Can We Be "Brave" Enough for Change? - By Jessie Andrews
Rose McGowan became a personal cinematic icon of cool in 1995 when I first saw “The Doom Generation” one rainy fall midnight at the Angelika Cinema. I was a freshman in film school and I walked out of that theater blown away by the movie and of course, her riveting authentic and natural performance. Rose keeps the tone of the film together in a way no other actor could have. It became a “You gotta see this!” film for many years since.
I waited a long time for the next Rose McGowan movie and it wasn’t until I saw her saving the world with a machine gun leg in Robert Rodriguezs film Planet Terror that I thought. “She’s back!” I was pleasantly surprised and hopeful that it meant I’d see her in many more amazing performances. If you too are confused and bewildered as to why Rose McGowan was never as popular as she should have been, then Brave, her new memoir will shine a light, albeit n some pretty dark corners of Hollywood trailers and hotel rooms.
Be prepared to have your senses reeling at some horrific tales of misbehavior. You will have your own perceptions of Hollywood icons taken down a peg or two, or ten. Even while explaining revolting experiences she had, Rose is respectful of people’s right to anonymity and privacy and you will have to piece together a few of the details in Brave to know whom she’s speaking of if you’re unfamiliar with her body of work as an actor.
Rose is now a very talented director. In 2015 I attended a screening of The Doom Generation and her short film Dawn at the Anthology Film Archives. Rose did a QnA which was very informative. She was charming and graceful as she spoke of her experiences on both sets. She seemed to be extremely grateful to all the people she’s worked with on both films and that speaks of her professionalism and respect for the process. Which I’ve always assumed was there given her
choices as an actor.
As an aspiring filmmaker myself, in my own mind, Rose McGowan has always held a sort of holy spot among actors in cinema. She has done great work in some awesome cult films and that’s indicative of an actor with exceptional taste and character. No performer is deserving of anything but professionalism and respect on any set, of course. However, when you have someone of Rose’s caliber on your call sheet, it should be a given that you’d go the extra mile to make sure she feels comfortable and safe. If for no other reason than in order for her to give you that incredible performance she’s more than capable of.
Based on details Rose presents in Brave, it would appear the opposite attitude was taken amongst some very prolific high profile members of the indie film community. It’s not only shocking to me, it’s seriously depressing. Because if they won’t give someone like Rose the special respect and place she deserves in the film community, who would they respect? The answer is clear. Nobody.
Rose has been very outspoken lately against the mistreatment of women in Hollywood. It confused me to see Rose McGowan angry and with a shaved head pop up out of nowhere using social media like a megaphone. I was thrown because I was totally unaware of the details in the book Brave. I now know exactly why she’s led the charge so vocally and with such passion. If you were also wondering why the hell you should listen to Rose McGowan, pick up a copy of Brave. Read it with a very careful eye to understand exactly how this damage is done in Hollywood and why it’s so critical to stop it.
Rose points it out perfectly when she describes how she doesn’t think of herself as celebrity and others as “fans”. I applaud that outlook of equality she has. That phenomena of inside / outside the business is exactly what leads to monsters and a system that will support and protect them as they take advantage of those that desperately want to be inside the palace of Hollywood. It’s inevitable that America will one day grow out of that toxic dynamic and Hollywood will seem like an old school “trapping” the way we view English royalty. Silly and pretentious.
At the end of Brave, Rose recalls conversations with businessman who often point out to her in discussions “I’m not on the creative side”. To which she thinks “Why wouldn’t you want to be on the creative side of everything?!” Rose has been continually told by the industry that she’s “too smart” and that speaks to a much, much larger problem which is touched on in It Begins, a chapter in the book that speaks of her experience on the set of Scream. Rose has blonde hair in the film because a brunette was already cast. This is common. The industry actually believes an audience will be confused if they can’t tell the actresses apart by their hair color. This problem of intentionally coddling to seriously slow people hurts everyone. Even if it helps at the box office it comes at a really high price in other ways.
Artists shape our culture. Filmmakers are artists and when Hollywood works well, it too produces art of lasting cultural and social relevance. Some people like Rose are dedicated to this effort and will sacrifice a lot to maintain the integrity of their work while others will cash in at the first opportunity and become a cog in the machine.
The shaping of our culture through cinematic iconography and storytelling can be positive or negative. Brave brilliantly describes systemic issues with the film industries misogynistic practices in production, content, as well as PNA (Prints and Advertising) campaigns that lead toward negative outcomes not just for the performers and crews but for the audience members that see the end results of the work and its’ marketing. Some of this is invisible to the audience while some if it is literally the size of a building in Times-Square. Whether you know it or not, Hollywood does have an effect on everyone whether you pay to see these films or not.
I will always wonder what awesome films I have missed out on that Rose would have starred in. I do however look forward to the amazing films she will direct. With Brave, Rose has now proven she has yet another uncompromising talent as a writer. Whether you are inside or outside Hollywood, after reading Brave, you will undoubtedly feel sense of accountability if for no other reason than just as being someone who consumes content and moves through a world suffused with Hollywood imagery that we all are, in our own way responsible for changing.
Please find Brave on Amazon here.