Let’s face it: celebrity statements are self-serving ways to change a conversation. Whether typed up on the Notes app or shared with media as PR-approved paragraphs, these carefully-worded confessions always cast the celeb in the most flattering light. The latest example? Yesterday’s open letter from Rose McGowan, a lengthy and at times meandering statement about the recent allegations of sexual assault against Italian actor and activist Asia Argento by her then-underage co-star, Jimmy Bennett.
McGowan’s main points are valid; she fully supports sexual assault victims, stressing that there should be, “no leeway or tolerance for sexual assault. Hard stop. NONE.” And she argues that Argento’s actions shouldn’t diminish what the #MeToo movement has done for victims of sexual assault. “We can not let this moment break the momentum of a movement that has freed so many people. We must use it to allow us to become stronger. More compassionate. More aware,” she writes.
But McGowan also uses this statement to completely distance herself from Argento, whom she says she met on a red carpet. “It’s no secret to anyone that I’m a blunt, candid, brazen individual vocally–and I think that’s what I really related to Asia the most with,” McGowan writes. The pair bonded over their shared experiences with Harvey Weinstein and their roles as supporters of the #MeToo movement. Though she admits Argento was once her “ride or die,” by the end of the letter, McGowan is adamant that their friendship is in the past. It all amounts to a Mariah-style, “I don’t know her.”
Tbh, we’re a little skeptical. Calling for compassion and more nuanced conversations around #MeToo will certainly contribute to the movement going forward, but it seems convenient that McGowan—whose feminist perspective has made little room for intersectionality or, frankly, nuance in the past—only arrived at this point thanks to her proximity to Argento’s case. Here are three other reasons why we wish McGowan’s PR had given this one a once-over before hitting send.
McGowan makes herself the centre of the story
Does she side with Bennett, Argento’s accuser? Yes. Does she hope justice is served? Yes. Are the details she shares in the statement all about her? Uh, yeah. In an open letter that’s intended to publicly cut ties with Argento, McGowan includes *a lot* of details about how she and her partner, model Rain Dove, are involved in this sexual assault case. Not only does she explain how Rain Dove ended up with texts in which Argento seemingly admitted to the assault, but she says she urged them to share the messages with police and commends her partner for their bravery.
She sees things differently now
There’s no denying that seeing Argento go from ally to accused has changed things for McGowan, and rightfully so. Now, McGowan admits: “I need to evolve. In the past I have been occasionally angry … But I know that those accused are the friends, parents and family members of other people.” She hopes we can, “find a better way to balance support of the victim with due process for the accused.” While it’s admirable to see McGowan acknowledge that this experience has forced her to reflect on her activism’s shortcomings, it’s hypocritical to call for patience and having faith in the justice system when the headline-making story hits close to home. (Plus, this is all quite contradictory, since according to the letter, her friendship with Argento is over now.)
She asks Argento to compare herself to Weinstein
The most chilling line in the statement is her sign-off, in which she speaks directly to her former friend and suggests Argento imagine herself in Weinstein’s position. “Be the person you wish Harvey could have been,” she writes. Listen, you’ll find no argument from us that Argento’s alleged actions are reprehensible. But isn’t it a tiny bit dark to ask her to liken herself to the criminal mastermind and serial rapist who victimized her?
McGowan has never shied away from speaking her mind, but her PR could’ve made sure that her message here made even more of an impact.
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