Friday, July 10, 2009

Mary-Louise Parker Trades on Ass, Obscures Face, Glorifies Men

Not really a huge fan of "Weeds" (well, not the show), but I'd always had some kind of respect in reserve for Mary-Louise Parker. I guess it's only because of her role as a (sexed-up, now that I think about it) feminist in The West Wing, but you know. The label of feminism tends to make me like women, even if they are only superficially or tangentially related to feminism.

Anyway, I was disappointed by this set of photos and a ... thank-you note to men? Do they really need more credit? I shouldn't be surprised by the photos, especially considering that her advertisements for Weeds usually trade on her body:

Click for bigger images

It starts out fairly innocuous: with the other members of the ensemble show. But after the first season, it immediately becomes excessively sexual - she's splayed out on the web/bed, wearing a bikini, swimsuit, and high high heels, and naked, with a phallic snake. Women have a right to use their body as they choose, but I think it's sad that a rare women-led ensemble show goes from presenting the whole cast (with the black characters on the margins, duh), to presenting only the lead character, and then basically presenting only her body.

But the photos from Esquire were, comprehensively, a little too much for me:

This is not Parker's first naked-esque photoshoot, and you know, naked photoshoots, in Esquire...not the end of the world. What disturbs me about this shoot in particular are the middle three shots, and particularly the second. Parker's face is not visible barely at all in these photos - she could be a stock model. She's been reduced to body parts - an ass, a belly button, a nipple, all without a distinguishable face. Even in the first and last shots, her face is half obscured, and the viewer's attention is directed at her ass/cleavage.

What's worse is her "thank you letter to men". The letter constructs men as the stronger sex, with little subtlety or dimension, with no qualification defending the strength of women. Here are just a few of the necessary and sufficient characteristics for men:
  • fix the front door and sink
  • notice a woman with a healthy chunk of years or pounds on her and let out a wolf whistle under your breath and mean it [how charitable]
  • [men walk] a little more aware but with a purpose still
  • [men apparently creates or created] the fire station, the painting, and the truth.
I don't even have energy for further analysis. Fail.

Via Jezebel


  1. Very sad indeed. I think she's a gorgeous woman and if I had a body like that I'd flaunt it, but it's such a shame that her looks have overshadowed her talent as an actor. That letter is hard to believe too...I wonder if it's just playing to part of the Weeds demographic or what.

  2. I don't really know what to make of this one. I liked Weeds in its first season, but after that, it seemed to just rely more and more on Mary-Louise Parker's character getting off with various other people, so I gave up after Season 3. Seeing this doesn't really surprise me, given the direction the show was going when I stopped watching, but it does disappoint me a little bit. I lurve beautiful women as much as the next person, but I lurve beautiful women with brains and talent even more. Wish Mary-Louise Parker could see that, too.

  3. the quote is: "thank you for the tour of the vineyard, the fire station, the sound booth, thank you for the kaleidoscope, the Horsehead Nebula, the painting, the truth"

    which is a LOT more benign than creating these things as you said.

    and this is a piece of prose - taking these bits out of contest GREATLY alters the meaning of the words.

  4. How is your quote not disturbing?

    I didn't directly quote anybody. I discussed MLP's construction of the greatness of masculinity. Those were some of the things she listed as great about men, specifically.

  5. I know you didn't directly quote. but your assessment of her words were very misleading, that's all i'm trying to say.

    [men apparently creates or created] the fire station, the painting, and the truth.


    thank you for the tour of the vineyard, the fire station, the sound booth, thank you for the kaleidoscope, the Horsehead Nebula, the painting, the truth

    one is saying thank you for the CREATION of these things (your words) and one is saying thank you for the TOUR and for the painting and for the truth.

    I'm just saying that's very very different. If you have to spin words in order to support your argument, then you don't have a very strong argument.


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