pivotal roles based on the number one criteria of who they deem more "bangable"? It's pitiful, really, that adults in this day and age still feel comfortable issuing these sexist mandates. The role in Independence Day 2 should have been Mae Whitman's to refuse by any fair or rational standard. And again, for the record, IMHO Mae is HOT... not that it has any bearing on whether or not she is the best choice for the role. And so I am, and you may be too. Just always remember it's YOUR CALL and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
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