If you hadn’t yet finished off your first cup of coffee before tearing into Saturday’s New York Times “Arts” section, you would have been forgiven if you’d accidentally mistaken that edition of the Gray Lady for the latest issue of Us Weekly. Reporting from Los Angeles, veteran trade reporter Michael Cieply launched into a bizarre piece that concentrated on the expanding midriffs of some of Hollywood’s biggest male movie stars. Ostensibly, this piece was pegged to the release of State of Play, which featured an unkempt Russell Crowe and middled its way to a $14.1 million opening-weekend gross. But rather than, you know, actually doing some research to see whether or not bigger waistlines equated to smaller grosses, Cieply dove deep into his copy of Roget’s in an effort to criticize the perceived weight gain of everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to Hugh Grant to Tom Hanks.
Here’s a complete list of everyone that made it into the article and the adjectives Cieply used to describe them:
• Russell Crowe and Jeff Daniels: “Two men. One notebook. Four chins.”
• John Travolta: “Bulky.”
• Denzel Washington: “No longer the lean, mean boxing machine he portrayed in The Hurricane.”
• Hugh Grant: “[His] famous dimples pop out where they used to pop in.”
• Leonardo DiCaprio: He’s “better padded” and “shows a little bit more to love.”
• Vince Vaughn: He’s “sized up considerably,” but audiences still show up to see the “beefier” and “still-substantial” actor.
• Tom Hanks: “Up quite a bit.”
• Jason Segel: “Fairly hefty.”
Now, we fully understand that this is the kind of criticism that female actresses have had to endure since, well, the beginning of time (proving he’s an equal-opportunity offender, Cieply even described Kathleen Turner as “plus-size”). And while we can certainly see how some would say that this kind of criticism levels the playing field a bit and puts men in the same position that women have faced for years, we think we’d all concur that we didn’t expect to see a piece like this running in the Times, of all places.
What say you, VultureWatchers? Turnabout is fair play? Or should this kind of criticism be confined to gossip blogs and the glossy pages of celebrity weeklies?