We should all be so lucky in life to find a cable network desperate for programming to provide us a platform to rewrite the first 44-years of our lives in purely victim format. The chance to categorize sleeping with other women’s husbands and doing some unseemly things to get ahead in Hollywood as a pathology of patriarchal victimhood. Remember that time you chose to work with a convicted pedophile because you needed a role to get going in town? All bye-bye now. Your book, your show, your version of history.
What’s good for the good is good for the gander, or vice-versa, has never quite caught on as a catchy rallying cry of gender equality. The married female Mayor of Nashville got busted bedding her hunky security guard and perhaps shuffling him some vacations and cash in the process. You don’t hear many people exalting this affair and abuse of elected power as a sign that women and men are now becoming equals in the corrupt and horny politician workspace. Although that is truly what it means. Rose McGowan now has some amount of power to scrub clean her past vices like the men she calls horrendous before her and she’s taking the opportunity to follow in their footsteps.
In the old days, or ten years or more ago, America demanded a mea culpa from those plotting a public eye conversion of character. America has always been that easy significant other that forgives a ton on the back end of some flowers and a tearful apology. Remember how we laughed and laughed when Jimmy Swaggart initiated the TV era sobbing confessional with his “I Have Sinned” address? Not if you’re under forty you don’t. Now everybody from debauched clergy to YouTube stars filming dead guys in the forest hit the circuit to bare their souls, pantomime a bit of the Opus Dei self-flagellation, and bide their time until they can make money again being the same old person. It’s as customary now as it is empty. Though Rose McGowan seems to be skipping step one.
Victimhood as a component of heroism has been around for many years now. Though it’s only recently that it’s pure and unchallenged carte blanche powers now exceed any rational call for a balancing of all assets. If Lizzie Borden can claim gender pay inequalities, she can completely forgo any questions about that bloody axe she’s holding as her parents lay bleeding out from forty and forty-one whacks, respectively. It’s the consummate new Get Out of Jail Free Card. Now that all those claiming victim status are nefarious creatures with dodgy histories, but for those who’d rather not defend their actions of their 20’s and 30’s, it’s a rather powerful eraser.
McGowan received permission to name her show on E!, Citizen Rose, a callback in the least to the 1996 film, Citizen Ruth, where Laura Dern was single and pregnant and became a political football between abortion rights and pro choice partisans. The title bestows some level of undeserved Scarlett Letter martyrdom association of woman in a society ruled by misogynistic men who rule by self-serving double standard. Clearly, politicians do rule by self-serving double standard, though it’s yet to be proven that greed and hypocrisy are gender based traits.
Prior to its first airing, multiple TV critics referred to Citizen Rose as the most important reality show ever on the E! channel. It’s unclear if that’s intended to be an ironic comment or be taken seriously. More important than Wives and Girlfriends and Wild On? Certainly not more so than Rob and Blac Chyna? If somebody announced this was the most important series to ever run on The Spice Channel, people could at least laugh out loud. This is merely a more uncomfortable kowtowing to the current Times Up domination of media elites. If it’s about sexual harassment, that’s all we need to know. We dub thee — groundbreaking.
McGowan’s own history includes some dubiously cliche traits of young, ambitious women trying to break into the film business. Including working with, associating with, and cavorting naked with individuals of disreputable character. We’ve pretty much all done that, or wish we could, but who among us would turn the dirty laundry of our pasts into a subjugation drama where we were the blameless one? I’d certainly like to blame Jim Beam for a number of my mistakes in my 20’s. How far can I get with that?
Beyond the working with known pedophiles, and sleeping with otherwise attached directors, and surgical shapeshifting of face and body, McGowan’s central claim to fame is her accusation of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein. Most people probably believe that despicably gross fat man terrorized a number of women, up to and including some corpulent man handling of ladies with whom he was alone to discuss movie parts. Though it was McGowan herself who muddied the evidence against Weinstein with the paid coverup, the non-disclosures, and continuing to pose with the man jovially in photos at events for years after. Again, all explained away by the trauma of the underlying event. And maybe so. But wherein does that logic tree you to heroism? What Would Joan of Arc Have Done? Probably not pose in a ball gown with her arms wrapped around the English smiling like a fangirl.
The reinvention of character is a timeless quality in individuals seeking public adulation, if not a swell living from selling tales to a compliant crowd. The media used to ask tougher questions of those seeking a new beginning. That role is now subservient to providing total compliance to politically correct trends that dictate McGowan only be seen as victim and to question her motives, background, or roles in any other events previous to #MeToo is consistent with being an ardent supporter of misogyny and rape. That’s quite a black and white world to live in. It may not be totally unjustified if you wish to keep your job these days, let alone be invited to the right parties.
Freedom of Speech is a beautiful thing. It becomes less beautiful when carved out into tiny, acceptable slices by those who wield threatening power. McGowan is hardly a sinister character. She’s an actress whose working days are well behind her looking to build a new career. It’s the system that’s broken. Don’t hate the ambitious player.