Social Justice

Deconstructing the “Wacky Hollywood Types” Trope

What if painting actors as loons is not just about selling tabloids?

Cassie Brighter
3 min readOct 11, 2023

--

In light of the Writer’s & Actors’ strike, I was thinking about this stereotype (more prevalent in the 1980s and 90s) of the Hollywood star as a vapid, dumb, psychologically unstable human being. I remember The National Enquirer and The Star exploiting this trope for all it was worth, at the checkout stand lines. This star is so silly, she believes in crystals. This starlet slept with this guy or that guy. This aspiring male star might be secretly gay. This aging Hollywood legend can’t cope anymore, she’s addicted to this or that, and is fading ungracefully.

It occurred to me that this might be more than just tabloid fodder. That the predators and vultures behind all of this might be more than yellow “journalism,”

I’m thinking of how convenient it is for the Hollywood meat-grinding machine to debunk actors as divas, as flighty, silly, cooky people. “You know those artist-types. They over-drink, they over-dope, they have all kinds of unusual sex… who knows what they get up to.” And all of this has the desired effect of nullifying the actor’s voice. The actor (especially the female actor) cannot appeal to the public, cannot say, “but, I deserve to be treated fairly…” — the Hollywood meatgrinder responds with “actors, amirite?”

I’m thinking of Marilyn, of course. I’m thinking of Judy Garland and Liza Minelli. I’m thinking especially of Suzanne Sommers, who at the height of her career and popularity (the Jennifer Aniston of her time!) went to the producers asking for a raise, and they DESTROYED her. They literally used the “you’ll never work in this town again” threat on her. She only managed to rise from the ashes years later, as an infomercial queen with her thigh master.

And I’m thinking of Rose McGowan, Rosanna Arquette, Ashley Judd, and all of Weinstein’s victims.

Peter Weller, the star of RoboCop, has a PhD in Italian Renaissance Art History. Ellen Cleghorne of SNL has a PhD. Graham Chapman, of Monthy Python fame, has an MD. Jessica Alba heads a company valued at 1.7 Billion. Natalie Portman has a Harvard degree in psychology, is an animal rights…

--

--

Cassie Brighter

Activist. Public speaker. Writer. Community Organizer. Mom. Creator & Host, Empowered Trans Woman Summit. Managing Editor, EmpoweredTransWoman.com