Last week, New York Times theater reviewer Charles McGrath penned a piece on Sienna Miller‘s Broadway debut. The piece has been roundly criticized for overstating Miller’s affairs with famous men. The story begins by reviewing Miller’s “long and well-documented romantic history,” which includes “flings” with “Jude Law, Daniel Craig, James Franco and most recently the married oil heir Balthazar Getty, with whom she was photographed topless and in a sailor hat.”
Originally, McGrath had grouped Heath Ledger and Puff Daddy in with the bunch. A correction appended to the story later clarified that the”misstates the nature of the relationships that she had with Heath Ledger and Sean Combs. She was friends with both of them; she did not have romantic flings with either of them.” But the problems with McGrath’s piece go far beyond the inflated slut-shaming.
Take the paragraph that follows up the topless sailor incident:
Ms. Miller is opening on Thursday in the Roundabout Theater production of “After Miss Julie,” Patrick Marber’s adaptation of the Strindberg play “Miss Julie.” The audience at previews has included Sienna lookalikes, blond fashionistas in miniskirts and heavy makeup, and scholars less of Scandinavian theater, perhaps, than of her Vogue cover appearances. That some people have trouble taking Ms. Miller seriously as an actress—or don’t even know she is one—is because she has so frequently been her own worst enemy.
According to McGrath, Miller’s fanbase is a group of shallow “fashionistas” who are so dumb they don’t even know that Miller is an actress. Boy, I bet they were confused when they showed up at a Broadway theater to see Miller in a play, and ended up having to sit through hours of acting.
McGrath is concerned that nobody is taking Miller “seriously as an actress.” Perhaps the problem is that McGrath refuses to take Miller’s fans seriously. Apparently, the people who are willing to shell out the cash to see Miller on Broadway are not “serious” because they read Vogue, wear skirts, and apply make-up. In short, they’re girls. Worse, they’re girls who look like Sienna Miller. The fact that McGrath instantly discredits entire groups of people who happen to resemble his interview subject says a lot about his own bias in writing this profile.
McGrath spends the remainder of the piece attempting to convince his readers that Miller is capable of “charming” and “sensitive” performances, as if he is the only one who can see past Miller’s beauty and relationship history. “Not a great many people have actually seen what she can do,” McGrath writes—-as if the women lining up to see Miller on Broadway have somehow failed to complete the simpler task of watching one of her films. And despite McGrath’s presumably unique appreciation of Miller’s talent, he continually refuses to focus strictly on her work throughout the piece. Miller, he writes, is “smaller” and “prettier” in person. She manages to be a good actress despite being “beautiful.”
After all this—-the rehashing of her former “flings,” the snarking on her female fans, the constant protestations of Miller’s beauty, and the condescending admission that the girl can actually act in addition to fucking dudes and looking hot, McGrath concludes that Miller is not taken seriously because she has “so frequently been her own worst enemy.” I think it’s time Miller transfer the “worst enemy” title on over to Charles McGrath.
Photo by Caroline Bonarde Uni via Wikipedia Commons